New Covenant Publications - A Counter Cult Ministry



(Is the Threat Resurfacing?)

Timothy Greeson


This is not so much an article as it is a reminder of the poisonous teachings, corrupt leadership methods, and spiritual abuse that had been spread throughout the membership of the International Churches of Christ in its short history by its self proclaimed leader, Kip McKean. It is a call for every member to reflect and compare the present to the past and for each to judge for themselves whether the threat of abusive leadership methods and flawed teachings are beginning to resurface within their individual congregations, or whether these abuses were ever really vanquished in the first place.

As the mounting undercurrent of dissent, fueled by the undeniable truth, erupted and ripped through this world-wide organization in early 2003, a large portion of the leadership throughout the movement made public apologies for their participation in the widespread authoritative abuses that had brought about psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual damage to thousands of members and became the trademark of the ICOC. ( read: Honest to God by Henry Kriete, and Mike Leatherwood’s Letter to the Leadership of the NYC church)

Many of those in leadership resigned or were asked to leave, or were plain old “fired” by congregations that still had the ability to do so. Among those who resigned, shortly before the upheaval, was the man at the top, Kip McKean, from the position of Lead Evangelist. He published a letter of resignation and apology in November 2002 in which he took responsibility for all of the abuses wrought by others in leadership, which had been fostered by his corrupt teachings and views. He then faded from the forefront. As the shock waves of Henry Kriete’s letter spread like wildfire within the movement, Kip appeared to drop from the leadership altogether. The movement known as the International Churches of Christ crumbled as a corporate entity. According to the 2004 International Leadership Conference of affiliated churches, the ICOC no longer exists as an organization with a headquarters, structure, or hierarchy where a single church is set up over any other churches.

Left in the wake of the eruption that cost the ICOC churches almost 25% of their total membership were thousands of people trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered Christian lives as they struggled to hold their individual congregations together or moved on in search of new Christian fellowships. Some churches, scattered throughout the US and overseas, survived the upheaval intact and severed their ties with the ICOC affiliation. And the once arrogant organization, a fleet of over 430 churches boasting that it was God’s modern day movement, was reduced to a smaller group of affiliated churches trying to rebound and stay afloat in the turbulent seas. Three of the largest US churches: Boston, Atlanta and NYC all lost over 30 per cent of their membership totals between Dec 2002 and Dec 2004. And the jewel of the ICOC, the LA church, which began to see the numerical losses prior to Feb 2003 (possibly a contributing factor in Kip being asked to step down as lead evangelist in LA) dropped over 3,000 from its membership total from Dec 2001 to Dec 2004. That is over 35 percent of the 2001 membership total. According to current statistics published by an ICOC information web site ( the total membership numbers of the European churches is less than 1/3 of what it enjoyed at the end of 2002.

Less than a year after God’s hand, according to some in leadership, had moved against them because of their gross sin and arrogance, Kip McKean resurfaced in a position of leadership within the ICOC affiliated Portland (Oregon) church and began to publish articles which spoke to the remaining ICOC membership, those in the sister churches, with the same attitude of authority that he had wielded when he was lead evangelist over the entire movement. And it was apparent from these articles that he expected members to acknowledge him and others in leadership with the reverence due them, claiming once again that they were God’s chosen leaders. The theme of these articles and editorials came across like, ‘Yes, we have made mistakes, but its time to get past that and for all of you to fall back in line.’

Problem is, many of those who remained in leadership, some who even refused to step down at the request of their congregations, had never changed from the old school, abusive, authoritarian mindset that plagued the ICOC for so many years. Neither, it appeared from the articles, had Kip McKean.

In his resignation/apology letter Kip had taken full responsibility for causing people to feel “bitterness” toward the leadership, a “bitterness” he has now for more than a year been reprimanding people for still feeling. It appears as though he threw a blanket of specified time over everyone and now that time is up. In his articles he has been stating that people pretty much just need to get over themselves and stop acting like ungrateful children. It comes across as though he is admitting that the leadership has sinned against the people, but since the people owe the leadership for their very salvation the people need to stop acting like children and show some gratitude. In addition they need to show some compassion for the rough time the leaders have had at the hands of these “bitter” members.

This may seem like a harsh example, but it’s similar to a rich abusive husband admitting to his wife that he has abused her physically, verbally, and psychologically, but if it weren’t for him she would still be living in a trailer park so she needs to show some gratitude and stop fussing about the abuse.

Yes, Kip McMean does admit that he and the leadership of the ICOC have sinned against the people. He has admitted it several times. But, in his article, I am Not Ashamed (07/04/2004), Kip speaks about a leadership couple and their sins,

“Did the Johnsons make mistakes? Of course, no one attempts great deeds of faith without mistakes. Did they sin in their leadership? Of course, but what human leader has not sinned? Did repented leadership sins disqualify Moses (anger), David (tolerance of sin), Peter (cowardice) or Paul (arrogance) for leadership?”

Kip actually compares the abusive sin of the ICOC leadership with the sin of Moses striking a rock in anger instead of speaking to it the way God had told him to do. Kip actually compares the widespread authoritarian abuses, spiritual abuses, psychological abuses, and emotional devastation that were heaped upon the majority of the membership for years with Peter having a moment of weakness and fear where he denied Jesus three times. Does Kip actually believe that these widespread abuses that were heaped upon the people for so long that the retention rate of the ICOC declined drastically for several years prior to 2003 is comparable to Moses striking a rock in a moment of anger or Peter having a moment of cowardice? Does Kip really consider the thousands of acts of abuse and manipulative practices and flawed teachings that went on for so many years simply “mistakes” made while attempting “great deeds of faith”? I wonder if Kip would consider a five car pile up caused by a drunk driver in which many people suffered lasting, debilitating injuries comparable to a dented fender caused by a flustered student driver in which only his grade was injured. Of course both are to be forgiven, but which of the two people would Kip most consider giving a job of elementary school bus driver? And if Kip did put the “repented” drunk driver behind the wheel, would he actually reprimand those that had been injured in the pile up because they were reluctant to get on the bus?

