"International Church of Christ"

So, question - does anyone know exactly what the “International Church of Christ” denomination is?

I have a lot of questions.
-What do they believe in terms of doctrine?/Is there any authoritative statement or founding document?
-Where do they differ from Catholicism on doctrinal points aside from things like “Sola Scriptura” common among protestants? What makes them unique as a group in terms of doctrine and practice? - I think they have something like “midweek”? (also what is their sexual/ethical morality on the “hot-button” issues like abortion, homosexual “marriage”, etc.?)

I myself am Catholic and am wondering because I know someone attending one of these and of course as a Catholic I want to explain the Catholic position. But I don’t need to “preach to the choir” so to speak on things that are the same,

so in short what are the differences between Catholicism and the “International Church(es) of Christ”?


J. S. S. P.

As with many ego-driven denominations, it claims to be neither ego-driven, nor a denomination. It has suffered personality-driven schisms even in its short history. By the literal meaning of the English language, they consider the bible to be almost God. It is the “supreme authority” which is a status usually reserved for the Creator of the universe. Naturally, this “supreme authority” is made subject to the private interpretation of men’s egos. As a Catholic, I see this as odd. They do not consider themselves protestant, even though they adhere to the common indicators of protestantism. Odder. They can trace their origins clear back to… 1800s America, just like the SDA, LDS, JWs and many other “MADE IN USA” sects. Some who have left their ranks consider them a cult, due to their recruitment and retention practices, and claims of mind control. They teach a zealous adherence to a core set of beliefs, all the while flatly denying any sort of creed. While doing this, they seem to completely miss the salient point that a “statement of beliefs” is the very definition of a creed. Oddest. They seek to follow Jesus as did the pre-biblical disciples, but insist upon using only the bible, which was not used by the very early Christians they seek to emulate. Really, really odd. Essentially, they teach and follow what they want to, and disregard the Old Testament, which they consider as expired. Their Los Angeles site strikes me as somewhat mysterious. One can see that their non-creedal “statement of beliefs” (i.e. a creed) appears nebulous and subject to interpretation.

Truthfully, they are not completely wrong, but complete error is not how the devil leads astray.

I spent some time with this group in the late 90s. They are very 'Sola Scriptora" focused and works driven (Although, they would NEVER admit the latter, and insist they were saved by Grace) . They placed huge emphasis on evangelism and tithing. If you brought in new members, you were considered spiritually healthy and esteemed. While I was there, they were lead by an “World Sector Leader” or head Evangelist.

They did encourage spending time in prayer and reading scripture, which are very good things. However, it was their conclusions that raised red-flags and I left.

There is no sanctification/justification process in this church, thus I was troubled by the lack of spiritual direction on how to connect to God’s Grace and grow in Holiness…Catholicism has this and it was quite easy for me to revert.

This church divorces itself from any kind of Sacred Tradition or Early Church Fathers connection.

Do they still call themselves the ICOC?

As someone already posted, I know there was a significant schism/division in the church and hierarchy in the mid or late 2000s and multiple churches came out of it…

Which is kind of ironic because of their claim of being Nondenominational. Some remaining hard liners and others reforming some of their positions. I wish I could tell you more about what they are like today but I have not spoken to any of my old friends in over a decade.

Feel free to PM me if you have any more questions

From the reveal.org website regarding the practices of the ICOC (italics mine):

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.

Since this demonstrates good monetary practice, I wonder if Kip McKean was an economics or business major at UF Gainesville. One could devote a lifetime to examining the various splits and fractures in the “non-denominations” that resulted from the in-fighting. Bad news: His personal site is down.

I absolutely agree…I can’t remember what Kip’s title was exactly, but he was viewed as the “Head Evangelist”

I see the typical manifestations of a potential messianic complex in much of his thought and actions. Boston was the new Jerusalem, and they were the only true church, etc. He assumed leadership because God always used chosen men to lead: Moses, David, etc., but he just couldn’t name Peter! The blessing was that the abuses and excesses in it lead to your coming back home. If Kip has a reward coming, it might be solely for that.

