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INTERNATIONAL CHURCH OF CHRIST VS. THE BIBLE

Click here for offsite link #1, and here for offsite link" #2. These links have nothing to do with the topic of this page, but posting them here helps the sites they point to get better search engine rankings.

Books on the International Church of Christ can now be found below in the links section.

Please Note, the International Church of Christ has gone through major changes in recent times, and the information in this site may no longer apply to all congregations.

The International Church of Christ, also called the Boston Church of Christ, the Boston Movement, or the discipes of Jesus, is a religious group which claims and appears to follow the Bible, and only the Bible. This Church (which will be referred to as the ICC) began in the 70's when a few people discouraged by the lack of "fire" in the modern Christian church decided to discover for themselves what the Bible really said. Since then, it has grown to around one hundred sixty thousand members worldwide and occupies over one hundred nations. They claim to be the only true Christian Church, believing all who are not part of the "Body of Christ" are going to hell forever. Very little literature on this church exists, which why this paper was written.

--All Biblical quotes have been taken from the New International Version of the Bible.

A perspective convert is invited to Church, and then to a "Bible study" with usually three church members, one being a leader. This potential member is then taught their understanding of the Bible, during about six consecutive "Bible studies." After this, this person is asked if he would like to become a disciple of Jesus. If this person agrees, he will soon be pulled into the life with his new found loved ones, commonly drifting apart from those he once considered friends and family. This group is extremely persuasive and their teachings on the Bible are close to what the Bible actually says, but the differences that do exist are significant.

BAPTISM

The International Church of Christ teaches from the Bible that one cannot be saved without being baptized, or immersed in water. This is the verse they use to point to salvation: "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" Acts 2:38. Upon examination, one could easily come to the conclusion "It is necessary to be baptized in order to be saved." However, when the entire Bible is taken into account, we see that this statement is not so. Peter, while sharing Christs message with a large crowd said "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." (Acts 3:19) Here, Peter and John are speaking to a large crowd of Jews, who may never again hear the message of salvation. This is likely to be their only chance to be saved, and the APOSTLES dont even mention baptism. Why did Peter and John not even mention baptism if it is necessary for salvation? Did they just forget to tell them to be baptised? Did they not want the crowd of Jews to be saved? The correct answer is that Peter and John did not mention baptism because baptism is not necessary for salvation. Peter tells us in Acts 3:19 that the lost can be forgiven through repentance. But what about the "Gift of the Holy Spirit."

To fully understand the teachings of Jesus, it is necessary to understand that, Biblically, the word "baptism" does not necessarily mean to be immersed in water. We see this to be the case in Mark 10:38-39, "'You don't know what you are asking,' Jesus said. 'Can you drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with'? 'We can,' they answered. Jesus said to them, 'you will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with,'" Previously, in Acts 2:38, Peter was referring to a spiritual baptism. In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist said "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". Here, we see two distinctly separate baptisms, one in water, one in the Holy Spirit. Only one which saves. John's baptism of repentance was replaced by the baptism of Jesus. Not an immersion in water, but an immersion in the Holy Spirit. "and with fire" will be explained later. Mark 1:7-8, Luke 3:16, John 1:26-27, 33-34 state basically the same thing. As for immersion in the Holy Spirit, I Corinthians 12:13, on the body of Christ, says: "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." How did they enter the body of Christ? Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 10:47-48 Peter says: "'Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.' So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days." Again we see people in the Bible, saved, who had yet to be baptized. Unless you believe unsaved people can receive the Holy Spirit "just as we have" meaning just as other believers and an APOSTLE, you cannot deny that these disciples were born again BEFORE their baptism.

Even the Apostle Paul was born again BEFORE his water baptism. His water baptism occurred in Acts 9:18. Before this, Paul called Jesus "Lord" in Acts 9:5, and obeyed the commands of Jesus in the following verses - his conversion was instant (Jesus did not require him to complete any studies). Acts 9:17-18 reads: "Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized," In Acts 9:17 Ananias, acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit, called Paul "brother" as in brother in Christ BEFORE his water baptism, Paul received the Holy Spirit BEFORE his water baptism. God would not have given the Holy Spirit to a person who had not been born again- therefore we can conclude that Paul was truly born again BEFORE his water baptism. The ICC has confused the physical and spiritual baptisms, believing they are one. Their basis for this belief can be found in Ephesians 4:4-5, "There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith, one baptism;" . Obviously, there are several "faiths", "lords", and "baptisms" in the known world, These verses are stating that there is only one Lord who saves, one faith which saves, and one baptism which saves, that baptism which saves has already been shown to be an immersion in the Holy Spirit, not water. For an impressively detailed discussion of the necessity of water baptism for salvation, go Here.

