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)


Anonymous said...

As a former member of the ICOC, I'm interested to read studies. In all honesty, I don't think a lot has changed. When I left (on good terms), I had started thinking of the ICOC as being the 21st Century replacement for Catholicism - a rigid hierarchical structure, and no concept of the autonomy shown in the New Testament churches.

Since I've left, I've had a major rethink. I've gone back to the scriptures in their original languages and looked at them from a spiritual point of view. And as such, I have a couple of conclusions. They are:
#1. If you want to teach somebody who isn't a Christian about Christ - use the Old Testament - that's what its there for. The Tabernacle alone is a fantastic study because it shows God's intended relationship with man; Christ's relationship with man; and how to enter into a relationship with God. I've seen people eager to get baptised after just this study.
#2. Acts 2:37 comes before Acts 2:38. Baptism may be necessary, but the person who desires it must ask for it, not be told when it's appropriate. The number of fall-aways in the ICOC is a strict indicator of the number of people who were (are) baptised before they're ready, if they even ever were.
#3. As if in condemnation of the ICOC practices, John the apostle writes in John 1: 12-13: 'But as many as received him, he gave to them authority to become children of God, to the ones believing in his name; the ones who not from *blood, nor from the °will of flesh, nor from will of man, but from God were born." In other words, you can't be born a believer, you cannot do it because you want to, and someone else cannot force you to.
I think this last common error happens because of the bad translation of John 3:3. The Greek ANOTHEN can be translated as 'again', but in most Greek texts is translated 'above.' Nicodemus makes the wrong interpretation - the mother's womb - but Jesus quickly corrects him. Jesus says one can only be born of water and the spirit. John uses water as a symbol of the O.T. throughout his book (esp. John 2:1-10 where Jesus changes the OT water of superficial cleansing into the NT wine of total forgiveness.) So Jesus water and the spirit seems to be an understanding of the OT plus the Spirit, and for everyone converted jn the NT, this is true.
The ICOC missed the mark, and they are repeating their past sins. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for what I learned there - and for being baptised because I was convinced that I needed to be. But my original feeling upon leaving holds - it seems we have a new rival to the Catholic Church.

X-Ray said...

Great points!

The current incarnation of the ICOC doesn't have one identifiable "Pope", but it sure has more than enough "Cardinals".

Anonymous said...

What evidences of autonomous churches do you see in the NT? I see much proof to the contrary.

X-Ray said...

Could you please show us your proof?

In one sense, an identifiable localized body of Believers can't truly be autonomous since they're part of the Church universal with Christ Jesus as the head. Both the ICOC and ICC have men as its heads.

Anonymous said...

it seems fall away s get smarter and more spiritual when they have no accountability.
I look at the religious world and see division. Don't fret God will sort it out and the people seeking a true relationship with God will find it. Those that simply want to be justified can post on places like this and possibly "feel better" about how smart they have become on their own. ICOC seems alive and well as is Kips new church. perhaps they can be unified again too.