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01.01.1970 01:0000    Comments: 0    Categories: Periodical Articles about TPM      Tags:
Charisma Magazine is one of many magazines published by Strang Inc. Strang Inc. is also a leading publisher of Christian books and training materials. www.charismamag.com

Article title: Interest in Theophostic Ministry Grows Despite Controversy

Note: There are several points in need

of clarification in this article posted in [brackets] Below

"Even as an adult and devout Christian, 'Mary' struggled to overcome a childhood marred by incest. She was seeing a Christian counselor on a weekly basis. But feelings of guilt and shame still crippled her to the point where she was taking antidepressants and a host of other medications. Her counselor, meanwhile, was facing his own struggles. Ed Smith had been a Southern Baptist pastor for 17 years before opening a Christian counseling practice in Campbellsville, Ky., in 1991. He thrived on helping others but by 1996 was completely burned out, discouraged that his clients were not seeing significant results. Smith, who had a doctorate in pastoral ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., was using cognitive therapy--the same as many other counselors, Christian and non-Christian. Week after week, often growing into year after year, Smith would discuss with his clients their past trauma, such as rape, incest or abuse. "I would look for ways to apply biblical truths," he said. "I would tell them these truths repeatedly." Yet his clients still struggled with guilt, shame and other emotional pain. "What I was doing was a farce," Smith said. It dawned on him that he was actually standing in God's way. So he came up with a simple approach and used it in his next session with Mary (not her real name). Instead of discussing her painful past, Smith told Mary to "go to the memory" of her childhood abuse. He then prayed aloud a simple prayer: "Lord Jesus, what is it You want Mary to know in this memory?" The results were dramatic, Smith said, as Mary encountered God's presence and healing power. What's more, he said, for the first time Mary grasped that she was not at fault for what had happened to her as a little girl. The guilt and shame were gone and Mary soon no longer needed to see Smith nor was she in need of prescription drugs. Her medical doctor was stunned and called Smith. "He wanted to know what I had done," Smith said. Smith explained to him the concept, which he named "theophostic prayer ministry"--"theo" meaning God and "phostic" meaning light. The doctor was soon referring a host of other patients to Smith. That was eight years ago, and since that time Smith changed his practice into a ministry--International Association for Theophostic Ministry --and focuses on training people in theophostic prayer ministry (TPM).

[Correction: This is the name of the TPM association not the name of the ministry itself. The International Association for Theophostic Prayer (IATM) is an association of people networked together who use Theophostic Prayer. The name of the ministry is simply Theophostic Prayer Ministry. Visit the IATM website at www.tpassociation.com]

Smith doesn't know how many pastors and laypeople minister in TPM, but one indication of its growing popularity is that his office receives an average of 800-1,000 requests per month for basic training kits . Based on those requests, TPM is being used in more than 100 countries.

[Correction: An average of 800-1000 Basic Training Manuals are sent out each month not kits.]

"Theophostic ministry is shining the light of Christ into darkness," said Jean LaCour of Orlando, Fla., who has been ministering with TPM since 1999. "We simply lead the person to the feet of Jesus through prayer, and allow God to reveal His truth to their wounded heart and mind." Smith said that oftentimes the woundedness stems from what he calls lie-based pain. "I believe that emotional pain in people's lives is almost always rooted in what they believe--not what is, but what they believe," he said. "That's why in traditional counseling, people have to keep going back over and over again. Because counseling can't give them the experience that God wants to give them." TPM is used in various churches--from charismatic and Pentecostal to Baptist and Roman Catholic. Recognized leaders such as John and Paula Sandford, Paul Meier of New Life Clinics and Charles Kraft of Fuller Theological Seminary also use the method

[Correction: These people actually do a form of their own ministry and not TPM. Not sure where the writer got this information. It appears to have been a quote from a mis-quote found in the Christianity Today article below.]

Smith has recently spoken at annual conventions for the American Association of Christian Counselors and the Christian Association of Psychological Studies. But TPM is not without its critics, who say the method is actually guided imagery and age regression therapy. David Entwistle, a Christian psychologist who has researched and written about theophostic prayer ministry, said several elements of TPM troubled him. For one, he said TPM techniques may not offer adequate safeguards to distinguish true from false memories.

[Rebuttle: Read the ministry session guidelines on this site to see the elaborate measures that are actually taken to be sure that this could never occur. Also read FAQdealing with this issue.] But for Entwistle, the most central issue is how to understand the presence of Jesus in the "memories" of people undergoing TPM. "On what basis are we to conclude whether the appearance of Jesus in TPM is literal or figurative, based on revelation or imagination?"

