Churches of Christ: God Changes the Worldwide Church of God

This is a long video — about 1:13. And I rarely listen to, much less recommend, spoken-word videos. I just don’t have the patience for them. I can read so much faster than I can listen.

This is THE exception. Find a quiet time and listen. If you have roots in the Churches of Christ, it’ll either bring you to tears of joy or make you so mad you throw your computer through a window. I’m in the “tears of joy” camp.

It’s long, but it just gets better and better. As soon as I think they’ve finished their story, they take up another chapter or another way of looking at it — and I’m glad. It’s the most captivating video I’ve watched that I can remember. That’s right: it’s better than Star Wars.

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Take notes as you listen and come back here to tell us what your favorite (or most maddening) parts are.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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36 Responses to Churches of Christ: God Changes the Worldwide Church of God

  1. Keith Brenton says:

    At 0:26:00 I was impressed at the power of two or three agreeing witnesses. It made me recall the "power of the first follower" (and the second) from the "shirtless dancing guy" video on YouTube.

    At 0:44:00 and 0:50:15 and 1:08:49 I was impressed with the willingness of the speakers on the video to let scriptures speak.

    At 0:49:23 I was brought to the edge of my composure with the speaker's witness that "worship has never been the same."

    And at 1:01:00 especially – but really throughout the video – I was impressed with the humility of the organization's leadership. The summing statement was "God did this … sometimes in spite of us," for me.

    All of this points out what God can do if willing, humble souls will step aside and let Him. A cult doesn't have to end like Jonestown or the Branch Davidians. It doesn't have to persist in the self-made doctrines of a man, whether that man is Joseph Smith or John Calvin or Herbert W. Armstrong or (God forbid) Keith Brenton.

    But Joe and John and Herb and Keith are all accountable to God for what they have taught – just as the people on this video have come to appreciate in a very real way.

  2. guy says:

    Jay,

    Well, i didn't tears of joy or get mad and throw anything. Not sure why i was supposed to do either.

    i mean, i'm guess you're putting this up as analogous to people moving from old CoC doctrine to …"new" (?) CoC doctrine. Maybe. It just doesn't much fit my experience either way. i don't go to a congregation that fits either mold very well.

    But i guess what i don't get is the psychology involved.

    (1) Years ago when i would do door knocking campaigns for gospel meetings, i'd sit in people's living room who had *just joined* a cult (like the JW's or Mormon's or whatever), and they would use this very same sort of emotionally loaded language. "It's like being set free." "It's like the scales fell from my eyes." "It's like a veil was lifted." "It's like a burden was removed." Again, these people were talking about what it felt like them to *join* the cult, not leave it. So i don't see that such experiences bear any positive correlation to truth-conducive-ness.

    (2) It seems to me in the case of many cults, and probably in the case of Armstrong, what grabs people and captivates them is the charisma and personality of the leader, not the doctrine. Cultic doctrines on their own typically have very shoddy evidence. But the people involved are persuasive and impressive and authoritative. (i doubt anyone cautiously, carefully, and objectively studied themselves into believing that being spirit-married and having spirit-babies to populate one's own planet is the most-likely, well-supported version of the afterlife; but i bet many people who believe such had loving, charismatic friends who were Mormon though.)

    All i'm saying is this: It seems to me that many of the same sorts of things would've happened surrounding Armstrong *even if* he had preached a more Protestant/evangelical message of grace and forgiveness. Notice how much the people in the video express faith in *Armstrong.* In fact, if you listen carefully, it sounds as though their basic faith in him was more basic than their rational persuasion of the doctrines he was teaching. Thus, even if Armstrong's basic soteriology was grace through faith, he still could've led such a group.

    While it records a deep psychology experience with a lot of interesting sociological data, i don't see how anything in the video is a reliable commentary on particular doctrines at all.

