Who is bewitched?
Introduction – how I was introduced to this material
I am a minister of the gospel. I have been a member of the churches of Christ since 1951 and a preacher among these congregations since 1966. I have served congregations in all three parts of Tennessee, and also in Ohio, and Missouri. I have also made several mission trips to Russia (helped start 3 congregations) and worked full-time in Russia for one year.
Through my website I came in contact with a lady who had read the book, listened to the CD and was very upset, disturbed and angry at the many false statements in this material. She asked if I could respond to some the things claimed.
NOTE: I have not read the book. I have not listened to the CD. However, I have visited the website which is selling this book.
On the website (http://www.sdoctrine.org/) I saw the following:
They are the only true church
That they have the correct name of “church of Christ.”
When confronted, always say they are not like any of the other church of Christ.
Spiritual gifts stopped.
Demon possession is not a reality.
God does not speak to His children today.
They use the term “Holy Spirit” but mean something else.
They will say they believe in miracles, but mean something different.
There are no more spiritual gifts since the apostles died.
One can only hear god through the ink on paper, i.e. Bible.
The church of Christ believes musical instruments in church is sin. Many will play word games with this issue, but when push comes to shove they think it is wrong.
That water baptism is a total requirement for heaven. That if you die on the way to be baptized, you go to hell.
Teach unbelief as if it were true faith in God.
The sins of church of Christ gave birth to the ICOC.
Increasing membership is the only goal in ICOC.
That pride and self0righteousness were from the start in both the cofc and the ICOC.
That God was trying to warn ICOC before it started.
That God does not speak to His children, except through the Bible.
A little background might be in order for those not familiar with the terms.
Churches of Christ are congregations of autonomous, separate and independent congregations who seek to return to the New Testament pattern for the organization, worship, plan of salvation, and all other matters of faith. Our goal is to urge people to abandon denominational dogmas and restore New Testament Christianity in our lives.
There is no one, myself included, who can speak for all members of these congregations. While our goals are the same, the particular application of them will vary from congregation to congregation.
International Church of Christ (ICOC) – A preacher for a church on Gainesville, Florida (the Crossroads church of Christ) by the name of Chuck Lucas developed a plan for evangelism among college students. This plan soon evolved into a program of campus ministers, prayer partners, soul talks, aggressive evangelism, and control of new converts. Some see these methods as mind control, cult-like.
My purpose here is not to discuss the good or bad points of this movement. In the beginning, it was called Crossroads. After Chuck Lucas had some problems and resigned from the movement, his mentor, Kip McKean, took the primary leadership. He was working the Boston area. Soon the movement became known as the “Boston Movement.” Changes took place, including a shift from campus ministries to a goal to establish congregations using their methods in all major cities and around the world. Soon, because most congregations of the churches of Christ rejected their methods, they separated themselves and became known as the International Church of Church (ICOC).
I have talked with some who came out of this movement. I have read many articles and books on both sides of the issues involved. I have never been a visitor, or a participant, in their activities. I have preached and taught the errors of their methods. I, along with most congregations of churches of Christ, reject the methods of this movement. I applaud the goals and desire. I believe the methods are not appropriate.
Therefore, my response to the statements on the website apply ONLY to churches of Christ. I cannot speak for the beliefs, practices and teachings of the ICOC. I am not familiar with where this group stands now. I understand that Kip McKean recently resigned as leader of this group and publicly repented for his errors. But my personal knowledge and understanding of the ICOC is so limited that I would not presume to speak about what the do or teach.
Not An Official Spokesperson
Since the churches of Christ are separate, independent and autonomous congregations, each governed by shepherds (elders), I could not, and would not, make an claim to speak for all members of these congregations.
It troubles me that the author of this book, CD and website, thinks that they can speak for me and other members of the churches of Christ. Yes, there are publishing houses, magazines, and books written and printed by organizations and companies dedicated to materials for the churches of Christ. But, not one of them can claim to speak the “official” position of the members of the local congregations.
I write this response from the background of 50 years as an active member of the churches of Christ, with my 36 years of preaching, teaching and ministry to congregations. I cannot speak for all members. It is my belief, however, that what I say represents the vast majority.
Below you will find my comments on each of the points made on the website mentioned above.
This is a common accusation made by many who do not understand what I believe or teach. Let me state it clearly. I believe there is only one true church – the church which Jesus built (Matthew 16:18); the church which was started on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2); the church you read about in the New Testament; the church of which Peter, Paul, Apollos, James, John, and Jude were members; the church to which the epistles of Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Colossians, Ephesians, and others in the New Testament were addressed.
I reject the idea that Paul and Peter belonged to different churches. They were both members of the same church, the church that Jesus promised.
My goal, and the goal of members of the churches of Christ, is to seek to emulate, restore, and establish the church you read about in the Bible.
