Thoughts on the
International Churches of Christ (ICoC)
by Marc Malafarina, a former member of the Montreal ICoC
- My first experience with an abusive church.
- Thoughts on my involvement in the Montreal ICoC.
- The recruitment process
- The discipling mouse trap
- The dating game
- The basic theology of the ICoC
- The 1994 Indianapolis episode
- Books to read
My name is Marc Malafarina and I was a member of the Montreal International Church of Christ (ICoC) from May 1997 until the 24th of March 1998. I am going to share here some of my thoughts about the ICoC on different subjects, like recruitment, discipling, dating etc., and try to be as clear and thorough as possible. The introduction below presents my overall perception of the ICoC and its members.
Before you read on, I just want to say that if you are a member or a former member of the ICoC, I would like it very much if you would give me your opinion on this text and tell me if you think it is accurate. You can send me a message at my e-mail address at [email protected] or call me if you live in Montreal. My number is +1 514-488-2114. If you would like to talk to me about this text, the ICoC in general or to know more about my personal experience with the Montreal ICoC, do not hesitate to send me email or call me.
I have read all there is to read about the ICoC on the Internet and from different books like “The Boston Movement” by Carol Giambalvo and Herbert Rosedale. Also, I have studied the cult phenomenon for about three years now and I think we have to be careful what we say about any religious group or any group for that matter. We have to be able to understand that it is counter productive and wrong to demonize the church or exaggerate bad behaviours from the church as a whole.
The subject of mind control is a complex issue when you consider the legal aspects, as well as the freedom of each individual in a democracy to associate with any group that they want or need in their life at that moment. I want to make clear that I am a strong civil libertarian and concerned about protecting personal liberty. I fully support people’s rights to believe as they choose, no matter how bizarre or unorthodox their beliefs. If they freely choose to believe that the ICoC is The “Movement of God for this generation”, and that there is no other church that teaches the truth like the ICoC, they have a right to believe that.
What I think people should be protected from is individuals who do not tell the truth about their organization and use deception and flattery to get people hooked and dependent psychologically. This is exactly what the big tobacco companies have done. They have hidden for years the harmful effects of cigarette smoking and got people hooked by playing with the nicotine level of the cigarettes.
I think people should be protected from individuals who, like the tobacco companies, manipulate others. Such individuals shamefully use the Word of God for a self-serving agenda and with a divisive spirit. People should be protected from individuals that psychologically abuse other people by rendering them submissive, fearful and psychologically dependent. This is the reason I have written this text.
Having said that, after considerable study and personal experience I have come to believe that the ICoC is a religious group that uses deception in their recruitment, guilt and fear to retain and motivate members to behave in the way the leadership wants.
Finally, I believe that the leadership controls, for the most part, the informational, mental and psychological environment of most of their members. This is done, for the most part and for most of the leaders, from a real conviction that what they are doing is what God, as they understand Him from their particular way of interpreting the Bible, wants them to do. Most of the members are very sincere and want to love and serve God with all their heart. And I think that most of them are born-again Christians. However, that does not relieve them of responsibility for their actions, which are often psychologically abusive and very fanatical, i.e. not reasonable.
One of the basic problem is that the leadership at the top, Kip McKean, the world sector leaders and most of the leaders under them, have the control and they are protecting their organization from changing from the bottom-up, i.e. the members leading the change. Of course, it is very rare that a group of members and lower leaders want to change things in the ICoC. But when it happens, the control exercised on the members by the more important leaders (Kip McKean and the world sector leaders) of the ICoC is undeniable. I will talk about the Indianapolis incident later on and you will see what happens when a group of members and less important leaders proposes changes.
After talking with a lot of members of the Montreal ICoC, I came to this conclusion: the average member does not necessarily hold the belief that their church is The Movement of God, nor that their church’s doctrines on how to be saved or how to live the Christian life are the only valid and legitimate biblical truths. I would say that 65% of the members of the church believe that they are the only ones saved and that they are the only Movement of God that is really doing God’s will. The other 35% just do not understand the implication of such a belief and do not find it relevant to their spiritual walk with God. Most members do not even ask questions about doctrine. For them, putting the Bible in practice is the most important thing. They do not understand that the way they interpret Bible doctrine affects the way they live their Christian life and the way they see other Christians and non-Christians. They do not make the connection between thought, or their particular way of interpreting the Bible and the actions that comes from that. They do not question the “supposed” biblical teaching that they are getting from the leaders. The ICoC does not want the average member to really know and understand the implication of its beliefs about salvation and the other churches. They know that their hard line doctrines are difficult to accept by the average member. They will not tell them what they really believe as long as they can. However, it is the average member’s responsibility to examine everything and really and seriously study God’s Word because they are individually responsible for their actions and words.
For most of them it is their first church that they are really involved in or their first church period. They like the dynamic preaching and the certainty the church provides about choices they have to make in their life. The mind control is done very subtly. There is a very good book by Mary Alice Chrnalogar — “Twisted Scriptures: a path to freedom from abusive churches”. It describes really well how you can control Christians by using the Bible and without them really knowing that they are not really free to choose what they feel God wants them to do or how He wants them to live. (Of course, within the clear moral teachings of the Word of God). It also talks a lot about the non-biblical conception of the discipling relationship and the danger of the abuse of power by the discipler in that relationship.
Most of the members discover, as they go deeper in the organization, that the way they see the church changes. Every time they start to ask questions, if they ever do, they learn that they are not welcomed by the leadership, and they start to think that something is wrong with them. They start to be less and less confident about discerning what is God’s will and how to correctly interpret the Bible. Some choose to cave in or submit because of all sorts of reasons: self-interest, psychological needs, financial needs or real conviction that this is the way God wants it. The discipling method is the way they keep members from talking with each other about the problems of the church. The member always has to talk to his (or her) discipler first, and after he does so, he is reprimanded for having doubts, questions or criticism. The member never learns that other members may have the same concerns as he has, and thinks that it is himself that has the problem.
I have tried to show you how I see the church in general and why I think it is more complex than most people want to admit and that things in life are never as black and white as some people would want us to believe. I think we should try to understand, with compassion and love, why some people belong to the ICoC. (I was a member once, and I should not judge too harshly.) At the same time, we should denounce clearly unethical behaviours and unbiblical doctrines on the part of the leadership and, especially, Kip McKean. I definitely think that the ICoC is a religious group that fits the criteria used by Robert Jay Lifton to determine if a group uses mind control. I hope this text is not too disorganized or with too many spelling errors. I tried to be as clear as I could, given that my mother tongue is French.
To understand where I come from you have to know what was my first experience with a church that used guilt and fear to make members conform to a particular way of seeing and living the Christian faith. I was a member of a French evangelical Baptist church in Montreal for two years, between August 1990 and November 1992. During those two years, I experienced the joy of being a born-again Christian, being baptized and taking my first steps in the Christian faith.
But after one year of being an active member of that church, I began to feel that the pastor had too much influence on the decisions of the church and on the personal decisions the members were making about their private lives. (There was one pastor and three deacons for a congregation of 100 members, but only one unquestionable leader — the pastor.) Also, the pastor used fear and guilt to get people to do what he said God wanted the church to do and how he wanted us to live the Christian life. The pastor seemed to know God’s will for every member of the congregation and if you disagreed with him, your commitment to God and the church were put into question. There was not a lot of grace in the church — it was legalism in a subtle form. (A very good book to read about this is The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by Johnson and VanVonderen.) It was always justified by the Bible, but as I learned latter on, Bible interpretation is not an exact science. There are rules that you have to follow to correctly interpret the Word of God, and even with those rules not every committed and spiritual Christian agrees on everything.
At the end of the second year, the congregation learned that the pastor had an adulterous affair with a single woman in the church. The church was then asked to make a decision about this situation. The majority — 75% — wanted to let the pastor still be the pastor of the church after a public repentance. The minority, which I was part of, wanted the pastor to leave the ministry for at least one year and get counseling for that problem. We wanted a public repentance also. The majority was so dependent on the pastor and influenced by him that they just could not conceive of the church without him. The majority carried the day and the minority could not accept the decision because of the obvious non-biblical way of treating this problem. I had to leave with the members who were part of the minority.
I had given a lot physically, psychologically and financially to this church, and I was really frustrated that we were the ones who had to leave. But that was nothing compared to the pain and sadness I felt about the fact that I thought I had made deep, strong and sincere friends whom I called brothers and sisters in Christ. I was stunned to find out that those supposed friends were part of the majority who were talking about me, and the others who left, in an unflattering way. They never called me once after I left the church. They believed the lies that the pastor was telling them about me and the others. They were completely controlled by the pastor. If they had talked with me and listened to my side of the story, they would have felt disloyal to the pastor. He made them feel that way. I could not understand how my friends could drop me just like that.
This heart wrenching experience contributed to make me loose my faith in God and the Christian Church, even if I knew deep down that God was not to blame. It took me five years to start looking for another church. During the last three years, I started to study the cult phenomenon and the characteristics of the abusive church. A book that helped me a lot to understand what I had experienced was Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth. I was slowly starting to trust God again, but I was still not going to a church regularly. In January 1997 I decided to find a church that would be really committed to following the Bible and where the leaders were accountable to the church and most of all to the Bible. This time, however, I decided that if I ever found a church that I liked and that was biblical, I was going to go very slowly and ask a lot of questions before really getting involved. As they say, “Once burned, twice shy” . After visiting 10 to 15 different evangelical churches, and not feeling that God called me to anyone of them, I went to my first meeting of the Montreal ICoC in the middle of May 1997.
For the remainder of the text, I will not share what happened to me during the ten months in the ICoC because I feel that it would be redundant and much too long. My experience is so similar to all the biographies I have read about former members of the ICoC. I would rather talk about what I think of the ICoC on different subjects such as recruitment, dating, discipling etc… based on what I have personally lived, observed and read. I think that would be a different and better contribution. I hope this text will help actual members and former members understand what the ICoC really believes and how they operate.
From what I have observed during the ten months I was a member of the Montreal ICoC, the ways the church gets people to come to the meetings are varied and numerous. One of the key characteristics of a cult is deception during the recruitment process. When you join the army or join a monastery, you know what to expect and you can ask any question you like before making a commitment to the group. If you ask difficult questions to answer, you are not perceived as arrogant or as having a problem with “trust” issues. They — the army or the monks — want you to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into before you join them. They give you accurate information of what is expected of you and what their policies are on different subjects.
In the Montreal ICoC,I was not told, during the First Principles studies (studies from the Bible) that the ICoC believed they were the only true church of Jesus-Christ and that all the other churches were false ones. At least when you become a Jehovah witness it is very clear from the start that you join an organization that thinks they are the only ones that are truly saved. They do not dance around the question. I know this because I had a friend who joined that cult and they told him this right in the beginning, before he joined the church. The Montreal ICoC do not talk about that doctrine very much. They know it would scare people off. They want to be attractive as a group and not be labeled as a cult.
During the recruitment phase they give you only the information that they think you will be able to accept at that moment. They tell slightly different things to each recruit depending on what they can handle. In a non-cultic church you have meetings where all the people who want to become members of the church can come and ask any kind of questions about the church and with all the other future members being present. When you do things that way, the leadership cannot answer a question one way to somebody and another way to somebody else depending on what they can handle.
That is why you do not see those kinds of group meetings in the ICoC. They only have leadership meetings. They certainly do not have informational meetings for people who entertain the thought of becoming members and where every question is completely answered, the detailed budget of the last year is gladly shown and their basic theology is clearly presented.
The ICoC feels that there is nothing wrong with this way of doing things. They justify it by saying that you should not give meat to a child. You give him milk, and if he can digest it, you give him solid food. But it’s only a clever way of justifying the withholding of information that they deem not good for a young recruit to know or bother with. We can recognize the patronizing attitude that goes like this: “We know better than you what is good for you.”
Another way the ICoC deceives the recruit is when they invite strangers, friends or co-workers to an activity organized by the church for the main purpose of recruiting future members. The problem is that they don’t tell you it is organized by the church, and that most of the people present are members of the ICoC. You find out later on, if you become a member or if you ask questions, that the majority of the persons who were present in those innocent get-togethers were members of the church. The person who is invited thinks it is only an innocent gathering of friends for a special occasion or the celebration of a birthday.
These social activities are organized for the main purpose of recruiting. The members who are present at those social activities are strongly encouraged to go talk to non-members and shower them with attention and compliments. After a while, when you’re at the receiving end of this attention and you notice they do that with all of the new recruits, you begin to wonder if they are sincere in their compliments. It seems more like a sales technique then anything else. They are selling the organization and what it can provide: friends (not real friendship but a conditional one) and group identity (more like group conformity).