So then, what is the purpose of the physical baptism? I Peter 3:21 lays it out clearly, "'and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.'" "'and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also-not the removal of dirt from the body (or water immersion) but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.'" We are shown here that the water baptism is symbolic of the spiritual.

When confronted with one of the many accounts in the New Testament of someone being saved without being baptized in water, (ex. the thief on the cross next to Jesus, Luke 23:40-43, The woman who anointed Jesus' feet with oil, Luke 7:48-50) the ICC will point to Matthew 9:6, "'But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,' Then he said to the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.'" The ICC interprets this to mean Jesus could only forgive sins while He was physically on earth, and that somehow he lost his authority, or will, to do so when he went up to heaven. This verse does not say, "only while the Son of Man is on earth does He have authority to forgive sins." What this verse means is that any one's sins can be forgiven only while that person is alive "on earth." Besides, after Jesus left the earth, people were still saved without being baptized in water. I Timothy 6:12 is part of a dialogue in which Paul is speaking to Timothy, "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Here Timothy received eternal life when he confessed Christ, and the water baptism is not even mentioned. Acts 10:47-48 and Acts 19:1-6 have already been discussed.

GETTING TO HEAVEN

One area The ICC constantly emphasizes is their (members) goal to "make it to Heaven." This is their logic, "A Christian is a disciple of Christ. What is a disciple, a follower. If you are not following the teachings of Christ, how can you be following Christ? If you are not following Christ, how can you be a Christian and make it to heaven?" They view salvation as something which enables one to make it to heaven by works. "I (Jesus) am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." (from John 14:6). This statement to them means salvation through Jesus is necessary to make it to Heaven, but it is not all of that which is necessary. Believing salvation through Jesus alone is not enough alters the Biblical definition of salvation, thus undermining the power of Jesus death and resurrection. This is what the Bible says about salvation: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory." Ephesians 1:13-14. Notice the word "guaranteeing."

LOVING GOD

The Bible says in I Corinthians 13:1-3 that if our acts are going to mean anything to God, love must be our motive, not Heaven. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." I Corinthians 3:12-15 says: "If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping from the flames." Here, "each mans work" will be tested. "Good deeds" done with a selfish motive, ex. Giving to the poor because it makes one feel good, sharing one's faith in order to look "spiritual" in front of others, or because one believes he/she must do so in order to get into heaven. The man who's work was entirely burned up was still saved, even though he had not "earned" Heaven. Eternity in heaven is a free gift, there is nothing that can be done to earn it. This is one reason Christianity is unique among religions.

John 14:23 says if you love God, you will obey God. The ICC believes this verse can be reversed, so that it means "if you obey God, you love him They even use obedience to God to measure an individuals love for God. This "reverse logic" does not work. The Pharisees obeyed Gods laws, did they love God?

REAL LOVE FOR GOD

Christians do not practice Christianity in order to make it to heaven, that is already guaranteed. Jehovah?s Witnesses, Mormons, and those from the International Church of Christ believe they must share their faith in order to make it into heaven. It is no wonder these groups are so successful, just look at their alternative. When a Christian shares his/her faith with someone, there is little to be gained personally, it is done out of love. Members of The International Church of Christ have stated that their actions are largely done to gain Heaven. If Heaven is, in any way, attained by works, then attempting to make it to Heaven is self defeating.

WHAT THE ICC BELIEVES ABOUT ITSELF

The ICC believes itself to be the one and only Kingdom of God, and that ALL other Christians fell away from God after the first century, replacing their true Christianity with an empty "religion." ICC members believe themselves to be a restoration of that first century church, and therefore, the only true Christian Church. Given what has already been discussed, this is not well supported. Any church that makes membership in itself a requirement for admission into Heaven (not the same as salvation according to the ICC) is not following the Bible. This belief creates logical inconsistencies within the beliefs of that church. For a look at those inconsistencies, go to my other page HERE

The ICC believes that the Scriptural "kingdom of heaven" or "kingdom of God," is synonymous with "the church," or the ICC. Whether stated explicitly by the church members or not, the "inner doctrine" is that the ICC is the Kingdom of God.

