Jim Logan, the Stephen King of Fundamentalism: Jeri Lofland’s Thoughts
Jeri’s post was originally published on her blog Heresy in the Heartland on November 14, 2013. It is reprinted with her permission. Also by Jeri on HA: “Generational Observations”, “Of Isolation and Community”, “His Quiver Full of Them”, “David Noebel, Summit Ministries, and the Evil of Rock”, “The Political Reach of Bill Gothard”, and “Bill Gothard on Education”, and “Ken Ham: The Evolution of a Bully“, and “In Which the Pieces Come Together.”
Did you know that demons can be sexually transmitted? That many Vietnam veterans’ problems are caused by demons picked up from prostitutes? That a person can be “demonized” through listening to music, watching TV, or by playing Dungeons & Dragons?
Logan told one audience that he gets calls about house hauntings every day: “We dedicate the ground. Many people miss the ground.” He tells about a missionary in Vienna, Austria who had to leave Europe because his “fourteen-year-old son got full of demons from listening to rock music”. Logan claims parents in Missouri are teaching fourth and fifth graders to call up demons in the mirror and he believes government officials have demons assigned to them to influence them to oppose Christianity.
I would not know Jim Logan’s name were it not for Bill Gothard. Gothard’s signature teaching on the “Umbrella of Authority” taught followers that obedience and submission to the will of “authorities” (husbands, parents, employers, pastors, law enforcement officers, and government officials) would protect them from the attacks of Satan, which could not penetrate the “umbrella”. Thinking for one’s self or acting against the wishes of authorities was venturing beyond the safety of the umbrella and would expose one to the invisible danger of demonic influences.
But the Umbrella of Authority teaching would have had no teeth if we had not been convinced that demons were real, and scary. And that‘s where Jim Logan comes in.
Jim grew up in an “ungodly” home; years later his stomach still knotted at the sight of his father. Logan was drafted during the Korean War; he converted to Christianity when he was 19, through the ministry of Dawson Trotman and the Navigators. He attended Biola University, and then Biola’s seminary, Talbot School of Theology. But he received his training in “deliverance” straight from Fred Dickason at Moody Bible Institute. Dickason, a professor and theologian, authored Angels: Elect and Evil and other books on demonology and “warfare”.
In 1987, Dr. Mark Bubeck founded the International Center for Biblical Counseling (ICBC International) in Sioux City, Iowa. (Read more about Bubeck’s belief in demons here.) Jim Logan joined the ICBC staff in 1989 and stayed for sixteen years. Eventually, new centers were started in Indiana, Colorado, and Texas, becoming independent over time. (ICBC International has since merged with Deeper Walk Ministries to become Deeper Walk International.) Logan started his own Biblical Restoration Ministries in Sioux City in 2005. According to Logan’s website, none of the counseling staff or their associates are “professional or licensed counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, medical or psychological practitioners.” Logan has carried his “expertise” to numerous countries counseling missionaries, working especially with CEF, Navigators, and J.A.A.R.S.
Somewhere along the way, Logan became pals with Bill Gothard. Gothard was stuffy compared to the irrepressible Logan. Logan liked to tell how he was the last member of his family to give up television, watching his favorite shows alone in the garage after his wife and kids refused to have anything to do with it anymore. Logan like to joke and tease (behavior that would earn IBLP staff a rebuke for “folly”), and he would frequently interrupt himself with loud laughter, releasing the tension in an auditorium made anxious by tales of noises in shadowy rooms and men’s voices coming out of small children.
The two men had at least one thing in common: a love of stories. Gothard soon invited Logan to speak at numerous Institute in Basic Life Principles seminars around the country, addressing homeschooling parents and pastors. Logan and Gothard frequently told each other’s stories and recommended each other’s teachings and materials. Logan helped Gothard write an IBLP publication (Life Purpose Journal Vol. III) that is no longer available. More recently, Logan helped lead IMI, an IBLP program developed to train young men to be pastors.
Gothard and Logan shared similar views of “iniquity”, “warfare”, and “ancestral spirits”.
