Tuesday, July 31, 2012


The Christian Chronicle, a periodical published by the mainline Churches of Christ, recently published a glowing article of the current state of the International Churches of Christ. It appears they didn't ask the hard questions necessary to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are no longer a cult of Christianity. Instead, they merely bought into the dog and pony show given to them by leaders such as Mike Taliaferro and Steve Staten.

My concern is that can even those in the mainline Churches of Christ, or even those in the general Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (including the Christian Churches and Disciples of Christ) know what to ask them to reveal that the ICOC preaches a false gospel of tentative grace that can only be earned by pleasing men and a man-made messiah without the person and work of the Holy Spirit?

P.T. Barnum would have been proud.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Studies Separated at Birth?

Several months ago, the International Christian Churches released a version of the "First Principles" Bible study series as an app that can be used on a smartphone or tablet device. That "app" is basically a web page that can be viewed at http://www.1stprinciples.net/. This mobile version contains the same studies and corresponding heresies that the previous, paper-only versions have had, going back through the early 1980's, when Kip McKean allegedly wrote them from scratch. The core of the studies, from "The Word of God" through "The Church", has been largely unchanged for over three decades. McKean formally added a "Seeking God" and several post-baptism studies such as "After Baptism, Now What?" and "Persecution" several years ago.

This isn't surprising to observers of "God's (New) Modern-Day Movement". What's shocking to those who understand the core of this false gospel and can refute it is this article on the International Churches of Christ news site HotNews. This article announces the availability of a full-fledged iPhone/iPad app called "First Principles". It was developed by a group called CheapBrain. The project manager of the group, Ed Partch, is located in Denver, Colorado. There is no church loyal to Kip McKean's new movement in Colorado (at the time this article was written), so it's a safe assumption that this group has direct ties to the ICOC.

So how do the mobile "First Principles" apps from the ICOC and ICC compare? Comparing the screenshots on the ICOC app to those on the ICC app and to the paper (or PDF) versions of "First Principles" before Kip's departure from the ICOC in 2002 show no substantive difference whatsoever between either movement's versions (besides the addition of new, non-core studies in the ICC version). Even the same illustrative graphics are used in both "Light and Darkness" studies!

What does this mean? Why would people likely linked with the ICOC publish a "First Principles" app that was an exact clone of the version used by the ICC? Why would one of the ICOC's flagship news sites publish an article noting its release and apparent support by the movement? Is it a coincidence that one of the major players behind the scenes of HotNews is Mike Taliaferro, who is hosting the ICOC World Discipleship Seminar in his hometown of San Antonio in a few months with over 16,000 members registered to attend? How important is it that the San Antonio congregation is part of the ICOC Co-operation Churches and that Taliaferro is a key high-level leader in the post-McKean ICOC?  Note that Denver's Bible Study series, Knowing God, is a thinly-veiled rehash of "First Principles", complete with its heretical false gospel. In addition, many other ICOC congregations use knockoffs of "First Principles", including Cincinnati (I provided an analysis of this supposed "new" study series about a year ago).

Perhaps the most intriguing question is this: what will happen if Kip's group attempts to call out the ICOC for plagiarism? Or vice versa? In either case, both groups undeniably support a false, works-based gospel that calls for its disciples to sell out to total commitment to an idol and system that takes the place of the authentic Jesus Christ of truth and grace.

Update! On Thursday, May 17th, Disciples Today posted an announcement concerning the release of the "First Principles" app by Ed Partch. He adds certain details such as adding study series from the individual ICOC congregations (the larger ones first) and integrating additional features such as tracking the progress of people who are being studied with along with inviting people to "study the Bible" using the address book. Perhaps the most chilling new addition is "a reporting feature to keep others abreast of progress".

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Declaration of War

In an article on the City of Angels (Los Angeles) International Christian Church's web site posted on April 15, 2012 entitled Degrees of Lukewarmness, ICC founder and top leader Kip McKean concludes the article with this paragraph:
My heartfelt plea is for disciples anywhere and everywhere - whether in the Mainline Churches of Christ, conservative Christian Churches, the International Churches of Christ, those who have drifted into denominational churches, or even fall-aways: Let the Spirit gather us together as one in God's new movement. Let us be unified by being "consumed with [a fiery, hot] zeal for our Father's house" (John 2:17) and "loving one another deeply from the heart." (1 Peter 1:22) Then and only then, will we become "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" distinct from the world and worldly churches with various degrees of lukewarmness. (1 Peter 2:9) And to God be all the glory!
It's obvious that McKean himself is the locus of unity for this call to those outside of his current movement. It's his false gospel, his methods, and submission to his leadership or nothing at all, even to those who may be "true disciples" in his view in these other churches. McKean has called out the "remnant" before in the 1980's and does so again with not only the mainline Churches of Christ, (Independent) Christian Churches in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement, and other "denominational" churches, but also his former fellowship - the International Churches of Christ. With his new movement at 1,500 members as of early 2012 and with plans to plant (or replant) congregations in San Francisco, Orlando, Paris, Mexico City, and Boston late this summer, nothing is in McKean's way to impede his progress. Kip has declared war on not only the churches that have clearly rejected him (namely the Churches of Christ and the ICOC), but has resumed a full-scale assault against historic, healthy, mainstream Christianity.