I have heard people say, “You think you are the only true church.” My response – “I believe the same thing you do. You believe the Bible don’t you? So do I. You believe that if one reads and obeys the commands of God in the Bible, one will be acceptable to God. Isn’t this what you believe? So do I.” If I believe and obey the commands of God in the Bible, I will be a New Testament Christian. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else. I will not be a hyphenated Christian. I will not be a member of any denomination. I will just be a New Testament Christian. The Lord will add me to His church. (Acts 2:47)
As for the name of the church – There are several biblical names (descriptive terms) used to define and address the church.
Churches of Christ – Romans 16:16
Church of God – 1 Corinthians 1:2
Church of the Firstborn – Hebrews 12:23
Church of the living God – 1 Timothy 3:15
There are many others that could be listed. The question of name has two issues:
Name vs. Descriptive terms – In the New Testament there was only one church, the church that belongs to Jesus, built by Him, purchased with His blood. All the terms mentioned above are descriptive terms used to express the church. I do not believe any of these was intended to be THE name to the exclusion of the others.
The Denominational Mess – In our world
there are, by some estimates, more than 400 different denominations. Each of
these has a different name. The purpose of the name is to distinguish it and
the teachings it holds from all the others. When you hear the term “Baptist”
or “Catholic” the term also represents the teachings, organization, and other
features that make it distinct from all the others.
In this confusion – if I were to say, “I am a minister for the Church of God,” it would be biblical. It would be a name (descriptive term) used in the New Testament. However, today, there is a denomination that uses the name “Church of God.” Therefore, the use that term would make people think that I believed, taught, and practiced what the group wearing that name is known for.
Therefore – “churches of Christ” is the most common term found on signs, websites, telephone books and other places to designate a particular group of people with distinct beliefs and practices.
My Response – I reject the idea that we have the only proper or correct name. The name I wear represents, in our convoluted and confusing religious world, a certain group and what they teach and practice. There are other names that could be used. The problem is that others teaching different things use some of these names to designate their particular set of doctrines, traditions and customs.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … when confronted, always say they are not like any of the other church of Christ?
Our goal is to reproduce the New Testament church in our generation. Have we perfected this? No. We study. We learn. We grow. We continue to seek to restore first century Christianity in the 21st century.
Also, since every congregation is autonomous – there will be differences of policy, practice, custom, and method. In this sense, every congregation is different from every other one. However, in teaching, worship, organization, evangelism, plan of salvation, and many other doctrinal matters, there is singleness of purpose. While independent, we work together for common interests in missions, benevolence, and evangelism.
My Response – If it is meant that every congregation is different in some areas of practice, method and customs – then the statement is correct.
If it is meant that there are several churches of Christ who are different in goal, purpose, doctrine, plan of salvation, etc. – then the statement is not correct.
First, (and this applies to most of these statements) it does not matter what I believe about the matter. It does not matter what most members of the churches of Christ believe about the teaching. The real issue is: What does the Bible teach?
The Bible clearly teaches in 1 Corinthians 12 – 14 that:
Spiritual Gifts were a vital part of the first century church
While there were 9 different gifts, with different purposes, they were from the same Spirit
All these gifts were like various parts of the human body, different in function, but working together for the good of the body
These gifts were temporary. They would cease, pass away, fade out, and fail.
Love is the only lasting, eternal gift.
While these gifts last, they must be used properly. Some were abusing their gift, using it for show and as a matter of pride.
There are controls and restrictions placed on how these gifts were to be used in the assembly of the local congregation for worship.
There are some matters that must be understood from the New Testament.
Spiritual gifts were distributed by an apostle “laying hands” on a Christian.
While the Christian could use the gift, as determined by the Holy Spirit, for the growth and teaching of the Gospel, they did not have the power to pass that gift on to others. Only the apostles could distribute these gifts.
When the apostles died – the distribution ceased.
When those on whom the apostles had laid hands died, the gifts faded away.
the purpose of these gifts was to “confirm the Word”; that is, to prove the message of the preacher was from God. These gifts were needed until the word could be written and distributed. By the middle of the second century, the New Testament was complete. The purpose of these gifts ended.
My Response – God still answers prayer. God still heals the sick. God still protects His children. The only thing that changed was the power of MEN to perform these miracles.
Here is what the Bible says. In times past God spoke to the fathers (patriarchal period – Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob); then God spoke through the law and the prophets (Law of Moses and prophets like Isaiah, Daniel, Hosea, etc.); BUT in these last days (Christian or church age) God has spoken through His Son. (Hebrews 1:1)
When Jesus was transfigured, the voice of the Father came from Heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him.” (Matthew 17:5)
I have spent many hours with people who believed that God spoke directly to them, giving them special instructions. On every occasion, the instruction they claim God gave them was a direct contradiction from the message of Jesus and the inspired message of Scripture. If God gives contradictory messages to individuals, then there is no use, purpose, or need for the Bible. Why did God inspire the Bible to written, if He would change it for various individuals?
