I’ve been listening to Kip McKean’s series on I-II Samuel as part of my weekly quiet time (see here). Kip McKean was once head of the International Churches of Christ, which many consider a cult (see www.reveal.org). Although Kip is no longer a part of that organization, he seems to hold many of the same views. Felix once told me about the International Churches of Christ, “If they approach you, run the other way!”
Perhaps my biggest problem with Kip’s sermons is that they have all that I hate about evangelicalism, while lacking the things that I like. Here are some things that I glean from his sermons (they’re not exact quotes, but they’re what I remember): “If you’re lonely and reluctant to reach out to others, then you’re not sold out for God!” “If you have excuses not to attend this Bible study, then you’re not sold out for God!” “Hannah sang before the Lord. If you’re not singing, then something is wrong!” “If you’re hurt, then your problem is that you don’t forgive!”
Kip says that we should be “sold out” for God, but I have yet to hear him explain why I should be drawn to his conception of God in the first place. Why? Because he can toss me into hell fire? Occasionally, I hear Kip talk about God’s unconditional love, but that’s usually when he’s emphasizing that God has set conditions for us to receive God’s grace (e.g., repentance, baptism, becoming a fisher of men, etc.). That reminds me of Armstrongism: its preachers only discussed grace when arguing that Christians should keep the law! At least evangelicalism has a God of love.
Why would I be sold out for a taskmaster, someone who assumes that I should think, feel, and act perfectly in order to have any spiritual security? Healing is a process. I wish that I could wave a magic wand and get rid of all of my social insecurity, unforgiveness, unhappiness, etc., but I don’t have that. So I trust that God is patient with me as I heal.
I don’t understand how anyone could endure the International Church of Christ’s version of God, but there are people who do. I once sat beside a woman on a plane who was in the Boston Church of Christ, and she told me that she’d been a member for 27 years. Fortunately for me, she realized that I was a lost cause, probably because I was dropping the word “cult” in every other sentence. But I sincerely wonder: Wouldn’t she run out of spiritual gas eventually, since none of us can be perfect all of the time? No wonder there are a lot of people who leave that church!
One thing I like about Kip, though, is that he’s honest about his own imperfections. That somewhat took me aback the first time I heard him, since I expected him to think he was perfect. After all, if a religion demands perfection of its members for them to have spiritual security, then people would naturally try to convince themselves that they are spiritually up-to-snuff, right? But Kip is open about his marital squabbles, such as the times his wife stresses out about the finances, or when she told Kip that he was possessed by the devil. And Kip acknowledged that there have been times when he hasn’t been in the mood to sing. If I’m not mistaken, he also said that his son was following the world before he finally decided to come back to the church. That shows me that Kip is patient and realistic as a parent. Real life tends to shatter our perfectionist demands!
The audience usually cheers Kip on while he preaches, but I wonder how much of that flows from sincerity, and how much of it is them acting as they think good, spiritual people should act. When the International Church of Christ was trying to make inroads at my undergraduate institution (DePauw), the leader of my evangelical Bible study group said, “You know, in the International Church of Christ, if you’re not enthusiastic during the service, you’re called out on that!” That’s what I don’t like about this church (from what I’ve heard about it): it tries to legislate what should be spontaneous and genuine.
That’s not to say that Kip’s sermons have nothing to teach me, though. Kip said that, when he was counselling a person with a lust problem, he told him to go home and look up a bunch of Bible passages about the “fear of the Lord.” Personally, I have problems serving God out of fear, but maybe I’d behave better if fear were a part of my religion. But then what would that do to other aspects of God that draw me: his love, his patience with me, etc.?
Those are just my impressions so far. I hope International Church of Christ people don’t visit my blog and try to convert me! I’ll stick Felix, Russell, Aggie, and Byker Bob on them if they try!
Wow..lol.Im not apart of Kips church but It seems that you have the hole Grace theroy, No doubt We are saved by Grace not by works but As christians we need to be obedient to God and his mission. Our purpose should be to Love God and our mission should be to seek and save the lost.. What does Jesus tell peter in John 21:15-19?? I think a lot of christians have lost convictions and use the hole grace card to much because of there comfort zone. lets face it there was no comfort with our 1st century brothers… they worked hard! and suffered for the cause, it was about working for the lord because they understood the grace and thats how it should be now in the 21st century. sadly to say Christians from all over read all about the Love part and have become selfish. think about if you gave your son an ultimate gift that he could never pay back, wouldent you be hurt if he just used you in time of need but never tried to carrie out your will with all his heart??