Thursday, September 15, 2011

Follow me on Twitter!


I started a Twitter account. Let's see what happens when I try to engage the ICOC and ICC on the social networks!

You can follow me @xray342radio.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kip McKeanʼs Theology: Still Winning in the Cincinnati Church of Christ


Almost five years ago, July 4, 2006, my discipling partner and I were both members of the Cincinnati Church of Christ. We decided to meet for coffee when we ran into another former member. With the fallout of the Henry Kriete Letter still fresh in my mind, this former member confirmed many suspicions I had that the Cincinnati Church of Christ wasn't changing and heading towards a healthy direction.

He gave me permission to think.

Five years later, prompted by the Holy Spirit, I started discussing current church issues with a campus intern for the Cincinnati Church of Christ. I asked what they were using to "study the Bible" with people. And she gave me the "new" study series... with notes from the leadership embedded in it.

Ohioans such as myself enjoy the trick-taking card game Euchre. Using this as a metaphor, the campus intern called trump on Spades while I was holding the Jack of Clubs. She gave me what is known as the "Left Bauer" (the code name of this project), which was now the second highest trump in the deck and could most definitely prevent her from taking the majority of the tricks.

The final result is this in-depth analysis of this "new" study series entitled Kip McKeanʼs Theology: Still Winning in the Cincinnati Church of Christ. As the title states, the theology taught by the Cincinnati Church of Christ in terms of salvation is still the same as what Kip McKean has taught in "First Principles" for over three decades. It's just the same rusty (but effective) steel trap, but with a different paint job.

Thanks to the folks who helped review it and work out some of the details. And special thanks to Jen Chambers of Spiritual Pornography.com and Chris Lee of REVEAL.org.

(The full URL to the paper is: http://www.reveal.org/library/theology/kipwinningincincy.pdf)

(cross-post to Spiritual Pornography.com)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Over Eight Years Later: Signs of ICOC Reversion, Part 3

This is the third and final commentary in a series of posts on recent articles on Disciples Today concerning the reversion of the ICOC to a state before reforms were promised by the leadership in 2003. The third article is entitled Still Willing to Go Anywhere for God, written by Damon Brog (presumably the Lead Evangelist) from Springfield, Illinois.

At first glance, this story seems inspiring. A young, single man named Rajaveen (Raj) Chandrasakaran decides to do "something radical" in order to escape "complacency".
"My time with my company was coming to an end, I am single and my parents are disciples. I realized no better time than now to take that radical plunge and to GO and be on the cutting-edge of faith. So I proceeded to put my condo on the market, gave away all my possessions, and put out feelers to anyone who would give me an opportunity to help build their ministry."
Raj then gets hooked up with Damon and effectively becomes the campus minister of the Springfield Church of Christ. Damon describes Raj's efforts.
"Just today we studied the Bible with 4 college students consecutively between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They continue to bring friends with them. Nearly twenty students are studying the Bible in earnest. The church has been here for about 15 years and had never had a campus ministry, though the effort had been made prior to our arrival. We put together a little campus Bible Talk at the beginning of 2010 and had a couple of baptisms, but there has been a literally miraculous injection of life to our campus ministry since Raj arrived here in August. It is very likely that we will finish the year out with about a half dozen baptisms."
So should there be rejoicing about Raj's decision? That apparently he made it on his own and wasn't being told to do it through a discipling partner? Was the Holy Spirit calling him to do this?

Perhaps.

However, the article mentions nothing about the Holy Spirit, or the influence of another person either for that matter.

He says, "Instead of living my life by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me, I constantly tried to live for me –not in a blatant manner but far more subtly, allowing the distractions and desires of life to lull me into a sense of complacency." This certainly can be done within the context of being a "Network Engineer for Fortune 500 company".

Did that "something radical" have to be done in the context of selling and giving away everything and becoming a campus minister intern? Certainly not! However, this mode has been a classic McKeanist position for decades. And he's going though this well-worn path once again. Even though Raj may not have a discipling partner or leaders telling him what to do, the ICOC's mindset regarding what it takes to be "alive in Christ" has clearly been transferred to him.

