New Covenant Publications - A Counter Cult Ministry

 

Back to the Matrix

A Response to Kip McKean's Recent Letter:
From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III

 

I had not intended to ever write a response to Kip McKean's third and most recent installment of his Revolution Through Restoration series (he has promised a fourth). I honestly didn't see the need for it. I couldn't understand, after all that has happened in the past 5 months, how anyone would give any validity to anything Kip McKean had to say. That may sound harsh on my part, but after all the spiritual, emotional, and psychological damage that has been done to so many thousands of people through a system of ministry that he personally fathered and controlled through arrogant, abusive, condescending, and harsh leadership, I don't see how he could have any credibility whatsoever with anyone, really I don't. It was my impression after reading the entire 48 pages (50 if you count the title page and the index) that most congregations would react in like fashion to that of the Salt Lake City church, which issued a statement on their web site containing the following comments.

"After reading his letter, we would like to firmly state that we do not plan on implementing his ideas here in Salt Lake City. We are concerned that he has even written a letter, because he certainly is not seen as an authority in our eyes, yet he tries to exert authority over "all the congregations". In the letter, we feel that he has set himself up as a prophet (from his Psalm, pages 5-6, in the letter) and as God's anointed. We believe that this contradicts scripture (Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Romans 15:14, etc.) If he is a prophet, then it is implied that we must obey his every word without question."

"We are concerned with how self-focused the letter is and how out of touch he seems with the individual needs in churches around the world that he has formerly overseen. Most of the points seem designed to convince us that he should be leading again. He indirectly or directly compares himself to Elijah, Moses, Nehemiah, and the apostle Paul….Kip talks about the need for a hierarchy of authority with churches being over churches. We will not accept this here in Salt Lake because we do not believe it is right."

"We were alarmed when he called each individual member of the ICOC to humbly beg forgiveness from his or her leaders (page 29). We emphatically do not expect this from the members of the Salt Lake Christian Church."

Even though I am expecting to see many more statements being issued by other churches standing in agreement with the Salt Lake City church, after attending a discussion of Kip's letter at a recovery group in NYC, and after receiving an email requesting that we here at New Covenant Publications publish a reaction to his letter analyzing his use (or possible misuse) of Scripture to support his rhetoric, I felt the nudge to do so.

I have entitled this article Back to the Matrix because it appears that those that were at one time in the top level of ICOC leadership are pushing for a return to a system of authority and submission similar to that which kept people blind to the truth and devastated many of their lives. Over the past few years I have heard quite a number of members and ex-members refer to the ICOC as the Matrix (from the film The Matrix) because of the similarities between how both of these systems operated. The Matrix was an intricate system of deception that kept people in a slumbering ignorance through a false perception of reality, while feeding on their life energy. Under the deception that they were living full, meaningful lives, they were easily controlled, easily preyed upon. Many would look at the ICOC and say, "Ditto".

Another similarity is the desire by some to return to such a system just like one of the characters in the film. He knew the awful truth about the Matrix and how it was used to deceive those under its control. He knew that people were being kept in a state of unconsciousness and ignorance in order to be controlled and fed upon. Yet he desired to return to the Matrix rather than remain free. Hard to believe, yet he desired to return to a state of ignorance and bondage simply because he missed the taste of a well cooked steak. He had lived for so long in the Matrix that he couldn't bring himself to live outside of it.

Today, after months of being awakened to the horrible truth about the ICOC by way of reading the Henry Kriete Letter1, reading investigative articles which have been published for years by groups such as REVEAL, RESOURCE, RIGHTCYBERUP, TOLC, and us here at NEW COVENANT PUBLICATIONS (articles validated as accurate by the admittance of many in leadership), and by reading or being witness to the many, many apologies of ICOC leaders all over the world, some are choosing the system over freedom. For some, it is simply a denial of the truth. For others it is a matter of social perks or the comfort of structure and routine. Others are falling prey once again to manipulation through persuasive words. For others it is the fear of the unknown that has caused them to remain in their ignorance of the truth. Still others have been a part of the system for so long that they simply cannot bring themselves to live outside the system.

This article is yet another attempt to expose the father of the system, Kip Mckean, for what he appears, through his recent writing, to continue to be, and how he continues to use a false perception of reality to manipulate the members. The similarities between Kip's comments, teachings, and views of previous years, and those contained in his recent letter are striking. It is my hope that this article will help to shed light on these similarities and dissuade others from being sucked back into a hurtful, deceptive, manipulating, and spiritually destructive system controlled by self appointed leaders.

This brings me to my first point in response to Kip's letter, a point raised by the Salt Lake City church. By what authority does Kip write a letter to the entire congregation of churches placing any kind of expectations on the members? By what authority was he ever leading this movement in the first place? And by what authority did he select other men to put in positions of leadership?

