What are the practices of the Sozo Movement?

I am deeply disturbed by the mushrooming Sozo Movement. What are the practices involved in Sozo? I would like to know more about it, especially from those who have been actually ‘sozoed’.

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I was “sozoed” many years ago and am surprised to see it’s still thriving. That probably says it all. I’m sure some have benefited from it, I don’t believe it’s evil. It’s a tool used for inner healing/deliverance. I think most would receive some type of benefit immediately after a trauma. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t understand their identity is IN Christ and carry the effects of past trauma/sin without realizing the cycle it creates. Sozo is suppose to be a time of ushering in Holy Spirit to work deep healing. I just did not get it, but I blame that on being inside my head too much, especially at that time.
The deepest, most beneficial healing I’ve received from anything is engaging with the body of Christ, worshipping within a body, allowing Holy Spirit to do what needs to be done when He knew I was ready and learning more about Who God is and who I am because of Who He is…
Hope this helps. I would love to hear from someone who received a breakthrough through Soza. I know they have to be out there.
In and with His Love,
Emily

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This is new to me, I just read up on it. It seems to be another “program” with their steps. Maybe some need it, but I don’t see it necessary, for me it’s more about following the Word and just letting the Holy Spirit heal me, giving it all to Him. Yes, forgiving is needed and a big part of it, but we can do that on our own with the Word and His guidance. Thanks for the insight on this subject. God bless!

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Hi @SelieVisa Thanks for your question. I have had one Sozo session so only got to scratch the surface with it. I come from a church background that uses this concept quite a lot and I have only recently taken the opportunity to examine it. They use a process called the Father Ladder, where you wait for the Holy Spirit to highlight areas of your life to heal.

I want to say that I believe those involved with Sozo do so out of their genuine desire to see God moving and healing people. They truly want to see people freed from spiritual and emotional bondage, and believe that God is wanting to release and heal those people. The Sozo method is seen as a genuine opportunity to allow this to happen. I say all this, because I know those who lead Sozo sessions, and I know they love God.

I have read a training manual for the first level of Sozo Ministers (they have tiers of training, equipping their Sozo ministers to work more deeply in the spiritual realm after achieving these stages of training). I read the manual to try and understand the scriptural basis for their methods. Actually, I was looking to see how I could defend the practice. Upon study of it, I concluded that Sozo could be a concerning practice for the following reasons:

  1. the person being Sozoed has to choose who they feel most comfortable praying to: the father, the son, or the Holy Spirit. This decision is usually based on the issue being dealt with in the session, and you then select the “corresponding member of the Godhead” to pray to. This is based on father issues contributing to problems with God the Father, sibling issues contributing to problems with God the son, and mother issues contributing to problems with God the Spirit. You then direct your prayers to that person of the Trinity. I feel uncomfortable about this because I don’t recall this practice in the Bible. I feel there is a risk that we could separate out the persons of the Trinity, and create separate Gods out of them. I think it provides opportunity for a misunderstanding of who our Triune God really is, and doesn’t offer sound scriptural teaching as a platform for this prayer time.

  2. where there are painful experiences and memories that need healing, the Sozoee will share these and then is led to hand the pain over to God. In return, the Sozoee asks Jesus what he’s handing back to them in its place. There can be positive things within this concept, but my main concern is that there’s no solid practical teaching on what Christ has already given us through his work on the cross. It becomes very subjective. I also worry that by only dealing with the demonic and spiritual realms, the Sozoee is left with issues that need working through on a mental level that is left untouched. I believe God can and does break strongholds and release people from demonic oppression, but sometimes a person also needs to feel heard on a natural level, to express their experiences and pain and feel that someone is simply there to listen, rather than ‘fix’ it.

  3. Where the Sozoee has believed lies about themselves, the minister encourages the Sozoee to ask God “What is the truth”. They then wait for the Holy Spirit to reveal what this truth is. The training manual states that as the Sozoee hears from God about what this truth is, healing will be taking place. Again, this could be very subjective and provides opportunity for things outside of scripture to filter in. I also wonder how the healing can be verified.