Damon continues:
"All that being said, it has made a GREAT impact on our church members here. Seeing someone surrender all and move to their town in order to invest themselves in the work of the Lord has left the people here revived and challenged in a good way. The Springfield church began the 2010 with 39 members; we will finish the year with well over 50! This comes after years of the church here struggling and even decreasing in size. Now there are ongoing Bible studies in all ministries of the church –campus, teens, marrieds, and singles! It is difficult to overstate the effect that the campus explosion has had on the entire church. The momentum that we have gained during the year has been pushed into hyperdrive when one committed disciple made the bold decision to respond to the radical calling of the Lord!"
In short, the campus ministry is the spark that gets the church going, growing, and doing well. The position of the campus minister is and continues to be the most exhausted role in the church, sometimes surpassing the roles of the evangelists and elders! Why couldn't Damon "crank" the campus ministry like Raj could?

It's concerning, like it's been mentioned in the previous two articles, that the role of the Holy Spirit isn't mentioned at all. So it's doesn't take a lot for Raj to fall back into the classic game plan - convert a bunch of campus students to create the illusion that the church is growing and groom those campus students as the leadership base as they get married and have children of their own. In addition, it's not a foregone conclusion that when Raj or any of the people mentioned in the previous two articles aren't using "First Principles" or a derivative that still promotes the same works-based steps of salvation developed and pushed under Kip McKean.

In the past three articles, the common thread for both Kingdom Kids and new converts, major cities and smaller towns, established strongholds and newer outposts, is that core patterns established in the Crossroads era, built and solidified through the Boston Movement era, continued through the unified ICOC era, are now clearly being seen during the post-McKean era. We should see more signs of abuse as the ICOC continues on its clear path back to the "glory days". And we should pray that the Holy Spirit is stirring the heart of the next Henry Kriete who will inevitably call the graceless, Christ-less, man-made system to true and unequivocal repentance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Over Eight Years Later: Signs of ICOC Reversion, Part 2

This is the second of three posts commenting on recent articles on Disciples Today concerning the reversion of the ICOC to a state before Kip McKean was dismissed from the organization. The second article is entitled The Joys of a Discipling Relationship, written by Ross Lippencott, a campus student who was "converted post-2003" in his own words. The first paragraph provides a concerning summary of the article:
"I was not growing because I did not have a Paul in my life. I did not have someone to teach me, to train me, to correct me, to rebuke me, to love me, to guide me, to help develop the character of Jesus in me - to get in there and encourage as well as to say the hard things that no one else could."
The traditional, authoritarian, hierarchical model of discipling in the ICOC has been well-documented. A top-down system of control is established in each congregation from a Lead Evangelist or Lead Elder and each congregation's leadership is discipled in a top-down form from more influential churches to less influential ones. One of the key reforms called for by the Henry Kriete Letter was to reform the discipling system:
"We have assumed, wrongly, that the sheep are stupid. We have trained them to depend on men, on us in fact, and not on Christ. 'Did you get advice' for the most part means 'Did you get permission.' Yes of course, they are vulnerable and open to attack, but they are not stupid. It is we who have been stupid, Biblically and spiritually. Should we not assume, rather, that a true, Spirit-filled Christian desires to please God, not to rebel? Ezekiel 36: 'I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws'.

Through our discipleship partner theology, we have attempted, like modern-day Pharisees, to put a hedge around God's law. In trying to protect or control the Christians, we have routinely violated their liberty in Christ. We have not trusted disciples to live by their own convictions and decisions (and mistakes), and have fostered in them an unhealthy dependence, rather than freedom to grow and mature. Many of our discipling guidelines are nothing more than 'rules taught by men', condemned by Jesus as burdensome and legalistic. No control mechanisms, or traditions of men, or rules and culturally accepted regulations will keep anyone faithful who does not want to be faithful in their heart. But they will create rebellion and criticalness among sincere and liberated Christians. We did not become new creations to be controlled by men; rather, 'it is for freedom Christ has set us free'"
In light of Henry's call, Ross's descriptions of discipling indicate that Henry's truthful insights have been ignored.
"'That was it!' I had realized. I was not growing because I did not have a Paul in my life. I did not have someone to teach me, to train me, to correct me, to rebuke me, to love me, to guide me, to help develop the character of Jesus in me - to get in there and encourage as well as to say the hard things that no one else could"
Healthy Christian relationships when it comes to teaching can be classified in three ways relative to an individual believer: student-teacher, peer-peer, and teacher-student. Ross's article only describes one of these aspects: student-teacher. He needs a Paul in his life to teach him as his student. He doesn't need peers like Barnabas and Silas. And he doesn't need students like Timothy that he can teach, although he will likely become a Paul himself some day. With the focus on only the necessity of the teacher, the groundwork is laid for a repeat of the authoritarian abuses of the past.