In the second chapter of Revelation Jesus addresses the first of the seven churches, the church at Ephesus. One of the first encouragements He gives to any one of the seven churches is,

"I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and you have found them false." (Rev 2:2)

Jesus commended the church at Ephesus for not tolerating those who claimed to be among God's anointed apostles, who when tested, were found to be false. This tells us that not everyone who claims to be "God's anointed" actually is. It tells us that not everyone who claims to have God's authority to lead God's people, and call them to submit to and obey their leadership, actually do. Jesus even labeled those men that were not what they claimed as "wicked".

Within this one verse of Scripture Jesus gives His approval to the church at Ephesus for two things: (1) testing those who claimed to be among God's anointed apostles and (2) for not tolerating them once those claims were deemed to be false. He does not elaborate on the method the Ephesians used to test those men, but test them they did. They didn't just believe those men or follow them or obey them because they claimed to be God's anointed apostles. They tested them. This tells me that anyone claiming God given authority, especially if they are claiming exclusivity of God's authority, who frown on or refuse testing are probably wielding false claims.

In a recent letter by the San Francisco Church, and in a recent speech by Sam Powell, an elder of the New York City Church, comments were made suggesting that those in ICOC leadership had been selected by God to lead His church, and regardless of the wicked practices perpetrated against the membership by these leaders, that the members needed to forgive them and submit to (obey) them. It is even suggested that to trust these men is to trust God.

Kip McKean takes it still further stating that it is essential for members to…

"...humbly beg for forgiveness from the leadership -for their bitterness, gossip, dissension, envy, disrespect and insensitivity to the devastating impact their rebellious spirits have had on the leaders and their families."(Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 29)

Hmmm. These rebellious, insensitive, and suggestively ungrateful followers need to BEG forgiveness from the very people that psychologically manipulated, spiritually abused, and emotionally ransacked them to the point that many of them need therapy in order to continue to pursue a relationship with God, or have left God altogether due to the trauma they experience associated with anything "God". Forgive my harsh analogy, but this would be same as suggesting that an innocent trusting young girl humbly beg forgiveness from her father figure who has continually raped her, again and again and again for several years, because of her "insensitivity to the devastating impact" her "rebellious spirit" of prosecuting him has had on his life.

The focus is shifted from the devastating impact and long term psychological and emotional damage the young girl will suffer, to the devastating impact on the rapist's life (a consequence of his brutal actions on a vulnerable girl). But this is status quo for the leadership of the ICOC who for years have blame-shifted and turned things around onto the members.

Further comments by the leadership in San Francisco and New York City equate trust in ICOC leaders with trust in God, and not trusting these leaders with not trusting God. Any kind of testing of those in ICOC leadership continues to be frowned on in several of the remaining churches as distrusting God's leaders. Testing is simply not allowed.

Kip takes it even further, as he did in Indianapolis in 1994. He uses the same kind of rhetoric in this recent letter as he did when the congregation in Indianapolis attempted to correct some practices they felt violated their consciences (read: What Happened?). Because the Indianapolis congregation was in disagreement with leadership and ICOC practices put in place by that same leadership, Kip accused them of grumbling against "the Lord's anointed".

"We're not talking if their attitudes are correct, we're talking about people who oppose God's servants, and, thus, oppose God." ... "They have set themselves in opposition against the Lord's anointed." ... "This is an issue of salvation." (Kip McKean, Indianapolis Congregational Meeting, 3/17/1994)

The attitude and atmosphere was one of 'how dare anyone have the gall to speak up against us, our practices, or our teachings. We are God's anointed.' He even equated what was happening in Indianapolis with Korah's rebellion in Exodus. He read from Numbers 16 where Korah, Dathan and Abiram opposed Moses and the earth opened up and swallowed them alive. Kip repeatedly compared what happened in Exodus with what was happening in Indianapolis, comparing himself with Moses "the Lord's anointed."

"See, Korah opposed the Lord's anointed. In essence, he wasn't opposing Moses, he was opposing the Lord, God." (Kip McKean, ibid)

He then disfellowshipped, 'marked', and labeled as "LOST" a congregation of almost 600 members.

"As for those who continue to oppose us, they are lost -- not because their baptism became invalid, but the Scriptures are clear that those who oppose and grumble against God's leaders and divide God's church are, in fact, opposing God. (Exodus 16:8; Numbers 16)." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, UpsideDown Magazine, Aug 1994)

Again, that was in 1994. In July of this year (2003) Kip wrote,

"All over the world there are situations where vocal Korah-like grumblers are allowed to blast the church and God's anointed servants." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion, July, 2003, p. 3)

"According to the Scriptures, to grumble and be bitter toward leadership is to grumble against God. (Exodus 16:8)" (Kip McKean, ibid, p. 29)

Kip is even so bold as to refer to the ICOC leadership as the central leadership of God's kingdom.

