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.