    –guy

  3. Steve Wilson says:

    Jay, wow and thanks! I narrowly avoided joining a CoC splinter group that follows a very charismatic former pastor of a Church of Christ. He still uses much of the logic that he learned as a pastor to keep his little flock assured that their group is the only one that has God's way figured. They still prowl around CoC schools looking for young people who have become disenchanted with the CoC checklist of righteousness and then after a show of passion and pretended theological superiority they substitute their own checklist. I still have friends who are in that group and this video gives me great hope for what God might yet do for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. Some of Armstrong's doctrines are similar to traditional CoC teachings. For example, he taught baptism for forgiveness of sins. His attitude toward the Holy Spirit, while not exactly the same, also bears some resemblance to the traditional view of the Word Only. The most striking similarity, however, is his insistence that his group is the one and only "True Church" with all others being defective. I don't believe we have ever had anyone who claimed to be an apostle, specially chosen by God to bring his message to today's world.

    With their top-down organization, they were in a different position to the churches of Christ. A small group of leaders was able to lead about 40% of their membership into their new understanding. The others abandoned the denomination. Since our organization is quite different, the 60% continues to go on in the old way, denouncing the innovations and the "change agents" who bring them.

    Will a similar "miracle" take place in the Church of Christ? Probably not – in the brotherhood as a whole because of the organizational differences. Yet, it has taken place in individual congregations and is moving in that direction in others. Some will view this with joy – and others will view it with dismay, which is just what happened with the successors to Armstrong.

    We do have one big advantage over them: our emphasis has (mostly) been on the Bible, not on particular men, though individuals have wielded a lot of influence over the years. As individuals build on our tradition of honoring the Scriptures, they will move away from tradition and closer to the Christ. At least that is what has happened in my personal experience.

  5. K. Rex Butts says:

    Thank you for posting this video. Though there are many differences between the story of the CoG and the CoC, I do feel as though there are similarities. I am happy for these Christians. May God bless them as they bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I am going to post the video on my own blog.

  6. Cary says:

    "We don't have to keep the Sabbath anymore? Heresy!"
    "We don't have to observe the festivals? Sinfulness!"
    "We don't have to tithe? Well that makes a lot of sense….."

    Bahahaha!! Some things are universal.

  7. Tom Forrester says:

    This reminded me of my own experience fifteen years ago when our local preacher began to place the emphasis of his preaching on Jesus rather than the CoC. He withstood a tremendous amount of criticism for this and a split in the congregation followed. But the result was a group of people who better understand grace and continually cultivate a deeper and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. Instead of spending all their time biting and devouring one another, the church takes the love of God into our community. I owe so much to that preacher.

  8. Steve Wilson says:

    I appreciated the emphasis these leaders placed on the New Covenant as contrasted with the Old Covenant. I think that often we need to get back to clarity on exactly what the New Covenant involves. Too often when we say "New Testament" we mean "First Century". However, I believe that the original adoption of the phrase "New Testament" was to focus us on the New Covenant rather than a specific period in time. There is much more freedom, forgiveness and grace found in Christ when we understand "New Testament" as referring primarily to the New Covenant. When this understanding is adopted, our objective as New Testament Christians becomes living as authentic 21st century followers of Jesus within the grace of the New Covenant. Trying to live as contemporary echoes of lives lived 20 centuries ago can be as enslaving to a list-based righteousness as was the WCG's lists from Armstrong. The only dynamic difference is that his lists were based on the Old Covenant rather than the first century church. The problem is the whole approach of a list base righteousness. Lists requires external controls on individual behavior rather than the law written on hearts and minds. Lists create a primary identity with others who share our list, and it creates a distrust of those who don't share our list. The New Covenant states that the primary identity of God's people is with Him. Lists also require special, well trained men to tell people how to properly create the list rather than the idea that each will know God directly from the least to the greatest. Lastly, list based righteousness can't allow for people to simply be forgiven, they have to do something to recommit their lives to the list. The reality of grace found in the New Covenant breathes life and freedom into our faith rather than the anxiety of not understanding the proper mode of this or that form of worship, It eliminates the fear of ignorantly immersing only once when it should have been three times, or invalidating an entire worship service by using a pitch pipe too close to a microphone and inadvertently creating instrumental music. The people of the New Covenant are forgiven of all unrighteousness, period.

    I try to keep my posts short, because there are so many more educated and lettered men here to learn from. However, the reality of God's grace found in the New Covenant gets me very excited, and when I heard how this miracle in the Worldwide Church of God was tied to their discovery of the New Covenant, it made me shout for joy! I am delighted to hear about this miraculous transformation because it so closely reflects my own.