"With the central leadership of the kingdom now being nonexistent, there was no 'church leadership' to answer." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion, July, 2003, p. 20)

In this recent letter he compares himself, once again, to Moses. He also compares himself (directly or indirectly) to Elijah, Nehemiah, and the apostle Paul. By his use of Scripture verses, Kip continues to infer that all who disagree with ICOC leadership (the "central leadership of the Kingdom") or who stand in opposition to them and their practices are "Korah-like grumblers" who disagree with and stand in opposition to God, Himself. And by Kip's use of Scripture verses it is inferred that all of those he would consider "Korah-like grumblers" are in danger of a horrible fate meted out by the hand of God (ex: what happened to Korah and those who rebelled against Moses). By all appearances this man hasn't changed. Even after the apologies, he continues with the same self-focused, and what he claims to be God-given, authority

But if Kip truly believes the things he has been vocalizing all these years, it is quite understandable for him to have the view of himself that he appears to have.

"God, in his grace, always works through a man. He puts his message on this man's heart. As God's man preaches God's message, God moves in other men's hearts to collectively come together to follow God through the leadership of his man." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, 1994)

This meant that all men wanting to follow God would be brought collectively by God to follow Him through the leadership of ONE man, God's man.

"In 1981-82 the Lord put on my heart a vision for the world." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration, UpsideDown Magazine, 1992, p. 8)

With these two statements, and the admittance that he was the leader of the movement, Kip was claiming to be that one man, "God's man". Al Baird, former elder and spokesperson for the ICOC, and former editor of LA Story Magazine, stood in agreement with this view in the May 94 issue of LA Story, clearly stating,

"Throughout the pages of the Bible and history God raised up one person to lead his people, and for our day it is unquestionably Kip." (Al Baird, Happy 40th Birthday, Kip, La Story, vol 1, issue 8, May 1994)

An important point to remember is that by the title "God's man" being in the singular, it excludes any possibility that God has any other men on that same level anywhere in the world. Again, this means that everyone considering themselves to be among God's people would have to submit to the leadership of Kip McKean. This would make Kip God's top man on earth, just like Moses was in the Old Testament.

But if Kip truly believes this, then it would stand to reason that he had the God-given authority to do the many things he has done in the past, such as,

"Early on I developed a series consisting of nine Bible studies on the 'first principles' (Hebrews 6:1-3)." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration, UpsideDown Magazine, 1992, p. 7)

"The most impacting was called 'Discipleship'…. I purposely developed this study to draw a sharp biblical distinction between the Lexington (later renamed Boston) Church of Christ and all other groups." (Kip McKean, ibid, UpsideDown Magazine, 1992, p. 7)

"In the Crossroads movement, one another Christianity was expressed in a buddy system called 'prayer partners' where each person chose their own 'buddy'…. I felt this approach was not directive enough. Building on this concept, I came up with 'discipleship partners'." (Kip McKean, ibid, UpsideDown Magazine, 1992, p. 8)

"…I came to the conviction that I needed to focus my ministry on a 'few men'…. Also, since leadership in God's movement is by relationship, I felt one of the primary requirements for the 'focused few' would be that I personally trained and discipled them." (Kip McKean, ibid, UpsideDown Magazine, 1992, p. 12)

And if he truly believes that he is God's man selected by God to lead His movement, then unless God has replaced him, he must believe that he should still be leading the movement. So it is very understandable to see that view inferred in his recent letter. But again, what is this claimed "God-given" authority based upon? And how is it that even though many ICOC leaders/churches have repented of this 'one man leadership' model, which Kip McKean still appears to advocate, no one apart from the Salt lake City church has openly opposed his letter?

For years it had been the practice of the leadership to discredit anyone or anything which sheds negative light on them or the system, being that they are God's leaders following God's man, taking the form of character assassination or just by simply labeling anything negative as spiritual pornography or a signature of Satan. The Indianapolis incident was just one such example.

A transition team that the congregation in Rockland County, NY, put together earlier this year to look into possible financial misconduct on the part of the leadership of the New York City church was ignored and discredited by that same leadership during a Sunday worship service championed by elder Sam Powell on June 8th, 2003, just one week after the transition team submitted a request for full financial disclosure. During the service which was little more than an ultimatum to the members to either get behind the leadership (as God's anointed) or get out, Sam stated,

"It was a mistake and an error in judgment, and I ask your apology, to have transition teams or any leadership group that the evangelists and elders did not oversee. We had groups in this church that excluded the evangelists, and didn't want the elders to be involved. And every time it happened, it blew up in the members' faces, and in our face." (Sam Powell, West Nyack Sunday Service, June 8th, 2003)

Shortly after, Steve Kinnard took the stage and claimed,

"There are people who keep wanting more financial disclosure as a guise to divide the church, saying they want transparency, have just been biting and devouring until we've almost destroyed the church." (Steve Kinnard, ibid)

It is very telling that Sam considers it a mistake to have a transition team that the leadership is not overseeing and that Steve claims had ulterior motives to destroy the church (a team, I remind you, that was investigating possible financial misconduct on the part of the leadership which Sam and Steve are a part of). Being the self proclaimed "God's man", we find the same type of discrediting and character assassination in Kip McKean's recent letter.

