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.

1 comment:

Steve Aubrey said...

Very good slice-and-dice. It's amazing some of the stuff people try to convince themselves of.