Lincoln Christian Church leader denies charges

Lincoln Christian Church leader denies charges

Daily Nebraskan, September 25 1992
By Susie Arth, Senior Reporter

The minister of the Lincoln Christian Church said Thursday that accusations that his church was a cult were ridiculous.

“I wouldn’t be part of the church if it was a cult,” Jay Kelly said. “I think (the accusations) are insulting.”

The church is a Christian church, he said, and it teaches no unusual doctrines.

Kelly said he believed former members were attacking the church and calling it a cult because they were unable to meet its high standards.

Kelly, who joined the church in 1984 when he was a student at Boston University, said the church was also attacked on the Boston campus.

But Kelly said the attacks at Boston were not as vengeful as those at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Other students jeer at the church’s members as they walk to class, he said, and members are receiving prank phone calls.

“It’s a form of discrimination,” he said. “It’s a spiteful, terrible thing.”

A full-page warning about the Lincoln Christian Church appeared in the Sept 14 Daily Nebraskan. A former member of the church wrote the advertisement.

Kelly, responding to the warning, said the church’s practice of rebaptizing its members followed the Bible’s example. Only adults were baptized in the Bible, he said, because it is a matter of personal choice.

Kelly, who was raised in the Catholic Church, said he was rebaptized when he joined the Lincoln Christian Church because he wanted to make it his own choice, rather than one made by his parents.

But even people who were baptized as adults must be rebaptized when they join the church, he said.

The church also follows biblical example, Kelly said, in that all members must be completely immersed in a pool of water.

Kelly also denied the accusation that members must “totally submit” to the church’s “discipler’s”.

“Nobody is told how to live their life,” he said. “That is absurd.”

The disciplers, he said, act as “big brothers or big sisters” and help new members become Christians.

Kelly also said it was untrue that the church forbade its members to date outside the church. It does, however, encourage its members to date others within the group.

Purity, he said, was the main reason behind the encouragement.

Kelly also denied the accusation that the church’s leaders decided what constituted a sin.

“The Bible decides sin,” he said. “Sin is not a matter of opinion.”

The accusation that members are manipulated so that their personalities are changed to conform to the group’s norm is unfounded, Kelly said.

The church has 90 adult members, he said, representing a variety of ages and races.

“Every member is encouraged to live life like Jesus,” he said.

Kelly also denied the accusation that he encouraged members to drop out of college.

If members ask for his advice, he said, he always tells them to finish their education.

But Kelly said the accusation that only members of the Lincoln Christian Church would be saved might be true.

When people leave the church, he said, they could be leaving God because they are showing that they are only willing to offer a lower level of commitment to God.

Kelly said he was unsure if others would be saved.

“I hope there are others, but I have no reason to believe there are.” he said.

Many people think they will “fall on the good half when Judgment Day comes” simply because they believe in God, he said.

The Lincoln Christian Church, he said, teaches that good works are also necessary to be saved.

Even followers of other religions who hold this belief may not be saved because they make a lower commitment to God, Kelly said.

Kelly said former members were making accusations against the church because they left with bad feelings.

No one, he said, is lured into the church by manipulation.

“…I think all the attacks are unnecessary,” he said. “Nobody is part of our church that doesn’t want to be.”

Back to other media reports about the International Churches of Christ.