Sadly, Ross has no frame of reference of this kind of discipling:
"As someone who was converted post-2003, I never had an assigned 'discipling partner' and quite frankly - because of my limited understanding - the term 'discipling partner' had a negative connotation. However, the way Nilson had described his relationship with Troy sounded very different from everything I had associated with 'discipling' in the past. To be honest, they sounded a lot like... well ... friends. To be honest, I needed a friend."
Ross got his friend - and friends are a blessing from God! - but Ross has no idea about the evolution of the optional prayer partner back in the Crossroads Campus Ministry days of the late 1960's to discipling partners to mandatory discipling partners to mandatory assigned discipling partners that can change at the blink of an eye due to the whims of the leadership.

Again, as was shown in the last commentary on Joseph Porter, the lack of the role of the Holy Spirit in Ross's life is disturbing. For a healthy believer needs both need the relationships in a healthy community of Christians and the Holy Spirit to be taught (John 14:26), trained in divine wisdom (1 Cor 2:6-16), corrected and rebuked (John 16:8), loved both individually (Romans 5:5) and collectively through the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3), guided into all divine truth (John 16:13-15), transformed to the very image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18), encourage (Acts 9:31), and speak with Spirit-taught words (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Ross is "young and still learning". Let's pray that now as a Youth and Family and Worship Minister can learn to throw off this one-way model of discipling that has failed in the past before he and his hearers are irrevocably damaged.

This is the second of three related commentaries. The third one will be posted soon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Over Eight Years Later: Signs of ICOC Reversion, Part 1

Three articles posted on the primary news site for the International Churches of Christ, Disciples Today, are an ominous sign that over eight years after the reforms spurred on by the events surrounding Kip McKean's departure and Henry Kriete Letter, that the status quo is returning to classic positions the movement has had since the 1970's.

The first article is entitled Confessions of a Kingdom Kid at Harvard, written by Joseph Porter (posted 1/7/2011), a self-professed "Kingdom Kid" (who was born and raised in the church). In fact, his parents "both... served in Boston's campus ministry back in the day".

What are Joseph's confessions?
"I was a prideful coward. I was terrified of inviting strangers to Bible discussion groups or other events, and I did everything I could to avoid actually talking to strangers..."
His sin was not anything in the realm of sexual immorality, drunkenness, use of illegal drugs, cheating and cutting corners in his school work, but inviting enough people out to church! He repented of this sin, not by reading the Word of God (there still isn't a verse in there that says "thou shalt evangelize everyone at all times of the day and night") and not by a conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), but by submission to discipling.
"Eventually - about two years in to my career as a college disciple - I learned my lesson. I learned that it was laughably foolish for me to think that I knew how to evangelize my campus better than my campus ministers..."
It's a given that any leaders of a campus ministry would have more experience than the students they're leading. However, what we see in this case is submission to discipling by the leaders. "Soul Talks", now known as "Bible Talks", were a new innovation in the late 1960's during the start of the Crossroads Campus Ministry Movement days in Gainesville, Florida. Were they "laughably foolish" by breaking the then norms? Of course not. These delivered results: conversions. And Joseph wasn't making disciples at the rate that both himself and his leadership expected him to.

Joseph finishes with a description of his commitment to the church:
"Of course, being a disciple on campus is a full-time job. I have to use my time wisely; meals are often combined with Bible studies, and many evenings are devoted to midweek services, Bible talks, Friday devotionals, d-groups, and the like. I've learned to limit the time I spend on Facebook and playing video games. I don't always get as much sleep as I'd like; I wake up at around seven on Saturday mornings for Saturday Academy, and not much later for church on Sunday. But I love what I'm doing nevertheless."
With this example, he's been "given the opportunity to serve as an intern in Boston's campus ministry". He's also repeating the time and resource consuming requirements of being a disciple, a Christian, a saved person - as the ICOC has clearly defined it in the past. A total commitment not to Jesus, but to the church and its ideology. Joseph's reflection of the ICOC ideology is shown here:
"I knew that campus ministry was the heart and soul of the ICOC, and I wanted to turn my campus upside down when I arrived there."
The concept of the importance of the campus ministry, not only to himself as a campus student, but to the survival of the church as a whole, has been deeply embedded into him, literally since birth! Also his unconditional submission to discipling and what the leaders above him say and what he says to the people he personally disciples. And not to mention the total commitment to even put the church above his studies, particularly challenging studies at an Ivy-League institution! Sadly, Joseph and other Kingdom Kids like him have likely never learned to put Jesus in the center of their lives and had all of their activities - church, school, family, leisure, and even sleep - centered around the crucified Christ and guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep the balance.