And as for Moses, his little sin, his “mistake” cost him the privilege of entering the Promised Land. Given this, how do you think God feels about an abusive leadership that caused thousands of people to turn away from Him? Take a trip through the Old Testament and find out. And don’t be disillusioned. There are thousands of ex-members that left and turned from God because they were beaten down and made to feel unworthy of Him. If just ONE person misses out on eternal salvation because of the abuse heaped on them by the ICOC leadership, how devastating do you think that is to God? Look at what happened to the nation of Israel from time to time at the hands of the accepted religious leadership. God was very angry because of it. He even warned the people not to put their trust or loyalty in men. And Jesus didn’t get together with the Pharisees and say, “Guys, you’ve made some mistakes here”.

After reading Kip McKean’s 8 part series of articles entitled, The Mandate of God for World Evangelism, written in early 2004, I felt the strong need to write to him. The series gave me a strong sense that Kip hadn’t really grasped the magnitude of the kind of abusive authority that he had created and fostered or of the magnitude of spiritual, emotional and psychological devastation that so many people were struggling to repair. I placed a phone call to the Portland, Oregon church office number late one night in June 2004 to leave a message requesting Kip McKean’s email address. To my surprise, Kip McKean answered the phone. The main office number of the Portland church was Kip McKean’s home phone number. I guess I didn’t fully understand his top leadership role at that church.

After speaking with him briefly, and obtaining his email address in order to write him, I penned a letter. The following is a revised version of that letter. It has been revised for this article for the purpose of clarity and additional information that I did not have at the time. The issues discussed and the flavor of the letter remains the same.

Dear Kip,

My apologies for calling so late last night. I was unaware that the office number was your home number. Sorry if anyone was awakened by the call.

My heart is kind of heavy as I write to you. That is probably a contributing factor as to why I was up so late. To begin with, I do realize that God calls us to forgive those who have sinned against us. God calls us to have compassion and to love unconditionally. I realize that, and I do my best to fulfill that in my life. But God does not call us to be gullible or to be like door mats that invite others to walk on us, regardless of who they may be, or who they may claim to be. Nor does He call us to just openly trust those who have deceived us on numerous occasions. We are called to forgive, not to trust. The Bible teaches us to be loving and forgiving, but it also teaches us to be wise so that we are not sitting ducks for those who would take advantage of us, for those who might prey on us, or for those who might abuse us whether they are aware that they are doing so or not.

You can forgive the person who robbed your house, but that doesn't mean God expects you to leave the door unlocked or to invite the person to spend the night. If someone stabs you, you can choose to forgive them as God would have you do. But that doesn't mean you have to open your armor and give them the opportunity to stab you again and again and again, especially if that had been their track record over many years. That would be plain stupid. Wouldn't you agree? It would take a fair amount of time for that person to show you they are truly repentant of their acts, that they understand the magnitude of the offense, and even more time to win back your trusting them with sharp utencils.

Also, I don't fully agree with your view of Hebrews 13:17, (especially the way it was once taught in the ICOC) mainly because there is no word in the Greek manuscript for the word "authority" in that verse. It was inserted by the translators of the NIV. I have done a lot of reading on that part of Scripture and believe that the way it was viewed by leadership in the past helped to cause the elitist attitude and heavy handedness that came to exist within leadership. I do agree that we should put ourselves under leadership for the purpose of being taught the ways of God and that there should be offices for the governing matters of the church. But we must be assured, especially after what has happened, that those in leadership are truly of God and chosen or called by God to lead. You admitted in your apology letter that too often your selection of people into leadership was based on worldly traits, not on their level of spirituality or godliness. This brings into question if these people should have ever been in leadership at all.

I am one of those people who continuously puts things to the test, as the Bible teaches us to do. And I was treated harshly at times because of it. I used to ask a LOT of questions. I guess I was considered critical and troublesome. But, with all that has happened over the past 16 months, I really believe that was a good quality for me to have (especially when most of the issues I questioned were eventually admitted by leadership as being wrong). With all of the confessions and repenting by many of the leaders, and all of the apology letters put out by the different churches acknowledging the truth and all of the promises of reform, I was so hopeful of the direction that the church would be taking. And, yes, I also felt vindicated.

But now, a year later, after seeing promises broken, seeing old ways returning clothed in new wrappings, hearing about people in other churches still being treated harshly, watching leaders resigning in dismay at the hindering of reform and members continuing to leave disillusioned, my hopes are fading. I am once again scrutinizing things.

I'm still not sure what to think about what appears to be, on your part, a desire to once again place yourself in the admiral’s chair so soon after the scope of the devastation wrought on the church by your own sins and corruption as a leader. But I guess, for now, I must reserve my judgment and leave that between you and God. I pray that you really have repented and that you understand the depth of the devastation you have caused. I pray that God will govern you and give you wisdom and compassion and insight into Scripture. And I pray most of all that He will humble you even further and keep you open to others so that you are not revisited by the gross errors and traps of your past.

I pray those things, but when I read articles like your series entitled THE MANDATE OF GOD FOR WORLD EVANGELISM, my heart sinks. Once again you are pushing this idea of world evangelism in one generation as something Jesus commanded and expected of the apostles in their lifetime, something you claim they accomplished, and as a Biblical expectation that God is placing on us in our generation. I want to ask if you are that insensitive to what damage that teaching did within the ICOC or if you are just that blind to Scripture and recorded history.