The United States wasn't fully prepared for war when Pearl Harbor was attacked in December of 1941. In a similar fashion, the groups Kip has specifically targeted don't appear to be ready either - and some of them are in some sort of weakened state:
  • The International Churches of Christ, almost a decade after removing McKean from leadership, is still attempting to take his false gospel (see the previous blog post) and methodologies and re-brand it as their very own without McKean. In the various factions, the same doctrines are still taught, but almost none of them require the same call of commitment as McKean requires. The ICOC remains in serious danger of being run down and run over by McKean's new movement, particularly with those who have grown up and have been brought into the movement in the past decade.
  • The Churches of Christ are having a growth and identity crisis of their own. The Churches of Christ are shrinking numerically, especially those bent towards legalism. (Remember that the ICOC arose from these legalistic congregations and the ICC split from the ICOC.) As conservative and progressive elements continue to determine the future of that wing of the Stone-Campbell Movement, few are paying attention to both the ICC and ICOC.
  • The Christian Churches, at most a very minor player in the history of the Boston Movement and ICOC up until McKean's departure in 2003, may be blindsided by both the ICC and the ICOC because of their contemporary styles of worship and outward evangelical stances on certain positions. In fact, on the surface, one may not be able to distinguish a Christian Church congregation from an ICOC or ICC congregation.
  • The other Protestant denominations and fellowships, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox have largely ignored the problems the Discipling Movement have created the past four decades because of its negligible impact on overall mainstream Christianity. The only Christian and para-church organizations that have even paid attention are those working in apologetic and anti-cult ministries and campus ministries.
In the International Christian Churches Good News E-mail from April 15, 2012, one person from the mainline Churches of Christ has been baptized into the new movement, one was "restored" into the new movement, and several others have joined from the ICOC - the former fellowship. Kip McKean's intentions to pull as many followers as he can into his new movement from churched backgrounds (if you can call an ICOC member "churched") are clear and are currently paying off. My hope is that these other healthy denominations and fellowships warn their members of this new menace and continue to preach and teach the true gospel of grace to Christians within their ranks and let the Holy Spirit do His work to convert the lost in addition to the Church doing their part as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Constructing Heresy

Today, Google had a doodle in honor of the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Yesterday, I encountered a quote from Cincinnati Church of Christ Lead Elder Jim Fulcher that is just as well architected and constructed as one of van der Rohe's buildings.
"Well, think about this real quick. Even to be saved, if we know, we have the knowledge to be saved, are we saved? No! You have the knowledge. OK, if you have the knowledge and you believe it, you have faith, are you saved? No, you're not! Well, what if you have knowledge - the real knowledge - truth, and you have faith - you believe it - and you start following Jesus, are you saved? No, you're not, really! And you'll see it in just a minute. Because God wants this whole thing to all work together, all of it. So how about all that stuff: you really know it, you got the knowledge, you really believe it, you really start following, and you repent, are you saved? Wait a minute, I'll tell you what! Now you've got an individual who's got the knowledge, they're going to church all the time, they're reading their bibles, I mean, they're acting like Jesus, and they're repenting - man, they're quitting all that nasty old, sinful stuff, surely, I mean, when you start repenting and you're going to church, don't you feel - saved?! Yeah, you really do. Because so much has changed by what God calls you and I to change. You with me? [Audience agrees.] But you see, it's still not complete because you and I come in contact with the blood of Jesus when we are baptized [more agreement from the audience]. So when you hear it, you believe it, you become a disciple of Jesus, you follow, you repent of your sins, and you're baptized, are you saved? [Audience responds with a resounding 'Yes!'] Yes!! But you can mix it all up. What if you just believe it and you get baptized, forget the repentance? [Audience responds 'No!'] I mean, you can mix it up in any order you want, but unless we do it the way that God pens it out. So whether it's a salvation issue or whether it's a dealing-with-sin issue, it's got to be done God's way, Amen?! [Audience responds with applause.]"