  9. X-Ray says:

    Wow.

    Many people here know that I'm a former member of the International Churches of Christ (1998-2006) and what went on in the Worldwide Church of God has many, many parallels to my experiences in the ICOC, especially the events and reforms that occurred in 2003. I could spend hours comparing and contrasting what happened with both movements, but in short, God saved the sheep IN the Worldwide Church of God who stayed (or left and went to other healthy churches) while in the ICOC, he saved the sheep by getting them OUT of the organization. (The ICOC is slowly returning to a hierarchical, church-over-church discipling model, they have no theology to sufficiently explain that there are genuine Christians outside of their churches, and they're ignoring Kip McKean and his new movement and not training their members to repel his new cult's advances and lead them to grace in Christ.)

    As to a legalistic Church of Christ (or Christian Church) congregation moving towards grace? Not as much of the doctrine would change relative to what the Worldwide Church of God had to change (at least we have Trinitarianism right, right?), but the pain and separation would be just as great. Legalism at any dose (like cyanide), will have the same effect. Like others have said, at around 48:30, "we didn't talk about Jesus". Jesus has to be the center of not only the sermons (see this recent article in the Christian Standard: http://christianstandard.com/2011/02/keeping-chri… but the life of the church itself! Once this happens, grace floods in and there's no going back. This video should be required watching for leaderships who want to move away from error and into truth in order to prepare them for what will happen and to properly count the cost.

    I really like what was said near the end at around 1:10:00, where other cults have hope. I do pray consistently that God gives the ICOC another chance (and Kip McKean's new "International Christian Churches" their first) to change. The good news is that until Christ comes back, all of our churches do!

  10. Alan says:

    XRay wrote:
    "The ICOC is slowly returning to a hierarchical, church-over-church discipling model, they have no theology to sufficiently explain that there are genuine Christians outside of their churches"

    You might be surprised. For example, just last week I taught our congregation that the hierarchical model is not biblical. And I gave a very specific example to show that there are genuine Christians and disciples outside our family of churches.

  11. Alabama John says:

    Armstrongs main theme from beginning to end was;"I'm the one, you're a support for ME"!
    In my life, there were only a few preachers that influenced most Christians in the USA and they were the Armstrongs,Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and Jimmy Swaggart.

  12. Alabama John says:

    The YES part of this whole tape is we in the churches of Christ are going through the same self examination and changes are coming all around us.
    The saddest part of all this is we all know so many GOOD, Godly people and preachers that are in such a situation of questioning, change and disruption.
    Let us all pray God will lead us out of this trip seeking the promised land like He did the children of Israel into a much more positive position of a love of Jesus and unity.

  13. Rich W says:

    I see more similarities in this video with the progressive movement within the cofC than I do between Armstrong and the traditional cofC.

    I was taught many a time that we should only listen to the Bible and not to what an individual says. That's an enormously strong difference in philosophical thought between the two groups.

    However, I saw several similarities in the thought processes as the WCOG leadership described their transformation and current progressive thought. Both emphasize grace and the person of Christ (good within context), They talk about needing to understand the full nature of God and look at scripture in its full context (again, good phrases). They talk about the miracle that God must have done to open their eyes and hearts. These are similar themes. I assume this is the real reason Jay can relate.

    According to Wikipedia, the WCOG, now called GCI, has continued to loose membership since this video was made in 2004. I guess the big question: is that the fate of the progressive CofC as well?

  14. Rich W,
    With the Church of Christ not having the top-down organizational structure of the WWCOG, the change taking place is on a congregation by congregation basis. Those who do not go along will normally move to a congregation that is holding to "the old paths." Since effectively the entire leadership of the WWCOG changed, the "laity" had no where else to go – except to drop out. Some of these might find their way into other Sabbatarian groups, but not necessarily.

    I agree that the current leadership of the WWCOG is like the progressive movement. I also see definite similarities between Armstrong (HW, especially) and the traditional CoC. This is primarily in the rejection of all other fellowships (and even splitting and fragmenting within itself) as well as in the legalism of its positions. Of course, the various position are different. They are alike in thinking that somehow we win God's favor by our obedience instead of by faith.

  15. I cannot believe how much I empathize with these guys!

  16. X-Ray says:

    Alan, was this in an audio sermon or PowerPoint we can download?

