Their defense of NOT being a Cult!
The International church of Christ began with a man named Kip Mckean in 1979, who started this movement with 30 people dedicated to be disciples. The question still remains of whom, Kip or Jesus? They were known then as the Boston movement until they spread throughout the world and took upon themselves the name international Church of Christ.
Most churches have statements of their beliefs and practices and are very open about what they believe. This church does not, at least not officially. They may say a few things that will at first sound biblical but it is how they are interpreted that will When people ask this church, "What is your statement of faith?" "Do you have any literature?" Their answer is always no. What they say is "All we have is the Bible, we only follow the Bible, that is our statement of faith." The truth is, their beliefs in general are written down, but many of their members are unaware of this. We should be cautious of those who say that the Bible alone is their statement and not have anything to explain and summarize their beliefs. We find that what they claim is simply not true, as their beliefs are found in systematic Bible studies intended to convince anyone, even a Christian that they are not saved unless they go to their church and practice Christianity their way. So they hide what they teach until one goes through the learning process. That is deceptive!
When asked the question Do You Consider the I.C.C. the Only True Church? The way they answer this is much like a politician, by giving an answer that describes only what they require for practice and belief. Of course, they believe the are the only true Church; their leaders state this consistently from the pulpit and in their writings. Barely anyone else would fit this description. From theirICC web site "We are aware of no other group anywhere today that teaches and holds to these standards for every member to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of his church. Even our critics say that what we teach is unique in the religious world." Does this mean someone has the truth because they are unique? The Mormons, the Jehovahs Witnesses and many others find some of their unique doctrines from the Bible to prove they alone have the truth, but this does not make it so.
In one of their pamphlets "How Do You Respond to Critics Who Equate Discipling With Mind-Control or Brainwashing?" Their answer: "We try to respond with forbearance and love, for Christians have always been misunderstood." This is certainly not being practiced. We find other churches are made fun of, and are compared to them by numbers, and their mission is to take sheep out of other churches. I can hardly consider this a Christian standard. They say on the web, "No one is ever told or expected to go against his or her own conscience." So what do they do? They change someone's thinking by biblical (with psychological) manipulation and coercion so that they will agree with them. This love that they talk about is applied quite differently when someone disagrees or wants to leave. Their own track record of the numerous people that have left shows their inconsistency toward even their own members. As of late the percentage is that almost 2/3rds leave that have truly joined. This means there are currently more non-members of their church than are currently authentic members.
In the last year they have put on the Church's web page general statements implying to the public they are orthodox. Such as, "One is saved by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ " This is such a false statement since they say over and over again that by baptism one is saved. As Randy Haragan states "We teach people there's only one way to get into this Kingdom. There is only one way, it is by faith, being baptized in water, coming in contact with the blood of Jesus, having all our sins washed away, thereby receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is God's way." (Go and Baptize Disciples Only audio tape, 1991 SW Conference). "Only baptized disciples are members of Christ's Church. After baptism every new Christian needs to be taught or "discipled" by another Christian to obey all of Jesus' teachings (Matthew 28:20). "
Kip McKean"When you preached who is really saved: that you gotta have faith, you gotta repent, you gotta become a true disciple of Jesus, and then you gotta be water immersed for the forgiveness of sins received through the Holy Spirit, that excludes all other denominations everybody else out there." ( "Preach the Word." Johannesburg World Missions Leadership Conference. Aug. 1995, audio #10091) The question that needs to be asked is does the Bible clearly teach this concept? I have never found the Scripture to say someone was saved by water baptism, nor from being a disciple. What we do find is people are saved by faith in the Gospel, (the real biblical one). And while there are a few instances Baptism is attached to the preaching of the Gospel but in no way does baptism save it occurs afterwards.
On their web site they have the title What we Believe, they state, "the Bible is the only inspired and inerrant message of God." Just about every cult agrees with this. It is the way it is interpreted that makes the Bible valid.While most Churches teach through and from the Bible they teach from it. In other words they take certain passages and make them into something they are not, forming a whole theological bent to the Scripture. They state on the web "One is saved by the grace of God and the blood of Jesus Christ; and a person must, through faith and obedience, reach out to receive this free gift of salvation." This is patently false, they believe baptism saves not faith by itself. It is the information they dont include that makes all this deceptive. So it is not faith alone, but adding obedience to the "Church's teachings" making it another Gospel! Faithand repentance are obedience and what brings one into Gods grace, not any work (found in the Scripture or not) that we accompany along with it. We don't do a thing to participate in salvation but we receive the benefits by faith. It is this distortion of the facts that alters the gospel of grace. A Gospel centered on Christs work for us.