"Disunity was sown for years into the hearts of many leaders and followers. This was evidenced in their feelings of suppression that led to the then silent sins of criticalness, envy, bitterness and anger. It was in this atmosphere that Henry Kriete wrote his letter, Honest to God….Since the letter contained many elements of truth mixed with misinformation and bitterness, there was an outcry in many parts of our fellowship for a need to change "the system" and many of the ways we do things….Henry advocated "a time for anger and the overthrowing of temples. I believe that time is now." He urged churches to have "open forums" which further poisoned the membership towards the leaders as a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. In my opinion, a license to sin was handed to bitter disciples who, under the guise of "freedom in Christ," often spoke publicly with malice and slander towards the ministry leaders and those who led them….Even sadder, few disciples stood up in loving boldness to confront these ungodly outbursts. With no central leadership, and the fear that to respond was to be defensive, the leaders, particularly the evangelists, became weary, lost heart and many left the full-time ministry….However, if we are "honest to God," we must admit that Henry's letter was a spark that ignited a powder keg of unspoken issues which had hurt many long-suffering Christians in our churches. My emotional, but dear, son in the faith Henry raised several issues that had varying degrees of validity. However, I believe some were simply not accurate. Many members went too far, and instead of having brotherly dialogue, they began to bite and devour each other, destroying whole congregations in the name of freedom. (Galatians 5:1-15)" (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p. 20)

Within two short paragraphs, Henry Kriete is painted as the blame for all that has happened in the last 5 months. And even though Kip admitted that Henry's letter was just the "spark" igniting an already existing "powder keg", he puts the spark in a negative light stating that it was full of "misinformation and bitterness" and labels Henry as "emotional", a negative word in ICOC vocabulary, a man who caused membership to be poisoned toward the leaders and who raised issues with only "varying degrees of validity." He then claims some were simply "not accurate". Without citing a single example, Kip casts a shadow of doubt on Henry's credibility, his motives for writing the letter, and on the accuracy and validity of the contents of the letter itself.

But apart from an apparent character assassination, it seems that Kip also attempted to deceive people about his relationship with Henry. Kip refers to Henry as his "son in the faith". This phrase has always been used to denote a relationship between a Christian and another that he has personally led to Christ or that he has personally walked in a mentoring relationship with, such as the relationships that the apostle Paul had with both Timothy and Titus (1Tim 1:2, Titus 1:4). But such was not the case between Kip and Henry. In fact, in a recent email response to Kip's letter, Henry Kriete wrote,

"Am I his 'emotional, but dear son in the faith'? Not at all- Steve May, in Ajax, Canada, brought me to the Lord in March of 1977, and to him alone I 'owe' my salvation and eternal gratitude (as in Paul to Philemon-'not to mention you owe me your very self') He is my father in the faith. (Whatever Kip hoped to accomplish by that remark backfired-at least with me)."

This, in my book, casts a shadow of doubt on Kip's credibility. Once again we see the practice of character assassination, deception and blame-shifting. The focus is shifted from the existing powder keg which had been created over years and years by a corrupted, sinful, oppressive, arrogant leadership, with Kip at the helm, to the "emotional" spark which helped to expose it all. Kip was certainly remaining true to ICOC leadership fashion.

But what was really to blame for the explosion? Was it the spark or the huge powder keg which never should have existed in the first place? And if not for the spark, how much longer and larger would the powder keg have grown before the inevitable explosion? How much more devastation would it have caused? And let's honestly ask ourselves what was really to blame for the membership being "poisoned" toward the leadership?

Even though Kip and many of the leadership have admitted the existence of wide-spread sin and hypocrisy, something they vehemently denied previous to the mass distribution of Henry Kriete's 40 page letter, and even though they have apologized for what they have done, Kip appears to be clueless as to the devastating effect that it has had on thousands or that perhaps his own actions (and the actions of the leaders he selected) over the past 15 years is what has caused the members to be "poisoned" against the leaders. But, once again, I ask the question, "What was their claimed God-given authority to be leading in the first place based upon?"

We know from Scripture that God personally chose Moses, and all the prophets of the Old Testament. We know that Jesus chose the twelve. We know from Scripture that Jesus also personally chose the apostle Paul. And we know that since the inception of the New Testament and the church age, God has used many men in different aspects and for different ministries all down through the last 2000 years. But Scripture does not support the idea that God chooses ONE man in every generation to get the world evangelized. Nor does Scripture support the idea that all men must follow God through that ONE man's leadership (except if that one man is Jesus). So what Scriptural support is there for this ONE man leading God's ONE movement? There isn't any.