This way of doing things has been called ” love bombing “ by cult experts. This technique is very effective with people who are vulnerable and in need of affection and understanding during a difficult time in their life. Most members have a somewhat sincere love for the persons they are trying to reach but they do not understand that the God of the Bible is the God of truth and that He completely hates deception and lies. God wants his children to really and sincerely love every human being they encounter on this earth without considering their potential to become a member of the church or not. God’s children should love unconditionally and always be frank, truthful, candid and always be ready to give as much accurate information as possible to anybody who asks questions about any aspects of their church.
Again, they do not feel they deceive people when they do those things because the ultimate goal for the non-members is their eternal salvation. It’s the “end justifies the means” mentality.
That attitude is pervasive in the Montreal ICoC. I personally have been lied to and deceived at different times during my involvement in the Montreal ICoC. Also, I have seen and heard first hand the stories of many members who were recruited through the use of deception. The pressure on the members to bring in new members is constant and great. Therefore, it is not surprising that most members hide information from recruits. They want to make sure that nothing drives them away from the church before they make a commitment to become a member through baptism. Members are evaluated about their level of spirituality based on how many recruits they personally lead through the First Principles studies and into the waters of baptism.
The leadership of the ICoC is mostly responsible for that pervasive attitude in the church and they could change that if they really wanted to. But the fact is, they do not see anything wrong with that attitude. Further, they will not let the members change the organization from the bottom-up. In the next section I will talk about the discipling mouse trap.
As far as I am concerned, the discipling method used by the ICoC is what makes the whole organization work. It keeps the power of decision making in the hands of the leadership and keeps the members in a submissive state. I have personally experienced the discipling relationship in the Montreal ICoC and I know what it means to be discipled. I also read and studied the book on that subject written by Gordon Ferguson (a leader and a teacher in the ICoC): Discipling: God’s Plan to Train and Transform His People. Therefore, I am confident that the information I am about to give you is accurate and that it represents what really goes on in the ICoC.
The ICoC believes that the discipling relationship doctrine is based directly from the teachings of the Bible and particularly the Gospels. They believe that Jesus used the discipling method to teach His closest followers, His disciples. They also believe that the apostle Paul and the other leaders in the early church used that method to teach new Christians. When you read the book by Gordon Ferguson, it is easy to understand why the ICoC considers this teaching to be essential to the success of the church. The goal of discipling is to train and transform God’s children in order for them to become more mature and usable in the evangelization of the world for the glory of God. After establishing the basic principles of discipleship, in p. 61 Ferguson says:
After looking at the biblical examples of discipling, examining the specific discipling passages, and logically connecting the premises, do you have any doubt that what we have termed ” discipling relationships ” are absolutely needed in order to fulfill Scripture and to bring about the evangelization of the world? …. The Scriptures are quite clear to all who would read them with a heart to obey. (emphasis mine)
I understand from this quote that, if I do not agree with Ferguson that discipling relationships as he understands them are absolutely needed for the evangelization of the world, I do not have a heart to obey God. This is an arrogant attitude for a man that is supposed to be a humble servant of God. Wrongly judging the hearts of committed Christians who disagree with the ICoC on the absolute necessity of the discipling relationship as “reluctant to obey God” is clearly playing the role of ultimate Judge, which is reserved only to God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who will judge the hearts of his followers at the final judgemen,t when their works will pass through the fire.
The ICoC has to have this arrogant attitude because it thinks it is the only church that correctly interpret God’s Word. It cannot accept the fact that equally or more committed Christians are doing God’s will on earth and do not agree with its interpretation of the Bible on the subjects of discipling, baptism, authority in the church etc…. Following the lead of their leader, Kip McKean, the leaders of the ICoC have convinced themselves that they are the only ones who truly understand what the most important doctrines of God’s Word are and how to correctly interpret them.
That arrogant attitude always came up when I was not agreeing with my discipler about a decision or an interpretation of the Scriptures on basic subjects like submission and authority in the church. He always responded by saying that the interpretation is clear because it is right there in the Bible. He said that there is only one interpretation that is right and we cannot agree to disagree. If I still did not agree with him, is first thought was that I must be in sin or I am not willing to obey God’s Word. He could or would not accept the fact that I could be right and that maybe what he was taught what not quite right. The ICoC cannot change its doctrines or policies unless it comes from the top leadership and it trickles down.
If you do not see the absolute necessity of being in a discipling relationship, as the ICoC defines it, you are seen has being prideful and faithless. Read this quote from page 65 of Ferguson’s book:
Third, God’s nature of rewarding certain qualities logically makes discipling relationships the object of his graciousness. Two of the qualities he rewards most are faith and humility. He is less patient with pride and unbelief than with many other sins, and conversely, he takes special delight in those of his creatures who possess humility and faith. But what does this have to do with discipling relationships? A great deal, to be sure.
Allowing someone to disciple you requires faith. Our prideful and independent natures say, like two-year-olds, ” I can do it all by myself “. We have confidence that we know best and that we do not need input or guidance. We naturally distrust others who would get too involved in our lives. We fear that if we are not independent or self-preserving, our lives will not end up in a good place. But God says something different. He says we will be much better off getting counsel, advice, guidance and even rebukes from others. To let that happen, you must show more faith in God’s plan than in your own knowledge and intuition. (emphasis mine)
We can clearly see from this quote that the ICoC considers those disciples who are humble and trusting to be a special delight for God. They put a derogatory meaning on the words “independence” and “pride.” If you’re independent in your personality and your way of doing things, it means that you are automatically full of yourself and will refuse advice or rebukes from others. They cannot conceive of somebody being independent without being prideful, unsubmissive and distrustful. For them, if you do not nearly completely trust your discipler and most of the time accept his advice, you are considered to be prideful, independent and distrustful of God’s plan for your training. You have to distrust your own knowledge and intuition, even if it is knowledge of Scripture and God given intuition, to show that you have more faith in God’s plan for your life.
Another statement concerning the extent of authority that leaders should have on the church and by extension that the discipler should have on the one being discipled is found on page 195 of the same book:
Common sense and practical judgment are definitely required when the ” book, chapter and verse ” method does not provide specific instruction about a topic. In other words , leadership in the church is not only authorized to enforce obedience to specific biblical commands; it is also authorized to designate the practicals required to carry out those commands. Decisions of all sorts have to be made, including when to meet, where to meet, how to organize and other such nonbiblical (but not antibiblical) issues.
Once these decisions are made by leadership, we must follow them. If not, chaos would rule. Therefore, even in these areas of judgement, leader’s decisions should be followed unless one of two conditions exist: one, you are asked to violate Scripture (Acts 5: 29); or two, you are asked to violate your conscience (Romans 14:23). However, to appeal to the conscience as a reason for not submitting is a serious matter and cannot be used simply as an excuse to do your own thing! (emphasis mine)
These two conditions are often used in the ICoC to show that members will never be forced to do something against their conscience and forced to do something that violate Scripture. But when you think about it, who decides if your appeal to conscience is sincere and biblically justified or just an excuse to do your own thing? The final decision still rests with the leadership or your discipler. The discipler should say to the one who is being discipled that he or she does not have to obey his or her instructions unless they are a biblical mandate, not that he or she has to obey unless it violates Scripture or their conscience. If the person who is being discipled accepts what the ICoC teaches, that person will feel undue pressure to accept most of the discipler’s advice and instructions, even if that person feels it goes against its conscience.
Also, if they ask you to do something that for you is a violation of Scripture but not for them, which interpretation of the Word of God will be accepted as the right one? Certainly not the interpretation that contradicts the official one of the ICoC! These dilemmas have happened to me in the Montreal ICoC and my appeals to conscience were always seen as an excuse to do my own thing and demonstrating my lack of faith in the leadership.
There is a great book that considers in depth the subjects of biblical discipleship, abusive discipleship, accountability, black and white thinking, control information and other authority issues. It is written by a Christian who loves God and His Word. The author of the book is Mary Alice Chrnalogar and the title is Twisted Scriptures: a Path to Freedom from Abusive Churches. This book is available to order at her web site. If you are a member or a former member of the ICoC, I highly recommend this book because it clearly shows how leaders can control members of churches in a way that are very subtle and without the member knowing that he is being controlled.
Dating in the ICoC is very different from dating in any other conservative Christian church. The ICoC believes that all the other Christian churches are very worldly and not pure in the area of sexuality. They want to be radically different from the world and worldly churches. The Word of God says that God’s children should only have sexual relations between man and woman and in the bond of marriage. This is what is taught in all the evangelical churches that I know. If a Christian persists in the sin of immorality he or she should be disciplined according to Mathew 18.
The difference between the evangelical church and the ICoC is that the ICoC will make sure, as much as possible, without physically controlling their members, that the disciples do not commit this sin. For them it is so important that the church be pure on this subject. Therefore, they will set up guidelines, as they call them, so that man and woman in their church will not be put in a compromising and weak position so that they would fall into sin. And this is why they strongly recommend that when you go dating (we were encouraged to date every Saturday), you go on a double date or a group date. They talk about the wisdom of that approach and they do not actually say that it is a sin to go on a single date. They know that it is not specifically prohibited by the Bible.
But if the leadership of the church decides that we should, as a whole church, only go on double dates, because of problems with a couple of disciples who fell into sin and others who had bad marriages, what happens then? I know what happens because I lived it. If you do not obey that man-made rule, imposed by the church leadership, you are in sin because you are not submitting to your leaders.
This is where the leadership of the ICoC goes overboard. They do not have the right to take a man-made rule, even if it is partly defensible on a certain level, and make it like a commandment from the Lord. I understand the wisdom of these guidelines. But if a member freely chooses, always according to the principles of Romans 14, to go on a single date and be very discreet about it, the leadership should respect his or her right to exercise their freedom in Christ. They should not blast them for being rebellious, full of pride and unwilling to put the good of the church before their lustful desires.
The leaders assume that those who want to go on single dates want to be free to sin or do things that are dangerous. They always assume the worst of people — that is one of the ways they control them. And if you say that you will not take any chances and put yourselves in a dangerous situation (i.e. a situation where you could fall into sin), they respond by saying, “You don’t believe your heart is sinful and deceitful beyond all things. That is what the Bible says — don’t you believe the Bible?” How can you argue with that kind of reasoning?
The ICoC leadership acts like parents in a family, usually with the best of intentions for the disciples in the church. But if parents overprotect their children (even out of a sincere, godly love and real concern for their welfare), they will end up crushing their spirit, their sincere enthusiasm, their sense of exploration, and their joy and love for life. And the leaders of the ICC certainly do not always act from such pure motives.
I have seen personally the devastating effects, on the spirits of children and disciples of a controlling and overprotecting parent or leadership. It is not a pretty sight. The child or the disciple becomes insecure, has no self-confidence, is scared of always doing the wrong thing, and is very sad that his or her parents or leaders have no faith in him or her to do the right thing. God does not treat His children like that. He gives us direction and wise advice on the things that are not completely clear or explicit in His Word and lets us go, trusting our individual judgement, to exercise our freedom with responsibility, maturity and discretion. He — the all knowing God of the Bible — certainly understands that there is a risk that we will use this freedom to excess and fall into sin. But that is the only real way we will truly learn how to grow in maturity, discernment and wisdom. God does not hold us in a prison to make sure we will not sin.
Sometimes parents will act like controlling despots with their children to make sure that they will not be embarrassed by their actions. This is also what ICoC leaders do to make sure that the image of the church is not tarnished and that it is what it should be, according to their interpretation of what God’s church should look like or be like. So what happens often times is that they will start imposing rules that are more and more strict or narrow, to make sure that the members of the church will not fall into sin and cause a scandal for the church. They feel that it is their responsibility to make sure God’s church is pure and pleasing to Him.
This feeling is partly understandable, but it can easily interfere with the individual responsibility of each member to live a holy life according to their biblical interpretation of holy. To some disciples, going on a single date is playing with fire, but to another disciple it is perfectly holy. They just have to be wise about the choices they will make on that date. God does not ask that the leaders protect the reputation of His church by controlling the actions of the members through the implementation of strict rules of conduct. We are not talking here about behaviours that are clearly spelled out in the Scriptures as being sinful, but about behaviours that are neutral. What I am talking about is single dating, dancing, drinking a glass of wine, wearing certain type of clothing, eating different foods etc… which are all neutral actions. The leaders do not have the right to legislate those behaviours and must respect differences of opinion on those matters.
If they don’t, they will start to act and be like the Pharisees (Mathew 23: 23-24), who had the same concerns, and were putting more and more weight on the shoulders of their disciples in order to make sure that they were not violating any law of the Old Testament. The Pharisees invented so many rules that were supposed to make sure that their disciples and the people of God would not sin against Him that they lost the more important commandments of God’s law. They were, most of the time, well intentioned, but they still were not doing what God wanted. They were turning people away from God because of their man-made rules, which became a heavy burden to carry for the people of God.
