I am interested in your perspective that you considerus part of the Church
of Christ, not the ICOC. I wonder if they agree. I am personally confused
about church relations especially with Kip McKean?s new movement and
establishment of churches.
I am, by nature, but also by biblical conviction, a believer in unity
wherever possible. I abhor the human tendency to want to make enemies or
opponents out of people–to be schismatic. I believe this was the
attitude of Jesus, as exemplified by his list recorded prayer in John 17.
I will acknowlege, with Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:17-19 that some divisions
are inevitable because of the condemnation of certain people who do not
have a heart for God, but the overriding biblical mandate is that we, as
Christians, be as unified as we possibly can.
Now, the name ICOC was given to “us” by an outsider. That is historical
fact. The other historical fact is that in the late 80’s when this
happened, “we” (I hesitate to put myself into this we, as I always opposed
this way of thinking and acting) had been bad-mouthing the “traditional”
CoC and the mainline CoC had been equally ungodly in bad-mouthing us.
However, I believe that the readiness of Kip McKean to be a schismatic and
to mark “us” as different from “them” is a very noticeable spiritual
weakness. Whatever Kip’s spiritual strengths, and I believe he possesses
many of these, the tendency to be schismatic is sinful and unacceptable in
the Christian context. Of course, if any religious group in America has a
schismatic, judgmental tendency, it is the Church of Christ!
I believe that in general (but with some very notable exceptions), the
Churches of Christ are beginning to learn both the practical and biblical
lesson that their behavior as schismatists is wrong. I also believe that
the main body of our little movement has come around on this issue as
well. Praise God for that! I am afraid that Kip has not learned to treat
other Christians with respect, as demonstrated by his actions in the past
two years or so. For this reason, as much as I respect some of the
amazing accomplishments or our movement under Kip’s leadership (and not
him alone, but let us face it, he was the principle force since about 1985
or so), I have to reject the leadership of Kip at this time.
I would add that a perspective of church history is very important in this
regard. Bottom line, “we” came from the Restoration Movement in the 1820s
and later. “We” came from the Church of Christ. “We” are Christians, but
historically and in reality what we are as a group is found in our
historical root in the Churches of Christ. Not acknowledging our history
makes us bound to misunderstand and misinterpret our own behavior, which
is bound to increase the chance that we will make mistakes. Therefore, I
say I am a Christian, but I am part of the group known as the Church of
So my conclusion is that we ought to “bag” the name ICOC. It is downright
silly to call ourselves “the former ICOC.” What does that mean? Like I
have been saying for years, we are the Church of Christ, both in the
universal sense, but more importantly, in the historical/denominational
sense. Let us strike one against the devil and for the unity of
believers. Let us just call ourselves the Church of Christ.
I have been working with folks from the main line CoC the past few years.
I did a teen rally in Colorado for a group of mainline churches. I did a
series on Christian evidence for a Church of Christ in San Diego County
last Spring. I invited a mainline guy to speak at the apologetics
conference we are putting on next month (hey, let me put in a plug for
this conference. Come! It will be great. See the web site for info). I
am trying my best to get us to work with, not against, our sister churches
locally and globally.
One suggestion is that you read the book “Who is My Brother” by LeGard
Smith. It solidified my thinking on this.
About Kip’s movement, I believe that his attitude is clearly divisive and
sinful. Nevertheless, I do not feel it is my place to condemn these
churches. Just this March I went and spoke at one of the churches
affiliated with Kip in Salt Lake. I found that these disciples were
opposed to the new movement themselves, but found themselves forced into
the Kip camp at least partly because “we” have been judging them and
cutting them off. Let us not imitate the bad behavior of others. Let us
come out publicly and clearly against sinful leadership styles, but let us
embrace all of our brothers and sisters every way we can.
About whether “they” agree. I have found that the churches of Christ have
learned to treat us with respect. I find little if any of the former
animosity. It is my opinion that we will be accepted as churches of
Christ if we simply decide to use this term for ourselves.
That is my thinking.