Thank you…

They gave every member this handbook, that had bible studies that would lead potential converts into thinking they weren’t “saved” and needed to join the ICOC, as they were the one true church, according to Kip.

They are a version of the “churches of Christ” writ large, and they splintered or schismed from that group.

Cambellites, cofC members condemn them and consider them a cult. And the discipling method they use seems cult like to me.

In many ways they are very like the church of Christ, beleivers baptism as more or less a sacrament, by immersion only for remission of sin. “Lord’s Supper” as memorial only and Sundays only with matzo crackers and grape juice (fruit of the vine).

I knew a former member of the Boston/internatinal church of Christ who wandered intomy parish one Sunday.
He had the shell-shocked glazed eye look you sometimes see in cult members.

They teach that you must understand baptism’s effects as they teach it, and before you are baptized, otherwise the baptism is invalid and you are not saved. Yeah.

Thanks everyone for your replies.

So - going with the baptism thing - on what authority do they claim to teach? Is it really simply on the authority of the Bible which they claim needs no interpretation?

And are they part of any larger movements like Calvinism? (not necessarily in terms of like being members of the same community but in larger philosophical trends)

I’ve actually been to one of their services…

So what arguments should a Catholic be proposing to an “ICOC” member. Not in the sense of being mean, but an intellectual argument - like just the typical things for a Protestant such as why Bible and Tradition, Papal primacy, Real Presence, &c? There’s nothing super special to be aware of, is there?

Thanks again!

One thing that occours to me is to point out the logical inconsistency of the restorationsists theory.

They hold that original new testament Christianity went by the NT and bible exclusively, and when they ceased following the bible in that way, the church went “apostate” and simply ceased to exist until it was restored by Campbell and others.

The problem with this illogic is the NT and bible would not be canonised and made one volume until 390 AD, by which time in their theory the church had gone apostate and ceased to exist. So the church that supposely went by the bible alone never had the bible.

The scenario of early Christians searching the scriptures to see if it is true could not have happened at a time when the majority were illiterate, books were hand-written and extremely exspensive, and the bible was not yet canonised.

Aside from the fact that it would deny the “Gates of Hell shall not prevail”, right? Or do they have a counter argument for that?

They call it the plan of savation:

confess Christ before others
be baptised as a beleiver by submerrsion for the remission of sin

You have to do it in that exact order, or you have to be redunked, you must understand and beleive baptism forgives sins before baptism.

That is why they re-baptise everyone.

They just ignore it. They claim to follow the bible exclusively but…

They have proof texts they go by to the exclusion of the rest of scripture which they ignore. They ignore history and the fathers as well.

The reveal website has a thesis written by a man named Paden. It’s very long but you can save it and read it a little at a time.

So do they subscribe to “Once Saved Always Saved” or at least think only of faith and not faith and works?

No they do not believe in OSAS, but they don’t rebaptise.

They do practice faith and works.

The original “restorers” broke away from Calvinism and the rejected it alltogether.

So in this sense they’re more in line with small-o orthodox thought?

And so the “COC” from which “ICOC” broke off has Calvinist roots although it basically rejected a lot of that?

Thanks so much :slight_smile:

Well sort-of, some of the original restoration movement founders had problems with the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and were semi-unitarian, but that strain has largely died out.
But is still hard to get many cofCers to use the term Trinity, they prefer God-head which they claim is the same thing.

If a doctrine is not explicitly ordered in the cofC God, { the bible } it’'s considered optional or down right rejected.

The original Campbellite founders Campbell pere et fil and Barton Stone were originally members of the succceeders Presbyterian chruch of Ulster,and they rejected all creeds as barriers to unity, amoung those were the Westmister Conffesion, Synod of Dort, Calvin’s institutes.

Another early founder Sydney Rigdon later became a Mormon, and we know they are not orthodox.

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