The temptation for the leaders to control the actions of members of their group is common in all types of organization and especially in conservative churches. But that is not something that God struggles with. He can take care of His church and the image it projects. He wants us to love and obey him freely and that notion includes a risk of sinning against Him. I hope I have been clear enough. For the rest of the section I will talk more directly about the dating game.
The way they understand dating is very peculiar. They encourage you to go on dates with all the sisters or brothers in the church, without asking yourself if you like her or him more than normal friendship, i.e. in a romantic way. The main goal of those weekly dates is to encourage the sisters or the brothers so that they won’t find themselves alone on a Saturday night and be tempted to go out with non-members of the church. I was often told that I was selfish if I did not go on a double date once a week and if I wanted to go out only with one particular sister.
At the beginning they say that you should always go on dates with a different sister each week and never more than once per month with the same sister. If you do not want to go on a different date each week and that you would like to go out with only one sister because you like her more than the others, you are considered to be selfish. (For me, romance is what dating is all about — you can have group activities with all the sisters or go out with them as friends in order for them not to be alone, but dating is a different thing. You go on a date with a person that you are attracted to romantically) You cannot force romantic love onto an individual. Even if you think that they would go so well together, that they have the same level of spirituality, that they both want to be leaders etc… Love is a very personal thing and the first criteria for them to be together should not be their effectiveness in the ministry or if they would look good as representatives of the church. This, as I saw for my self in the Montreal ICoC, was often the main motivation of the leaders for encouraging two individual to be together.
Besides that, when you want to go out more often with one sister in particular, you don’t just have to go ask her but you have to go talk to your discipler to ask what he thinks about that. What will happen after you talked with your discipler? He will go see the discipler of the woman you are interested in and he will ask her what she thinks about that. The two disciplers consider if you and she are both ready spiritually to date each other — they are the judges of your spiritual health and level. If they both agree that it would be a good idea for you and her to be together, you are permitted to go out once a month at the beginning and every two weeks after that. You still have to go on double dates and have to tell your discipler mostly everything you did or thought about during the date. This is very important because, as they tell you, you do not want to keep sin in your heart, you have to confess your lustful thoughts. It’s certain that you had some. If they judge that you are not compatible or one of the two is wrongly affected in a spiritual way, they will let you know what they think and what you should do. You better be humble and ready to stop the relationship if they feel that it is not good for your spiritual life and that you are not ready.
This way of doing things for the ICoC leadership — it is the best way they found to have a strong influence on who in the church will end up together as steady couples and eventually, perhaps, as a married couple. They feel a responsibility to find husbands and wives for the long time single and faithful members of the church. They encourage most of the young members (20 to 28) to give all to the Lord, push themselves and not to think too much about a particular woman or man. They encourage those who are older (28 to 35) to think about marriage and to find a spiritual woman or man that would most help them serve the Lord and be effective in making more disciples. They do not force anybody to marry anybody else, they just strongly influence who you choose as your mate by using ordinary psychological pressure techniques, used in a psychologically closed environment, and relentlessly and regularly applied.
They do not think that interfering in your personal love life is bad or not permitted by the Bible because it is for your own good and for the glory of God’s church. A lot of members of the church will say that the leadership did not interfere with their love life, but that’s because they conformed to the vision of the church and played the dating game and let themselves be influenced. I have seen so many disciples change their minds about a person, an opinion about something or about the biblical or unbiblical foundation of a doctrine after talking to their discipler or the evangelist. If you do not change your mind after talking with your discipler or the leadership about an opinion you have, even if it is biblically justified, you are considered to be divisive, prideful or selfish. I have personally experienced this many times.
I feel sorry for those members who are pressured to do things that they do not feel is what they would do if there was no pressure by the leadership. Especially in the arena of their love life. Of course, not all of them are feeling pressure to do things they do not want to do. For some members, it just happens that what they want corresponds to what the leadership wants. They put undue pressure on members only when they disagree with the leadership or want something different than what the leadership wants. In the next section I will talk about the overall theology of the ICoC.
What frustrated me most when I had discussions with the leadership of the Montreal ICoC and with my discipler is that they did not acknowledge (or very rarely acknowledged) the implications of their basic theology, which is found on two main documents written by Kip McKean (the founder and leader of the ICoC). The first one is Revolution through Restorationwritten in April 1992 and the second one is the follow-up article part II, written in April 1994.
Just by the title you can see that the Boston movement (the ICoC) is seen by it’s main and primary leader to be a revolution accomplished by a restoration of rediscovered biblical doctrines of the first century Christian church. In section 8 of the first article he puts up a list of all the doctrines that have been restored. The first two rediscovered doctrines are: baptizing only people who have made the decision to be disciples (John 4:1) and ongoing discipling for every Christian in a local church (Matthew 28:20). These two doctrines, along with the one church concept and the inclusion of baptism as a necessary part of the salvation process, are the key doctrines that are the most controversial. Here is a list of the rediscovered doctrines given by Kip McKean in his first article (the first section), the five convictions of the movement (the second section) and the refutation of false doctrines of baptism found in the first principles studies (the third section):
For nearly 13 years, there has been a constant wrestling with God through the Scriptures and prayer — “Revolution Through Restoration.” As more and more churches were planted and built, the Bairds, the Gempels, Elena and I as well as the couples sent out from Boston, particularly the Arthurs and the Johnsons, discovered numerous unbiblical traditions in our backgrounds.
True restorations occurred as first century Bible doctrines were once more rediscovered like —
- Jesus, baptizing only people who have made the decision to be disciples (John4:1);
- ongoing discipling for every Christian in a local church (Matthew28:20);
- every Christian’s purpose is to seek and save the lost (Luke19:10);
- daily accountability and openness with one another (Hebrews3:12,13; Ezekiel3:17-21);
- discipleship groups (Mark3:13-14);
- planting churches (Acts13:14);
- world vision (Mark16:15);
- one church one city (Revelation 2-3);
- church buildings not essential (Acts2:46,22:19);
- house churches (Acts20:20);
- revival of prayer and fasting (Acts13:3);
- the role and power of the Holy Spirit (Romans8);
- awareness of angels, demons and the spiritual battle in the universe (Ephesians6:10-18);
- the training of evangelists (Mark3:13-14);
- church government especially the role of evangelist and elders (Titus1:5; 1Timothy3:17);
- New Testament lifestyle of giving and sacrifice for missions and the poor (Acts2:45,11:29);
- the leadership role and the discipling of women (Titus2:35);
- one brotherhood, not autonomy of individual churches that causes division (Ephesians4:46);
- simply believing that we, the church, are the Kingdom of God (Colossians1:13).
I composed this controversial equation to convict and help individuals with a denominational church background to see that they were not true Christians. In this way I was able to explain to them from the Bible that there was a greater difference between the Lexington (Boston) Church and their denomination than baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. In retrospect, this restored doctrine was the beginning of the formal split between the Boston churches and the mainline Church of Christ.
The Boston Church was built on this revolutionary conviction that to become a member every person needed to make the decision to become a disciple and then be baptized. Then early in 1982, the Lord put on my heart a revolutionary plan to evangelize the world. First we would send small groups of disciples (church plantings) from the Boston Church into the major cities of the world. Then from these pillar churches we would send out church plantings to all the nations influenced by these major cities. These churches became known as the Boston Movement, a church movement built on the following convictions:
. Jesus is our one and only Lord, resurrected from the dead on the third day; . the Bible is the only inspired and inerrant Word of God; . only baptized disciples are members of the true church; . after baptism every Christian needs to be discipled–called to obey the Scriptures by other Christians (Matthew28:18-20); and . every disciple must be committed to the vision of taking God’s Word to build churches of disciples God’s church–in every nation in this generation.
Refuting False Doctrines
- “Pray Jesus into your heart”: This phrase is never mentioned in the Bible. People may use Revelation 3:20 about Jesus knocking at the door, however, you must examine the Scripture in context. This scripture does not teach how to become a Christian and be saved, but how to come back to God after becoming lukewarm. It is addressed to disciples who already responded to Christ in faith, repentance, confession and baptism.
“Accept Jesus into your heart”: (same teaching as praying Jesus into your heart-just different terminology.) Based on Romans 10:9. You must look at scripture in context. Paul is addressing the problem of the Israelites: unbelief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Read further on to Romans 10:13. When do you call on the name of the Lord? At baptism (Acts 22:16).
- Infant baptism: A baby cannot have faith, and since we are baptized through faith in the power of God (Colossians 2:12), babies cannot be baptized.
Original sin: Ezekiel 18:20 teaches there is no original sin; each person is responsible for his own actions and will be judged accordingly. Therefore babies are born sinless and will be saved if they die.
- “Baptism does not save you”: 1 Peter 3:21 says that baptism does save you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Acts 2:38 teaches that sin is forgiven at baptism-one is saved at the point sin is forgiven.
- “Baptism is a work-yet we are saved by faith” (Ephesians 2:8): Colossians 2:12 teaches we are saved by faith-in the working of God at baptism.
- “Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace”: Romans 6:24 states that baptism is an actual participation in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is not merely a sign, seal or symbol.
- “Baptism isn’t important, after all, look at what Paul said about it in 1 Corinthians 1:17”: Paul does not diminish the importance of baptism here. (Paul himself was baptized to have his sins forgiven in Acts 22:16.) In context (read 1 Corinthians 1:10-17), he makes the point that he does not want people following men (denominationalism). He mentions baptism several times in the passage.
- “The thief on the cross was not baptized and Jesus told him that they would see each other in paradise”: Jesus had not even died yet, and baptism is participating in his death (Romans 6:2-4); also on earth, he had the power to forgive sins (Matthew 9:2-6).
- “Believers baptism”: This is baptism as an adult, but is not done in conjunction with the understanding that one is being saved at this point in time (John 3:5, Acts 2:38). “Retroactive understanding” is not sufficient for salvation. (emphasis mine)
These are the basic doctrines that all the churches affiliated with the ICoC organization teach and promote as rediscovered and restored from the primitive church. If a Christian church does not teach all of these doctrines and do not put into practice all of these teachings, it should not, according to the leadership of the ICoC, be considered a true church of Jesus-Christ. (Of course they will say that it is not according to them, but according to the Bible, because they believe their interpretation of the Scriptures, on the crucial and most important doctrines, is 99.9% right.)
We can see from these teachings that the ICoC sees itself as a The Movement that has restored the church of the first century by teaching those true doctrines taken directly from the Bible and not influenced by any traditions. This is their claim, and more specifically, Kip McKean’s claim. Because, after all, he is the one who says that God used him to start The modern day Movement of God in order to evangelize the world in this generation. So, as they claim, Kip has returned to the source of all truth, the Bible, and has found fundamental doctrines that were not practiced by nearly anybody in the Christian churches and as restored them in order to build a true church of Jesus Christ. A church composed of only true disciples. Kip and the ICoC teach the truth because they only take their teaching directly from the Bible and not from men’s traditions. That is their claim.
However, if you study the different religious movements through out the history of the Christian church, you will find that it is not the first time that a leader of a group has had the exact same claim. I could cite among them:
- the Jehovah witnesses
- the Church of God with its leader Herbert W. Armstrong
They all said and are saying that they take their teaching directly from the Bible with no influence by men’s traditions. So how am I going to be able to find out who has the correct interpretation of the Word of God? You are not the first one to ask this question and that is why there are rules of interpretation to consider when we study God’s Word. Most all the conservative Christians agree on a certain list of rules in order to correctly interpret God’s Word.
Also, the overwhelming majority of conservative, Bible believing Christians agrees that, because of our human condition, it is certain that we will come to different conclusions on a certain number of doctrines that are not part of the fundamental message of the Bible. That is why, after the Protestant reformation and the proliferation of a lot of different Christian groups “Poping” every where, with emphasis on different biblical doctrines, the Christians had to separate what was fundamental teaching in the Bible from what was not, and have respect for legitimate differences of opinion.
Paul and the leaders of the early Christian church also had to do that during the doctrinal controversies that erupted in the first century (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8). There was and still is a common saying among a lot of conservative Christians today that goes like this: In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion, liberty; in all things, love. This is a necessary principle to follow because any and all reasonable conservative Christians understand that no one person or group can reasonably claim to be the only ones to possess the key to interpret God’s Word correctly, and really know what God wants for His people, without suffering from some kind of delusion.
Deluding themselves that they (the leaders and members of the ICoC) really understand God’s Word more clearly and accurately than most of the other conservative Christians on the planet is not facing up to their own flaws as human beings, their own sinfulness and their own basic and common need for psychological security and certainty of purpose and dogma. They, unlike all the Christians in the world, are really not afraid to be totally committed, to really love God with a pure heart, to want to do only His will not theirs and to truly follow the rules of biblical interpretation perfectly — that is what they believe about themselves. I did not say that they think of themselves as being perfect Christians in their conduct. They know better than to say something so stupid. They always say that their leaders are not perfect in their conduct to excuse the fact that they psychologically and spiritually abuse a majority of their members.