    Here's one recent counterexample: http://www.disciplestoday.org/content/view/2693/4… Notice that not only knowledge that one is baptized for the forgiveness of sins is required for a valid baptism, but "an understanding of the importance of all that God requires of his disciples" as well. What does this mean? (I explain it here: http://xray342radio.blogspot.com/2011/02/same-pat

  17. Driven says:

    The story is powerful. It is tough to understand what is occuring in the CoC. Our education is for the most part done by DVD. Our Preacher stated from the Pulpit today that we have to "develop" the Holy Spirit to gain a level of self control to quit smoking, paraphrased. We love Francis Chan material but we don't teach the power of an indwelling Holy Spirit. We love Neuma videos but we aren't teaching a relationship with Jesus. We love 2:42 Groups on Sunday night but are still missing more than 50% of Sunday Am attendees. We vouch that 3 scriptures show that we can "lust" after God but we cannot argue that it is not the best way to teach Following Jesus. Thank God, thank Jesus, and Glory to the Holy Spirit that the only thing is I was loved and now I can love. As for me, I am free and following Jesus.

  18. Alan says:

    My part starts at about 24:20. The particular points related to what we're talking about start around 27:30 and then around 31:25.
    http://acoc-gwinnett.org/sermons/20110210MidweekE

  19. stopthetyranny says:

    I am all too familiar with this thought process having been in a cult myself: "We determined through questions if the other person was 'safe', and we would test the other person to see if they would keep our confidence if we could actually talk to them about what we were thinking".

    I loved seeing the GRACE and POWER of God at work amongst them! Praise God for His mercy and I would LOVE to see him do this with the group I was in, and with ALL who are overthrowing the FAITH of those who believed.

  20. David says:

    This is an awesome story. It shows that Christ followers can move to be transformed into Christlikeness when their focus is on Jesus. That is what happened in this story. The leadership saw that their focus had not been on Jesus….but on something else. I see parallels between the WWCOG and churches of Christ. The lessons we can learn from this story can play a part in our transformation as a people.

    This story demonstrates what it takes to be transformed.
    It takes decreasing self and increasing Christ.
    It takes honesty with ourselves.
    It takes hearing scripture…..not our past.
    It takes a recognition of what proof texting is and a decision to avoid it.
    It takes a spirit of boldness and no looking back at yesterday.
    It takes a desire to be a Christ follower no matter the cost.
    It takes a willingness to depend on the Lord and not trusting in ourselves.
    It takes humility to admit that we reached some of the wrong conclusions.
    It takes letting Jesus be your all in all.
    I takes recognizing that we have been called to live with joy and not fear.
    It takes faith.
    It takes trust in Jesus and taking on the mind of Christ.
    It takes None of Self and All of Thee.

    This is what I'm praying for.
    I want this to be a description of me.
    I want this to be a description of my wife and children.
    I want this to be a description of my congregation.
    I want this to be a description of the brotherhood.

    I pray that everyone who is reading Jay's blog will take on these qualities.
    I pray that the Lord will move all of us (of course He has already moved some of us) to serve him with the same patience that the Lord has with all of us who are sinful (you and me)………to move forward as the Spirit directs us but always extending the hand of reconciliation to our brethren who still live in fear and not in joy.

  21. David,
    Thank you for your comment. It is very cogent and perceptive. The problem we have is that, not being accustomed to top-down leadership, we are not as ready to listen to new insights and perceptions. We are a very autonomous (self-ruled) people.

    Those who disagree with new understandings and approaches from the leadership leave a congregation, a school, a magazine, or a lectureship. As they leave, they do not go quietly. They broadcast how "liberal" – or progressive – or digressive the ones they have left are.

    Then they congregate with like-minded folk and start new magazines, lectureships, or schools to warn the brotherhood against those who seek to "change" the brotherhood – never realizing that the "change" is the constant reformation of character and understanding that the church must always have if it is to remain faithful to Jesus instead of to tradition.

    This is not to say that our Lord cannot lead us as a fellowship into something similar to what the CoG experiences. He can and He is so leading us. It's just that not all accept this; and those who do not become a very vocal, sometimes angry group that has no interest in any change at all.

