Back to the Matrix
A Response to Kip McKean's Recent Letter:
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.
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,
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…
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".
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."
He then disfellowshipped, 'marked', and labeled as "LOST" a congregation of almost 600 members.
Again, that was in 1994. In July of this year (2003) Kip wrote,
Kip is even so bold as to refer to the ICOC leadership as the central leadership of God's kingdom.
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.
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.
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,
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,
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,
Shortly after, Steve Kinnard took the stage and claimed,
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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,
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…"
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,
He further admits,
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,
And Paul reminds his brothers,
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,
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.
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,
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.
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:
Kip also stated in his recent letter:
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:
And what about the use of the words "Church", "true Church", and "Kingdom" used interchangeably with "movement" in reference to the ICOC?
In his recent letter Kip uses these terms to directly label the ICOC.
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.
In addition to all of the inferences and loaded language, Kip appeared in a 1994 KNN Video where he out right stated,
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,
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.
And that they will come to know true freedom through faith and trust, not in men, but in Christ.
The use of bold, italics, bold/underlining, and all caps within quotes are for text emphasis by this author.