I have tried to show that Kip McKean’s and the ICoC ‘s claims are not really uncommon in the history of the Christian church. The fact that people claim those things, and that a relatively small number of people accept their teaching as biblical, has more to do with their personal psychology and the way they see the world than with the Truth. But if they are convinced, just as a Jehovah Witness is convinced, in the true biblical foundations of the teachings they receive, then I cannot expect them to be open minded and question themselves. They have chosen, consciously or unconsciously, to be closed minded and believe that their leader and their organization are teaching them directly from the Word of God with no particular interpretation. They have chosen to believe that the Word of God is completely clear in the basic doctrines (baptism, salvation etc…) and that there cannot be two legitimate interpretations of a verse or verses of the Bible. If a person studying the Bible with the ICoC really wants to know God’s will and is ready to be completely committed to Him and is Church, that person will see the truth, i.e. their interpretation of the Scriptures.
They have chosen to believe that all the Christians, who do not agree with their interpretation of the basic doctrines of the Bible, like salvation or baptism for example, are either ignorant of the plain teachings of the Bible (have not really studied it), have studied it but with the wrong attitude (with sin in their life, not really willing to obey it or with an intellectual attitude), or have studied it with a bad influence from human and church traditions (Catholic, Protestant denominationalism or Evangelical). These reasons, or other reasons that I have not thought about, explain why those Christians don’t correctly interpret the Word of God and why they, their leaders and their organization (the ICoC), are not the ones who know the biblical truth. They have chosen to think like that because of all sorts of conscious and unconscious reasons that I would not presume to know or completely understand.
I just want them to know that they don’t have to think like that. This way of seeing things is not the absolute truth or the biblical truth. They do not have to believe the claims of Kip or the ICoC to be true Christians, but that is what the ICoC’s leaders want them to be convinced of. It is also possible, and even maybe probable, that Kip McKean himself is self-deceived — i.e. partly or totally believes his own claims. As far as I am concerned the fact that he probably believes his own claims is evidence of mild psychological defect. But of course that plays in Kip’s hands, because he will say that Jesus was regarded as being crazy just like he is. And he — Kip — is persecuted just like Jesus was. That is what he wants us to believe. I know better than that.
I am going to quote again certain paragraphs from the two articles by Kip McKean and show you that the implications of those quotes cannot be denied and cannot be overlooked. This quote talks about how Kip arrived at the conviction that you have to be a disciple to be a true Christian and that he has never taught that you have to be baptized in the ICoC to be saved:
Early on I developed a series consisting of nine Bible studies on the “first principles” (Hebrews6:13). The members of the church were called to memorize these studies and then teach others to become Christians. The most impacting was called “Discipleship” where, from my study of Scripture, I taught what was clear in Acts11:26: SAVED = CHRISTIAN = DISCIPLE, simply meaning that you cannot be saved and you cannot be a true Christian without being a disciple also. I purposely developed this study to draw a sharp biblical distinction between the Lexington (later renamed Boston) Church of Christ and all other groups. I taught that to be baptized, you must first make the decision to be a disciple and then be baptized. I saw that people in and outside of our fellowship had been baptized without this understanding and then, in time, developed a disciple’s commitment to make Jesus Lord of their entire life.
I taught that their baptism was invalid because a retroactive understanding of repentance and baptism was not consistent with Scripture. Upon conviction by the Scriptures, most people in the Lexington (Boston) church were rebaptized: Doug Arthur, Joyce (Crosby) Arthur, Lynne (Hembree) Green, the Morehead family, the Foss family, the Crosby family, and, just before he arrived, Steve Johnson. Others like Bob and Pat Gempel, Paul and Helen McNiel, Lisa Johnson, Chris (Timmis) Fuqua, Jim Lloyd, Don Lee and Doug Blough were not rebaptized, as they felt after studying the Word, their conversions were true. Out of these convictions from the Scriptures came one of the crucial characteristics unique to our movement–a true church is composed only of disciples (Luke9:23; John4:1; Acts2:41,42).
I have never believed or taught that anyone has to be baptized into the Boston Church of Christ to be saved. The Scriptures clearly teach you must be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and then, the Lord adds you to his church (Acts2:36-47; Romans6:3,4; 1Corinthians12:13; Acts2:41,42). However, I do not know of any other church, group or movement that teaches and practices what we teach as Jesus taught in Acts 2:41,42: one must make the decision to be a disciple, then be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit. When one is born again at baptism (Titus3:5), one must have Jesus’ heart and attitude to do anything, go anywhere and give up everything for God. After baptism each disciple is taught to obey all the commands of Jesus as one grows and goes making disciples. If this is what God teaches in the Bible, then we are God’s movement. (emphasis mine)
We can clearly see from this quote that Kip does not say directly that the members of the ICoC are the only ones that are saved. But what he is saying is that if you are not taught what is the clear and undeniable teaching of the Scriptures on how to be saved and that you do not submit to that teaching and obey it, joyfully and with all of your heart, you will not be saved. And it just happens that he knows of no other church that teaches what the ICoC teaches as Jesus undeniably taught it in Acts 2: 41,42. (It’s not Kip’s fault that things are as they are.) For him it is not a matter of interpretation, it is right there in black on white.
For him it is crystal-clear that these verses mean what they mean i.e. that anybody with a well intentioned heart would agree with his interpretation of these verses. They will say that if somebody is truly searching for God, he or she will eventually find their church and become a true disciple by being baptized as one. This is a clever way of saying that it is nearly impossible to be saved if you do not become a member of the ICoC. They are, with maybe 1 or 2% exceptions, the only ones that have done and are doing what is necessary to be saved. What about all the men and women who loved, served, and died for God in the history of the church but did not believe that when they were baptized it was for the remissions of sins and were not in a discipling relationship?
The implication of that statement is that the chance of being saved outside the ICoC is extremely slim indeed. They will not say it cannot happen because that would offend the other conservative Christians and it would not be too good for the image that they want to project: a church that simply has strong biblical convictions and are willing to live and defend them. They would not want to be compared to the Jehovah Witnesses. At least, with them, we know exactly where we stand. They clearly say that the only ones that are truly saved are the ones that belong to their organization. The fact that the ICoC is willing to admit that maybe there are exceptions or that the ones that are still not with the ICoC, but have understood from the Bible what they have to do to be saved, will join them, does not take into account the basic flaw in the way they think. In the final analysis, it’s practically the same thing as saying that they are the only ones saved.
Here are other quotes that talk about how Kip sees the other churches, and what he thinks about the ICoC and its mission:
In just 15 years, the Bible revolution, which began in June 1979 with 30 would-be disciples in a little Boston-area church, has multiplied by the power of God into 156 churches with a collective attendance of almost 90,000 in 60 of the approximately 200 nations of the world! The parallels to the book of Acts unmistakably mark this movement to be of God.
Revolution was and is in each step and breath of those who dare to embrace the true church of Jesus. The true church transforms from mere talk to spiritual reality only when two or three–or 10,000–fall on their knees in the name of Jesus to pray for direction, recognizing that “the present denominational systems” are in scriptural error, missionless, spiritless, and, thus, unable to accomplish the purposes of God. It matters not whether the community of Christ gathers in homes, synagogues, catacombs, coliseums or even “church buildings.” The true church is composed only of people who have Jesus as their King, their Lord–baptized disciples. For God’s church is spiritually his kingdom on earth. (It is not, as some denominations practice, a democracy of the membership.)
Some have said, “You are so narrow minded to believe the `one church’ concept.” Yet, Jesus had but one physical body on earth. Paul taught that the collective, true churches form one body (Ephesians4:4) and that every disciple is baptized into the one body of Christ (1Corinthians12:12-13). For by his grace, God washes each believer in his son’s cleansing blood in baptism and simultaneously adds them to the one body universal. As Jesus’ mission in the flesh was to seek and to save the lost, so it is the church’s (disciples’) God given mission. When the church has any other mission, or none at all, it ceases to be God’s church.
I believe with all my heart that the Boston Movement is God’s modern-day movement. For the past several years, through love, prayer, Bible study and intense conversations, we have tried to pull into God’s movement the remnant of all those who are surrendered to the Scriptures and who believe God’s dream is to evangelize the world in one generation. We will continue to seek other isolated disciples who may be members in false churches.
Theoretically, anyone can read and understand from the Word of God that to become a true Christian he must respond to the cross, repent of sins, make a decision to be a disciple and be baptized for the remission of sins. However, because most people are blinded by their inherited traditions, this person is rare indeed. I have traveled around the world many times through many nations, and while I have found individuals who have decided to be disciples , I know of no church, no fellowship, no movement that teaches and practices these biblical requirements of obedience to the truth.
Even two World Sector Leaders, Cory and Megan Blackwell, are black. (Their charge is to lead the evangelization of the Middle East. The Bairds are now leaders of the Media and Law World Sector.) Most denominational congregations are predominantly only one skin color or one nationality or one economic group. The Bible teaches we can be confident that these “churches” are not of God. Other “churches” often only pay lip service to the multiracial, international communion of believers. However, in all of the International Churches of Christ, koinonia is a reality. For example, in the L.A. Church, we have 17% Asian, 18% Black, 41% Caucasian, 23% Latin and 1% Native American. This is true biblical koinonia . Certainly to leave the family of God, the true church, is to leave God. Many who depart are deceived by Satan into believing they can be a part of a “church” that has false doctrine and unholy lives and still be saved. This just simply is not true. In fact, why would a faithful disciple want to be part of a congregation not made up entirely of disciples? Why do people leave the church? Primarily because their faith or trust has been destroyed. (emphasis mine)
I don’t think it can be clearer than that. We can notice that, for Kip, the other Christian churches, even the conservative and evangelical ones, are clearly not doing what God wants. For example, a church that has about 90% members of only one race is certainly not of God. He seems to assume that they assemble themselves that way because they are racist. But that is, most of the time, not at all the reasons for this kind of homogeneous church. It is to serve the particular needs of a particular race. Does that mean that 95% or more of the members of these churches are lost. That is what he seems to think.
When I was in the Montreal ICoC I was really annoyed about the leadership’s attitude of always seeing the worst in all the churches that were not part of the movement. I had friends who were going to evangelical churches that were not perfect but that certainly loved the Lord, and were actively evangelizing and serving the community they were part of. These churches were regarded by the disciples of the Montreal ICoC as lost, going to hell. They would tell me that they (my friends) needed to be taught more exactly the teachings of the Bible because what they had been taught were false doctrines and it was not enough for them to be saved. They would not make it to heaven. They told me the mere fact that my friends from other churches were not in a discipling relationship was evidence that they did not really want to do God’s will and were not really wanting to obey the clear teaching of the Bible.
They were always subtly, and not so subtly at other times, putting down the other conservative churches. Most of them have never put a foot in an evangelical church and they were judging these churches based on completely biased and inaccurate information given to them by ICoC leaders. That was really hypocritical, because they always talked about the fact that most of their critics had never set foot in their church and were just propagating false information. They said of their critics that they just did not have the facts and had never talked to the members directly. But, at the same time they are not shy about putting down other evangelical churches by using bias and false information. They always would exaggerate the failures of other churches while exaggerating their own accomplishments. I often encouraged some disciples to visit the churches of my friends and they would never do it. They would not miss a Sunday service for that because they would have to answer to their discipler for their very bad and selfish decision to miss a Sunday service.
He clearly identifies the ICoC as the true church because they only have true disciples in it. Their members have been baptized for the remission of their sins and have Jesus as their King. He says that they have joined the one body, and therefore there is only one church. Most (90%) of the other conservative Christians would not say that their particular organization is the only true church. They believe that God’s church on earth is not associated with a particular Christian organization or church. They believe in the universal and spiritual church, i.e. all the individuals who have proclaimed Jesus Christ as their King, have made the commitment to follow him, have repented of their sins and have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The fact that these individuals are saved does not depend on the fact that they are part of a particular church or have received a particular biblical teaching that is supposed to be the true restored doctrines of the first century Christian church.
The universal and spiritual church is referred to by other Christians as the invisible church and only God knows ultimately who is part of the invisible church. There is also the visible church or the local church. These conservative Christian local churches all have the same basic requirements to become a Christian, and after that it is up to the individual to search the Scriptures and grow in their own biblically based convictions about different subjects. The ICoC thinks that the invisible church represents all the local churches that are part of their organization with a extremely small number of individuals who are saved but are not in the ICoC (these are very rare exceptions).