Two more commentaries about the remaining two articles will follow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

We Have Met the Enemy... and He Is Us?

The ICOC Co-operation Churches Teachers Service Team produced a report in early March 2011 that contains two intriguing ideas. The first is the discussion of a paper describing the roles of teachers which contains a section on conflict resolution.

"Steve Staten had written an appendix to the paper that included a case study illustrating the process of correcting a teacher when a teacher teachers a divisive or minority view.
...
This paper has been forwarded to the evangelists and elders service teams so that they can give feedback on it."


It's clear what a "divisive" view would be, and the need for Christian leaders to correct other divisive leaders in a church. However, what exactly does "correcting a teacher when a teacher teaches... a minority view" mean? When I think of a "minority view", I tend to think of justices of the United States Supreme Court who are on the dissenting side of a decision. Typically one of those dissenting judges writes their take on the case from their perspective. Although the parties on the winning side of the case and parts of the media disagree with the minority view, none of those judges lose their jobs or face any reprimand.

This brings us to the responsibility of Christian teachers to hold fast and strongly to solid, core Christian doctrines and the liberty of those teachers to have opinions on secondary issues. Although within a certain denomination or fellowship, they would have to teach and be unified around some secondary issues such as mode of baptism, church polity, and eschatology. The problem with the ICOC worldview is that they have inherited from the mainline Churches of Christ the tendency to be "right" on as many secondary issues as possible. And if someone doesn't agree with their interpretation, it typically involves a church split. But in the case of the ICOC, you would have to leave the "kingdom" itself.

Ultimately, the boundary line between having an acceptable, differing opinion on something and having an opinion that could potentially cause division isn't entirely clear. Practically all of the men on this committee were converted and brought into the ICOC (and its predecessor movements) under Kip McKean who demanded unquestioning obedience and uniformity from his followers, especially his leaders in the upper ranks. How much would a teacher have to step over the line in order to be in the "minority view"? From historical precedent, probably not too far.

Note that the appendix containing the "minority view" in correction was written by Steve Staten, a very high-level leader with a lot of influence currently in Chicago, Illinois and a key player in the post-McKean ICOC.

The second idea that deserves attention is on the topic of loving your enemies.

"We also discussed the issue of what it means to love our enemies. Tom Jones presented his thoughts on the subject. We had an engaging talk this issue. We all agreed that we must love our enemies, but saw the need for more discussions on topic on how to present this teaching to our churches. We want to work with the elders and evangelists groups to come to unity on this topic. This led to some discussion on the process of peer review on papers on controversial topics before these papers are released to a general audience."


Who are these enemies? The world, the flesh, and the devil? "Bitter" former members? Zealous followers of false religions? It's unclear. Although I believe it may be in response to the only sole, unified group that has the utter destruction ICOC in its sights: Kip McKean's International Christian Churches. It's shocking to realize that the ICOC is still ignoring the new movement overall. There haven't been any clear warnings from their large pulpits or web sites about the "sold-out" movement since the formal split occurred in late 2005. In addition to warnings, clear teaching to why Kip's new group is so dangerous hasn't been given either. However, the reason for this is simple: there are no practical differences between the core doctrines of the ICOC and ICC besides who one is discipled by: people being discipled up to a committee or people being discipled up to Kip McKean himself.

It's ironic if both of these ideas are coupled together. The enemy would be one of their own for teaching doctrine the others disagree with. How will the next Ed Powers or Henry Kriete be loved for their views? Likely in the same harsh manner as these men were treated for not playing ball with the party line.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Same Patterns of Salvation Past in the ICOC

Disciples Today, one of the official media front ends for the ICOC, posted an article on Friday, February 4 entitled Couple Wrestles through "Praying Jesus into Your Heart". In it, a married couple named Peter and Cindy Van Dyk describe their experience of coming to Christ in Fargo, North Dakota, moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and encountering the ICOC church there - the Fort Wayne Church of Christ. Instead of finding a church where they "could feel connected to a community of believers", they got a lot more than they bargained for.