    Again, thank you for your perception and for your prayers.

    Jerry

  22. Pat says:

    Another WOW! This story reminds me of my similar experience in recent years. I have also been the beneficiary of God's opening the eyes of my heart ~ and it has made all the difference. Growing up, and old, in a traditional and pretty legalistic fellowship, I always heard the preachers tell me not to take their word for their preaching, but to examine the scripture for myself. But I've learned that they really only meant that if it followed their interpretation.

    I am eternally grateful for God putting people in my path whose writings led me to a more honest view of what He really said. I could write volumes telling of the changes that came within and without as a result of learning who He is, how He loves me, and the grace and mercy that is extended to me. It is hard for anyone who is trapped in the works-oriented, legalistic mind-set to imagine the exquisite joy that comes in realizing that we are free in Christ. It is interesting to me that one of the commenters would seem so distrustful of people who "use the same sort of emotionally loaded language." He should talk to me! I could so deeply relate to them. Deeply! There were many parallels in their breaking free and what I experienced. My life of service has been transformed from one of duty, fear, and insecurity to one of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And it has been nothing I have done. He did it all, and I give Him full credit.

    Perhaps God saw in me someone who wanted those things. I only know that He granted my desire for wanting something better in my spiritual life than what I had. The word "joy" keeps coming to mind as I write this. I know that His Spirit flows through me like a river, as it is so often described. It is unstoppable and I marvel at His power. Truly, it is a transforming force in more ways than I can describe.

    Please forgive my wordiness. No topic is more dear to my heart ~ and I just don't know when to stop! :)

  23. Jay Guin says:

    Thanks to all for the many insightful comments.

    I'd just add these observations. The leaders of the WWCOG were able to change because their humility allowed them to be open to the truth of the scriptures and their love for Jesus exceeded their love for position, power, and security. They risked their jobs and financial futures in order to spread a better understanding of Christianity.

    Sadly, many members refused to hear the true gospel, preferring the security of the lies they'd been told, the feelings of superiority to other believers, and their preferred identity as the only people who loved truth enough to stand for what's right.

    Inevitably, when the WWCOG surrendered its claim to be the only saved people, many people left, no longer seeing the necessity of this particular fellowship and wanting to get away from the infighting. Others left to found their own splinter groups to preserve the old ways. And some stayed and made things better where they were.

    I was particularly struck by their desire to keep the old name — to redeem that name for Jesus, showing the world that God can change an entire denomination.

    We don't have to consider the Churches of Christ to be a cult to see the similarities — and to rejoice that God's Spirit is alive, well, and changing hearts both among us and the WWCOG.

    I love watching God at work!

  24. X-Ray says:

    I got it. I've only had time to listen to your part though.

    It's good that you're teaching that discipling relationships shouldn't be authoritarian or one-over-another. However, the important question to ask is HOW to keep them from becoming authoritarian. I think it's safe to say that groups that implemented discipling systems in the late 1960's and 1970's (Maranatha Campus Ministries, some in the Assemblies of God, and of course Campus Advance at Florida) didn't set out to have them become explicitly authoritarian, but they did. I have a good answer, I would like to see your response first.

    It's also good that you recognize that discipling occurs outside of the ICOC (and not just in Kip's new churches!) As a member of a Christian Church now, I have healthy relationships where mutual accountability and discipling take place. Principles of discipleship are being taught in Sunday School and small groups. However, there's one huge difference between the way discipling happens now and the way it happened back when I was in the ICOC. (This answer is tied into the first one.)

    Speaking of one of your former discipling partners, Wyndham Shaw, here's a recent quote:

    "You know, love for the truth without heart for God and people is legalism. We do have to watch that. We can get so caught up in knowing every scripture and proof text of every issue that’s out there in the cultural, philosophical, and religious world – the urban legends – that we become arrogant. We become self-righteous. That we think knowing the truth will save us, rather than loving the source of truth, Jesus – and what he has taught us to set us free. Let’s don’t become legalists, church. Let’s don’t become people that are arrogant because we think we’re better than others.