The only support that Kip put forth is what he infers from Scripture, mostly from the Old Testament and the nation of Israel. In fact the title of his recent letter From Babylon to Zion was so titled because of Kip's comparison between what he and the ICOC is currently going through and Israel's captivity in Babylon, a judgment by God for their straying from Him. Kip uses these Old Testament examples in an attempt to support his claim of God-given authority.

"The highlight of certain days was when Moses, God's leader, would speak to the people after he had visited the Tabernacle. Though he was very old, there was an incredible radiance about him. It was well-known that Moses struggled with anger to the point of God's disciplining him by keeping him from entering the Promised Land. However, the boy saw his father deeply respect Moses' God-given authority, so he did as well." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 8)

It is this kind of rhetoric that Kip uses to try and gain submission to and respect for himself and the leadership of the ICOC. In simple terms he equates himself with Moses and his authority with Moses' authority. And he is strongly inferring that as the young boy respected Moses God-given authority even after Moses had struggled with anger and had been disciplined by God, ICOC members should respect Kip's God-given authority after his struggling with…an entire myriad of things. After God has disciplined him, it is time for him to lead the ICOC (God's people) back to Zion. That is the flavor and inference throughout Kip's entire letter.

But what evidence do we have that God chose Kip as He did Moses or any of the other Old Testament leaders that Kip, in his well orchestrated rhetoric, has compared himself to? We have Kip's claim that God put His dream on Kip's heart, we have Kip's inference that since he was leading God's movement that he was "God's man", and we have Kip's claim that numerical growth such as the ICOC experienced for a time was unmistakable proof that the ICOC was indeed God's movement.

"As Dr. Donald McGavran (considered the father of church growth by the denominational world) told me many years ago, 'You are the only church with a plan to plant churches in every nation of the world in one generation.' Once more, I believe this marks us as God's true and only modern movement." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, UpsideDown Magazine, 94)

"In just 15 years, the Bible revolution, which began in 1979...has multiplied by the power of God into 156 churches with a collective attendance of almost 90,000 in 60 of the approximately 200 nations of the world! The parallels to the book of Acts unmistakably mark this movement to be of God." (Kip McKean, ibid, UpsideDown Magazine, 94)

"...we see that 30 would-be disciples have multiplied into 130,000 people worshipping every Sunday morning, amen - in 250 different churches, in 90 different countries. Truly, it has to be of God." (Kip McKean, Sydney Conference, May 96)

If it could be supported that Kip's claim of rapid growth was proof that the ICOC was indeed God's movement, it would therefore support the inference that Kip was indeed "God's man" since he was the leader of the ICOC "God's movement" (can you say circular reasoning?). I find it very ironic as mentioned in the article Quotes that in all of Kip's boasting of numerical growth being absolute proof of being God's movement, one of the top world sector leaders who Kip personally trained and discipled spoke to the contrary.

"...to say that where there is growth you have God's approval is not only erroneous, it is dangerous. I don't believe that growth ever indicates an absolute that God is with this particular group of people." (Steve Johnson, Freed-Hardeman College Forum, Oct 87)

But this was back in 1987 before Kip really got going on his 'growth equals Kingdom' campaign. I haven't heard or read anything by Steve Johnson since then that reinforced his position. Perhaps he just wasn't "trained" as well as Kip thought he was.

With all that has been exposed about the leadership of the ICOC, we much honestly concede that perhaps Kip's claim of authority was not really God-given but self proclaimed. If so, by what authority were the world sector leaders chosen? Who chose them? What authority were they given to be spiritual leaders? And who gave them that authority. Well, according to Kip McKean,

"…I came to the conviction that I needed to focus my ministry on a 'few men' (Exodus 18:13-27; 2 Samuel 23:8-39; Luke 6:12-16). I considered crucial qualities such as their relationship with God, the impact of their ministries, and whether they had dynamic, spiritual wives and great marriages. After all, a church will never rise above the spirituality of its leadership (Luke 6:39-40). Also, since leadership in God's movement is by relationship, I felt one of the primary requirements for the 'focused few' would be that I personally trained and discipled them. After a final all-night of prayer, I selected the following brothers to focus my energies upon and gave each a geographical field in the world…I called them world sector leaders." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration, UpsideDown Magazine, 1992, p. 12)

As I copied this quote, I suddenly realized how prophetic had become the third sentence, "After all, a church will never rise above the spirituality of its leadership (Luke 6:39-40)." The first verse of Scripture that Kip cites in Luke reads, "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they both not fall into a pit?" (v 39)

In this one paragraph Kip uses the word "I" seven times describing his choosing of the nine world sector leaders and uses as support for his actions Scripture verses that have to do with Moses choosing Judges (legal system) to deal with the disputes of the Israelite nation, a resume list of King David's "mighty men" of battle, and the choosing, by Jesus, of the twelve apostles. It is odd to me that he uses examples from the Old Testament which have nothing to do with selecting spiritual leaders for the church. And with ample examples to use for selecting spiritual leadership in the church (Acts 1:21-26, 6:1-7, 13:1-3, 15:22), for Kip to compare his choosing of the world sector leaders with that of Jesus choosing the apostles speaks volumes to how he views himself…at least in my book.

