Pleading the blood…a Charismatic misapplication.

“It is not enough that Jesus died. Someone must apply the blood of Jesus to the national sin of USA.”

This is a direct quote which may be found in the teaching notes of IHOP as “The Call Kansas City”—The Doctrine of the Shedding of Innocent Blood—by Lou Engle.

Lou Engle is an itinerant prophet who is affiliated with IHOP and The Call and appears in the movie “Jesus Camp”.  With no further explanation Lou Engle makes this statement referring specifically to America’s national culpability for abortion.  His solution confuses the accomplishment of atonement and application of atonement.  Would a Savior who is able to accomplish our redemption also be able to apply it?—(John Murray wrote an excellent book called Redemption Accomplished and Applied).  Apparently Lou thinks that the application of Jesus’ blood for an atoning work is somehow dependent upon some sort of NT priestly ministry.  We are speaking of a vicarious national atonement here people.

“The raising up of priestly ministry is to bring forth the blood of the Lamb on behalf of shed blood. Individual guilt and communal guilt must be atoned for”.

Does he want to start convening mass?  That is what these types of statements imply to me.  That is a far cry from using Scripture to promote intercession.  Lou likes to use Scripture. He says, “that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, (Lk. 11:47-50).  Lou mostly misapplies OT passages but he manages to misapply the one in Luke 11 above as well.  The Lukan passage is dealing with indictment against the nation of Israel (specifically the religious leaders) who have abandoned the weightier matters of the law and murdered God’s messengers.  He disregards the historical context and the audience of the text in order to promote a priestly application of atonement blood for national sin.  This necessarily means an interpretive analogy between God’s covenant nation Israel and the USA.  I don’t remember ever reading about God’s covenant with America.  Israel yes, the church yes.  But, America?  Hmmmm….

Now I don’t have a problem with moral culpability. People who are complicit in abortion are accountable before God.  But, God does not judge America as he does the nation of Israel.  Israel is a type of the church, it foreshadows the NT covenant community.  America is not a new Israel.  The day of atonement typology entailing a mass national expiation is fulfilled only (and once for all) in Christ for the church.  This act of redemption accomplished and applied is foreshadowed in the Day of Atonement under the Old Covenant.  While this yearly ritual was specifically for the nation of Israel, the Calvary event WAS (note the past tense) the premise of intercession for all time.

It seems that Mr. Engle is more interested in his agenda than a Protestant orthodox view of soteriology.  Is it not enough that Jesus died?  Is atonement an activity which is fulfilled through the church’s vicarious application of Christ’s blood via intercession?  I’m sure that Lou wants to wake the church from ‘a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest’.  But I don’t think that a naïve, modernized extrapolation of OT cultic practice, nor Roman Catholic conceptualizations of ecclesial mediation are the answer.  Do we plead the blood of Jesus over America to expiate sin or do we preach the gospel of Jesus to America proclaiming that HE HAS expiated sin?



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19 responses to “Pleading the blood…a Charismatic misapplication.

  1. I came upon your post from a Google Alert I set up on the phrase “plead the blood”. I do this every day for the protection of my family and believe God showed me something different about this which I wrote about in my blog in 2006. You might be interested in reading it at: Be blessed!

  2. annunk

    OK, maybe I missed something.
    RE: “Individual guilt and communal guilt must be atoned for”.

    Maybe I just didn’t ‘get it’ but I was under the assumption that Jesus’ death on the cross WAS the atonement for any person on this whole earth who made Him their Lord.

  3. annunk

    p.s. to Bill Dotson: You brought up some good thoughts on your blog, sir. But I agree with the one person who wrote in saying nowhere in scripture do you ever hear of anyone (apostle) pleading Jesus’ blood over anything.

  4. “America is not a new Israel.”


  5. yes and yes.

    Thanks for reminding me of this important point. We do not ‘apply the blood’ in the sense of sacrificial doorpost smearing. The blood is shed on our behalf and applied according to the divine prerogative.

  6. Quote from Bill: “I came upon your post from a Google Alert I set up on the phrase “plead the blood”. I do this every day for the protection of my family and believe God showed me something different about this which I wrote about in my blog in 2006. You might be interested in reading it at: Be blessed!

    Hi Bill,

    This is something I did for a number of years, also thinking I was quite right in doing so, and for precisely the same reasons as you express on your blog article. The thing I have come to realise however, is the process is in fact relying upon our own works, rather than the completed work of Christ alone.

    In your article you refer to Exodus 12:21-23 quite rightly as the reference for this practice in the Old Testament. However one thing you seemed to miss is that which is written in verse 22:

    ” …And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.”

    In your blog post, you and many of your guests speak of coming in and going out of your homes, and pleading the blood as your means of protection. However the truth is that the morning has not yet arrived, and will not do so until Christ returns for His own.

    It is not our own home we abide in, but it is in Christ we abide, and it is in Him that we must remain. For He has covered the lintels of His own house with His own blood, and by His grace and kindness, has called sinners like you and me into dwelling in the sanctity of His house also.

    The Bible says “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:3-4)

    Therefore all we can do is consider ourselves dead to all, and alive only as we remain Him, until His glorious appearing, when we will be glorified with Him.

    I do not intend to be hard towards you, but you are completely wrong in what you are proclaiming as the truth. And what’s more, who is to blame should the dreadful day arrive when you have for some reason forgotten to plead the blood on your travels, and the lion that awaits your blood is waiting to devour you or your loved ones?

    Please think carefully upon these things, just as in fact have I, and am so glad that I have.

    God bless,

    John Dunning.

  7. I might mention that I am currently involved in researching the etymology of “pleading the blood,” which is to say I’m looking at the origins of that phrase in its current usage.