    On the other hand, do not let anyone shut you up, back you up, or keep you from standing up for what you know the truth is that people need to hear. You see, that’s the extreme I’m afraid we got to. ‘Oh, well, you we’re a little overzealous about who you thought was saved and lost.’ Let me say something: the religious world is still just as lost if they do not get the truth of discipleship, of baptism for the forgiveness of sins, by immersion as an adult, as they ever were! We may not be the only ones that hold that conviction, and that’s true! And where we find people, we should embrace that, but we can not change the width of the gate or the narrowness of the road that leads to eternal life."

    Wyndham Shaw, Elder/Evangelist – Boston Church of Christ (sermon delivered at the Worcester County Church of Christ) – "Love of the Truth" – March 28, 2010 – [42:28-43:55]

    Do you agree with Wyndham that "the religious world is still just as lost if they do not get the truth of discipleship, of baptism for the forgiveness of sins, by immersion as an adult"?

    (Side Note: Wyndham Shaw is also currently the chairman of the ICOC "Shepherds/Elders Service Team" which is “charged with giving profile to the needs and issues of shepherding and with helping resolve trans-congregational problems and conflicts." http://www.icocco-op.org/content/view/95/69/)

  25. stopthetyranny says:

    Absolutely, Jay! That was the most encouraging part. It isn't very often when you can actually witness something this HUGE. It reminded me of the brave men during the restoration movement, like Luther and Wycliffe. I love to see God at work and faith in action. It's so encouraging: Romans 1:12; Phil. 1:14
    I mean, this was a huge industry and they had a lot to lose. But faithfulness to God and His word was of greater value to these men. It was awesome!

  26. Alabama John says:

    When we have been accused of being a cult we state we do not have a one man head which is typical of all cults. Do we?

    WE say we don't have that, but look at very typical sermons studies. How often do we hear sermons or lessons on the first two commandments, Gods grace, love, Holy Spirit or Jesus?

    By far most of the sermons, teachings and practices and beliefs are from Paul.
    WE have been called Paulins before and if true that would make us cult worthy.

  27. Royce Ogle says:

    I followed the changes in the WWCoGod due to listening to Hank Hannigraf (sp?) , The Bible Answer Man, on the radio. It is the first time in recorded history that a cult went from unbelief to orthodoxy as a group. Admittedly, not all of them embrace the gospel of Christ but most of them did. I met a young husband and father in Lewisville, Texas who told me his story of coming to faith in Jesus having been in darkness his whole life.

    God is at work in our world. Jesus said He would build his church and He is, with our help or without it.

    Royce

  28. Alan says:

    I think I agree with what he's trying to say, although someone could quibble with how he said it. You can't be saved without being a disciple, as biblically defined. And where God's promises are conditional, we don't have the authority to offer those promises in God's name without the conditions being met. God, on the other hand, can do whatever he wishes in those cases. We may think we know what He'll do in those cases, but we might be wrong.

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  30. Alabama John says:

    We must accept that God can make any exceptions he wants. He made the laws, He can change them. He has many times. That's why we pray.

    We often only quote scripture to an unusual situation and judge accordingly.

    Let God do the judging!

    I've seen men dying that did make the good confession, but couldn't be baptized but wanted to. Been told by preachers they should of thought about that earlier as now that was too bad, but lost.

    God knows all and will judge accordingly. God doing the right thing is a certainty.

    Remember the shew bread.

  31. X-Ray says:

    How can anyone not understand that what Wyndam Shaw says when he said "the truth of discipleship, of baptism for the forgiveness of sins, by immersion as an adult" means that someone isn't saved unless it's through the ICOC's interpretation of discipleship and baptism (among confessing sin and repenting and producing fruit by their deeds – as a lost person, before baptism)? I've never heard the false, traditional ICOC definitions of "repentance", "confessing sin", and "discipleship" (among others) redefined back into a healthy paradigm. There's an insurmountable language barrier between you and the rest of Christianity.

    For those of you outside of the Crossroads/Boston/ICOC paradigm, "confessing sin" means much more than having an understanding that someone consistently violates God's will by missing the mark and is utterly incapable of "doing better" or living up to a checklist of rules, "confessing sin" means confessing as much trespass as possible, in all of its embarrassing details (for example, every sexual sin – and I do mean EVERY!), to where the people listening to the confession are satisfied with the amount of sin confessed to. In short, someone has to "perfectly" confess sin – which is impossible! The same think can be said of "repentance" where it's not just a mind and heart change, but where someone is coerced to make amends – even someone who is lost and utterly incapable of changing.