Jim Fulcher - Lead Elder - Cincinnati Church of Christ - "Mastering Your Mind" - March 26, 2012 - [37:35-39:34]
I have seen and written quotes containing the kernel of the McKeanist plan of salvation (hear, believe, repent, become a disciple, and then be baptized), but never have I seen someone articulate it in this well laid-out form. The steps are built one on top of another and in the supposedly correct order. It's like clockwork. Additionally, the collective membership of the Cincinnati Church of Christ doesn't clearly respond audibly until Elder Fulcher starts talking about baptism. They agree with him on his assessment of the so-called revealed plan of salvation that every other so-called Christian has gotten wrong. And those poor, deluded, religious Christians are placed right smack dab in the middle of his argument! It's pure brilliance.

It's no wonder Satan masquerades as an angel of light. If the heresy of a works-based, man-centered, Spirit-less salvation can be so clearly seen, the darkness surrounding those who teach and truly believe this demonic doctrine must truly be great.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Revealing Your Unplayable Hand

In a post on One in Jesus, blog owner Jay Guin (an elder of a progressive Church of Christ) asked the following question in light of a post discussing the future of the mainline Churches of Christ in light of significantly declining membership: "What do we do?" Out of the many responses, one from Alan Rouse (an elder of the ICOC Co-operation Church in Gwinnett, Georgia - a suburb of Atlanta) stood out as alarming:
"Start making disciples of Jesus. Starting from one person, if each person makes one disciple a year, the entire world will be Christian in a matter of 30 or so years.

Oh, and make sure the first disciple you make is yourself.

That's a snarky answer, I know. But I don’t know of a better one. The real point is, this has NOTHING to do with what your worship service looks like."
This model of exponential growth, which goes back to at least the late 1960's, has been a mainstay of the theology of the Discipling Movement in the Churches of Christ. However, this model is fatally flawed in the light of scripture and plain common sense for several reasons:
  1. This model assumes that one remains alive once they are made into a disciple and are making disciples. Clearly someone who is converted early on, say at the age of 90, will likely not make it to see the world evangelized within their lifetime.
  2. This model assumes that one doesn't apostatize and leave Christianity once they are made into a disciple and are making disciples. The scriptures clearly teach that some people who are are following Jesus (at least by outward appearance) one day will stop following Him altogether (John 6:66).
  3. This model eventually (when there are literally billions of people making disciples) contradicts Christ's teachings that few will be saved (Luke 13:22-30).
  4. This model is nowhere to be found for the New Testament church, particularly in Acts. On the Church's first day at the Pentecost after Christ's crucifixion, burial and, resurrection, the visible Church grew from about 120 to 3,000 in one day (Acts 2:41). Later, the Church grew to 5,000 men (Acts 4:4). During the first widespread persecution of Christians, the congregation in Jerusalem shrunk down to twelve (Acts 8:1)! However, the Holy Spirit continued to grow the Church until it had evangelized the known world, namely the Roman Empire, in thirty-to-forty years. None of these examples prove exponential growth. However, all of the growth was done by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
  5. This model clearly collapsed under its own weight if we take the original Boston Church of Christ in 1979 through its growth peak in the late 1980's and early 1990's, flat lining in the mid-1990's and utter collapse at the turn of the millennium. Practically, this model doesn't work, even when driven by men's ambitions and authoritarian control.

Those who have been in leadership in the Crossroads Movement, Boston Movement, and the ICOC both before and after 2003 should certainly know that the exponential growth model is a fairy tale. But Alan, in his own words, admits "I don’t know of a better one."

What's more concerning is his second statement: "[M]ake sure the first disciple you make is yourself." Here, Alan Rouse betrays his hand and exposes himself as a false teacher of the god of McKeanism. How can a lost person, a person who is separated from the love and grace of the one, true creator God, make themselves into a disciple - a Christian - a saved person (using the standard McKeanist formula "Disciple = Christian = Saved")? It's impossible! One can't earn or work for Christ's righteousness by their own imperfect righteousness. Even nine years after the events surrounding the Henry Kriete Letter when reforms were promised, the ICOC is still holding a bad hand and doing everything in its power to bluff its members and potential recruits.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Death of a Dream in San Diego

A former ICOC member named Janice Franklin has written a powerful testimony of her time in the San Diego Church of Christ called Death of a Dream. It goes from the time when that congregation (originally known as the Mission Church of Christ) started practicing discipling before it joined the Boston Movement and goes through six months after the release of the Henry Kriete Letter in early 2003. What makes this powerful is the mixture of her personal story and recovery and in-depth scriptural analysis of some of the biggest McKeanist doctrines that ensnare people and leave them confused once they leave the cult. Janice covers true worship, reliance on the law and works instead of faith, the McKeanist take on discipling, and tolerating leaders at the top of the discipling hierarchy.

The last time something like this was released was around the time of the Henry Kriete Letter itself. The release of this paper now clearly underscores the fact that things in the ICOC have not changed, now nine years after the HKL's release. Great job, Janice!

The URL for the paper is: http://www.reveal.org/library/stories/people/deathofadream.pdf