In part III you wrote that "By 62 A.D., Paul writes the whole world has heard. The whole world had been evangelized." Throughout the series you stated that the whole world had been evangelized in one generation during Paul's lifetime and you provided Colossians 1:6 as proof text. In part V you wrote, concerning Matthew 24:9-14,

"Encouragingly in verse 14, Jesus prophesies that indeed the ‘gospel of the Kingdom’ will be preached around the world in their lifetime, and then the end will come. ‘The end’ is not the end of time or the second coming of Jesus, but the end of the temple and the physical ‘Jewish nation’ in 70 A.D. Jesus' prophecy of taking the gospel to the whole world is fulfilled by the time Paul writes Colossians in 62 A.D. He exclaims, ‘All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing. (Col 1:6)’”

I had always understood that section of Matthew 24 to be speaking of the end times, the second coming. I had never really heard your take on this. I would appreciate some support for your view about the "end" being the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. I find this view odd, given that the question Jesus was answering in Matthew 24:14, dealing with the word “end”, was,

“…what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age? (Mt 24:3)

I grant you, the disciples had also asked Him about His comment in verse 2 concerning the stones of the temple being thrown down. But the only thing they asked in dealing with the “end” was about the “end of the age”. And if, as you say, the “end” that Jesus was referring to in verse 14 was the destruction of the temple and the physical Jewish nation in 70 A.D., why did Jesus give them a long list of world events that would occur previous to the coming of the “end” ? The main thrust of chapter 24 is clearly eschatological. Jesus is clearly speaking of end time events.

He begins in verse 5 with the list of world events that precede the coming of the end stating that “many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ’, and will deceive many.” He continues in verse 6 speaking of “wars and rumors of wars”, yet states that the “end” is still to come. He continues in verse 7 with nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and “famines and earthquakes in various places”, yet says that these are only “the beginning of birth pains.” That bears repeating; “the beginning of birth pains.” A woman is usually in labor for some time with the birth pains growing in frequency and intensity right up until the baby is born. In like fashion, the list of events that Jesus is describing will grow in frequency and intensity right up until the end of the age. Most of the things in this list are still happening with increased intensity and frequency right up to today. But Jesus is stating that the events mentioned in verses 5-8 are simply the beginning of birth pains. There is still much more to come. In verses 9-13 Jesus speaks of disciples being “persecuted” and “put to death” and “hated by all nations” because of Him. He paints a portrait of a time when “many will turn from the faith and will betray and hate each other”, and “many false prophets will appear and deceive many”, a time when “the love of most will grow cold”. He then gives the one ray of light in all this darkness, “but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” And during all of this “the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations”. It is at this point, in verse 14, that Jesus finally states, “and then the end will come.

So after all of these world events, most which did not happen before 70 A.D., Jesus states that the gospel will have been preached in the “whole world” and then “the end will come.” Then with His very next breath, Jesus gives them a recap and a warning about the coming of the “end”.

So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (v 15-16)

In verses 17-20 Jesus gives some discourse about fleeing straight away, not hesitating, and how dreadful this time will be for pregnant and nursing mothers. He then states,

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (v 21-22)

The NAS translates the above verses as:

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.” (v 21-22 nas)

To fully grasp what Jesus is saying it is extremely important to note that the Greek word translated as “life” in the above verse is (sarx) and that the Greek construction (the way it is used) is pasa sarx (all flesh), a technical term referring to all humanity, all mankind. In other words, unless the days be cut short, no human being would survive. So Jesus is speaking of a great tribulation or distress of such magnitude that the entire human race will face extinction. Such was not the case in 70 A.D.

Jesus continues with warnings about false Christs appearing and working great miracles to deceive many as He had done in verse 5. He then says,

“Immediately after the distress of those days

‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give
     it’s light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will
be shaken.’

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (v 29-31)

So immediately after the distress that endangers the entire human race, the heavenly bodies will undergo a very visually climactic event. And at that time Jesus will return. What does it take for someone to understand that Jesus is speaking about the end times and His return? The book of Revelation even describes the great and unusual displays in the heavens preceding His return (Rev 6: 12-13). If this time of distress had to do with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., then please show me the historical records concerning these great and unusual occurrences taking place in the heavens. And how do you account for Jesus saying that the Son of Man will come “At that time” in reference to “those days” immediately after the distress?

The prophetic words of Daniel and of the apostle Paul bear witness to these events and time of distress prior to the return of Jesus.

The king (speaking of the antichrist) will do as he pleases. He will exalt himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath (distress) is completed. (Dan 11:36)

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12: 1-2)

Don’t let anyone deceive you in anyway, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thess 2:3-4)

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders…” (2 Thess 2:8-9)

These Scriptures tie this time of distress with the “abomination that causes desolation”, a time which has to be cut short by the return of Jesus, otherwise no one would survive. I fail to understand how you come to the conclusion that the coming of the “end” that Jesus was speaking of in verse 14 was in 70 A.D. or that the “abomination that causes desolation” was the destruction of the Jewish temple. First of all, the phrase “abomination that causes desolation” is a very unique phrase. It was a Jewish expression, hashiqutz meshomem, translated also as “abomination that makes desolate”, used to describe the act of placing an idolatrous image in the Holy Place (the holy of holies), thus defiling or making “desolate” the Temple.

