The Verdict Is In:
An Open Letter on Why I Left
the International Churches of Christ
By Tom Khoury
After a great deal of thought, my decision has been made to pull out of the ICC. The last time we met concerning my decision to leave your church, you proposed a challenge for me to find biblical reasons to support my decision. This is a very good challenge since the bible should be the basis for all my decisions in life if I am to live like a true Christian. Here are a few of the biblical reasons why the ICC could not possibly be the true church of Christ.
Unhealthy Authoritative Structure
The infrastructure of the ICC is very unhealthy and contrary to the Bible. The following passages, 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus 1:5-9, discuss the requirements and qualifications of deacons (or elders) and the bishop (or pastor) of a congregation. Although there were inter-congregational advisors (the Apostles) during the time in which Paul wrote the epistles, no authority beyond the bishop of a parish is approved anywhere in the New Testament. Any authority beyond this is non-biblical and very dangerous. History shows us that any authority beyond what is advised in the Bible competes with the authority that Christ must have over the church (Colossians 1:18) through the example of the Catholic church during the middle ages. They have become an extremely corrupt organization that deviated tremendously from the Word of God due to this same unhealthy infrastructure. The ICC could easily degenerate to the same degree (if not worse). Here are some examples of how the ICC is already beginning to deviate from true biblical doctrine.
- In 1987 Kip McKean issued a decree that required the ICC to change their doctrine to include discipleship as an additional prerequisite for salvation. Existing members had to be REBAPTIZED as a result of this alteration. When do you think the core doctrine of the church will be changed again because of the decision of one man? Are you willing to be rebaptized if necessary?
- The recent dismantling of the Annapolis region also raises some concerns. Whose decision was it carry out such a measure? It certainly was not up to any member or leader of that specific congregation, but most likely a higher authority outside of the former Annapolis church. Due to the nature of this decision, it was clearly non-biblical to implement it.
The Lack of Free Will
One of best passages in the New Testament that supports the free will granted to Christians is in the book of Philemon. Verse 14 of this short letter states “But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced”. This letter from Paul concerns the slave, Onesimus, who has stolen from his master Philemon who was a member of the Colossian church. Later, Onesimus was converted by Paul, and Paul desired to keep him as a companion for his missions; however, he sent Onesimus back to his master so that he could first obtain his permission.
This same free will demonstrated in the Bible is not practiced in the ICC. The primary motivation for most of the works done by members is through coercion, the requirement to meet certain quotas, self righteousness, or even competition with other members about who can do the most good works within a given period of time. Christians should conduct good works because of their genuine willingness and love for God. Good works performed because of force or self-righteousness are considered worthless to God according to Isaiah 64:6 which states “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away”. In the preceding passage, filthy rags were the equivalent of tampons that have been used. Outside of the ICC, most Christians may not perform as many good works as ICC members, but one good work done out of willingness and love for God is worth more than ten thousand good works done out of force and self-righteousness.
One of the greatest enigmas within the ICC doctrine is the prerequisite of baptism of a disciple for salvation. According to your interpretation of Acts 11:26, Christians and disciples are synonymous, and only disciples are saved. At the same time, you argue that baptism is also a prerequisite for salvation. This issue is further complicated by the claim that the ICC only baptizes people who are already disciples. This seems to imply that baptism, which is necessary for salvation, is only done for those who are already saved! From this dilemma, one can devise an additional logical deduction. The doctrine of the church must be based on the Bible; it is well established that the Bible does not contain any contradictions; it has been shown that the ICC doctrine on salvation contains contradictions; therefore, the ICC doctrine must NOT be adhering to the Bible. This doctrine poses some serious problems since salvation is the most important aspect of Christianity. Maybe this will be resolved when Kip McKean changes the core doctrine of the church again, but it is more likely that further alterations in the future will introduce even more contradictions.
My experience with the ICC was not all negative. I have been brought closer to God and have been initially set in the right direction. I would still like to thank you, and all other members for helping me with these aspects; however, I believe that I need to move on before I begin heading in the wrong direction with this church. I have written these words to you because it is my responsibility to you to express my thoughts. You may do as you wish with this information presented in this message. I wish you and all other members the best with your pursuit of the Kingdom of God.
©1998 by Tom Khoury <firstname.lastname@example.org>. All rights reserved.
Other reading: Be sure to read the article Tom Khoury wrote about his experiences in the ICC and how he came to leave.