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REVEAL: About the ICC

Theology of the ICC

While REVEAL's primary concerns about the ICC are not theological, the ICC's theology largely motivates what it does. If you want to be able to understand the ICC, and (perhaps more importantly) talk with an ICC member about the ICC without getting totally lost or talking past each other, you will need to understand the basics of ICC theology and how they approach this subject.

With a few notable exceptions, the doctrines of the ICC are the same as those of the "mainline" Churches of Christ from which the ICC came. In this page, we will try to cover both those doctrines which the ICC shares with its parent church, and those in which it differs from the mainline Churches of Christ.

First, we need to discuss the sources of ICC theology -- who has the authority to speak and teach for the ICC. As the ICC understands this, the Bible is the ultimate source of authority. In practice, though, Kip McKean, the World Missions Evangelist and head of the ICC, is the ultimate authority and source for ICC doctrine, as well as the actual practices of the group. This does not mean he writes all doctrinal material used by the group -- others in the ICC, notably Gordon Ferguson, Doug Jacoby, and Mike Taliferro, have each written and published considerably more than McKean. What McKean has written, though, is authoritative, and nothing the others write is published by the ICC or used in it without his approval.

Among the work actually written by McKean or attributed to him are the First Principles Bible study series, which almost all recruits in the past twenty years were taken through prior to their baptisms, and Revolution through Restoration, a 1992 article in Discipleship Magazine which clearly states the movement's vision of itself and guiding principles. Many valuable quotes from McKean also come from sermon tapes and lecture notes, and we use these as well.

We also will cite spoken or written work by other ICC leaders, among them Ferguson (an elder and probably the preeminent theologian in the ICC), Ferguson's wife Teresa Ferguson (a prominent women's ministry leader), Marty Fuqua, other world sector leaders and evangelists of note.

Core beliefs of the ICC and the mainline Churches of Christ are:

"Probably some critics will no doubt say that we begin some practice and then go to Scripture in order to justify it. But the issue is whether or not the Bible does, in fact, justify it....

"A better motto... would be the following: 'Where the Bible speaks we are silent, and where the Bible is silent we speak." Thus, if God has specified something, we shut up and submit. But if He has not, then we have the freedom to discover the most effective way to carry out His principles...."

           -- Gordon Ferguson
                  Progressive Revelation
                  Boston Bulletin, May 1988

"Any religious group who strongly emphasizes doctrinal accuracy runs a risk of losing perspective and losing God... An insistence that we have 'book, chapter, and verse' for anything new has virtually guaranteed that we will have nothing new, even if the old is a failure...."

           -- Gordon Ferguson
                  Progressive Revelation
                  Boston Bulletin, May 1988

"If you are not in a discipling ministry, you need to move to one. Why do you resist the spirit and not move?... God is trying to forge a remnant.... There are divisions between us and the mainline church becase, as it says in 1 Corinthians 11, there has got to be divisions so they can show which ones of us has God's approval."

           -- Kip McKean
                  Why Do You Resist the Spirit?
                  1987 World Missions Seminar, Boston

"This church [the Boston Church of Christ] is truly the Jerusalem of God's modern day movement."

           -- Kip McKean
                  McKean Becomes Mission Evangelist
                  Boston Bulletin, June 26, 1988

"For a long time in the Church of Christ... [people] were taught... the five point plan of salvation -- hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized.... I believe an essential element has not been emphasized in the area of repentance.... We need to get it straight, who is a candidate for baptism. It is the individual who is a disciple... There has become an innate doctrinal difference, but they [the mainline Churches of Christ] don't recognize it because it looks like a methodology."

           -- Kip McKean
                  Perfectly United
                  1987 Boston Women's Retreat

"I taught what was clear in Acts 11:26: SAVED = CHRISTIAN = DISCIPLE, simply meaning that you cannot be saved and you cannot be a true Christian without being a disciple also. I taught that, to be baptized, you must first make the decision to be a disciple, and then be baptized.... I taught that their baptism was invalid because a retroactive understanding of repentance and baptism was not consistent with Scripture."

           -- Kip McKean
                  Revolution through Restoration
                  Discipleship Magazine, April 1992

"To not have a discipleship partner is to be rebellious to God and to the leadership of this congregation.... The person that you are discipling must believe, must trust, that you are out for God and their best interest. Because, you see, there is going to be some advice they will not understand. But if they trust that you are out for God and their best interest, they will obey.... They must believe your judgement is better than theirs."

           -- Kip McKean
                  Discipleship Partners
                  1988 Boston Leadership Conference

"Ultimately, if we do not trust these people [disciplers], we do not trust God. To the extent that I trust my discipler, I am in reality trusting God."

           -- Teresa Ferguson
                  Boston Bulletin, October 22, 1989

"The evangelist without elders in the congregation is the authority of God in the congregation. The only time he is not to be obeyed is when he calls you to disobey Scripture or disobey your conscience, and even if he calls on you to do something that disobeys your conscience, you still have an obligation to study it out and prayerfully change your opinion so that you can be totally unified."

           -- Kip McKean
                  Why Do You Resist the Spirit?
                  1987 World Mission Seminar

Because the ICC believes in following the "Bible only", it denies the validity of human interpretations of the Bible. This does not prevent it from interpreting the Scriptures, of course. The ICC does not recognize that their interpretations of Scripture are interpretations, however, and insists that they are simply statements of what the Scriptures teach and which no honest person could disagree with.

Due to its insistence on "perfect unity", its rejection of interpretation and ambiguity, and its insistence that all must understand the Holy Scriptures in the same way it does, the ICC believes and teaches that only ICC members are saved. Most ICC members will, if pressed by an outsider, avoid stating this or soften it by insisting that there may be some people who came to the correct conclusions about the Bible outside of the ICC. In practice, though, the ICC believes they are the one and only true Church at present, and that it is highly unlikely, if even possible, for anyone to be saved elsewhere.

For more information about ICC theology, take a look at the REVEAL Library Theology Section.

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