That is why Kip McKean is saying that if you leave the family of God (the ICoC) you leave God Himself and you are lost. In his mind, he does not understand why somebody would want to leave The Movement of God unless that person had sins in their life. And the main sin is lack of faith in God and His appointed leaders — leaders of the ICoC and, especially, Kip McKean.
There are other quotes below that talk about the enemies of the church (former leaders in the ICoC) and state that all of them (Jerry Jones, Jim Condon and Rick Bauer) have made an alliance with non- believers, deprogrammers and logically by extension, with Satan. Here is what Kip says about this:
“God expanded the movement by one church planting another church that plants another church, thus multiplying churches (another element unique to our movement). Opposition soon arose because the multiplication of our churches threatened the validity of the ministries of those who had praised us. The opposition greatly intensified when the Bible doctrine of “one church–one city” was restored (Revelation2-3). The implication became: if the Boston churches were of God, their own churches were not. They drew this implication themselves which, in retrospect , was true.
Many of these church leaders became our enemies to protect “their churches”–their kingdoms. Other enemies, like Jerry Jones and Jim Condon, were people who “joined up” with the Boston Church because of our dynamic growth, only to realize that we were moving doctrinally away from Church of Christ dogma. The majority of the campus ministry leaders and members of those congregations (including Crossroads) did not “join” us. Some who had quickly “joined up” with us, not realizing the extent of differences in our life and doctrine, in time also opposed us, like Rick Bauer.
It is interesting to me that now these people have “yoked” themselves with deprogrammers, such as Steve Hassan, who is a nonbeliever in Christ, in a Herod/Pilate type relationship. However, the Holy Spirit led the few good hearted individuals — the remnant — to the Boston churches, especially our first three plantings: Chicago, London and New York.
Today when any member of the International Churches of Christ looks around in the local fellowship he or she was converted into, he or she sees only committed disciples — this fellowship could not have been seen before 1979. God says we are to judge a man and we are to judge a church by its fruit (Matthew7). Denominational churches are dying. The mainline Church of Christ is dead. The campus ministry movement is essentially nonexistent. A while ago, the Crossroads Church even changed its name. Furthermore, The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, 1994, states that there has been essentially no cumulative growth in the churches in either of these two nations.
The Greek word for “church” in the Bible is ecclesia, which literally means “the called out.” Today, we are calling out of the world, calling out of the denominations, out of the mainline churches, out of the campus ministries all the people who desire to be part of God’s restored true church and movement.
Deprogrammers, like Satan (for these people are his instruments), try to destroy the faith of disciples by undermining their trust in the leadership and doctrines of the church. If you, as a disciple, have qualms or quiet reservations or attitudes or hurt feelings, do not let the lion Satan get a foothold; open up and get help, because you are a prime candidate to fall away and be devoured by him (1Peter5:8-9).
Critics have noted that people who leave the church have a tendency to be very bitter. Once more, this should not surprise us. Divorce without bitterness is rare. Likewise. when one walks away from a total commitment to God, away from the most important relationship any human being can have, including marriage. then, there is bound to be confusion, hurt, and a tendency to be bitter and to blame the people in the church, thus justifying one’s leaving “. (emphasis mine)
The trashing of the characters of former leaders (Jerry Jones, Rick Bauer and Jim Condon) in the ICoC and saying in effect that they have joined with the non-believers, and by extension with Satan, in order to oppose God’s church (in Kip’s mind, the ICoC), could not be further from the truth. They oppose the methods and policies of the ICoC, but they are not in opposition to God’s church — all the true Christians in the world who are part of the invisible church. They truly and sincerely love God and His church. That is why they want to reveal what the ICoC is really like, contrary to the image that the ICoC wants to project.
The ICoC thinks that the majority of the people who leave their church leave because they are not totally committed to God, and that out of bitterness they blame the leaders of the church to justify their leaving. The reality is that a lot of them have been psychologically abused and are bitter because of that. They are bitter because they realize that they have been duped and were told lies when they wanted truthful answers. They are bitter because they feel that they have been raped spiritually and because they thought that the love they received from other members was unconditional. They realized with great pain that it was very conditional and dependent upon them staying in the ICoC.
Since the beginning of this movement there have been a lot of leaders who have left it because of doctrinal and ethical issues. When you are a member, nobody talks about that, and if you hear something and start asking questions you are immediately called to a special meeting with your discipler wanting to know why you are asking all those questions. He starts telling you about your lack of trust in God and His leaders. I know this because it happened to me and many other former members. It is so sad when the leadership of a church does not really want to recognize their unbiblical ways and practices, and truly identify them and deal with them.
I know that Kip said that there had been abuse in the past and that they had changed. But this was said in 1992 and since that year they have not been any real changes. I know because I lived it for ten months, between May 1997 and March 1998. To really change, you have to identify precisely what are the methods and the doctrines that are unbiblical and write a statement about the changes and how it is going to be different in the future. But that has not been the case with the ICoC. There was only a vague allusion to abuse in the past and that it was not like that anymore, that they had changed.
How many lives will they destroy before they realize that they, the leadership of the ICoC and especially Kip McKean, do not correctly understand who God really is and that they are giving Jesus Christ a bad name? How long it is going to be before the members realize that they are following a man, Kip McKean, who has big psychological problems, such as self-importance and arrogance. These attitudes are absolutely incompatible with true godly love and real humility. In the next section I will show you an example of Kip’s attitude and motives.
When I was still a member of the church, I lived with my parents. I did not want to go live with other brothers and, since I did not have a job, I just could not afford to. One day I started to surf the ‘Net and I wanted to search for information on the ICoC. I found the TOLC web site. It was there that I read about the Indianapolis church, affiliated with the ICoC, who left the movement in March 1994.
When I read the account of the Indianapolis story from the point of view of Ed Powers (the former evangelist of the Indianapolis ICoC), and then read what Kip McKean said about the whole incident, I could not believe how Kip was interpreting the incident and how he characterized Ed Powers and the members of the former Indianapolis church. Here is a quote from the summary of the events in February and March 1994 written by Ed Powers. He wanted to be able to act on his biblical convictions and change four specific things in the Indianapolis ICoC. At that time He didn’t want to leave the movement:
Later that afternoon, Ed calls Roger back and informs him that he is calling a meeting for the following individuals on staff: Andy Lawyer, Greg Edwards, Ryan Polk and Roger Hendricks at 9:30pm. Ed shares with the men present that he has come to a decision that he needs to take action concerning his convictions that he has been preaching during the month of February. He viewed his options as follows: to resign his position as an evangelist and call Chicago to ask them to replace him; to call Marty Fuqua and/or Ron Drabot and share his convictions (to be listed later) and face the possibility of being fired and replaced without the Church ever knowing the reason for his dismissal; to continue to teach his convictions and wait for Chicago or Los Angeles to hear about the teaching and face a confrontation; or to have a congregational meeting communicate his convictions (to be listed later), ask the congregation for a show of support through a vote, and then call Marty Fuqua with the congregation’s convictions. (It is important to note that the staff would resign if the congregation was not in favour of convictions). He told the men who were assembled that night that he believed the last option was the best plan of action, but he would not proceed without unanimous support from the men present. He said that if there was one dissenter that he would resign and ask Chicago to replace him with another evangelist. The four principles are as follows:
- 1. Policy and Doctrine should not be legislated from Los Angeles.
- The ICoC are not the only ones saved.
- Giving should not be under compulsion.
- Legalistic system is robbing Christians of joy (i.e. statistics, special contribution goals)
There was a church meeting on the 27th of February 1994. There is a copy of nearly all that was said at that meeting on the TOLC web site, https://tolc.org. It is clear that Ed Powers did not want to leave the movement, but just wanted to act on his biblical convictions on how the Indianapolis ICoC should function and what it should be taught. Their was a vote about those four convictions and it was decided by a count of 596 yes , 6 abstentions and 1 no, that the church was in favor of those convictions and the staff of the church.
After that, a lot of things happened and the actions of Kip McKean and the ICoC leadership was a complete shock to me. And when I read what he said about the incident in his 2nd article, I was very disappointed. I thought he was completely unreasonable and irresponsible to write what he wrote about the Indianapolis situation. Here is the quote from the 2nd article:
“A very sad chapter in our history was written in March of this year. Ed Powers, the lead evangelist of the Indianapolis Church of Christ, like Korah, being filled with bitterness and selfish ambition, deceived the entire congregation and caused many to lose their faith and turn away from God. Several World Sector Leaders, namely Doug Arthur, Al Baird, Marty Fuqua, Bob Gempel and I flew to Indianapolis to confront this division in the body of Christ. The victory is that 220 of 700 remained faithful to God, his church and his movement. As for those who continue to oppose us, they are lost — not because their baptism became invalid, but the Scriptures are clear that those who oppose and grumble against God’s leaders and divide God’s church are, in fact, opposing God (Exodus 16:8; Numbers 16). Thus, the rebellious become lost because they do not have a true faith “. (emphasis mine)
I could not believe what I was reading. How could he say those things about disciples who just wanted to live more according to their own biblical convictions? How could he say that Ed Powers was like Korah and that he caused many to loose their faith and turn away from God? He did not encourage anybody to leave God, but just to live according to their biblical convictions.
I was again more blown away when I read what Kip McKean said in a speech on the 17th of March 1994. What follows are different quotes from the same speech. These are long quotes, but it is worth to read it all to see what Kip thinks about the episode in Indianapolis and why he thinks that way, i.e. how he biblically justifies it. These are different portions of the transcript of the speech. The words between the () are the words from the audience. The words after this symbol — C> — are my comments on the quotes just above. The emphasis in boldface is all mine. Here are portions of the speech:
” We in America believe in the concept of democracy as being the highest form of government. I think it is great that as disciples in the 20th century, we live in America. I like the freedom of religion, amen? (amen) On the other hand, that has been kind of taken a step too far when we say, “well, a form of government in the kingdom of God must be a democracy.” In the kingdom of God, it is a kingdom. (that’s right) There are no votes. (that’s right) That’s Church of Christ business meetings. (bring it down brother! come on) We did away with those things a lonnnnnng time ago. (amen)
Secondly, we don’t elect a president where 46% of the people like him, 42% hate him and the other people can’t decide. But that is not how we have it in the Lord. The Lord has his anointed leaders. Not the ones they voted for. You know, if there had been votes going for Moses at the beginning of the Red Sea, it wouldn’t have been a strong showing. See that’s the difference in the kingdom of God is that very often the prophet, the leader of God’s people has to stand up against the majority for the sake of what is right. (that’s right) We know that principle collectively because we know that Jesus said straight and narrow is the road that goes to heaven. But broad and wide is the road that leads to destruction. (that’s right) We understand that the people of God were always going to be in the minority, but we have got to keep our convictions strong. (amen, that’s right)
Right here is the principle that will shake the Americanized Christians .To grumble against God’s leaders is to grumble against God himself. That’s a very serious thing. Are we saying that Moses was perfect? No, Moses was not perfect. Ask Aaron, his brother. Ask Miriam, his sister. There has been no perfect human being. Jesus was in the flesh, but he was all God and all man, amen? (amen) I believe Peter messed up a few times. Three to be exact, right there at the crucial point. Paul had some low moments. He gave a little back talk to the high priest. Remember that in Acts 23? He’s still an apostle, though. You know, apostles messed up. That blows our mind. We think apostles were perfect. No, they weren’t. Matter of fact, one of them fell away — Judas.
We have the idea that somehow we put into it that if you are a leader, then you have got to be perfect. No, they are going to be judged and they are going to be judged more severely. But leaders are not chosen by the people like in a democracy. Leaders are chosen by God. (that’s right) Those of you in the audience that are leaders, I mean there should be a pit in your stomach going “oh, gee. You mean it wasn’t the evangelist that picked me out to go in the ministry?” No, it was the Lord. (that’s right) You are not an employee of the church, you are a servant of the living God “. (amen)
C> This is what Kip really thinks about democracy in the church, there should be no votes from the assembly about who is appointed leaders. God, through Kip McKean and the other leaders of the ICoC, decides who should be leaders in the church. But who appointed Kip? God Himself?
” And right here, guys, people start talking bad about the evangelist. And people start talking bad about the leader of the movement. You are not grumbling against Moses and Aaron. You are not grumbling against Kip and Marty, Ron and Yvonia. You are grumbling against the Lord. (that’s right)
Now that’s either in the Scriptures or it is not. (that’s right) The Lord. (preach it, Kip)
Turn to Numbers 16. Tonight is not going to be the usual 40 minutes Bible school lesson and then we go on home. I got my notes right here, I’ve got my Scriptures and we’ll be done when I finish with the last one. (come on, preach it) (don’t hold back) (go, bro)
See, I found out there is a late night spot to eat. The Steak and Shake. I’ve already told Ron, “now, bro, we need to get several burgers from there and a few shakes for tonight and everything.”