A fetus conceived out of wedlock, for example, had to be prayed over to break the ancestral demons passed on by his/her conception. The brightness of the eyes were supposed to reveal an individual’s spiritual state: “The eyes show me if Satan’s clouding your mind” (Logan). While Gothard tended to avoid talking about demons directly, he had a lexicon of coded terminology hewas comfortable with: carnality, evil, spirit of rebellion, heaviness, darkness, principalities, ground, hedge, attacks, tormentors, protection, and deception. Logan didn’t beat around the bush; he was matter-of-fact about strange voices coming out Christian missionaries who had been invaded by demons.
Logan became a fixture at Gothard’s ATI conferences. After listening to his tales of hallucinations, seizures, and demons being let loose in homes because of Cabbage Patch Kids or evil art objects received as white elephant gifts, or even “twin beds gotten from homosexuals”, families would go home frightened. Some parents burned their children’s toys, even putting dolls on barbecue grills while the kids watched in anguished terror. Parents like mine cleansed our home of Winnie-the-Pooh and all other “talking animals”. Others banished Cabbage Patch dolls, My Little Ponies, clowns, superheroes. We knew our parents were dead-serious about our welfare: they were willing to make burnt offerings to keep us safe.
Despite having no credentials, Logan was frequently sought out by ATI parents at a loss to “fix” their rebellious or depressed sons and daughters, who must be affected by demonic influences. But he could be contradictory. Despite recommending Gothard’s book against Christian rock music, calling it “awesome“, Logan still found some Christian artists acceptable. He told one family that he listened to Amy Grant, and recommended Michael Card’s “Sleep Sound in Jesus” album of lullabies at an ICBC conference, saying that the songs would keep children from having nightmares. Far more disturbing is the allegation that he failed to report claims of sexual abuse made by those he “counseled”.
Gothard had been teaching his “Umbrella of Authority” for decades, when he had a new breakthrough. In 1992, Gothard introduced his Strongholds concept. He soon developed it into a fancy new package complete with diagram illustrations explaining how any sin or disobedience or “bitterness” could “give ground” to Satan in a person’s soul. And if Satan had enough “ground” on this imaginary chessboard in the mind/heart, the victim would be plagued by temptations and troubles.
For years, Logan says, he helped people gain freedom from demons using the “direct confrontational method”: he would speak to the evil spirits and command them to speak back. With the discovery of Strongholds, he could switch to a “less invasive” approach, helping people pinpoint the acts of disobedience whereby “the enemy” had been given permission to invade their inner being. By confessing and renouncing these “sins”, a Christian could be “freed” from cross-dressing, anorexia, depression, “bondage” to masturbation, or any number of “torments”.
In 1995, Moody Press released a book by Jim Logan entitled Reclaiming Surrendered Ground. Though written by a ghostwriter (provided by Moody), it was based on Logan’s messages, with a foreword by Baptist preacher Charles Stanley. The book, along with some of Neil Anderson‘s writings, is still a standard resource recommended by Gothard for those who want to conquer “lust”. It also received endorsements from Erwin Lutzer and Warren Wiersbe.
That same year, Dr. Kenneth Copley joined Jim Logan and Mark Bubeck to open an ICBC branch in Carmel, Indiana. In 2001, Moody published Copley’s book on spiritual warfare, The Great Deceiver. Jim Logan himself wrote the foreword. Besides offering “counsel” in spiritual warfare, Copley was an instructor for teenagers in Gothard’s EQUIP program at the Indianapolis Training Center. The ITC worked closely with Judge James Payne of the Marion County Juvenile Court, who sent young offenders to the ITC to be mentored by graduates of the EQUIP training.*
In one talk available on YouTube, Logan addresses a group of young people at an unspecified IBLP Training Center. Uninhibited as usual, he rambles about “helping” counselees with anorexia, who can never have “victory” as long as they have pride in their life, because God resists the proud. “If God himself is resisting you, you’re doomed.” Likewise with rebellion: “When I push away authorities, God will push me away,” says Logan. However, Logan then turns to complaining about the food served at the training center, seeking support from his listeners who dare not express their “rebellion” for fear of unpleasant consequences.
“If I’m nasty, it’s for fun. If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t be nasty… I’ve earned it,” Logan bluntly reassures his nervous audience.
One minute he is claiming that he came upon an altar where human sacrifices had been made in the woods on on the JAARS campus (“human bones, that used to have meat on them”), and minutes later he is mocking the modesty of Islamic women.
Logan seems to find Hell particularly amusing. At one point he chuckles, “Look at all the brilliant people going to hell”. At another conference he breaks out in a loud belly laugh describing a small child being threatened with eternal torment in flames. Could it be that, deep down, this “good news of the Gospel” is just a joke?