This phrase was used by Daniel twice in prophesy to describe two similar events. One had to do with Antiochus IV (Epiphanes), the Seleucid/Greek ruler who reigned over Syria and Israel from 175 to 164 B.C. A bitter persecutor of the Jews, Antiochus forbid the worship of Yahweh and in 167 B.C. erected an idol to Zeus in the holy of holies in the Temple at Jerusalem. This act was referred to as hashiqutz meshomem, “abomination that makes desolate”. The second time it was used by Daniel had to do with a ruler who will,

“…confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven’ (or ‘week’). In the middle of the ‘seven’ (or ‘week’) he will put an end to the sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple, he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Dan 9:27)

Notice the language used in the last sentence of this passage, “until the end that is decreed is poured out on him”. It is very interesting that this is the very passage that Jesus refers to in Matt 24:15 when describing the “abomination that causes desolation” that would occur at a future time from when he was speaking. He actually says “So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation spoken of through the prophet Daniel…” (Mt 24:15) There will be an individual (ruler) who will desecrate the temple in a way very similar to what Antiochus did in 167 B.C. Only the idol he will set up in the holy of holies will be himself. He will claim to be God and compel others to worship him. He will be stopped by Christ’s return at the end of the age.

Notice the parts of the verses I have put in bold print in the five previous Scripture references above.

“…He will exalt himself above every god….until the time of wrath (distress) is completed. (Dan 11:36)

There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then…. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan 12: 1-2)

…until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God….so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thess 2:3-4)

“…the lawless one….whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow…. and destroy by the splendor of his coming." (2 Thess 2:8-9)

…he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Dan 9:27)

Compare these words from Scripture with history as we know it and with the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. The “abomination that causes desolation” is tied to “a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then(Dan 12:1) and “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until nowand never to be equaled again.(Mt 24:21). The individual who brings about much of this distress will be a ruler, “a man of lawlessness(2 Thess 2:3), “the lawless one(2 Thess 2:8), “the man doomed to destruction(2 Thess 2:3), “whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow” and “destroy by the splendor of his coming.(2 Thess 2:8) This ruler will set up the “abomination that causes desolation(Dan 9:27) and will “exalt himself above every god(Dan 11:36) or as Paul puts it, “…will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God(2 Thess 2:4) even to the point of setting himself up “in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thess 2:4) He will continue to do so until “the time of wrath (distress) is completed(Dan 11:36), “until the end that is decreed is poured out on him(Dan 9:27)

According to history, this never happened in 70 A.D. Titus, the Roman general who destroyed the temple and the city in 70 A.D., never did what Daniel prophesied in Daniel 9:27 or what Jesus prophesied using Daniel 9:27 as a reference. He never set up idol worship in the temple which, again, is the only act referred to by the phrase “abomination that causes desolation”. And as bad as what Titus did in 70 A.D. was, it was not the worst distress ever to occur since the “beginning of nations” or “since the beginning of the world” and certainly was not something that would “never be equaled again.” World War I and II were certainly worse. And speaking strictly of the Jewish people, I think we can say what Hitler did to the Jews far overshadowed what Titus did.

In Matthew 24 Jesus was speaking about the end time events, just before His return, not the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

I would also appreciate you showing me any translation of the Bible that quotes Jesus saying that the gospel of the kingdom would be preached around the world in the apostles’ lifetime. What scriptural support is there for that? Matthew 24:14 simply states "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

Also, I really don't get how you surmise that Paul was saying that "the whole world has heard" or that the entire world was evangelized by 62 A.D. from Paul simply saying "All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing." (Col 1:6) We use that term "all over the world" today without it meaning in each and every part or country of the world. We use the term without it meaning the entire world being involved. It is a generalization similar to the use of the phrase “four corners of the earth”. We aren’t suggesting that the earth actually has corners. The phrase is used meaning the far reaches of the earth or in reference to something being spread out very far in many directions. When we say “all over the world” we could just as easily be saying, “in many parts of the world”. Until last year it could’ve been stated that the ICOC was spread out “all over the world” because of the many plantings overseas. But it would not have meant that the ICOC had a planting in every city or even nation of the world. And it would certainly not have meant that the entire world had been evangelized. It is a generalization. And, ironically, the ICOC had spread its teachings farther around the globe in 25 years than the apostles had the gospel by 62 A.D.

I would appreciate some evidence showing that disciples had traveled to the farthest reaches of the globe by 62 A.D. (or at least farther than the ICOC had in its 25 year history), and that the WHOLE WORLD had heard the gospel. In all of Paul's missionary trips over a period of 11 years, ending in 57 A.D., he never made it past the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. We know that there were people living in Japan, yet I don't know of any record showing a mission trip by anyone to Japan by 62 A.D. I don't know of any record of mission trips to even the farthest reaches of Russia or the Southern tip of Africa or the Northern parts of Newfoundland or Norway by 62 A.D. And until the 1400's, (1200's if you count the possible voyage by Vikings) there is no record of anyone making it to the Western Hemisphere, especially not by 62 A.D. Yet we know that people were living there. So I don't understand you making that assumption based on one single generalized verse, much less teaching it as fact or putting such huge pressure and expectation on the members to do what had supposedly been done before. In my opinion you are putting words in Paul's mouth that just aren’t there.

It might not sound like a big thing to you or others who might buy into your dream, but this teaching that God EXPECTS us to evangelize the entire world in one generation, our generation, puts an enormous amount of pressure on disciples. To have a heart for evangelizing is a great thing. To encourage others in their ministries and evangelizing is a great thing. But to put numerical expectations on people and call it God’s mandate, and then harshly reprimand people for falling short of that expectation is a stench in God’s nostrils. It is evil and is birthed, not from an attempt at “great deeds of faith”, but from human aspirations, arrogance and pride.