My Response – God speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the inspired word of the New Testament. If God speaks personally to His children today – there are 3 possible results:
If He instructs less than is revealed in the Bible – It is not enough.
If He instructs more than is revealed in the Bible – It is too much.
If He instructs the same as revealed in the Bible – Special revelations are not needed
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … they use the term “Holy Spirit” but mean something else?
I have no clue what the author means by the term “Holy Spirit” so I will tell you what I mean.
The third person of the trinity – The Holy Spirit – is deity, eternal, all knowing, wise, and powerful God.
The Holy Spirit is a person, (not some glorified “it”); an intelligent person, a part of the godhead.
The Holy Spirit was involved in creation.
The Holy Spirit know the deep things of God, revealed these truths to men, inspired holy men of God to write Scripture, reminded them of the teachings of Jesus, and empowered the first century church with spiritual gifts.
The Holy Spirit is a special gift who indwells the Christian. He leads, guides, helps us overcome sin, comforts, pleads our needs in prayer, and understands our groans.
I realize there is much in the New Testament on the work of the Holy Spirit today. I hope this will help you to understand what I mean by the term “Holy Spirit.”
Again, I am not sure what the author means. I can tell you my understanding of the term “miracle.”
There are many miracles in the Bible. There are many ways to categorize and think about miracles.
Miracles which deity performs – without man being involved.
Miracles which deity performs – using some man as His agent.
My Response – A miracle is when deity steps into my world to do something beyond, in violation of, the normal and natural laws. For example – Storms come and go in a natural course. Jesus said, “Peace. Be still.” He sped up a natural process. The normal process is for the dead to remain dead. Jesus said, “Lazarus, come forth.” That was against the normal process of nature.
I believe in miracles.
I believe the inspired record of miracles in the O T, N T, life of Christ, and the apostles.
I believe the spiritual gifts of the 1st century church were miracles.
I believe that God still does miracles – heal the sick, answer prayers, and in providence.
My Response – See my comments on “spiritual gifts” above.
My Response – See my comments on “how God speaks to His children today” above.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … the church of Christ believes musical instruments in church is sin? Many will play word games with this issue, but when push comes to shove they think it is wrong.
The place to begin here is with the word “church.” This word has several usages in the New Testament and some have added other uses in modern speech.
In the New Testament:
Universal – The church Jesus promised to build, bought with his blood, of which He is head
Congregational – A local congregation of believers, the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the seven churches of Asia, the churches of Galatia
Assembled – Communion is to participated in when people “come together in the church”; that is, when the local congregation is assembled for a period of worship
The word is also used in modern speech to refer to:
Denominational structure – In our confusing religious world there are many “churches” – Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Catholic Church, etc.
Building – Many think of churches as the building or some feature of the physical structure – the church with the big steeple, the church on the by-pass
Belief or Doctrines – When we think of Baptist Church, we often associate with it the common teachings, belief system and doctrines of that denomination. When we think of the Catholic Church, we associate with that term the structure and teachings of that denomination.
When I use the word “church” in this response, I am thinking of the local congregation of united believers. The issue is not one of musical instruments on the property. Some churches allow musical instruments for non-worship activities, social events, parties, etc. Others do not allow instruments on the property for any use. This is strictly a local decision of each congregation.
Instruments of music are not sinful. Many members play instruments for pleasure, in a community orchestra. We listen to music on the radio. The instrument is not the issue.
In the worship of the church, when the church is assembled for a period of worship, instrumental music is not acceptable. Pepsi would be unacceptable for communion. Animal sacrifice would be unacceptable as part of our worship. Bowing down to images is not an acceptable activity in worship. In worship, we must seek the will of God and do it. No changes. No additions. No substitutions. No subtractions.
Under the Law of Moses, God required for Passover – a male lamb, 1 year old, no spots or blemishes. Nothing else would be acceptable. No female lamb. No 3-year-old lamb is approved. No lamb with spots or blemishes is permitted.
It is clear that, singing is commanded, required, expected, and authorized in the worship assembly of the church. (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19) Not only do these passage command singing, they express what that singing should do. Singing should teach, admonish and speak to each other. Singing can accomplish what God wants. Instruments of music can do none of the things that God expects to be the result of singing.
My Response – I will not play word games. God expects Christians to partake of communion. He also expects that communion to be unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. God expects Christians to sing. That singing will teach and admonish each other. It will speak to each other as we sing.
It would not be appropriate to have Pepsi in the communion. To replace “fruit of the vine” with Pepsi – would be a sin. To replace “singing” with playing or add “instrumental music” to the singing would be a sin.