So Kip chose the world sector leaders. But by whose authority did he do so? And by whose authority did he put them in positions of spiritual authority over other people?

"…I came to the conviction that I needed to focus my ministry…"
"…I considered crucial qualities…"
"…I felt one of the primary requirements… would be that I personally trained and discipled them."
"…I selected…to focus my energies…and (I) gave each a geographical field…"
"…I called them…"

Not once does he mention God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit being a participant in the choosing. He does state that he had an all-night prayer session (similar to Jesus in Luke 6), but then he, like Jesus, did the choosing. And the three examples he gives from Scripture to support his independent actions of spiritual authority are of three men who were the ultimate of God's authority in the earth at their prospective times. So we have Moses, David, Jesus, and Kip. He certainly puts himself in good company.

Kip also states that the crucial qualities for the world sector leaders, apart from the primary requirement being that they had been trained and discipled by him, was "their relationship with God, the impact of their ministries, and whether they had dynamic, spiritual wives and great marriages." Yet in this most recent letter Kip admits,

"Another sin came in my selection of leaders. Too often I would value talent and charisma over heart and spirituality." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 7)

"I see that many leaders did not imitate Christ in me, but my ungodly leadership traits." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 7)

He further admits,

"I lacked respect for people with different talents than mine. I also was too slow in allowing the relationships with my young "Timothys" to grow up from parent/child relationships into adult/adult mutual discipling relationships. Another sin was that I failed to resolve conflict. I miserably failed to reconcile brothers and sisters, particularly from the World Sector Leader group, who were in sharp disagreement with each other and with me. I believe that this, in time, led to unresolved issues in the relationships between world sectors and individual congregational leaderships. This allowed seeds of bitterness and distrust to be nurtured and grow to defile many." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 7)

From these few sentences of confession I have very strong doubts about Kip or any of these men that he personally trained, discipled and selected having any God-given authority for spiritual leadership. His description of the leadership situation he created is one of a large dysfunctional family whose spiritual growth was being stunted by his own failures as a leader. There is nothing given to support that these men were ever "called" by God for spiritual leadership, or that they had the heart for it, rather that they were selected, based too often on "talent" (which was similar to Kip's) "and charisma" (they were 'sharp'), by a self proclaimed "God's man" who now admits that his leadership traits were "ungodly". According to Kip, he selected many of these men based on qualities one would want in a politician or salesman. And as mentioned in previous articles, God chose not the sharp or charismatic, but He chose the,

"…foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." (1 Cor 1:27-29)

And Paul reminds his brothers,

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth." (1 Cor 1: 26)

So, again, I sincerely question the authenticity of the "God-given authority" that Kip and the other leaders claim they have. I realize that this sounds harsh and that everyone makes mistakes and that no one is perfect. But Kip admits that his sins that created an abusive, oppressive, Pharisee-like environment that devastated thousands of people's lives and spiritual relationships were present in his selecting of leaders. And that these leaders imitated his "ungodly" leadership traits, which would include how they, too, selected others for leadership. After all that has happened and all that these men (and women) have been a party to, for any of them to claim that God put them in those positions of leadership and that people need to once again submit and obey them shows just how disconnected to reality they truly are.

Apart from there being strong doubts about the authenticity of Kip's spiritual authority, he appears from his writings to be double-minded. He contradicts himself quite bit in his rhetoric on the most basic of his foundational teachings. Scripture proclaims that a double-minded man is unstable in all he does (Jas 1:8). The Greek word translated "double-minded" is defined as vacillating. So given what Kip has written in his letter, he is either "double-minded" or delusional. The most blatant example of this is that he claims,

"I have always believed there were Christians -"baptized disciples"-- outside of our fellowship. Anyone who has made the decision to believe in Jesus, repent of all his past sins, turned to God by deciding to live the life of a disciple and then is baptized is a true Christian according to the Scriptures. I was determined to unify these disciples into a single brotherhood by calling them to leave the dying churches they were affiliated with and come into one of the Boston ministry churches." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 11)

"An individual can still be a disciple, be saved and be a member of a church with many disciples in it, but they may not be a part of a movement." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 16)

But Kip's continual "Kingdom" rhetoric makes this impossible. His frequent comparisons between the ICOC and the Old Testament Nation of Israel attest to this. In the Old Testament if one was not a part of the nation of Israel, through blood or conversion, one was not considered to be among God's chosen people. There were no stragglers, no isolated individuals, no one who had not joined the Nation of Israel that were recognized as accepted by God. Likewise, Kip's continual reference to the ICOC being the only modern day movement of God, the one true church, and the Kingdom of God on earth, would put all persons who are not members of the ICOC outside the Kingdom of God. According to Scripture, to be outside the Kingdom of God is to be unsaved (not a Christian, not a disciple). And not once have I ever read or heard of Kip rebuking anyone for preaching or teaching anything like the following.