This teaching and practice has caused many to view God as a task master, putting on them a bondage of expectation they have no hope of meeting. It makes people feel the constant guilt of failure before God. They are failures before God. And your constant insistence that it has been done in the past by “faithful” followers in a period less than 30 years without the communication technology or travel ability that we have today, just adds to the pressure and to the guilt of failure. If we are not able to accomplish the task that a small group in the Middle East was able to do in 30 years as technologically stunted and persecuted as they were, then we are truly failures and have no claim to the word “faithful”.

I know of so many people that were burned out physically and emotionally by this one teaching, coupled with the constant harping by you and other leaders about CRANKING out numbers. But many of those people saw it as God’s expectation of them and have turned away from Him because they just couldn’t cut it, they didn’t measure up. If you are wrong in your view, then you are still abusing God’s children by pushing this as God’s expectation, His mandate.

The other issue I would like to bring before you is that of the "One True Church". In Part Vl of your series, you made the following statement:

"Sadly, some who were among our members feel they were deceived because we said the ICOC was ‘the true church.’ Granted, we were not clear there are Christians in other ‘fellowships.’ Yet by ‘true church,’ we simply meant it was a church as in the Bible, composed of only disciples."

I don't mean to offend you, really I don't. And may God forgive me if I am mistaken about your motives, but this explanation you give belittles people's intelligence and is offensive to them. And I am not the only one who believes this explanation to be less than honest. It is common knowledge after all that has taken place that people did not just FEEL like they were deceived, they WERE deceived. That was one of the sins that many leaders had apologized for. I, myself, have heard too many leaders (including yourself) preach that we (the ICOC) were the "ONE TRUE” church and that leaving the membership of the ICOC was leaving God. It was constantly ingrained in us by everyone in leadership that there would be nowhere else to go because this was God's church, His one and only church, the kingdom exclusively. We were made to believe that bad things would happen to us if we left because we would be leaving God's one and only true church. I have tapes with quote after quote after quote attesting to this. So, why would you now make the above statement in which you claim that this was not the meaning leadership had in mind and that people just misunderstood it?

You said "we were not clear there are Christians in other ‘fellowships.’" That suggests that you always believed that there were, but just didn't make it clear enough to the membership. We just misunderstood. Yet, we were taught that "not being yoked with an unbeliever" meant that we couldn't date ANYONE outside the membership of the ICOC because nobody outside the ICOC was a believer. There were no other Christians. Nobody else was saved. How can you imply that people just misunderstood your meaning in the face of all the evidence which proves what you really meant? And how do you explain the entire leadership of the Boston church including the following in their church-wide apology.

“Recent widely-circulated letters and articles from various disciples have addressed the need for our churches to correct either impressions given, or teaching done, on the Biblical concept of the one church. We are happy to join with other congregations in saying that while we clearly believe there is one church (Ephesians 4:1-7, 1 Corinthians 12:13) and believe the Biblical truth about how one enters the church and is saved through faith, repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 9:23-25, Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-4, Galatians 3:26-27), it would be arrogant of us to think that we can dogmatically define the membership of that church (“The Lord knows those who are his” - 2 Timothy 2:19). That is something only God can do, and we repent of having arrogantly assumed his role in some of our statements, studies or inferences. God will make these determinations on an individual basis by the truth found in his Word (John 12:48).” (Repentance Letter from the Overseeing Team of the Boston Church, March 16, 2003)

According to the leadership of the Boston church the meaning of “the one church” or “the true church” was exactly what the majority of the membership understood it to be. Their apology stands in total opposition to what you now claim. According to the leadership of the Boston church there was a MISLEADING of the members by the leadership. Put plainly, the leadership misled the membership through “statements, studies and inferences” because of their arrogance in assuming God’s role in defining the boundaries of His church. THERE WAS NO MISUNDERSTANDING. The official meaning was very clear.

Let me say that again. According the leadership of the Boston church it wasn’t that the leadership was just unclear about what they meant, it was that the leadership was in sin by putting forth a meaning that wrongly defined the boundaries of God’s church. There was no misunderstanding. The meaning was very clear and we understood what we were being fed. So did the leadership of other Churches.

At times, it has been taught that the International Church of Christ is the one and only true church. This is inaccurate and arrogant….The kingdom is much broader than the ICOC. We are sorry for the arrogance, division and confusion that this has caused. (A Letter from the elders and evangelists of the Denver Church of Christ, 3/14/2003)

The bible teaches that there is one church (Col 1:18, 1 Cor 12:12-13, Eph. 4:4-6). However, the International Churches of Christ has taught from the early days of our existence that there is a “remnant”, a true church. The conclusion that was also taught was that we (the ICOC) were that remnant, and therefore the true church, and therefore the only ones who were saved. Therefore if you were not part of the ICOC, you were not saved. (Letter from the Elders, Evangelists and Ministry Staff of the South Florida Church of Christ, 3/9/2003)

And these are just two of the many other churches whose leadership teams acknowledged and apologized for this arrogant, wrong teaching. We were taught that we were the only ones saved, God’s modern day movement, God’s one true church. So what is your motive for now claiming that what the leadership of the Boston church, the South Florida church, the Denver church, and the leadership of many other churches admitted and apologized for, isn’t really what was meant?

Even when certain people finally began to acknowledge that perhaps it was possible for someone to be saved without being a member of the ICOC, they prefaced it with stating that they had never met anyone who was. And people who left were still called "fall aways" who we were instructed to treat as though they had fallen away from God. I was even told by Al Baird in an email a few years ago that to leave the ICOC was indeed to leave God, and that the ICOC was the "Kingdom" exclusively. I still have that email. Regardless of what he may now believe, he believed it and taught it then. There was no misunderstanding.