Chapter 16 in the book of Numbers is a very serious chapter. Let me read to you verses 1-3 to begin with. “Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi and certain Reubenites, Dathan and Abriram, sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well known community leaders who have appointed members of the counsel. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and they said, ‘you have gone too far.’ The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. By them you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly.”
Right here, the Bible says there was insolence. What is insolence? When someone under the charge of the Lord’s anointed rises up to challenge their authority. That is insolence. If you are parents, you understand that.
Secondly, these were not just some jokers in the Israelite community. These were leaders. See, in order for there to be a group uprising, it has got to be led. And a lot of people are going, “you mean the leaders can fall away?” Yes. (that’s right)
Thirdly, the charge “you have gone too far, you are expecting too much”, boy, doesn’t that tickle the ears of the people? (yes) Yeah. You’re doing too much. I’d like it easier.
Fourthly, this is incredible. A twisting of scripture. “It’s the whole community that is holy. Moses, how come you have set yourself up to be the one over the Lord’s people? You are not the only holy one amongst us. We are all holy.” (come on, brother) Doesn’t that sound spiritual? (amen) Right here, when we read this, our 20th century American Christian, we go “I can’t believe this happened. There was rebellion amongst the Israelites against Moses?”
C> He uses that passage from the Scriptures to teach that members of the church should not grumble (to complain) against God’s leaders because they would in fact be grumbling against God. And acting that way is being insolent (to challenge authority). He applies this attitude directly to Ed Powers and the Indianapolis church.
“Well, are the people in the International Churches of Christ the only ones saved? We are the only ones who teach what we teach. But if someone in another group, in the Church of Christ or a Baptist group or whatever, picks up the Bible and they see the way of salvation, which is you have got to have faith in Jesus, Son of God, you got to repent of all the sins, you have got to come to conviction that Jesus died on the cross, you’ve got to turn Jesus Lord of your life, you gotta become a disciple of Jesus and then you gotta be water immersed, water baptized for the forgiveness of your sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. If they have done that, then they are a son or daughter of God. (that’s right) Because we don’t take a vote in our churches. (that’s right) On the other hand, if they are in some isolated group like that, — the last time I spoke to you, I told you about they want to be a part of a movement, then they have to be a part of a church that is moving. (that’s right) (good point) If they are the only one that is taught that truth in that little fellowship, then if they are really good hearted, they are going to join with people that are true disciples. (that’s right) So, I’m not going to be ordering the borders of Israel here. That’s for the Lord to do. I am going to be hard line on what it takes to become a true disciple. (that’s right) But I spent all the 80’s trying to bring the remnant from these little churches “. (that’s right)
C> He says that they are the only ones who teach what they teach i.e. teach the truth. But if somebody would find the truth in another little church, that person would certainly join them. It is that clear. Because who would not want to join a church with only true disciples in it. He says he is not ordering the borders of Israel i.e. judging who is saved and who is not. But in fact, this is exactly what he is doing. He is doing it by claiming that his interpretation of the essential and fundamental doctrines of the Bible concerning salvation and many other important teachings is the only one valid and true to God’s Word. If other Christians do not believe what Kip believes, they are not true disciples of Jesus-Christ. He cannot escape that conclusion from his own words.
” I spent two hours sharing with you all the persecutions I endured in Philadelphia, Charleston, Boston, Manila, Cairo, L.A. You know them, you have read about them in your cotton-pickin papers. They are not exactly secrets. What I believe is not a secret. What I preach is not a secret. And there are enough numbered in this auditorium who know me personally. They know my way of life, they know my purpose, they know my wife and they know my 3 kids. I realize many don’t. But many do. Now, look what he says, the middle of verse 11: “Yet, the Lord rescued me from them all.” I don’t want your pity. In fact, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and imposters….” ones who profess to be brothers… “…imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Now, you know, a while back I was going “how come these guys like Rick Bauer, Jerry Jones are so cotton-picking convincing?” I said, “man, they could persuade these people.” And you know what finally hit me is they, themselves, were deceived. (that’s right) Therefore, if they took a lie detector test and they asked “is Kip McKean evil, is the movement evil?’ and they put the lie detector test — they would say “this guy is telling the truth.” That’s why they are so convincing. Their minds have been deceived and they are about the work of deceiving “. (that’s right, brother)
C> The former leaders who oppose the ICoC are self-deceived and are about the work of deceiving (a clear allusion to the work of Satan himself). Don’t you find that Kip is demonizing his opponents like any politician would do just to keep his members on his side and convinced of his goodness and their evil ways? How do you think a member of the ICoC would be received if he said to his discipler that he wanted to read what Rick Bauer and Jerry Jones had written? I do not think he would be encouraged to arrive at his own conclusion about the truthfulness of Kip’s claim that these men are doing Satan’s work.
Where have we got this idea that life is going to be easy as a disciple? What’s Dathan and Korah do? Say, “Listen, I can’t believe it, Moses. You took us away from a land of milk and honey there in Egypt.” Hold it, hold it, hold it. No, no, no, no, no. Egypt was the place of slavery. Remember the Hebrews getting beat? People here go, “oh, can’t believe it. That reconstruction was horrendous. You should have seen the things they said to me.” Let’s talk about what you had before the reconstruction. (yes) It was not a true church of the Bible. You could not find a true church in Indianapolis. My Bible teaches me that true Christian are disciples. True churches are filled with only disciples, amen? (amen) That just didn’t exist anywhere. It was a big ( ? ) to be in. That reconstruction produced a true church in Indianapolis “. (yes)
C> For them there was no true church in Indianapolis before they came for the reconstruction. He always says that he cannot argue with the Bible. It says clearly, for anybody who really wants to obey God, that true churches are only filled with disciples and there were no such church in Indianapolis before they came. It seems all very logical. But Kip’s interpretation of what a true church and a true Christian is, is just that, his interpretation, not The Truth. In his mind he does not seem to be able to see or acknowledge the difference between The Truth of the Bible and his own personal interpretation of God’s Word. He cannot admit that he can be wrong about his interpretation of certain fundamental doctrines of the Bible.
” Aaah. This is where we stand tonight. See, the Lord literally, physically killed those who opposed Moses. No, who opposed him. And now these people that stood at a distance were kind of on the fence, going ‘I can’t believe what they have done. They are so hard line. They have drawn the line.’ See, they let sentimentality creep on in there. (that’s right) And now they become embittered. And they fall into the sin because they are sentimental. Their loyalty is stronger to a man than to God.
I believe in being loyal. I mean, in the kingdom, you’ve got to be loyal, amen? (amen) And a lot of us have learned how to do that because we have learned how to trust people finally. Feels good to trust people, doesn’t it? (yes) On the other hand, our loyalty cannot be superseded. (that’s right) Our number one loyalty is to Jesus Christ and his word. (amen)
Hey, the guy who studied the Bible with me, he fell away. Preacher that baptized me, he’s not in the movement. Amen? I feel terrible. They have made their decisions. (that’s right) I am a loyal guy. I am the son of a naval admiral. You are taught to be loyal. That’s just part of it. I am glad I was taught that way. But also understand that my number one loyalty is to Jesus and his words. And you can’t get sentimental toward the punishment of God that’s being dealt out Moses right here. I can see some of you get sentimental. “Well, you’re being so hard on Ed. So hard on the staff. So hard on those people.” Well, no. This is what God teaches. (that’s right)
See it’s really going to be tough for some of you if you’ve got friends. Some of you got family “on the other side.”
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘get away from the assembly that I may consume them instantly.’ And Moses fell face down. And Moses said to Aaron, ‘take you censer, put incense in it along with fire from the altar and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord, the plague has started.’ So Aaron did what Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly, for the plague had already started among the people. Aaron offered the incense for the atonement of them. He stood between the living and the dead and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died in the plague in addition to those who had died because of Korah. And Aaron returned to Moses and at the doorway of the meeting, for the plague had been stopped.”
Shocking. That many souls were lost, not with the initial grumbling of Korah, but with the backlash of sentimentality, Because they abhorred how hard line God is. We have got to be careful of our American Christianity right here. It is a very interesting thing how sometimes — it amazes me — how been a good Hoosier, I’m a Notre Dame fan. And a lot of people go “how in the world can you be for Notre Dame? They are favored in every game.” We’re talking football now. And I go, “it’s the American thing to be for the underdog.” Well, let’s think about this for a little. God is not exactly the underdog type. My Bible teaches me he always wins. (that’s right) We’ve got to be careful of this American cultural thing. God is hard line and he will always win and he will always get his way. Be careful we don’t allow sentimentality for the discipline of God to stand in the way of your clear thinking and keep your heart strong and hard line about what the Bible teaches, amen? “
C> He asks of the members of the ICoC assembled with him, to not be sentimental about their friends or family who have chosen to follow a different path. They have to be like God: hard line. He accuses the friends and family members who are on the other side of being loyal to a man (Ed Powers) instead of to Jesus-Christ. He pictures himself as being loyal to Jesus and His words and having no choice about being on the side of God and approving His judgement of the ones who have clearly sinned by opposing God and His anointed leaders. And that the members should not be sentimental about that. If they become sentimental they could sin and fall away like their friends and family. What a twisted and unbiblical way to think. On the contrary, those who oppose the unbiblical loyalty that the ICoC asks of their members, are affirming their first loyalty to God and His Word.
” What is the need of the hour? Well, this is very interesting to me. Turn to Matthew 18:1. “At that time, disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand amongst them and said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” You know, kids are really cool. And when they are small, I mean, you can toss them up in the air, five feet. They don’t know that you fumbled the football five out of ten times. (laughter) Here’s a little kid, just toss them up in the air and not think about it. If that were translated into adultness (inaudible) So if you had this giant take you and toss you fifteen feet in the air –(laughter. Inaudible) ….to us as adults. That kind of trust.
But to Jesus, this is the kind of trust you have got to have of a little kid. You know, my greatest worry has not been the point of false doctrines. It has been the destruction of trust. Your trust in God. Your trust in God’s movement. Your trust in all the other churches. Your trust in discipling. Your trust in people. I’m not saying people are perfect. And I tried to explain that to you. ….against the trust in discipling, like marriage, because discipling was made by God and everything that God makes is perfect, amen? (amen)
But we are sinners in that perfect institution. There are going to be some problems. When the discipler sins, he needs forgiveness. When one of the disciples sin, they need forgiveness. You have to have the heart of a little child. You have to trust.
Look what he says next. Verse 5: “And whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his next and be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin. Such things must come, but woe to the man to whom they come.”
I will never forget two weeks ago walking into that assembly and being treated the way I was treated. (that’s right) I have no bitterness, no bad attitudes. I was shocked that brothers and sisters were hating someone they didn’t even know. It’s such a horrendous bad attitude. I’ve never been treated that bad by non-Christians. And I thought about this passage. Woe to the one that causes the little ones, the naive ones, the ones that trusteth so much, the ones that found the kingdom perfect, the ones that thought it was awesome evangelizing the world — woe to the ones that have destroyed this innocence of Christianity. And you know what I am talking about here. We’ve got disciples that were baptized 3 weeks ago, 3 months ago, a year and a half ago and they thought the kingdom was awesome. (that’s right) And now they’re not going anywhere. And they are not going to go any place. They can’t see a difference between what happened and the denominations they left. That’s sad.
Right here it sums up all that Christianity is about. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. You know, the think the people in Indianapolis — (inaudible, he backed away from microphone) power, money . Was Ed able to strike the nerve inside of you that conjured up all of the bitterness and all the hurts that had you to the point of opposing God’s leadership. You thought, “well, we just want to raise some objections right here.” But the objections were opposing God. (that’s right) How in the world–see, forgiveness can be undone. I don’t believe that once you are forgiven that it is always forgotten. I think that’s the perfect state that you get to. God says he will remember your sins no more. So that must be the perfect place. That’s a good thing, you know, when you go up to heaven and introduce yourself and you say, “Lord, I really felt bad about that immorality and the other stuff before I was a Christian.” “I just don’t remember.” “Let’s not talk about it.” (laughter) I’m kind of happy that’s the way the Lord is. (amen) He’s the kind of guy…”.
C> From the quotes just above we can read that Kip accuses Ed Powers of destroying the trust, in God and His Movement, of the little children of God who are innocent. For Kip, to really trust God, you have to trust what is certainly God’s Movement, the ICoC. He seems to acknowledge no important and real difference between trusting the ICoC leadership and trusting God. He clearly states that the objections that were raised were opposing God. I think he is the one who is destroying the trust of young Christians in God and His church by distorting what the church of Jesus-Christ is really about. It’s about unconditional love and openness towards non Christians and especially other conservative and committed Christians who are not in your own church. It is clear that in the ICoC you cannot object to what is taught and what is practiced without suffering some kind of hard negative psychological repercussions.