    Newton, Cowper and Spurgeon all used it (at least once), but not with the same meaning as is common today. And not often.

    17th-century Puritan Richard Baxter: “Oh, think what a confusion it will be to a negligent minister, at the last day, to have this blood of the Son of God pleaded against him; and for Christ to say, ‘It was the purchase of my blood of which thou didst take so light, and dost thou think to be saved by it thyself? ’ O brethren, seeing Christ will bring his blood to plead with us, let it plead us to our duty, lest it plead us to damnation.”

    Which is interesting because it uses the imagery of Genesis 2 (Cain and Abel – spilled blood speaking out) along with the damnation spoken of in Hebrews 10:29-30 for those who disregard WHAT THE BLOOD HAS DONE (past tense – not an ongoing “pleading”).

    This is far different from the current popular usage. I believe that can be traced right back to Tulsa and Kenneth Hagin. Hagin, has a chapter titled “Pleading the Blood” in his book “the
    Precious Blood of Jesus (1984).

    If anyone knows of an earlier reference to the current practice of “pleading the blood” please point me in that direction.

  8. Thanks Bill, I’d look forward to reading the results of your studies when you’re finished.

    I have no doubt that the blood of Christ cries out to the Father on behalf of those who trust in Him, and against those who don’t trust in Him. Just as the blood of Abel cried out to God against Cain.

    This is something that we have no further part to play in, other than to rest in the house of the One who shed His own blood, and Whose blood is the very thing that prevents death entering into His household.

    I believe that the practice of “pleading the blood” as expressed by the likes of Kennith Hagin etc., is little more than an incantation that is more closely linked with witchcraft than true Christianity.

  9. IWTT

    Misinterpreted Scripture on Spiritual Warfare and Deliverance Principles

    The following are among misinterpreted scripture that have been used to justify direct confrontation with evil spirits in territories and the spirit world. Some have already been covered in the book and thus did not merit being repeated.

    1. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death,” Rev. 12:11

    The above scripture has been presumed, among those advocating for the erroneous spiritual warfare and deliverance teachings, to refer to believers going to Satan and confronting him with or invoking the blood of Jesus. However, the preceding verse (v.10) talks about “the Accuser,” who is Satan, going before God and making accusations against us. The scripture says he does this “day and night” (v.10) trying to gain legal ground to attack us spiritually, physically, socially, materially and so on.

    It doesn’t say he goes to believers.

  10. The crux of the matter is one’s view of the atonement. I would suspect (though not certain) that Engle and many others have views (whether realized or not) similar to Charles Finney.

  11. Michael

    Great post! Nathaniel, the ministry of B4L and The Call is greatly influenced by Finney. One of the major “scripture” justifications for the ministry was that we were suppossed to be a Kingdom of Priests and thus were responsible for pleading the blood of Jesus just like the priests in the old temple system would have. They used the scripture that Jesus was alive forevermore and was living to make intercession. Not that the intercession was already done but that it was an on going process and that in effect, we were partnering with Him in pleading the blood. The thing that got me wondering happened about 2 1/2 years ago. I was meeting with Lou Engle’s second in command Matt Lockett up in South Dakota and he said that the “prophetic words” they have been getting is that if we don’t plead the blood, God would likely knock California off into the ocean as judgment for their sins. It didn’t make sense to me. If our sins were still piling up before God, how could any of us have hope to ever be able to approach Him. Anyway, great comments and a great article Nathaniel! I’m referring some people who are still in the B4L movement to read it. Thanks a lot!

  12. Sam


    What’s peculiar about Finney’s theory of Atonement (I don’t know that much about him)?

  13. A related theme is repentance on behalf of a nation. One of the best treatments of this topic ever was published today on herescope.

  14. Michael,

    “we were suppossed to be a Kingdom of Priests and thus were responsible for pleading the blood of Jesus just like the priests in the old temple system would have.”

    Not sure the OT priests “plead the blood.” Mostly, they just hacked up meat and burned it. Oh, yeah, there was some blood pouring going on. But I know what you mean.

    Did Finney ever use the term “Pleading the Blood?”

  15. Sam,

    There are numerous sources on this topic.

    “It is no part of public justice that an innocent being should suffer penalty or punishment, in the proper sense of these terms. Punishment implies crime–of which Christ had none. Christ, then was not punished.

    Let it be distinctly understood that the divine law originates in God’s benevolence, and has no other than benevolent ends in view. It was revealed only and solely to promote the greatest possible good, by means of obedience. Now, such a law can allow of pardon, provided an expression can be given which will equally secure obedience–making an equal revelation of the lawgiver’s firmness, integrity and love. The law being perfect, and being most essential to the good of his creatures, God must not set aside its penalty without some equivalent influence to induce obedience.

    The penalty was designed as a testimony to God’s regard for the precept of his law, and to his purpose to sustain it. An atonement, therefore, which should answer as a substitute for the infliction of this penalty, must be of such sort as to show God’s regard for both the precept and penalty of his law. It must be adapted to enforce obedience. Its moral power must be in this respect equal to that of the infliction of the penalty on the sinner.”–On the Atonement by Charles Finney

    It is a view which comes via Grotius: “The Governmental Theory.”

    Atonement satisfies the governmental requirement of God to induce obedience in his subjects. Therefore it is applied partially via the the subject.

  16. Sam


    Thanks I’ll look into it a little more.

  17. Arwen4CJ

    I’m not sure whether or not you are still interested in the origin of “pleading the blood of Jesus,” but I’ve just been looking it up today.

    Here is the information I found:
    Hmmm….it looks like Kenyon might be the inspiration of “pleading the blood” …..

    It looks like some guy named H.A. Maxwell Whyte was reading Kenyon’s work about the blood of Jesus, and decided that “pleading the blood” was a good idea.

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