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 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.


Steve Aubrey said...

Sherlock Holmes had better look out...

Nice detective work there. Always helpful to connect the dots.


X-Ray said...

Thanks, but I think that even Barney Fife could have picked this one out.

Gabriel said...

I read the piece, then re-read it thinking I may have missed something? It came down to " 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?"

Really? You really care what the two groups views are going to be regarding plagiarism?

It is weird to me that a follower of Christ would invest as much time as you have writing THIS article. Did the spirit lead you to this or were you simply bored? I work with content writers for online marketing projects all the time, Their work is not cheap and takes a lot of time, research, and strategy. You seem to be a clever wordsmith, is there not something more substantial you can provide to those who are thirsty for the word?

Forgive me if I see little to no value in this article.

From what I see X-ray, you have something more to offer folks other then fault finding and tree chopping. Not to mention the time that could be spent doing positive things (as opposed to countless hours of research and blogging). Just replying to this post, is hard to not get overly anxious or hard hearted. I only chose to do so because you have a skill that should not be reduced or squandered. A natural talent to write and probably speak.

The scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I ask you, how does writing stuff like this fall in line with the greatest commandment Christ left us with?

After reading through some of your posts, I saw no humility in your writing. Correct me if I am wrong? Have you been humbled out by any readers of your blog before? I'm humbled out daily when I think of how much of a wretch I am...that humbleness is then followed by joy knowing that God is ever graceful and loving, even when I am not.

If the words bitter or angry keep popping up in comment strings, is it possible there may be some truth to that? My pride prevents me from admitting my bitterness or anger...pride is probably one of the biggest stumbling blocks Christians face today, but least talked about ( Mere Christianity reference ).

I myself couldn't write, as it is a very emotional thing to do. If I did, I'm sure I would be on the receiving end of a lot of angry readers or people blasting my grammar. I wish you well X-ray, and if need be, please point me to a blog that you write that has some of the God given qualities that I know you posses. I would be happy to share them with thirsty souls and lovers of our father in heaven! And if there is no such blog, I encourage you to create one.

To God Be The Glory!


Anonymous said...

Yeah Gabriel,

you're so humble. Puh-lease there is pride and arrogance dripping from every word you wrote. You assume that somehow it is up to you tell someone else about their talents and question how they spend their time as if you run the entire world.

Gabriel said...

I'm still wondering if it is worth your time to respond here or have you moved on. According to your latest articles, you are still entrenched with the ICOC VS ICC thing.

X-Ray said...

Entrenched? No, things just have picked up lately.

Anonymous said...

Actually Gabriel, I am wondering how much time you spend worrying about X-Ray. If he wants to rail against the ICC and that half wit Kip that is his business - go baptize yourself and shut up.

Anonymous said...

Poor little Gaby, do you need your diaper changed and your ass powdered?