“This is real important. The Bible teaches that it’s worse for a person who knew the truth and fell away than people who never knew the truth. You say, what’s that totally mean? I don’t really know what it totally means. I just know this. I don’t want to fall away and I don’t want other people to fall away because I know it’s going to be real bad.
My heart? Snatch them. Snatch them from the fire. Let’s save them. See, the issue of salvation is on the line right here. Do you see it? It’s not a matter of two camps that have a little different structure, little bit different opinions, a divorce. We’re talking about people who oppose God. We’re not talking if their attitudes are correct, we’re talking about people who oppose God’s servants, and, thus, oppose God. They grumble against God’s servants, thus they grumble against the Lord. This is very serious.
“Be merciful to those who doubt, snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear.”
C> Here we can clearly read that Kip instructs is audience to snatch them (the ones who raised objections about the ICoC ‘s doctrines) from the fire i.e. from hell. He clearly says that they knew the truth but have fallen away from it and that it is not only a difference of opinion (remember Romans 14) but an issue of salvation. It is incredible, I have never read something so completely unbiblical and divisive. He is the one who cannot accept that committed disciples have different biblically based convictions about certain doctrines and that they want to be able to believe and practice them in the ICoC, without being labeled unfaithful and rebellious to God’s anointed leaders. In the ICoC there is a extremely low tolerance for differences in the interpretation of doctrines and the way they are applied.
” Lastly, you need to obey the marking. You are to have no contact with Ed Powers or staff or anybody that has decided to be at that other church in opposition to this church. If you disobey the marking, then we will be forced to warn you if your are in our fellowship. If you leave, then you will be marked. You are divisive. I am very serious. It is an issue of salvation.
As we said in the letter that will be read in all 149 of our churches, our heart is for Ed to repent. If he would repent, we would welcome him on back. Naturally. I mean, so he sinned. We have all sinned. It is a grievous sin, I’m not trying to minimize it. I’m just saying who are we to hold anything for anyone. But they’ve got to repent. (right) And we’ve got to be hard line. Amen? (amen)
I realize there are some husband/wife situations that are tough. Some here and some there. You that are disciples here, I want you to live the most stellar life. I want you to be loving and giving and I want you to blow them away by your love. Don’t beat on them the truth. “You’ve got to come to the truth.” You just live a life where you are not in the fellowship of bitterness, but in a fellowship of love. (amen) You just brag about the Lord. You just brag about the Lord’s church. You will get them over here. They will come to faith, amen? (amen)
I realize there are some parents don’t have their children, children don’t have their parents. That’s extra tough. This is where you heart’s going to be tested. Are you going to stand for the Lord? I know I took that stand when I was first baptized. It’s tough. But God didn’t make it easier because I was 17, it just had to be done. Amen? (amen)
So, you gotta obey the marking. Anybody saying those people are lost, I believe Ed Powers and those that stand with him are the lost….(inaudible) since they left the church. (that’s right) Well, if they come back…..the issue isn’t baptism, the issue is what they stand for, what they live for, what they teach and what they believe and what they propagate. They have set themselves in opposition against the Lord’s anointed. First they grumbled against the Lord himself. That’s the issue. When you fall into that state, as in Numbers, as in 1 Cor. 10, you fall from the state of grace. “
C> Here Kip instructs them to obey the marking, because if they don’t they will themselves be marked. And he says to parents and children (also, sisters and brothers) who are not on the same side to not be sentimental and take this challenge from God as a test in order to reveal where they stand: with God and Kip McKean or with those who are in a rebellion against God and who have fallen from grace.
I have never read something so divisive and twisted from a supposed servant of Jesus-Christ. By these words Kip is showing, for everyone to see, that he does not know Jesus Christ at all and that he distorts the Word of God for his self-serving goals and self-promotion. Even if he does it unconsciously because he really believes he is right, he is responsible because he does not listen to God. The Lord is trying to speak to Kip McKean through his brothers and sisters in Christ, who do not agree with him on all that we have talked about so far. It would have been very different, and according to Jesus’ character of humility and love, if he would have really listen to Ed Powers and the Indianapolis church and had been willing to use this occasion to question himself and the movement in order to change what are clearly not biblical ways of doing things and biblical doctrines.
” How about the people who are undecided? Well, they have not fallen out of grace yet. Those are the ones we have got to snatch. (that’s right) And I beg you, don’t get a bad attitude toward bad attitudes. And, secondly, don’t get self-righteous. “We got the truth.” That’s not going to do any good. Just say, “you know something? I’ve learned a lot. I learned I’ve got to be humble. I learned I’ve got to love. I learned I’ve got to forgive and also — here’s some doctrines I think we got to talk about and hammer off…” No, don’t get self-righteous. You are not better than them. Just that the grace of God covers you, amen? (amen) But let’s be understanding. This is an issue of salvation. There is not two churches of God in this town. There is but one and there will always be but one. Amen? (amen)
You know, this thing in Indianapolis is going to be a chapter in our history. (inaudible)…that’s what the story is about. The story is about those who made it. It seems like it’s about other people on the surface, but it’s not really about them. It’s about those who remained faithful. It’s about Moses and Aaron….. Indianapolis is a great….. I can’t change it. I was born there. I’ve got to be proud. Indiana is a great state. It’s awesome to be here. But the hour requires repentance and forgiveness. But the hour requires decision, without sentimentality. You should be proud that you’re in the Indianapolis Int’l church. (amen) But out in Chicago, he’s in the Indianapolis church, too. You’re in the Lord’s church. (amen) No one is going to be afraid to identify with you. I’m proud to be here in Indianapolis. (amen) And those around us are proud of you.
C> Again we read that there is only one true church in Indianapolis and the ones who are going to make it (to heaven I presume) are the ones who will stay faithful to Kip and the ICoC, and will decide not to be sentimental about the people on the other side, i.e. the rebellious and evil side.
What is really interesting and revealing is when he says (in the first of the two paragraphs just above) that they should not tell the other side that they have the truth (even if they completely believe that they have the truth, and it is very obvious that they do believe it). He says not to tell them that, not because they really are not sure if they have the truth, but because it would not be effective in snatching them from the fire. That shows clearly that he encourages them not to really say what they believe in their hearts because it could drive the person away and it would be counter productive. He says you should tell them that you have learned that you should be more humble and loving and that they should talk with you about some doctrines of the Bible. And he uses the term “hammer off” to express the supposed discussion you would have with them if they accepted to talk with you. Isn’t that completely contrary to the spirit of humility and love that Kip said you should tell them you had learned.
But of course, for the ICoC, tough love is what they really need. You have got to tell them how it is and not spare them. If you spare them they could go to hell because of their unrepentant hearts.
For the rest of this section, I will talk about the speech in general. I have never read something so divisive for the Christian community as these words from Kip McKean’s mouth. He clearly compares the situation of Korah and Moses to Ed Powers and himself — i.e. God’s leader. He considers the decision of the Indianapolis ICoC to live according to their biblical convictions to be a rebellion against God’s appointed leaders (the leaders of the ICoC). But, of course, the ICoC leaders are not perfect in their characters and conduct, but only in their interpretation of the Scriptures and their godly discernment. (Sorry, I could not resist a bit of sarcasm). It is so clear to me how completely full of himself Kip McKean is. Doesn’t anybody see it? That’s what I tried to tell some of the members in the Montreal ICoC.
The Indianapolis ICoC, when they made the decision to live out their biblical convictions and tell it to the leaders, were immediately questioned about their faithfulness to God and His church. For the ICoC, if somebody questions (i. e. put in serious doubt) their doctrines and the way they interpret the Bible, that person is accused of questioning God, His church and His appointed leaders. I think this conclusion can accurately and clearly be drawn from the Indianapolis episode and all the quotes from the Indianapolis speech. When a person or a group starts to think that anybody who questions them and the way they think and act, are their enemies and want to divide them, we should start to be very careful. This person or this group is showing signs of a persecution complex, i.e. everybody is against them and they are all jealous of them.
From what I have personally experienced and what I have read from the words of the ICoC leaders themselves, I am certain that the ICoC and especially Kip McKean does not allow any dissension from any of the ICoCs doctrines that they consider essential to believe and apply in order to be a true disciple of Jesus-Christ. (See Section D above — the list of the restored doctrines.) The list of essential and fundamental doctrines, that you have to believe and put into practice in order to be accepted by them as being a true disciple, is much longer than the list of essential and fundamental doctrines of all of the other conservative and evangelical Christians on this earth. They narrowly define what is a true disciple by adding more and more biblical (so they claim) conditions to fulfil in order to be considered a true disciple. They are overreacting to the diluted gospel and doctrines that they perceive to be taught all around them in the Christian world.
When you read, in his first article Revolution through Restoration part 1, how Kip McKean first started to be dissatisfied with the Christian world today, you start to understand why there is an overreaction on his part and logically on the ICoC’s part. He already came from an ultraconservative doctrinal background (the mainline church of Christ), and had a predisposition to an aberrantly extreme literal interpretation of the Bible, an anti-intellectual bent and a “us versus them” attitude.
He pushed this attitude to a logical conclusion, and invented his own truly and unique Christian movement. He is certainly not the first one to do this in the history of Christianity. That is why, like all the leaders of political, religious and social movements since human history began, Kip will do and say anything to protect and defend his organization — his church and his kingdom. (Of course, he will say that it is God’s church and God’s kingdom). For me, Kip has no real integrity and objectivity in the way he sees anything that concerns the Church of Jesus-Christ in this world. He has a distorted view of who God is, and would be surprised and really humbled if Jesus Christ was standing in front of him. What Kip said in that speech would be termed unbiblical without question, and not inspired by the Holy Spirit, by 99.9% of all committed, conservative, evangelical and Bible believing Christians on the planet.
What is the lesson we should learn and retain from the Indianapolis episode? We should understand that the Word of God can be used, abused and distorted to make it say what the speaker wants it to say. We should also be really worried when we hear a Christian leader completely loose it and say so many unbiblical things and obviously self-serving words in just one speech.
During this lengthy presentation I have tried to explain, demonstrate and show, using the ICoC’s own words, what I think the ICoC and its leader Kip McKean are really all about. I have been hard on the leadership of the ICoC, and especially Kip McKean, because I feel they are responsible before God and will have to answer for their psychological and spiritual abuse of a large number of God’s children.
I am going to attempt to summarize what I think is the most aberrant aspect of the ICoC — the way they psychologically and spiritually abuse and use undue influence on their members to gain their compliance. I am going to try to show how they can gain willing and devoted compliance from their members.
As those who have studied the battered wife syndrome tell us, a victim of physical and psychological abuse can participate with nearly full consent in their own abuse because they have been rendered servile and without confidence in themselves and their ability to refuse this kind of treatment. That’s how it is with a large number (not all of them) of members in the ICoC, who participate with their full consent to being spiritually and psychologically abused. They have been taught that the ICoC teaches all the doctrines that the Word of God teaches and that what they teach is the Truth. Further, they have been taught that the ICoC’s interpretations are the only correct interpretations of essential biblical doctrines.
Once a member has accepted that claim as the Truth, that person is completely at the mercy of the, all too human, leadership of the ICoC. That person will willingly do what the Bible (i.e. the interpretation of the Bible by the ICoC) tells him or her to do because they are convinced in their mind that what they have been taught comes directly, plainly and simply from the Bible, without any influence from human religious traditions or humanistic thinking.
If they are convinced of that, the ICoC leadership does not have to make them do anything they do not want to do because they are supposed to want to obey God’s Word and love Him with all of their hearts. And when the members do not want to do or believe something that the leadership wants them to do or believe, they just have to point to God’s Word and say that it is there on the Bible’s page. The members cannot argue with a leader who does that, because he will immediately be called rebellious, arrogant, unsubmissive, lacking faith in God and in God’s anointed leaders. He can argue only to a certain point and after that he will be labeled all the words that I have just mentioned. Then, because the members want to be humble, forgiving and loving disciples, they will not argue even if in their hearts they are not in agreement with the leadership. This is how they make somebody do something that they would not do if left to decide by their own biblical convictions. This is what happens when somebody has personal and strong biblical convictions that are not the same as those of the ICoC.
But, when you think about it, most of the members do not even have personal biblical convictions. I would say that 85% of the members do not really and seriously study the Word of God for themselves — they just have a quiet time with Bible reading and read the books approved or promoted by the organization. In my ten months with the church I never saw a Christian consult or talk about a good conservative and evangelical commentary of any book of the Bible. There are a lot of disciplers who teach disciples and they have not even read, just read, the Bible from cover to cover. They only teach what they have been taught by the ICoC.They would not be able to judge for themselves, if they had the courage to do so, if the teaching that they received is truly biblical or not.