"So, as a result, we were baptized again on October 11th, 2007. This time knowing God's full plan for salvation. With fully repentant hearts, with a pledge of a good conscience, and an understanding of the importance of all that God requires of his disciples."

Note what they're saying here. Their initial baptism was invalid. Why? Because they did not "[know] God's full plan for salvation." What this this include? "[F]ully repentant hearts... and an understanding of the importance of all that God requires of his disciples."

This should immediately raise red flags for those who are familiar with the traditional salvation theology of the ICOC. They not only require that people know that their sins are being forgiven at the point of baptism (like in the theology of the conservative Churches of Christ where both the ICOC and "sold-out" ICC came from), but they require converts to understand God's requirements for being a disciple. Even though those requirements aren't listed in this article, it's clear that this can only mean one thing: the list of requirements is the list presented in the First Principles (link is to the audio form taught by Kip McKean himself) bible study called Discipleship. These include - but aren't limited to - the following as requirements to receive salvation:
  • Go to all nations and make disciples.
  • Deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Christ.
  • Lose their lives by put Jesus above all possessions and relationships.
  • Be persecuted.
  • Have daily quiet times and prayer times.
  • Have a discipling partner and learn from them.
Since converts must start doing these things to the satisfaction to the ICOC leaders "studying the Bible" with them, this is clearly works-salvation with men playing the role of God. What's more disturbing is that this occurred in 2007, years after the release of the Henry Kriete Letter and calls for reform.

This is another significant sign that things really haven't changed in the International Churches of Christ. This also explains why those in the ICOC don't have a clear, concise, and consistent theology to explain that they're not the "One True Church" - that there are "true disciples" in every other Christian denomination and fellowship, even the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics. Those in the Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and other healthy denominations and fellowships should be on guard against this yeast that has poisoned the Van Dyks and will continue to poison more as time goes on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Discipling Fails to Fix Racial Issues in Atlanta

Another failure of the authoritarian discipling system the International Churches of Christ use has been exposed. From a recent post on the well-known ICOC Delphi Discussion Forum, a current member discloses that there are deep racial divides among the individual ICOC churches in the Atlanta metropolitan area. (The following quote is verbatim from the forum post.)

"Needless to say, all the churches handled it their own way. was unique but I can't say any better because of the results being quite fractured. And after it split up, the results varied from church to church in the different locations in the city. Some groups are deeply wounded and many in these groups won't have anything to do with the others. Some are almost all racially one color because of their location in the city being all black.

We also had a hidden racial issue in the church that surprised a lot of leadership. But, hey, this is !

A fragile shift toward unity is growing here but on a much more respectful and peer related level...not authoritarian. It will take a long time because many people are still very sensitive."

The Atlanta Church of Christ was reconstructed in 1986 from a Church of Christ with a Crossroads Campus Ministry. It was lead by Sam Laing who is currently leading the ICOC church in nearby Athens (and was a key player in converting and training Kip McKean at the University of Florida in the early 1970's). After the fallout of the Henry Kriete Letter of 2003, the Atlanta church decided to formally split into separate churches based on geographical regions. For almost eighteen years, it grew into a church of thousands and practiced and preached Kip McKean's authoritarian discipling model and was sold to both its members and potential recruits as a foolproof way to provide a structure for spiritual growth and maturity and numerical growth.

Atlanta, like most other cities in the Southern United States, has had to deal with the specters of slavery and racism for hundreds of years. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's showed that the city and its people were far from reconciling and resolving this issue. Blacks and whites could still live tougher civilly though, but the unspoken undercurrent of the past still remained.

Enter the ICOC with its racially diverse churches. This was and still continues to be one of its best attractions to outsiders. Some ICOC leaders, like Daryl Reed, Lead Minister of the District of Columbia Regional Christian Church in Washington, D.C. are espousing their insights about how to pull diverse groups of people together in the church and get them to work together as a family. (In fact, Daryl has been chosen to speak at the 2010 North American Christian Convention, sponsored by the Christian Church branch of the Restoration Movement!)