"This is not just a church among churches. This is not just the best thing going in Tulsa. This is the movement of God, and we're calling all who will be true disciples to align themselves with this movement of God. You think this is a church among churches, you can't be a disciple. If you think there's other churches out there you can go and be a part of and be just as good and just as saved...you can't be a disciple." (Nick Young, Friday Evening Message, Tulsa Reconstruction Weekend, Sept 1992)

Even Al Baird, former ICOC elder and official spokesperson concerning doctrines and teachings of the ICOC, stated to me during an email correspondence in 1999,

"You seem to focus on what happens to a person who chooses to leave the ICOC. Obviously, God will decide that. But you want to know what I think and what I teach. If the ICOC is not the Kingdom of God (or a part of it), then a person had better leave it for their own salvation. If it is just a part of the Kingdom and there are any number of other choices locally, then I have totally missed what the Bible teaches about unity. If the ICOC is the Kingdom of God (which I believe it is), then a person who leaves it, leaves God." (Al Baird, e-mail response: Teaching on dating / kingdom, Aug 17, 1999)

And Kip, himself, has had a long history of spouting this "Kingdom" rhetoric. It seems to be so ingrained in his belief system that it runs throughout his recent letter.

"Many disciples are appalled to see their fellowship turning lukewarm and complacent -resembling the churches many of them came out of to become true disciples." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 3)

"Sometimes there was a large enough group of disciples in the existing mainline or campus ministry church that they asked the Boston leadership to send trained evangelists to oversee the 'reconstruction' of their church. This simply meant that each member was individually called to be a disciple, and whoever wanted to be one became a member of the newly reconstructed church." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 11)

"In 1979 in Boston, Massachusetts, God gathered 30 would-be disciples in the Gempels' living room. The Spirit put on our hearts three common convictions that in time would produce a group of true Christians dedicated to evangelizing the world by restoring the lost principles and practices of God's people." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 9)

According to ICOC teaching, one becomes a disciple at baptism when they cross from darkness into light. Notice that Kip doesn't mention anyone that believed they were already a disciple becoming a member of "the newly constructed church". And notice none of the founding men and women of the Boston church were apparently considered by Kip to be disciples before becoming members of this new movement that he claims God put on his heart to lead. He refers to these 30 couples as "would-be" disciples? Speaking of this historical event, the 1994 Evangelization Proclamation (still published on many ICOC sites) states:

"The Spirit then gave us a deep conviction that only these baptized disciples comprise God's kingdom on earth." (Evangelization Proclamation, 2/4/1994)

Kip also stated in his recent letter:

"For years I have felt misunderstood about the phrase 'modern day movement of God.' Movement implies growth numerically and expansion geographically…. When growth and expansion are no longer taking place, a group of churches ceases to be a movement and simply becomes a fellowship…. The question must be asked, 'Are we the movement of God, or at least a movement of God, or have we become simply a fellowship of saved disciples'" (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 16)

Here Kip is implying that his use of the phrase "movement of God" was misunderstood and that it is his belief that people can be part of a fellowship, a group which is not growing numerically or geographically, and still be saved disciples. Yet for years he has continually made statements like:

"Today, we are calling out of the world, calling out of the denominations, out of the mainline churches, out of the campus ministries all of the people who desire to be a part of God's restored true church and movement." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, 1994)

"As Dr. Donald McGavran (considered the father of church growth by the denominational world) told me many years ago, 'You are the only church with a plan to plant churches in every nation of the world in one generation.' Once more, I believe this marks us as God's true and only modern movement." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, 1994)

"This is the true movement of God. There's no other group, no other church that can touch this. The Boston Church is not any church, it is the Jerusalem of God's modern day movement." (Kip McKean, Boston Congregational Meeting, 5/6/90)

And what about the use of the words "Church", "true Church", and "Kingdom" used interchangeably with "movement" in reference to the ICOC?