    And this brings us to the doctrine of discipling. I've had time to listen to the entire lesson. This is one in a long line of "get back to discipling" lessons I've heard since 2003. Unfortunately it's still under the old man-centered, man-focused discipling paradigm that ultimately becomes authoritarian and abusive.

    For those of you outside of the Crossroads/Boston/ICOC paradigm, it's important to note of the utterly corrupting dynamic of an authoritarian discipling system where someone is UTTERLY dependent on other people, usually the ones with more power over them, in all matters of their lives. The Worldwide Church of God was built upon one man, but they didn't have any discipling system. Therefore, it was much easier for the Holy Spirit to work and reform them and take them to where they're at today.

    Alan, one of the key areas lacking in the ICOC is an utterly deficient understanding and practice of theology involving the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in your theology is generally a nine-point buck, stuffed and mounted over your fireplaces as a trophy – something you've earned. (You've repented, confessed sin, started practicing discipling and then were baptized "perfectly", therefore earning your salvation.) The Holy Spirit – the truly perfect, Holy, third Person of the Godhead – is replaced in an authoritarian discipling system by other men. Think about that for a moment. The Holy Spirit does not have a role in your theology other than to be a seal for your salvation (assuming someone confessed enough sin, repented enough, started living the Christian life as a "disciple" as you've defined it, and where baptized the right way). 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 is all you've got! Even Kip McKean (your theology inevitably points back to him) teaches this:

    "When do you get a relationship with God? When you get the Holy Spirit? No, the Holy Spirit does not save you. It’s the forgiveness of sins that saves you. There’s where a lot of churches get off track, right there. 'Well, you receive the Holy Spirit, you're saved.' The Holy Spirit is just the seal of your salvation."

    Kip McKean – Evangelist – Portland International Church of Christ – "Baptism with the Holy Spirit" (First Principles Studies) – Late 2004 – [32:08-32:24]

    Alan, I say these things to help you break out of the demonic fog that has surrounded you and a counterfeit movement. I don't hate you or anyone still imprisoned in the system, even Kip. The one, true enemy has, and will remain to be, Kip's Jesus. Keep learning from what you're reading on this blog (and other places), and question the constructs of your paradigm, specifically the definitions of "repentance", "confession", and "discipleship" and the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual Christian and among the Christians in the church. As for me, I continue to pray for people to deny Kip's Jesus and turn towards Christ.

  32. Alan says:

    X-Ray, You think you know my theology and the theology of our church but you do not. You're projecting upon us from your past experiences in other places. To my knowledge, you and I have never met, and you have never attended our congregation. What you wrote comes from your past and from your uninformed assumptions about different people in a different place and time.

  33. Snap_knight says:

    Guy, I read a lot but say little. It always amazes me that you say you serve God and are apparently very knowledgeable of the scriptures; but I can't recall any discussions of you exhibiting sympathy or empathy in the plight of an erring person. Legalism will only get you so far….and a deeper understanding of God's grace is paramount to the believing Christian. I think you will be sorely suprised just who shows up in heaven.

  34. guy says:

    Snap,

    You wrote:
    "but I can't recall any discussions of you exhibiting sympathy or empathy in the plight of an erring person."

    Probably because i have a lot of flaws and still need a lot of growth.

    i've only met one disciple who in my estimation was very, very mature on this very point. i spoke with him at length on the phone on many occasions hoping to learn and grow and be more like him in character. Sadly, he passed away a couple years ago. i have yet to find another mentor in this area. But i desperately need one for sure.

    –guy

  35. X-Ray says:

    Alan,

    You're repeating the "that's what you think and heard about my church, come and visit and see for yourself" tactic that has been discipled into you (and me) and you have discipled into others for decades. I see through it and it's not going to work as a deterrent.

    If your theology has truly changed, please tell us (similar to what's in the video) how your theology from (roughly) ten years ago when Kip McKean was in charge differed from orthodox Christian theology (especially in the person and nature of Jesus) and how that has been now undeniably corrected in the leadership, membership, and newer members that have joined in the last few years.

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