"The International Churches of Christ are not interested in adding another denomination to the already cluttered landscape of dying churches. We are not trying to start a new church. We are calling as many people as possible to become a part of the one and only church that Jesus Christ founded nearly two millennia ago." (They then go on to cite the beginnings of their church in 1979 by McKean. (ICC web site). What makes them think that they are the Church Jesus founded! "The Lord allowed me to begin the restoration of the New Testament Church from a small group of thirty would-be disciples in Gempels living room in June of 1979 in Boston" (UpsideDown magazine, Issue 11, August 1994 pg. 18). So, according to McKean, there would be no true Church today. It becomes obvious that Jesus does not have His church without the restoration from McKean. Something that Jesus himself spoke on "He would build His Church and the gates of hell would not hinder its growth, work or people."
This movement's view of Christianity is exclusive. You are not a Christian unless you are doing it the way it is interpreted by their leader, Kip McKean.
The whole movements rules are dictated from the top from Kip McKean downward in a pyramid type model. "We have very clear vertical lines of authority. I am the lead evangelist."(K. McKean "Super Church." July 1992, audio. All the churches are to conform to his standards. McKean has said "I've got a lot of the Pharisee in me. After all I'm the leader of the movement."
Judy Weger "you have to be convinced that you are of God, that your leaders are of God, that this church is of God . . .There must be no doubt in your mind that this is God's kingdom, God's Church, one Lord, one faith, one baptism." (Faith and Convictions, audio tape, San Diego)
In response to being called a cult they actually write, "there is no person or group of people to whom the International Churches of Christ requires absolute devotion Kip McKean is not an apostle nor does he claim to have a sense of being supernaturally led or inspired by God." Really! If we have not seen enough quotes maybe a few more specific statements will close the issue. "We have very clear vertical lines of authority. I am the lead evangelist." (Kip McKean. "Super Church." July 1992, audiotape). "Well,' you say, well you've gone too far by saying you're the leader of the movement.' I say, Oh no, I didn't say I was, but either I am or I'm not." "Might as well break in another tradition. I believe there are prophets today. I'll be extra bold. I believe I'm a prophet today." (Kip McKean Malachi: God's Radical Demand for Remaining Radical." (Manila World Missions Leadership Conference. (Also Discipleship Publications International, 1994) audio #9104, side one). It becomes apparent what these statements actually mean from the way they are practiced in their church government and discipleship. It may not be ABSOLUTE devotion the leader(s) ask, but its as close as one can get to being like a guru. It is true he does not say he is an apostle,(others do) but instead claims to be a prophet, I see little difference. Since what is actually practiced is a subtle spiritual dictatorship. "We have very clear vertical lines of authority. I am the lead evangelist."(K. McKean "Super Church." July 1992, audio) Kip is the tip of the pyramid and what he says goes down to all who are in his Church Movement.
The ICC is well aware of the media and "other church's" opinion about them. On their website addressing the accusation of " Mind control and manipulation. (which is) Using controlling methods, including physical and/or psychological isolation from family and friends." "ICOC: Mind control and manipulation imply intent to cause a person to do something against his or her will. This is exactly the opposite of our goal and purpose. Jesus calls each disciple to love God with all of his/her heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Following God must be from the heart, not because one has been manipulated into blind obedience. Before a person makes a decision to become a disciple, we study the Bible together so that he/she clearly understands what God expects."
While this may be their goal it is not their practice. Al Baird says a disciplers advice " can be accepted or rejected without sinning, so long as the person receiving the advice is convinced that his decision is the one God wants."(A New Look At Authority, UpsideDown, issue 2, pg. 19.) McKean has stated that, even if the evangelist calls you to do something that disobeys your conscience, you still have an obligation to study it out and prayerfully change your opinion so you can be totally unified. ("Why Do You Resist the Spirit," Boston Seminar 1987, Audio).
