Background: Elijah House and the Theophostics
Elijah House appears to have been the main influence in the development of the Theophostic Prayer Ministry
, which has completely outstripped its predecessors in the ten years since its founding. In Three Generations of Inner Healing
, Christian therapist George Hartwell
traces the history of the Inner Healing movement directly from Agnes Sanford
through the Sandfords to Theophostic. While he incorporates some Theophostic practices in his Listening Prayer Therapy
, he also raises some concerns and cautions regarding the misuse of Theophostic:
I am concerned with anything in the TheoPhostic training that results in the following:
In theophostics one follows that pattern laid down and there is little room for flexibility. In Listening Prayer Therapy, as I teach it, flexibility is a virtue so that the client has some choice.
- Opening some sessions be addressing and binding demons is, for me, too much focus Satan and the demonic. [...]
- Through suggestion and leading questions or naivete, some of the practitioners of Ed Smith's TheoPhostic counseling have fallen into the trap of the "False Memory Syndrome." [...]
- Great caution is needed in confirming Satanic Ritual Abuse. [...] [S]ome TheoPhostic counselors have supported and perhaps created the belief that a person has experienced SRA - Satanic Ritual Abuse. [...] This is a process that can begin to distort even professional judgement. The result has been families torn apart by clients who come to believe (false memory) in conjured up memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse. [...]
Practitioners of Theophostics seem to have become focussed on MPD, DID and SRA (multiple personality, dissociative disorder, Satanic ritual abuse). I run from these and from all diagnostic labels. My procedures do not require diagnostic labels and I refuse to treat labels. I choose to treat people.
Christian journalist Jan Fletcher, a critic of the Theophostic movement, maintains an extensive website, Lying Spirits. She writes:
Elijah House was founded in 1974 by John and Paula Sandford, who are avid proponents of inner healing prayer. For more than two decades, Elijah House has published a collection of books by the Sandfords that advocate many of the same concepts Ed Smith teaches in his Theophostic Prayer Ministry training materials.
According to the Elijah House Ministries' website, a "key principle of prayer ministry will always include looking for the root causes that lie beneath the surface of most problems." A prayer minister helps locate these "bitter roots" and encourages the person to forgive the offender.
Smith recommended six of the Sandford's books in his Theophostic training manual, Beyond Tolerable Recovery. (2000) [...]
John Sandford has referred to himself as a "super-spook mystic always having dreams, seeing visions, and having far-out experiences." (Healing the Wounded Spirit p. 255) One of those experiences included healing the traumatic memory of a cow that had been shocked by lightning - a story Sandford relates in A Comprehensive Guide to Deliverance and Inner Healing (p. 231-232.) [...] [note: I was unable to find a book with this exact title; there is a Sandford book titled simply Deliverance and Inner Healing. Be that as it may, I'm pretty certain the cow didn't read it. Above emphases mine. ----a4]
The Sandfords are self-admitted disciples of Agnes Sanford (no relation), who is considered the mother of the healing-of-the-memories movement. [...]
Agnes Sanford is credited with bringing visualization into the church, and is considered by many apologists to have espoused heretical beliefs, including the belief in a pre-conception existence. (For an excellent analysis of Sanford's beliefs, see Jane Gumprecht's book, Abusing Memory: The Healing Theology of Agnes Sanford, Canon Press, 1997) [...]
Another Spokane-based international healing ministry - Healing Rooms Ministries - already has close ties to Elijah House. [...]
Although Elijah House's version of inner healing is not exactly the same as Ed Smith's Theophostic, it is obvious from reading the Sandfords' books that Smith drew many of his ideas from the Sandfords, who, in turn drew much of their philosophy from Agnes Sanford. [...]
Some relevant pages from Fletcher's website:
Inner-healing philosophy within the Church: A Critical Look at the Teachings of John and Paula Sandford includes a substantial discussion of dominionist theology in the Theophostic movement.
Beware Inner Healing Prayer Ministry Under Other Names examines how other Theophostic-like "inner healing ministries" insinuate themselves into unsuspecting churches, and their effects.
The Theophostic Apple: Think Before You Bite includes some rather scathing remarks on Ed Smith's book Keeping Your Ministry Out of Court: Avoiding Unnecessary Litigation While Ministering to Emotionally Wounded People (Co-authored with E. James Wilder; see the authors' description of the book below. It would be equal parts ridiculous and pathetic if people weren't being seriously hurt by their "ministry.")
Resources for Evaluating Theophostic Prayer Ministry: a number of links to other sites critical of Theophostic ministries.
Wikipedia lumps together "Healing of Memories" and "Theophostic" under the heading of the Inner Healing Movement and provides a long list of links both pro and con.
And now for the authors' description of Keeping Your Ministry Out of Court:
Keeping Your Ministry Out of Court: Avoiding Unnecessary Litigation While Ministering to Emotionally Wounded People
This is a MUST BUY book for those using Theophostic Ministry. If you believe you could never be sued for ministering in the name of Christ; wake up! If you are ministering to hurting people you are a candidate for satanic sabotage and possible lawsuit.
Ed M. Smith and E. James Wilder offer a means by which ministers and counselors can answer God's call and offer care to the emotionally wounded person while being as "wise as serpents" and avoiding unnecessary litigation. Ed Smith also offers some up-to-date information on the validity of SRA and combating the so called "false memory" theory.
They also explain how Satan can effectively use the legal system to attack and destroy ministers and their ministries and how to "stand firm" against his schemes.