So why is there disunity between the Atlanta congregations now? It has been clearly shown that the discipling methods the ICOC has used in the past and continues to use are authoritarian and force each member and each congregation in the group to conform to the norms of the leader. (An excellent description of this in action is the book The Discipling Dilemma.) In the past, it has been Kip McKean. Currently there is no one clear leader of the ICOC. Each church claims to be autonomous. However, there is an emerging body of leaders over the churches that choose to be part of the so-called "Cooperation Churches". Several of the churches in Atlanta are part of this group (Athens Church of Christ, North River Church of Christ, Atlanta Metropolitan Christian Church, and Atlanta Church of Christ in Gwinnett), but many aren't (Greater Atlanta Church of Christ, North River Church of Christ, Cornerstone Church, Marietta Christian Church, and the Northview Church of Christ). With the same forced unity that is pushed by the authoritarian discipling system, it's not surprising to see that major issues among the people in the formerly unified Atlanta Church of Christ, and not just only racial ones, were glossed over for the good of the stability and growth of the group.

Sadly, the solution these churches use to solve their problem is more discipling from an outside authority. In a report from the ICOC Cooperation Churches entitled Elders Service Team Addresses Crucial Shepherding Issues, the problem with the Atlanta Cooperation Churches is mentioned:

"In Atlanta a mediation team of Bruce Williams, John Causey and Wyndham Shaw was asked to assist in resolving issues between 5 cooperating congregations."


(Note: there are only four churches listed as Cooperation Churches in the list linked above.)

Bruce Williams is the Lead Evangelist of the Los Angeles Church of Christ, still the largest ICOC congregation. Wyndham Shaw is an elder in the Boston Church of Christ. Both men have been part of the ICOC going back to the 1980's and have held high level positions in both the era during and after Kip McKean was leading the movement. A recent quote from Shaw is troubling when it comes to the belief that the ICOC without Kip McKean is more open-minded (emphasis mine):

"You know, love for the truth without heart for God and people is legalism. We do have to watch that. We can get so caught up in knowing every scripture and proof text of every issue that's out there in the cultural, philosophical, and religious world - the urban legends - that we become arrogant. We become self-righteous. That we think knowing the truth will save us, rather than loving the source of truth, Jesus - and what he has taught us to set us free. Let's don't become legalists, church. Let's don't become people that are arrogant because we think we're better than others.

On the other hand, do not let anyone shut you up, back you up, or keep you from standing up for what you know the truth is that people need to hear. You see, that's the extreme I'm afraid we got to. 'Oh, well, you we're a little overzealous about who you thought was saved and lost.' Let me say something: the religious world is still just as lost if they do not get the truth of discipleship, of baptism for the forgiveness of sins, by immersion as an adult, as they ever were! We may not be the only ones that hold that conviction, and that's true! And where we find people, we should embrace that, but we can not change the width of the gate or the narrowness of the road that leads to eternal life."

Wyndham Shaw, Elder/Evangelist - Boston Church of Christ (sermon delivered at the Worcester County Church of Christ) - "Love of the Truth" - March 28, 2010 - [42:28-43:55]


It's clear that in Shaw's mind that the only way to unify is through "the truth of discipleship" coupled with the "right" baptism.

In addition, how could the leaders not know that racial issues permeated their congregation? For one, sins of racism were likely confessed by converts and that information was passed up the discipling hierarchy to the top leadership. Secondly, if the leaders had winning Atlanta for Christ in mind instead of building up their own kingdom, they would have known about the culture and city's history, so expecting racial tensions should be near if not on top of the list of concerns that the church had to deal with as it was growing in the 1980's and 1990's.

Ultimately, the intervention by these powerful and influential leaders outside of Atlanta will just put duct tape and a fresh coat of paint on the same problems that have existed for almost the last quarter century. Since the ICOC only has the proverbial hammer of discipling, every problem looks like a nail. And the only solution is to bang away until objects sticking out of the wood have either been driven into it or pulled out and tossed away. The sad part is that almost eight years after the Henry Kriete Letter, Atlanta and the other ICOC churches haven't bothered to dig into the tool chest, particularly reevaluating the driving forces of the First Principles studies, incorporating the role of the Holy Spirit into the individual disciples' lives, and seeking help from the outside to dissolve the sticky tar pit trap of authoritarian discipling and legalism that traps them all.