[See FAQ for a discussion of this and more. The primary "proof" is in the fruit. Are people's lives being genuinely transformed? Does the fruit remain? ]

Smith said TPM training seminars and resources stress that TPM facilitators are never to engage in guided imagery or recovered memory therapy. "We don't do that," he said. "We're not implanting or suggesting any kind of memory content. We're to be careful that we're not the ones trying to give the person the truth." However, Smith said, he cannot monitor everyone who claims to use theophostic ministry. "Theophostic is simply a tool and people can use it improperly," LaCour explained. She added that she believes God has been using TPM all along. "It is profound how Jesus expresses His tender love to people," she told Charisma. "His love that I have seen poured out is more tender, more fierce, more cleansing than I could ever imagine." Nancy Justice

[As far as this ministry has been able to determine, there has never been a negative report of a ministry session gone bad where the facilitator was following protocol and the ministry session guidelines. There have been unfortunant expereinces where "bad therapy" was being used. However, this has nothing to do with Theophostic Prayer and is found in every arena of helping ministry and counseling. If a ministry facilitator is not following the principles taught in this ministry then they are not doing Theophostic Prayer.]

Christian Research Institute (CRI) contacted this ministry with the desire to take an in-depth look at what is taught in the core teaching of Theophostic Prayer Ministry. Elliot Miller, the chief editor for the CRI Journal did the investigative research. He committed hundreds of hours in dialogue with Ed Smith the founder of TPM. He also carefully read through the revised 2005 edition of the Basic Training Seminar Manual clarifying with Ed Smith any troublesome issue that he found. In addition to all of the above he invested three days in observing Ed Smith do actual ministry with people so that he could witness the process first hand.

Though Mr. Miller and Dr. Smith do not agree theologically on all points, the discussion was a warm and healthy exchange that resulted in Mr. Miller being able to give a more knowledgeable report on what this ministry teaches. We at TPM appreciate his spirit and willingness to do this. Also at our request, Mr. Miller provided critique and made many suggestions concerning the 2005 revised edition of the Basic Seminar Manual. We are pleased to point you in the direction of his evaluation even though it is not "glowing" in all respects it does give a fair appraisal of where we are at this time in development. It is important to note that in the theological areas where Mr. Miller and Ed Smith did not fully agree, none where of major significance and were reflective of the typical and expected differences found in the Body of Christ. None of the differences were related to the core teaching of Theophostic Prayer Ministry.

CRI Summary Statements of Published Evaluations

"After an exhaustive evaluation, CRI detects nothing unbiblical about the core theory and practice of Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM). The theory is elegant in its profound simplicity, and the anecdotal reports of its effectiveness in practice justify further investigation; nonetheless, much more scientific research needs to be done before even the more modest claims of TPM can be validated, and some of the extravagant claims seem unlikely ever to be established..."

"...CRI finds nothing inconsistent with Scripture in TPM's core theory and practice. It certainly fits the biblical worldview to hold that believing lies oppresses or injures people and replacing those lies with truth frees or heals them. The theory that the emotional pain that haunts so many people's lives (including Christians) is rooted in false beliefs associated with past experiences rather than the experiences themselves seems elegant in its profound simplicity, and the proposal that Satan is often the source of those lies while Jesus supplies the truth that dispels them is again consistent with Scripture (e.g., John 8:44; 14:6; 18:37). This emphasis on conforming one's beliefs to truth is entirely biblical (Ps. 43:3; 51:6; Prov. 23:23; 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:14–15, 25; 5: 8; 6:1411), and the complete dependence on Christ in ministry to the hurting that TPM advocates, to the point of giving Him the central place in that ministry, is commendable at least in concept and warrants consideration..."

"...CRI is also intrigued by the numerous public testimonies of practitioners and recipients for TPM's lasting efficacy in dealing with a wide variety of emotional and behavioral problems, including depression, general anxiety, anger issues, phobias, panic attacks, sexual addiction, and eating disorders. The frequency of such testimonies calls for further investigation, but anecdotal evidence is entirely insufficient to establish TPM's claims. To demonstrate that TPM gets results superior to all or most other varieties of inner healing/therapy and is not simply reaping the common benefits of counseling (e.g., the placebo effect and the therapeutic value of catharsis in a caring environment), rigorous scientific testing is needed. Researchers have already conducted some surveys and case study research that provide favorable results for TPM,B but much more extensive and rigorous testing (e.g., randomized control group studies) will be required to establish its claims. CRI thus finds no problem with Christians engaging in TPM per se, but at this early stage of the research we are unable to endorse TPM's specific claims of efficacy..." "...CRI does have several peripheral concerns about TPM, but we have been favorably impressed by founder Ed Smith's openness to constructive criticism and change. We caution Christians who practice or receive TPM to be discerning about Smith's past teachings on the sin nature, sanctification, and satanic ritual abuse, and to be aware that, despite major improvements, there are still aspects of Smith's teaching on spiritual warfare that CRI does not endorse..."

NOTE: As you read Mr. Millers papers he sometimes presents his theological views and perspectives in a way that may seem to be corrective of Ed Smith's personal views. Please know that Ed Smith agrees with what Mr. Miller expounds upon in the areas of sanctification, salvation, Christian growth and discipleship, and most of his views about demonization even if it seems to appear otherwise. Please refer to "Author's Statement of Faith" for a concise overview of Ed Smith's basic theological tenets. Ed Smith and Mr. Miller are in continual dialogue to this day. What both learned from this experience is just how difficult it is to clearly understand another person's position unless you are willing to slow the discussion down, ask a host of clarifying questions and remain open and willing to listen. We hope that more people would be willing to take this road toward clarity and unity.

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