People are still trying to heal from the devastation caused by corrupt leadership, and all of the abusive authority, and these kinds of faulty claims just keep heaping on the abuse. Are you so blind to be unaware of this? If the members misunderstood your meaning then explain to me all the speeches, quotes, teachings and practices that put forth the mindset that we were the only ones saved. Explain the admittance and apology by the leadership of several churches including the Boston church (in which your own brother, Randy McKean, is a leader). Shame on you, Kip McKean, for labeling devastated and injured people as “bitter” when you continue to offend and belittle them with such fraudulent claims as this.

I think I’ll stop there. I pray that you are not too proud to grasp my motivation for writing to you. My heart is for the truth of God and for the people who have been so horribly abused and taken advantage of. We can forgive, but it is so very difficult for people to trust again after all they have been through. Not everyone who hasn’t snapped back in line and given you their loyalty is “bitter”. Not everyone who is cautious about trusting anyone in leadership is “bitter”. Not everyone who questions your motives is “bitter”. Please don’t be blinded to the devastation just because the injuries are not physical.

You and others in leadership have violated the trust of people on such levels that they are going to need a lot of time to heal. For some the psychological and emotional damage may take years to heal. They need a lot of love and assurance and compassion to be able to just feel normal again. From your articles I don’t see very much compassion or reassurance. I don’t see at all that you understand the depth of the injuries or psychological damage that your leadership inflicted on so many. What I do see is a call for members to jump back in line and get behind those in leadership because they are “God’s leaders” and God expects it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to your response.

God be with you.


Kip McKean never provided me with a written response. I contacted him again about a month after I wrote him this letter and he responded that he did not remember reading it so he must not have received it. I e-mailed it to him again. He wrote back stating that he didn’t type so well as to have the time to compose a letter dealing with my issues, but that I should feel free to call him anytime. He stated that we would probably have a good conversation, but in the end probably not agree on everything. Given his response, I have yet to call him.

I found it odd, though, that a month after I first sent this letter to him, an article appeared on the Portland church website entitled The Mandate of God for World Evangelism Part IXThe Dream: The Evangelization of the World in a Generation. Here was a ninth part to his series which began, “It has become necessary to write one more essay in the series, The Mandate of God for World Evangelism.” In the article Kip stated,

“‘The dream to evangelize the world in a generation’ was the compelling vision and unifying mission of the Boston Movement. (ICOC) We believed this dream was God's dream and had not been accomplished since the first century. We believed every disciple should be willing to "do anything, go anywhere and give up everything" for God to use them in this momentous undertaking. Our faith in God and His plan of making disciples, as revealed in Jesus' ministry, would allow disciples to multiply around the world in a generation. Today, if questioned very specifically several leaders of the former ICOC churches have quietly renounced their belief in this dream. Correspondingly, confusion among disciples has arisen on this issue. It is very concerning when leaders are in error because they do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”

So, any of the former leaders that questioned this belief and teaching, as I did in the letter, Kip considers to be “in error” claiming “they do not know the Scriptures or the power of God”. Kip then goes on to say,

To evangelize the world was explicitly commanded by Jesus to the apostles in Matthew 28:19-20… THE PRIMARY ISSUE OF WORLD EVANGELISM FOR JESUS IS PROCLAMATION, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. (Mark 16:15)”

In Matthew 28:19-20 (which has been coined as the ‘Great Commission’), Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” (niv) The KJV reads, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” The NAS reads, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”. I haven’t yet found a translation that quotes Jesus as saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations and I explicitly mean that it must be done within one generation.” In Mark 16:15 Jesus says, “Go into all the nations and preach the good news to all creation.” (niv) I haven’t yet found a translation that quotes Jesus as saying, “Go into all the nations within one generation because that is my Father’s dream and expectation.” From viewing the Scriptures I failed to comprehend how Kip could ever make such a claim.

Further in his article, Kip explained about a Biblical generation being 50 to 80 years and then stated,

“This indirectly was Jesus' explicit command to the faithful eleven, ‘Go to all the nations and baptize them!’ Inferred, the apostles were to accomplish this task through the multiplication of disciples in their lifetime.”

Let me repeat Kip’s last statement with emphasis added. “This indirectly was Jesus' explicit command to the faithful eleven, ‘Go to all the nations and baptize them!’ Inferred, the apostles were to accomplish this task through the multiplication of disciples in their lifetime.”

Now I understand my confusion. It was never directly stated. It was never a direct command from Jesus. And it was never directly explained how it would be accomplished. It was done “indirectly”. It was “inferred”. If so, then how is it that Kip McKean (2000 years later) has this sole special knowledge of what Jesus indirectly inferred in His command to the eleven? Where is any Scriptural support which absolutely confirms this claim? All Kip has is a generalized comment by Paul (Col 1:6), and this claim of his as to what Jesus indirectly inferred in his command to the apostles. Did I miss something in my studies on Biblical exegesis?

I have not found a translation of the Bible, not one study Bible or chain-link reference Bible that includes this supposed indirect inference in the side notes or foot notes. And I haven’t found a commentary that has ever made reference to what Kip claims that Jesus indirectly inferred in his command to the eleven. So, where does Kip get the support for his idea that Jesus indirectly inferred in His command to the eleven that evangelizing the world was to be done in their lifetime? Well, given what Kip has claimed himself to be on occasion, “God’s man” leading “God’s movement”, perhaps it was divine inspiration.

There is no reference anywhere in Scripture to support Kip’s idea that it was Jesus’ command or God’s dream, expectation or mandate for the world to be evangelized in a single generation. And if we are to take the words of Jesus literally or directly, “Go into all the nations...”, then the apostles failed because the gospel didn’t make it into ALL the nations of the world in their lifetime, and nowhere near it by 62 A.D.