  4. they use practices taught by Dr Ed Smith from Theophostic Ministry. There is controversy about whether these methods are Biblical or not. You might find this information on the Theophostic Ministry interesting to read. As I mentioned in my previous point, the goal to remove emotional pain might be erroneous as the commentary linked below states:

Interestingly, the first principle of Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM) concerns emotional pain. I searched the NASB, KJV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, NRSV and the RSV (the most prominent non-paraphrased translations) versions of the Bible and did not find the word “emotional” even once! TPM is predicated on the idea that emotional pain is an evil thing from which every Christian must find deliverance. But is it? Note: Emotional is a psychological term.

The closest Biblical word that may describe what we now mean by “emotional pain” is “sorrow.” If TPM does mean “sorrow” when using the phrase “emotional pain,” then its practitioners are seeking deliverance from something that the Bible says that we will all have in this world. If it does not refer to the sorrow, grief or something similar found in the Bible, then “emotional pain” is not even addressed in the Bible. If it is not addressed, then Theophostic Ministry is unbiblical at its core and should be rejected on that ground.

This article continues to challenge several claims of this philosophy:
https://www.cicministry.org/commentary/issue117b.htm

  1. as healing takes place, Sozo talks about “walls coming down”. The Sozoee is then told to ask God to send his angels down to comfort us. This raises the whole question on whether we should be asking God to tell his angels to do anything at all.

  2. you have to close your eyes and visualise/picture Jesus, the Father or the Spirit and then say what you feel, see or sense. I find this a concerning practice that could open doors to other supernatural interferences. I’m always a bit wary about visualisation practices because the lines could become blurred with New Age techniques.

I really don’t want to sound critical here, therefore if anyone has any opposing viewpoints, I’d be very happy to understand them. Like I said, I first started examining this in order to defend it against criticism. What I’m left with is a very different opinion. I hope it gives you some things to think about.

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A counsellor suggested I do SoZo… I prayed about and received a big fat resounding No! So I SoNO’d out of there. Whatever healing needed to take place, God did it on His terms, not anyone else’s.

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Thanks for the reply, Clair! I’m curious if there was anything in particular in you that you can recall that led to the ‘No’ decision? I realise you said that you received a ‘resounding No’ when you prayed about it, but I was wondering if that ‘No’ was also resonating with your own line of thought? What were your own impressions of the practice/movement?

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Thanks for the question Kathleen.
I actually didn’t know anything about SoZo. My counsellor was talking to me about lies that we believe about ourselves “I’m stupid, useless etc” and how they are often caused by traumatic events in the past. I was dealing with a lot of post traumatic stress disorder, so her suggestion didn’t seem like a bad idea. She told me that SoZo is led by Christians and the practice helps overcome trauma. I went home and prayed about it, and God told me straight up: No, don’t go.
You’ve asked how do I know it wasn’t my own thoughts? Well I don’t know how to explain it. When I hear God’s voice, it’s like a thought downloaded straight into my head and heart at the same time, and it’s wrapped in an overwhelming sense of peace. My own thoughts often have question marks around it, and they stay in the head area.
Lol I don’t know if that makes sense, but yeah, that’s it.

I really do believe that God wanted to show me his power in dealing with trauma. I remember one time how I was asking God with tears coming down my face why he allowed certain events to happen to me when I was young and so powerless. I was on my knees and I felt this peace just pour over me and it felt like God took tweezers and removed shards of glass from my mind, and that incident which had bothered me for decades was gone. And God has pulled me out of depression, and really healed my mind and set my feet on higher ground. I believe God wanted to show me how he deals with things personally.

I think people should pray about whether or not they should do SoZo. God can use any tool he wants to. If he want’s to change someone’s life using that channel that’s completely His prerogative. We just need to be obedient to his voice.

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Thanks for this thoughtful response. I had never heard of Sozo before, but from what you have written after your having read the training manual, I would agree that there are some areas of concern, particularly what you described in points 2 and .5.

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I too feel that there are areas of concern. A friend, an ex-Bethel said the meditation is not biblical but hinges on mysticism and similar to Yoga of Hinduism.
Thank you all for responding. Maybe this will be my first step towards further research and study on the subject.

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