The view that the ICC is synonymous with the Kingdom of God produces some theological inconsistencies. Although the New Testament authors occasionally refer to the kingdom in the present tense (Col 1:13, I Cor 4:20), many other passages talk about the kingdom as something to be inherited, presumably after this life (I Cor 6:9, 15:50, Gal 5:21, James 2:5). Acts 14:22 even depicts Paul and Barnabus instructing "disciples" that they must "go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." If the Kingdom of God had already started on the Day of Pentecost, and if the "disciples" in Acts were part of the Kingdom, as this study teaches, then Acts 14:22 makes no sense. It would have been incongruous to imply that members of the kingdom had not yet entered the kingdom.

The ICC members may not openly disclose "the truth" that the ICC is the Kingdom of God. Instead, similarities may be pointed out between the ICC and the New Testament church portrayed in Acts 2:42-47, indicating that ICC members are "citizens of the Kingdom." "The truth" about the ICC being the Kingdom may be disclosed incrementally -- e.g., later “Bible” Studies such as the Denominationalism and False Doctrines Study will claim that no other church today is part of the kingdom, or the Church Study will "prove" that there can only be one church.

If successful, the ICC will convince the potential convert to put the group (Kingdom) above all other priorities in life. The unstated equation church = kingdom is applied to Matthew 6: 25-33 ("seek first his kingdom"): Seek the kingdom first of all the things in your life, all your obligations, all your worries. The kingdom of God -- his church -- should come first. It will be your priority or you are disobeying God. (Study notes of ICC member, November 1994). A spurious "equation" has been manipulated to produce devotion to the group. Of course, word substitution makes for some dicey theology: let's try a few other "substitutions" -- replacing the word "kingdom" with "the church" -- to illustrate how this technique can distort the meaning of Bible passages (substitution underlined):

I Cor 15:50 "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the church..."

Mt 8:11 "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the ICC."

Mt 11:11 "I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the ICC is greater than he."

Let me know if you can come up with any others.

One scripture the ICC uses to describe Christian churches is found in Jeremiah 6:13-15: "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them." When studying the Bible, It is necessary to look at who the scripture is written to. This is a prophesy against ancient Israel. NONE THE LESS, it is used by The International Church of Christ to show the condition of today's Christian Church. "All practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say when there is no peace." This is used in reference to the modern Christian church leaders who do not teach the Bible as the International Church of Christ does (deceit), and while teaching this "lie," tell those who listen to their teachings that they are spiritually in good condition before God when they are far from Him ("Dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.'Peace, peace,' They say when there is no peace.") They compare several descriptions of the early church in the New Testament with themselves such as Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-37, and I Corinthians 12:12-26. There are currently over four hundred "versions of Christianity" as the International Church of Christ puts it, and since I Corinthians 12:25-26 says: "so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." "Mainstream Christianity" must be dead. To be unified in the body of Christ means to be in complete submission to the head, Jesus, regardless of denomination. The true Christian Church, or body of Christ (that being the entire sum of believers in Jesus' death and resurrection worldwide) is striving toward God. And for the right reason.

WHY SO AGGRESSIVE?

Although the commitment exhibited by this group is attractive to many, what is really important is the motive behind their commitment. After learning of their beliefs, one cannot help but doubt their sincerity. After all, if they do not take the time to reach out to you, they may go to hell for not doing so.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE THIS INFORMATION AS NEEDED

Click here for the International Church of Christ vs. Logic

I know of only two books written about the ICC, you can find them below:

Bewitchment: You Foolish Galatians

The Boston Movement: Critical Perspectives on the International Churches of Christ

For an excellent site discussing the necessity of water baptism for salvation, go HERE

Another site comparing the teachings of the ICC to the teachings of the Bible

Here is another awesome site comapring the beliefs of the ICC to what the Bible really says

Here is a site formed by former ICC members with inside information, and support for other former members

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