And if this command was to the “faithful eleven”, to be accomplished “in their lifetime”, why does Jesus finish His discourse with the following words,

…and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Mt 28:20)

Matthew 28:20 is the continuation of 28:19 and the sentence above is the final part of the phrase. Many translations don’t even have it as the beginning of a new sentence. The original Greek gives no evidence that in verse 20 this phrase should be a separate sentence from the instruction that Jesus begins in verse 19.

So there are two points to His discourse that the apostles never accomplished. They never reached “all the nations” and they never lived long enough for Jesus to be with them until the “end of the age”. Jesus’ discourse could not have been just for the “faithful eleven” to be accomplished in their lifetime. Jesus made this world. Jesus knew how many nations there were in it even then. He knew that there were parts of the world that the apostles would never hope to reach in their lifetime. Again, it wasn’t until the 1400’s or later that anyone crossed the Atlantic Ocean to discover the western hemisphere.

So Jesus’ instruction could not have been for the apostles to be completed in their short lifetime. It was for all disciples down through the centuries, assuring them that as they go to fulfill His instructions throughout the world that He will be with them, even to the end of the age. I will go so far as to assert by Jesus’ final words in verse 20 that He knew it would take until the end of the age to accomplish His instructions. I further assert that this is why He stated in Matthew 24 that the gospel would be preached in all the world and then the end (end of the age) would come. But those are my assertions, not to be confused with Biblical fact, and I am certainly not about to try and suggest that I somehow know what Jesus was actually thinking or inferring, or try to create a doctrine based on them.

Kip further stated in part IX of his Mandate series,

“the charge against the apostles was ‘You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching!’ This impact, enhanced by the ripple effect of persecution, was accomplished in seven years.”

Kip goes on to explain that evangelizing even an entire city doesn’t mean that everyone in that city would become a disciple. It simply means that the city would become saturated with the gospel. He then states, “To evangelize the world, would be to fill it with the teaching of Jesus as the early Christians did Jerusalem.”

Did you catch that? Kip says that evangelizing the world would be “to fill it with the teaching of Jesus as the early Christians did Jerusalem.” In other words, to saturate the world with the gospel as fully as had been done in Jerusalem. As stated before, Kip teaches that the apostles accomplished this huge undertaking by 62 A.D. But that just didn’t happen by 62 A.D. It would be ridiculous, not to mention a blatant disregard for all we know of history, to think so. For that to have happened, the gospel would’ve had to have touched and saturated every single nation (all the nations) all over the globe. But that just didn’t happen by 62 A.D.

If there had existed even just one disciple preaching the gospel in each of even the ‘established’ nations on the earth at that time (by 62 A.D.) then it could be argued that the apostles fulfilled the mission that Jesus had given them and they had done it in one generation. But there is not one shred of historical evidence to support even that. There is plenty of historical evidence which stands in opposition to that idea, but none to support it. So why does Kip persist in this line of thinking? Ask him. Perhaps he holds onto the passages in Colossians without understanding the basis on which Paul wrote that epistle or Paul’s usage of a linguistic device used throughout Scripture known as ‘hyperbole’ (exaggeration for emphasis and contrast).

The reason that Paul even wrote the Colossian epistle was to combat false teachings that had arisen there. These teachings came to be known as the Colossian Heresy. In a nutshell, the heresy was an amalgam of heretical beliefs being presented as true Christianity, and even more an enlightened form of Christianity. Without the understanding of the situation that Paul was combating with this epistle, one may be confused or even misled by certain language contained within it.

The heresy took on a pretense of being of philosophical character and higher wisdom, an issue addressed by Paul in verses such as Colossians 2:3-4 and 8. Heresy advocates instituted ascetic rules which Paul addressed in verses such as Colossians 2:20-23. It promoted the worship of angels which Paul addressed in verses such as Colossians 2:15, 18-19 and 1:16. It promoted certain Judaistic legalism which Paul addressed in verses such as Colossians 2:14, 16-17. The heresy denied the incarnation of Christ and taught that Jesus did not have a real human body, thus Paul’s strong emphasis on the incarnation and the Deity of Christ in verses such as Colossians 1:16-22 and 2:9.

The advocates of the heresy taught that people could only attain spiritual completeness by embracing these teachings and participating in ceremonies that they prescribed. Thus Paul emphasized over and over again that all believers are complete in Christ (Col 1:19-20, 2:9-10, 1:28).

Furthermore, the heresy contained and flaunted an exclusivity of mystery, secrecy, and superiority. It spouted the elitist element of ‘special’ knowledge for a special few, a so-called ‘knowledge’ acquired through mystical experiences as opposed to intellectual apprehension. It was not for everyone, only those privileged enough to be “in the know”. And yet, it was being pushed as the true gospel. This was the backdrop against which Paul wrote,

…and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing since the day you heard it...(Col 1:5-6)

The NAS reads, “…the gospel that has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing…” Paul was explaining that the true gospel that had been introduced to the Colossians is the same as that which had been introduced everywhere else. The true gospel was a universal message for everyone in the world in contrast to the heretical teaching arising in their midst that the gospel was for a special few. Paul continues this line of thought in Colossians 1:23 warning them not to be moved from the true gospel which is the same that had been preached everywhere else and of which Paul claimed to be a servant. In both verses Paul uses the linguistic device of ‘hyperbole’ to emphasis and contrast his message of the universal true gospel with that of the false gospel of exclusivity contained in the heresy.