If one disagrees with what they teach the Bible says even if it is apparent they are wrong, that person must go fast and pray about lining up with what the discipler is showing them. Cults do not often have blind obedience. The members are convinced what they are being taught is true and exercise their will to obey. Someone's thinking is change by biblical persuasion. You can ask anyone why they left the movement? Eight out of ten times you will hear because they were manipulated to believe what the church taught when their heart said
They go on to say "Included in the study is Gods expectation that every disciple honor his/her parents (Ephesians 6:2). Quite often a dysfunctional relationship has previously existed between the parents and child which needs to be rebuilt or repaired in order to become what God wants it to be. Non-Christian friendships are encouraged, unless those friends tempt the disciple into his/her pre-Christian lifestyle of immorality, drugs, partying, selfishness, etc. (1 Corinthians 15:33)."
This is a completely false representation of how open they are. They do not encourage any of the members to be with friends and family unless they can bring them to studies and church. More often they break off their relationships and it is not because they are dragging them into a former sin, but because they are trying to get them out of a control situation from the church. If what they are saying is true it would not be necessary to have the new member move out from their homes to live communally with the other members. When they say a dysfunctional relationship rebuilt into what God wants it to be they mean that everyone in the family would become a member in their church and find peace through unity.
On their website they reveal "What Time Commitment is involved as a Member of the Church? "There are about six hours of meetings per week. In addition, members spend time with their Christian friends in informal fellowship and friendship settings outside of the regular church meetings." "Is this excessive? Absolutely not! Most denominations hold several different meetings per week: worship services, Sunday school classes, midweek meetings, prayer meetings and so forth -- and the more committed members attend all of them. And when all members attend all the meetings this is highly lauded." " In our congregations when the average member comes to all the meetings it certainly should not be regarded as unusual behavior. Why? Because the Bible tells us that the early Christians were willing to meet daily (Acts 2:46)."
Yes churches have meetings each day, but they do not make the attendance mandatory or a measurement of ones spirituality or commitment. Other churchs do not expect their people to go to every meeting of the week, they realize they have live's, a job, and a family. The I.C.C 6 hr. a week time estimation does not include traveling back and forth to the meetings. So we can see this would take up much if not all of what would be considered open time in the day and convert it to church time. The ICC doesnt call it unusual behavior because of their distorted view on commitment, which is drilled in them to obey from Scripture. But the Scripture does not explain "meeting daily" as regulatory as they interpret. Neither do I know of a church that gives kudos for peoples perfect attendance record. Christian friends to them mean their Church members only. As we can see its not always what is said but the meaning they give to it.
It shouldnt surprise us to see how committed members are produced from being persuaded they alone have the answers. They actually have the insolence to quote on their web site Huston Smith, author of The World's Religions, who writes "Mainline Protestant groups are in terrible trouble, having lost 25% of their membership in the last 25 years." This is done to make other churches look as if they are failing and cant hold onto their members. As always they are not honest and will not look at themselves. What you will never hear from them is how many people are actually leaving their movement after seeing the problems. Presently there is a revolving door with as many people going out as coming in. (There ratio is more than 25%, more like 50%). These are people whose lives have been damaged from being part of this movement's legalistic interpretations of the Bible.
Those who surrendered to the ICC's way of Christianity and allowed their control in almost all areas of their lives. Tithing is mandatory based on Mal.3 and is an essential part of their discipleship. Former leader Daniel Eng stated that "before they are baptized we must talk to them about their money."
Throughout their Church worldwide, the zone leaders report the attendance each month. At the top of the report are the contribution amount, number of members, and baptisms. In their World Sector Reports, they give the count in the cities and foreign countries. They know exactly how many people are joining or leaving, and how much money is coming in. Everything in the church is monitored. Authority is exercised in a person's finances in the same way it is practiced in the other areas. Just as attendance and membership are reported weekly, tithing is also very carefully counted. The giving of each Int. Church of Christ member is established beforehand and always monitored by the zone leader (usually). This is the Christianity they tell their members they have restored, it is neither biblical nor has it ever been practiced in the Churchs history.
This is why they are called a cult. Because they act like one.
Articles are taken from the spiral bound book International Church of Christ Birth of a Cult. (click> on books)