When members resist too much, the ICoC leadership will talk with them (Bible at hand with four leaders for one member usually) and will persuade them, any way they can, that they should want to obey the Scriptures because they have made a commitment to God to be a disciple and obey Him at all cost. And when you try to explain to them that you want to obey the Scriptures but you do not agree with how they interpret it, they just don’t get it. They will come at you with full force until you break down and obey “freely”, or leave the ICoC. In this organization they only want, and need, to have members who are willing to obey God (i.e. the leadership), work hard for the kingdom of God (the ICoC) and not question anything too much. This is how it works in the ICoC. I know because I have experienced it personally and talked directly with others who have lived through it. This is the main reason why I left.
What I want the reader to understand is that the leaders of the ICoC are not more arrogant and self- serving than any human being can become if they do not really humble themselves before God and His Word. I have seen the same attitude from other Christian leaders on TV, in local churches and from CEOs of big tobacco companies. In this world there are plenty of people who are control and self-serving junkies. Some of them need to think of themselves as giant and God appointed reformers of the truth. Kip McKean and a lot of his lieutenants fit the bill completely.
Another thing I want the reader to know (especially if you are still a member of the ICoC). There is a lot of committed, Bible believing, conservative and full of love for God and His church Christians out there. As Mulder and Scully would say: The Truth is out there. You will not go to hell or loose your salvation if you decide to leave the ICoC. They want you to think that way because they want to keep you in. But even if they sincerely believe it, it would not make it right or biblical. The fact is that you do not have to believe exactly what the ICoC believes about the way to be saved and remain saved to actually be saved. They do not have the monopoly on biblical truth and, more specifically, on how to become a Christian and be saved.
Just study and examine, with the help of conservative biblical commentaries if you can, the Scriptures and ask God to help you know Him. After that, just be open to listen to other committed Christians who are not part of the ICoC and for some of them who do not even know that there is such a church. There are plenty of abusive churches like the ICoC. They are not alone in teaching and promoting aberrant biblical doctrines and practices. You have to, really and seriously, study the Bible for yourself, with the help of conservative commentaries of different books of the Bible and read the books I have mentioned in this text and in the last section: Books to read. If you don’t do it you will not be able to really and truly judge if the teaching you have received and are receiving is biblical or not. If you are confident about your practical and intellectual knowledge of the Word of God, you should have absolutely no reason not to read some these books.
Isn’t it strange that, before you joined the ICoC, when you first started to study the Bible with a member of the ICoC, you were encouraged to question your current religious affiliation (if you had one) in order to see for yourself the false doctrines and the tradition of men that were taught in your church. But when you become a member you feel that you have to suppress, in the name of loyalty and humility, the critical evaluation which was encouraged, before you joined the ICoC, by the person who was studying the Bible with you. It seems to me that it is O.K. to question as long as you do it before you join the ICoC. If it is going to bring you in the ICoC, it’s good, but if it is going to make you leave the ICoC, it is bad, prideful, arrogant and a rebellion against God’s anointed leaders. Don’t you see that they, the leadership of the ICoC, are not really willing for the members to really study the Scriptures seriously but only want them to obey the Bible, as they interpret it, and work hard to bring in more people?
If you have read this far, it means that, at least, you want to know what the critics are saying, and at most, you are really willing to question yourself and the teaching you have received in order to evaluate the ICoC in the light of the Bible. It will be a tough road if you choose to take it. But nothing that is worth something in life is easy.
I hope I have been of some help to you, the reader, and that you have gained some insight in how the ICoC operates and most importantly what they believe and why they believe it. Contact me if you want to talk, want more information or want any kind of help. I will be happy to do what I can to help. Thanks for reading until the end of the text.
(514) 488 2114
Twisted Scriptures: A Path To Freedom From Abusive Churches, available at http://home.istar.ca/~mdcanada/twisted.shtml
Author Mary Alice Chrnalogar reveals how and why leaders of even mainstream churches exert pervasive and unwarranted control over their members. Chrnalogar, a professional deprogrammer and a former victim herself, shows readers how to tell when churches are suppressing freedom of speech, intimidating followers, and distorting the Bible. This book is valuable both as a self-help guide and as a tool for families and friends to free loved ones from destructive groups.
“Leaders of many religious groups, even including several mainstream churches, are twisting the Scriptures to subtly coerce cooperation from their members — all to the distinct advantage of the leaders,” according to Mary Alice Chrnalogar. “Using classical mind control techniques, they systematically seduce their followers into almost total obedience.”
In Twisted Scriptures , Chrnalogar reveals how even the most strong-willed person can fall victim to these techniques. “People aren’t told what the group’s rules are when they first join,” she says. “They wouldn’t get very many recruits if they revealed up front that they’d have to turn their lives over to the group’s leaders.”
Instead, when people first start attending the meetings of one of these groups, they are showered with attention and affection. “Everybody wants to feel needed and appreciated”, Chrnalogar says. Subtly, new members are led to believe that the path to a true Christian life is possible only through this particular group. “They learn from their leaders that most other groups are not as committed”, she adds. “Once recruits believe that, the next step is to convince them it’s crucial to have a discipler, a lay member of the group with whom the new members are encouraged to check nearly every decision and action in their lives.”
*The list of books that will follow has been borrowed from the RESOURCE web site at http://members.aol.com/djrtx/helpful.htm
Churches That Abuse. Ronald M. Enroth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.
Churches That Abuse tells who the abusers are, how their techniques operate, and what the consequences are for marriages, small children, and teenagers. Where most books stop after reporting problem areas, this one continues and offers suggestions for those helping victims of abuse. And it can be read beneficially by those who are involved in abusive churches and have no one to turn to. . . .
It takes someone of Dr. Enroth’s stature and scholarship, as one of the most respected and recognized experts on American religious movements, to take the reader through the experiences of individuals, couples, and families from their first meetings with the various churches that will abuse them spiritually, psychologically, and financially and to let the reader see the inner state such abuse produces. — Margaret Thaler Singer. Taken from inside cover.
Cult-Proofing Your Kids. Dr. Paul Martin. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. Available through the Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, P.O. Box 67, Albany, Ohio 45710).
Time and time again Dr. Paul Martin has seen dedicated Christian young people fall into the trap of cults and fringe churches. Himself a victim of a cultic fringe church, Dr. Martin now reaches out to other former cult members, assisting hundreds of them to find healing. . . . There is nothing more heartbreaking than losing your child to a cult. But with Cult-Proofing Your Kids, you now have the tools you need to prevent that from happening — or to fight back when it does. — Taken from back cover.
Damaged Disciples. Ron and Vicki Burks. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992.
The use and abuse of authority is at the center of the controversy known as the shepherding movement. Authority and the effect it had on interpersonal relationships distinguished the movement from every other church and Christian organization. — 19.
The Discipling Dilemma. Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr., ed. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1988. (Out of print; see copy under Bibliography: Books)
What all of this means is that the Boston Church of Christ is producing in its members the very same pattern of unhealthy personality change that is observed in studies of well-known manipulative sects. Whatever they are doing that produces this pattern needs to be changed. — 37.
When one allows someone to shadow his life as his spiritual leader’ and dominate his thinking, he takes on the quirks, oddities, and idiosyncrasies of his discipler. Her becomes a disciple alright — of Tom Henry, Bill, or Harold, but not of Jesus. — Bailey E. Smith, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, 145-146.
The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. David Johnson and Jeff VanVonderen. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1991.
Breaking the Silence on an Abuse Within the Church That Leaves Christians Feeling “Used,” Manipulated and Shamed.
Churches are meant to be safe places where spiritual leaders help and equip the members for the work of service. There are some churches, however, where leaders use their spiritual authority to control and dominate others, attempting to meet their own needs for importance, power, intimacy or spiritual gratification. Through the subtle use of the right “spiritual: words, church members are manipulated or shamed into certain behaviors or performance that ensnares in legalism, guilt and begrudging service.
This is spiritual abuse, and the results can be shattering. Deeply ingrained spiritual codes of written and unwritten rules control and condemn, wounding believers’ spirits and keeping them from the grace and joy of God’s kingdom. Believers find themselves enslaved to a system, a leaders, a standard of performance that saps true spiritual life. — Taken from back cover.
Toxic Christianity: The International Church of Christ/Boston Movement Cult. Rick Bauer, Bowie, MD: Freedom House Ministries, Rev. 1996.
Toxic Christianity documents and analyzes the history, beliefs, and practices of the International Churches of Christ, including documents and information heretofore unpublished. Former high-level leader, Rick Bauer, examines the biblical, ethical, and psychological problems which exist in the ICC. This updated version includes extensive transcriptions of sermons, and leaders meetings which reveal the movement’s inner-workings. Advice is given for communicating with an ICC member, and helping a loved one leave this group.
Toxic Faith: Understanding and Overcoming Religious Addictions. Stephen Arterburn, and Jack Feldon. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991.
There is a line between a healthy relationship with God and a chronic dependence on religion. Sometimes people cross that line. Why? And is there a way back? Toxic Faith offers much-needed answers. — Back cover of audio tape version.
Tired of Trying to Measure Up. Jeff VanVonderen. Damascus, Inc.
The Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ. Giambalvo, Carol, and Rosedale, Herbert. Bonita Springs, FL: American Family Foundation, 1996.
This book brings together a vast array of helpful information about the International Church of Christ, providing valuable insights from the perspectives of a campus chaplain, mental health professionals, and an exit counselor as well as the poignant and disturbing personal descriptions of eight former members. I recommend it to former members, families of members, and particularly to current members of the ICC. — Ronald N. Loomis. Taken from back cover.
Those who wish to understand one of the most controversial religious movements of today must read this book. It combines insightful commentary with compelling case histories, making the book a valuable aid for anyone who cares about people caught up in authoritarian religion. Warmly recommended. — Ronald Enroth, Ph.D. Taken from back cover.
Captive Hearts, Captive Minds: Freedom and Recovery from Cults and Abusive Relationships. Madeleine Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich. Alameda, CA: Hunter House, 1994.
I wish every cult member, and every family of a cult member, struggling to free himself from the trauma of membership in a destructive relationship could read Captive Hearts, Captive Minds. It offers the powerful healing medicine of understanding. — Eugene H. Methvin. Senior Editor, Reader’s Digest. Taken from back cover.
This comprehensive book takes the former cult member through all the necessary healing stages — from understanding the effects of mind control and cult involvement to taking positive steps toward a healthy, balanced recovery. I highly recommend this book, which respects the strength, courage, dignity, and intelligence of former cult members. — Carol Giambalvo. Co-editor, The Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ, and author, Exit Counseling: A Family Intervention.
Combatting Cult Mind Control. Steve Hassan. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1990.
Cults are on the rise today, with recruitment practices targeting all segments of society, including the elderly. A former cult member and one of America’s leading experts in counseling people involved in cults, Steve Hassan exposes the troubling facts about destructive cults (religious, political, psychotherapeutic, commercial, and educational) and show you how to:
- Recognize the signs of a destructive organization
- Protect yourself from psychological manipulation
- Rescue a friend or loved one from a destructive cult — without coercion
- Overcome the residual problems of former cult membership.
Taken from back cover.
Cults in Our Midst. Margaret Thaler Singer with Janja Lalich. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995.
This compelling book debunks commonly held myths and answers perplexing questions about cults such as:
- Why don’t people just leave cults?
- What characteristics do cults have in common?
- Why isn’t the U.S. Marines or Alcoholics Anonymous considered a cult?
- Who are the people most likely to join cults?
- Where can I go for help if someone I love is living in a cult?
- What actions can we take to prevent the spread of cults’ influence?
Cults in Our Midst is filled with practical strategies and suggestions for understanding the cult phenomenon and helping cult members break free. — inside front and back covers
Essential reading for all citizens in a free society to learn how even here it is possible to coercively persuade people to give up their freedom and harm themselves and their children in the process. — Edgar H. Schein, author of Coercive Persuasion, and professor of management, MIT Sloan School of Management.
Influence: The New Psychology of Persuasion. Robert Cialdini. New York: Quill, 1984.
The most informative and engaging book ever written on the ‘weapons of influence.’ — David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, taken from back cover.
Recovery From Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse. Michael D. Langone. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1993.
A superb collection of essays on the causes and consequences of cultic mind control, as well as practical suggestions for the way back to restoration and recovery. This is a much needed guidebook for both cult victims and those who seek to help them. It is both informed by scholarship and tested by experience. — Ronald Enroth, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Westmont College, California. Taken from back cover.
. . . packed with current wisdom about helping cult victims. . . . includes informative sections on understanding mind control, experiences of leaving cults, guidelines for facilitating recovery, and special issues such as child abuse, and teen satanism. I recommend it especially to mental health specialist and clergy, as well as ex-members and their families. — Arthur A Dole, Ph.D., A.B.P.P., Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania. Taken from back cover.
©1998 by Marc Malafarina <[email protected]>. All rights reserved.
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