"All the denominational weak-faithed people, that's very kind terminology for them, they just got out of Russia. And I was happy about it because it just left the true church right there." (Kip McKean, Conference in Sydney, May 1996)

"When you say we're the only true church...that's gonna tick the religious people off." (Kip McKean, Preach the Word, Johannesburg Leadership Conference, Aug. 1995)

"Revolution was and is in each step and breath of those who dare to embrace the true church of Jesus." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, 1994)

"This was and still is the true church of Jesus." (Evangelization Proclamation, 2/4/1994)

"However, the Holy Spirit led the few good hearted individuals--the remnant--to the Boston churches." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, 1994)

"Certainly to leave the family of God, the true church, is to leave God." (Kip McKean, Revolution Through Restoration II, 1994)

"This is an issue of salvation. There are not two churches of God in this town. There is but one, and there will always be but one." (Kip McKean, from a speech made in Indianapolis, 3/17/94)

In his recent letter Kip uses these terms to directly label the ICOC.

"After incredible sacrifices of money, means and dreams by all the disciples and due to the unity of the brotherhood, in July of 2000, the 'kingdom' celebrated the completion of the Six Year Plan." (Kip McKean, From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III, July, 2003, p 12)

"From Boston we would send small groups of disciples into the most influential cities of the world as Paul, other apostles and other evangelists did in Acts. These churches would be called pillar churches since the kingdom would be built through them." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 10)

"At this current hour in God's kingdom…" (Kip McKean, ibid, p 10)

"Our brothers put before the kingdom a 'team approach', suggesting in the introduction that this would give us more growth…" (Kip McKean, ibid, p 18)

"It should be noted that Elena and I have not participated in any major kingdom decisions since our sabbatical began…" (Kip McKean, ibid, p 19)

And there can be no mistaking Kip's meaning or intent when, as mentioned earlier, he directly equates the leadership of the ICOC with the leadership of God's Kingdom.

"…the decision at the November 2002 Unity Meeting in Los Angeles for the world sectors to operate individually has resulted in the dismantling of a central leadership." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 2)

"With the central leadership of the kingdom now being nonexistent, there was no 'church leadership' to answer." (Kip McKean, ibid, p 20)

In addition to all of the inferences and loaded language, Kip appeared in a 1994 KNN Video where he out right stated,

"We are the only Church, everyone else is lost."

Now either Kip forgot what he claims in his recent letter to have "always believed" ("I have always believed there were Christians -'baptized disciples'-- outside of our fellowship…") for the few seconds it took to make the above statement or he forgot that he made the above statement back in 1994 as he was writing his recent letter in June of 2003. In any case it casts an enormous shadow of doubt on Kip's credibility, sincerity, and his ability to simply speak the truth. And unless he is delusional, or has fallen victim to his own deception, how is it that Kip can be professing and preaching two absolutely conflicting views at the exact same time?

I truly believe that I could write a book on the inconsistencies contained within this one letter that Kip has felt compelled to write. But, again, I really don't see the need or the purpose at this point in time. The major theme of the letter is blaming the present condition of the ICOC on the membership for their refusal to forgive the "un-godly" leadership that preyed upon and devastated many of their lives, leaving them feeling spiritually raped, and to once again submit themselves to the authority of that same leadership because Kip claims that it is the "central leadership of the Kingdom" of God. If people choose to read and give validity to his claims of authority, that is their choice. There is nothing further that I or anyone else can write or say to dissuade them. Some will chose to return to the Matrix, regardless of the truth. Just like the one character in the film, they will chose ignorance and life in the Matrix over truth and freedom in Christ. Unfortunate, tragic, but true. Especially since part of what Jesus came to do was to "proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind" and "to release the oppressed". (Lk 4:18)

Jesus once told a story about a certain rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. After they were both dead and the rich man realized his eternal fate, he asked that Lazarus be sent back to warn his own five brothers about the truth so that they would not befall the same fate. The answer to his request was,

"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, the will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." (Lk 16:31)

The members of the ICOC have a myriad of articles exposing the leadership and their practices. They have the Henry Kriete letter. They have the admittance and apologies of many leaders including Kip McKean. And they have the word of God as a witness if they take the time to study it. How much more do they need to have their eyes opened to the truth? How much more will it take for them to see the Matrix for what it is?

My prayer is that these people will take the time to study God's word for themselves and pray, and that they will become worthy of the compliment that Jesus gave the church at Ephesus.

"I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and you have found them false." (Rev 2:2)

And that they will come to know true freedom through faith and trust, not in men, but in Christ.

 

 

Written by Timothy Greeson     

 

 

The use of bold, italics, bold/underlining, and all caps within quotes are for text emphasis by this author.

Footnotes:

1 Henry Kriete (a former leader in the London Church) wrote a letter in February of 2003 to other leaders detailing most of the abuses and unbiblical practices running rampant through the ICOC, validating most of the accusations ever leveled against the ICOC by outside sources. Somehow the letter found its way into the hands of members and by the end of February had been widely distributed throughout the entire fellowship of churches of the ICOC.

 

for more information contact New Covenant Publications at our e-mail address: or write to: New Covenant Publications, P.O. Box 167, Radio City Station, NY NY

 

 




Copyright © 2003 New Covenant Publications