Instrumental music in the worship, used as part of our offering of praise to God, is a sin.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … that water baptism is a total requirement for heaven? That if you die on the way to be baptized, you go to hell?
I am not sure I understand the phrase “total requirement for heaven”. If the author means that baptism is the only thing required, I strongly disagree. If the author means that baptism is a New Testament command, I would agree completely.
Baptism – Here is my understanding of the New Testament teaching on baptism.
Burial – Immersion is required. Sprinkling or pouring does not meet the Biblical requirements.
Water – The Bible mentions baptism with a variety of elements – Holy Spirit, Fire, Suffering and water. The baptism commanded is water baptism.
Believers – Baptism is not for infants. It is for those who believe and desire to obey. Before baptism there must be faith. (Mark 16:16)
Penetiant – Before baptism, there must be a heart of repentance. (Acts 2:38)
Public confession – Before baptism, there must be a public, open confession with the mouth, of faith in Jesus as the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33)
Promised results – There are many results of ones obedience to Christ in baptism.
Forgiveness (remission) of sins – Acts 2:38
Washing away of sins – Acts 22:16
Lord adds them to the church – Acts 2:47
Saved – 1 Peter 3:21
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … teach unbelief as if it were true faith in God?
I have no clue what the author is trying to say here. I do not teach unbelief. I teach faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Savior, who died for our sins. I teach faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. I teach faith in the New Testament as our rule for faith and practice. I teach faith in God, visible in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (trinity), who created all things. I teach faith in the resurrection of the dead and eternal life for the obedient and faithful.
My Response – I do not teach “unbelief” in anything – except what is false – false teachings, false gods, false religions, false (uninspired) scriptures, false prophets, etc. I do teach people not to believe these things.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … the sins of church of Christ gave birth to the ICOC?
I do not know the “sins” mentioned. The ICOC did evolve out of, and eventually separate from the mainstream of churches of Christ. The origin of the ICOC was within congregations of churches of Christ. However, from the beginning, many minister, myself among them, preached and spoke against the methods being used. While I applaud the goal and intent, I reject as sinful, the methods of they used.
My response – The ICOC came developed within churches of Christ. When people saw the methods and the fruit of this work, it was rejected. Therefore, the movement separated and disassociated itself from the mainstream congregations.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … increasing membership is the only goal in ICOC?
This statement is not correct. The goal of churches of Christ is to be like Christ in life, worship, teaching, and morals. Part of the function and purpose of the church is to reach out to, and teach (make disciples), of those who do not know the will of God. Therefore, to increase membership is a goal. But, it is the by-product of preaching and teaching the gospel. When people hear and understand the gospel, they will obey and become an active part of the church. Our primary goal is not numbers. Our primary goal is teaching the gospel. Once they have heard, the choice is theirs to obey or not obey.
My Response – We, as human beings, want to grow and develop from infancy through childhood and into an adult. The church is often compared to a body. It is expected to grow, develop and mature. If the church is doing what God commanded (preaching to every creature), then additions to membership will result. This is the end product, not the primary goal.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … that pride and self-righteousness were from the start in both the cofc and the ICOC?
While some may be prideful and self-righteous, I do not believe this existed in the start of the churches of Christ. The churches of Christ were started on the first Pentecost following the death and resurrection of Jesus. The record of this event is found in Acts 2. There is no pride or self-righteousness involved.
As for the start of the ICOC – I cannot speak to their hearts, motives or intent.
My Response – I would be careful to accuse Peter and the other apostles of being full of pride and acting in a self-righteous manner in Acts 2. There are two areas in which judgment is improper.
Motive or Intent –I do not know the heart, intent or motive of others. I cannot judge their intent.
Eternal Destiny – I will not be their eternal judge. Christ is the righteous judge. I must not seek to determine the eternal destiny of others.
If anyone is filled with pride, God will judge him or her. If some are acting in a self-righteous manner, God will judge them.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … that God was trying to warn ICOC before it started?
Perhaps the author is correct here. As this movement was being formed and getting started, there were some who were warning, writing articles, and speaking out in opposition to their methods.
Perhaps God was trying to warn them of the dangerous direction they were going. It is interesting that all involved in the early years of defending the movement have publicly repented of their wrongs.
The elders of the Crossroads church of Christ, Ganinsville, FL
Chuck Lucas, the preacher at Crossroads and first leader of this movement
Kip McKean, the mentor of Chuck Lucas and second leader of this movement.
My Response – I believe that God was using many men to warn, teach against, and set up barriers to this movement. Sometimes we are so determined that all opposition is seen as from Satan rather than God.
Did you know the church of Christ and the IcoC believe … that God does not speak to His children, except through the Bible?
My Response – See my comments on “how God speaks to His children today” above.
NOTE: Three of these statements are on the same subject. Why?