This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven… (Col 1:23)

Again, Paul’s emphasis in this verse (and in Col 1:6) is the universality of the true gospel which has been offered to all alike, “every creature”, without reserve, in contrast to the false gospel of exclusivity contained in the Colossian Heresy. It should be obvious that Paul was by no means suggesting that the gospel had been preached to animals or fish or birds or insects by the phrase “every creature”, as there was not a command to even preach to creatures (animals, birds, fish, etc.). Nor could he have been suggesting that at that time the gospel had been preached to every single human or that the gospel had reached the farthest corners of the planet. If it had, as Kip claims, why did the Apostles feel the need to keep on preaching? If everyone had heard it, who would there be to preach to? This is clearly the use of ‘hyperbole’, exaggeration for emphasis and contrast. The true gospel is a global message to all men everywhere all over the world as opposed to an exclusive message to an elite group. If you understand the history behind the epistle, Paul’s language makes perfect sense.

One final point on this subject concerns the use of the word “world” in Col 1:6. The Greek words that are translated into the English word “world” carry with them various meanings: the known world, the part of the world ruled by Rome, the cosmos, the entire planet known as earth, the corrupt world system. The meaning for each usage of the word “world” depends on the context of the part of Scripture in which it lives. For example, Luke writes,

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.” (Lk 2:1 kjv)

We know that this usage of “all the world” could not possibly mean the entire planet because the Roman empire didn’t have the authority to tax the entire planet. Their influence and rule was limited to a certain geographical area of the planet. They didn’t even know that the western hemisphere existed. The context, therefore, suggests the meaning be that of the Roman occupied territories. And, in fact, the NIV translates that phrase in Luke 2:1 as, “…the entire Roman world.”

Sometimes the word “world” is used as exaggeration to make a point, as in the following case.

So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him (meaning Jesus).” (Jn 12:19)

We know from the Gospels and Paul’s epistles that at no time did the entire planet go after Jesus. At no time during His life did the entire Roman world go after Him. At no time during His life did the entire nation of Israel go after Him. We never even see in Scripture the entire population of one single city (Jerusalem) go after Him. So the context, coupled with Scriptural fact, suggests that this usage cannot be anything but exaggeration for the purpose of making a point. Given this, history, and other Scriptural facts, how can anyone look at the usage of the word “world” in Colossians 1:6 and claim that it’s meaning can only be that of the entire planet? It baffles me how a man who claims to be such a champion of God’s word and scriptural insight can fail to grasp or to exercise the most basic guidelines of Biblical exegesis.

Don’t get me wrong, evangelizing the world in one generation is a noble idea. It’s even a great dream to have. To have a heart for the lost is admirable. But to try and teach that evangelizing the entire world in one generation is a Biblical command, Biblical expectation, the “mandate of God”, or that it had been accomplished once already by 62 A.D. is utterly ridiculous. It is also quite dangerous, as we have seen from the past practices of the ICOC leadership. When you have leaders berating and chastising people for failing to meet numerical goals such as the ones that the leadership of the ICOC put on its members for so many years, something is terribly wrong. I have dozens of tapes of leaders, Kip McKean being one of them, harshly chastising people for failing to meet his numerical expectations. I have a tape of Kip McKean yelling at people to “CRANK” in reference to increasing membership numbers. This is part of the harsh abusive practices that beat down, discouraged and burned out so many people, and that most of the former leaders of the ICOC apologized for. Yet Kip McKean continues to spout the following rhetoric.

Many of the leaders who no longer believe in ‘the dream to evangelize the world in a generation,’ thought that the ‘push and pressure’ to grow, plant churches and expand into new countries was excessive. I personally am not of that persuasion. I do believe that some churches and Christians were exasperated by these costs. Let me be clear, it was and is wrong to exasperate a fellow leader or disciple. However, it is sad that they were silent and did not speak up for years, because bitterness came into their hearts causing them to resent ‘the dream’ and its corresponding people and monetary sacrifices.” (The Mandate of God for World Evangelism Part IX – The Dream: The Evangelization of the World in a Generation. 7/18/2004)

From this one comment it is clearly evident that this man has no concept of the emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical damage he has caused so many thousands of people. And I have a news flash for him. Some people tried speaking up, but they were treated harshly for doing so. Some were even removed from the membership labeled as rebellious or divisive. Others simply submitted to the chastisement they underwent at the hands of leadership. When someone you have trusted as a spiritual leader is chastising you for failure to produce what he is claiming is Biblically expected numerical growth and leads you to believe that you are in danger of being “sawed off the vine”, it’s pretty intimidating. I have the tapes. (read: Quotes Additional Quotes, Still More Quotes, Bring Forth Fruit ) Kip, himself, even stated in his resignation/apology letter dated Nov., 2002,

“Other sins manifested themselves through my anger. My anger has often shut people down and, worse yet, fostered an environment where people were afraid to speak up.”

Hello! Had he forgotten these very words that he, himself, had penned a year and a half earlier? Were the words he penned in his resignation/apology letter just words to appease the devastated members of the ICOC? According to his own apology, the reluctance on the part of many to speak up was not because “bitterness came into their hearts causing them to ‘resent’ the dream”, but because, “My anger has often shut people down and, worse yet, fostered an environment where people were afraid to speak up.” Hello! Kip admitted that it was his fault that these people didn’t speak up because he “fostered an environment” of fear and intimidation. And many high up in leadership, such as Steve Johnson, admitted they, too, had created the same type of environment in their ministries. A year and a half after Kip’s resignation/apology letter he was singing a different tune, putting the fault of not speaking up squarely on the members claiming that it was due to their own “bitterness” of heart. Once again, he has shifted the blame to the members, something he has often done before. I find it utterly amazing that people can look at this man, Kip McKean, read what he writes and listen to what he preaches, yet still not see him for what he truly is.

So how much in the ICOC affiliated churches HAS changed in the last two years? What allegiance, if any, are they giving to Kip McKean? We invite all comments on this issue.

Assistance in biblical research by David Wolfe




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