The people who come to Logan may be suicidal, homicidal, depressed, or mentally ill. His office provides a data sheet where they are instructed to mark if they have hostility toward those in “deliverance work”, if they gossip, if they have practiced any martial arts, and if they have desires for bestiality or premarital or lesbian sex.
While he may not come across as especially bright, Logan captivates audiences with his rambling yet spellbinding yarns of what he describes as encounters with demons. And far from being politically correct, Logan can sound downright racist, warning against the “animism” inherent in native American, African, and Filipino culture. He has a story of demons “throwing dishes out of cupboards” because a house was built over an Indian burial ground and another of an African musical instrument causing a child to threaten a sibling with a butcher knife. The sister of the Ambassador from Togo asked Logan to come pray for her children and bless their new home. Logan says his interpreter saw Chinese spirits in the house, which had formerly housed a family from China.
Sometimes, Logan progresses from simply rambling to incoherent, weaving yarns that don’t even make sense. For example:
In Indiana, they wrap an egg with yarn and put the egg in fire but the yarn doesn’t burn and they bury it; “…and that group of people has the highest suicide rate of teenagers in America”.
“The same spirits that stalked the Philippines walk in the Caribbean and terrorize the people on the island of Maui.”
Logan claims one of his CEF missionaries, Larry, was a “self-styled Satanist” before converting and going to Indonesia. To break ties with his old life, Larry got rid of a glass pendulum he had used in Satanism, throwing it into a city dump near Seattle–but it beat him home, sitting back in its box at his house when he returned. So Larry and his family took it back in the dump and prayed that God would keep it there and this time it stayed. According to Logan, Larry still has “spooky eyes” from his previous occult involvement even though he is “clean”.
These stories, and many others like them, are what I grew up on.
When I ask myself how I could ever have accepted some of Gothard’s most egregious “principles”, I think of Logan. That’s how. Because Logan claimed to have evidence that the spirit world existed, that Satan wanted to kill me, that there were real unseen dangers I needed to be kept safe from, that obeying my parents would keep strange voices from coming out of my mouth, or books from flying off my shelves. That the name of Jesus was my talisman against evil (unless God wanted me to learn a larger lesson from suffering).
My parents believed it, too. To them, Logan was just another Christian voice telling the truth, like Hal Lindsey (author of Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth) and Mel Tari (author of Like a Mighty Wind). That’s why we turned the placemats upside down when we ate at a Chinese restaurant (don’t read the zodiac!) and asked the waiter for almond cookies instead of fortune cookies. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary that I’ve owned since I was twelve, the chart of zodiac signs is scribbled out in black marker. We never took a newspaper because it would be too easy for someone to read a horoscope.
Mom chose to give birth without assistance rather than trust midwives who might be into “Eastern religions”. We left church services when demonic music was played under the guise of worship. We did not acknowledge Halloween.We said a prayer for safety before each and every road trip, even we were only headed to the post office. And Mom refused to consider using the Saxon math curriculum (popular with other homeschoolers) because she had seen “ghouls” in a word problem.
So it was huge for me to reconsider the nature of Satan. Ultimately, my faith in God required a cosmic enemy–an evil being trying to snatch my soul and longing to drag me into hell. My theism rested on a belief in a “personal” devil, and when I lost my fear of the demonic, my fear of god went tumbling after! My husband, who sat under Ken Copley’s instruction for an entire week in the EQUIP program, lost a lifelong fear of the dark after finally reaching the conclusion that the “spirit world” is nothing more than a fantasy of human imagination.
Jim Logan has spent his life alternately frightening people of, and presuming to rescue people from, a phantom menace.
Despite his lack of credentials, many badly hurting individuals have unfortunately been led to believe that Jim Logan’s teaching could provide the help they sorely needed, and many more children and teens were further scarred in the process.
*Last year Dr. Copley’s adopted daughter came forward, accusing him of sexually abusing her even while the family lived at the Training Center. Another victim has come forward accusing Copley of sexually abusing her while she was seeing him for counseling at ICBC. By the time Copley’s daughter decided to seek legal action, Indiana’s Department of Child Services was being run by Judge James Payne himself. Dr. Copley is currently a pastor at The Cross in Fort Wayne, Indiana.