The word "autonomy" means "self-law" or "self-governing" and isn't a highly regarded word in the Boston Movement. Even though the word "autonomy" doesn't appear in the Scripture, scriptures do teach self-governance by leaders over their own flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-5). The Boston Movement teaches that autonomy has been incorrectly taught and that it isn't unscriptural for one church to be a controlling factor for all churches of Christ throughout the world.
On January 7, 1988 in a speech given at the San Diego Missions Conference, Tom Brown declared:
In verse 18, as we continue on, 'Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting and some of the people came and asked Jesus "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting but yours are not?" How is it that you keep breaking all of our traditions? That is the next one. Amen! Praise God, we are smashing some Church of Christ traditions. We are blasting them! I want to stop right here for a moment because I have earned my dues here. I am 36 years old, I was Baptized when I was 18, I've been in the church of Christ 18 years, I love the church of Christ, I've been committed, with all my heart and soul I am committed to the church of Christ. I'm not going anywhere, I haven't been anywhere, I am now officially a lifer. I've been in it longer than I've been out of it. And I love the church of Christ. Absolutely! I am absolutely committed, and I believe I have earned the right to be honest and straightforward. Okay? But I am talking to individuals, I am making some general points, but I am talking to you though. See because the sermon is for you, personally. And to make sure where we understand where we fit in here. You see Jesus was busting 'Church of Christ' quote unquote Jewish traditions. And they were offended by it. You know it's incredible. I used to be uptight when we clapped during singing. Can you believe that? (A couple of indistinguishable words, JJ.) I felt uncomfortable with that. I almost felt like there has got to be a Scripture somewhere in here on that. That's just not in decency and in order. No, that's stretching that one. And now I understand. You know what, that's just the church of Christ tradition I've had for the last 18 years. And so now, you know, I enjoy clapping. I really like it. I still really like to sing "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" too and I don't prefer to clap during that song. I don't think that's appropriate. And nobody does that. But that is a little tradition.
We're smashing some big ones like this whole issue of autonomy. That every church of Christ is supposed to be its own little isolated little kingdom, separated from everybody else and getting along with nobody else and cooperating with nobody else. That word is not in the Bible and the concept is not even there. A brotherhood is in the Bible. And we are smashing, slam-dunking that one. Some people don't like that but let's go back and read the Bible.
Then we go on. There are all kinds of traditions like the elders are simply guys who hire and fire the preachers. No, the evangelists disciple and lead to the Lord in the New Testament the elders, train them and disciple and then perhaps they move on. Many times they even sent back other evangelists in there into the church to help and continue to nurture and to grow while the elders are over the church and giving shepherding and oversight to the work. We are busting out some traditions here.
This cynicism about world evangelism. We're busting that one down. And it is a tradition. We basically believe we cannot totally change the world.
The biggest tradition and sin of all is accepting lukewarm members. And giving them the impression and leading them, even leading them, down the road to damnation, by giving them the impression that they are okay. That is a tradition that has got to be crushed, slam, smash! That's a sinful tradition.
An example of how autonomy is being "smashed" in Tom Brown's ministry is the appointment of Bruce Williams to be an evangelist in San Diego. Bruce Williams was retrained in Boston and sent to San Diego in the fall 1987 to lead the reconstruction. Even though the San Diego Church of Christ has two elders to "oversee" the "church," it was Tom Brown in Boston who appointed Bruce Williams to be an evangelist on May 8, 1988. (Tom Brown, Boston Bulletin, "R. Bruce Williams Appointed Evangelist," May 8, 1988.) "Autonomy" would have the elders in San Diego appointing the evangelist, not an evangelist in Boston. The control and direction that the Boston church has over other churches is clear by this example.
It is interesting to trace the relationship of the Boston Church of Christ and the San Diego Church of Christ (formerly the Mission Church of Christ). On July 19, 1987 (the date of the Boston takeover of the Atlanta Church of' Christ, see Boston Bulletin, July 26, 1987), Gordon Ferguson, who was serving as an evangelist with the San Diego Church of Christ wrote an article in its bulletin entitled "Personal Note: Excitement in the Kingdom," in which the growing influence and control of the Boston Church of Christ over other churches (especially the San Diego Church of Christ) can be seen. Gordon Ferguson wrote:
The San Francisco World Missions Conference was a boost especially to the staff of the Mission Church. We began thinking about discipling and missions in a clearer light. The idea of being really open to other leaders and other leading congregations became more inviting. Specifically, we are determined to seek even more input from Boston. It is quite obvious that God is using them in a tremendous pacesetting way. We have everything to gain by seeking more counsel and advice. Therefore, even though we have sought direction from them in the past, we want to do it with a real disciple's heart in the future.
Shortly after the conference in San Francisco came the International Campus and Church Leaders Conference in Atlanta. Great unity between congregations in the discipling movement resulted in numerous ways. The Boston leaders accepted our proposal for Theresa and myself to spend ten weeks in Boston this fall, and for Greg and Cathy to spend the same length of time there in early spring. We are serious about discipling and further training from those who can best do it. More and more leaders are swallowing pride, admitting the need for more training, and taking action to follow through.
Just days ago, George Havins and I sat in some very important meetings at the Denver '87 Conference. The vision that Boston has for the Mission congregation is highly encouraging and exciting. Their view of us as a pillar church in the entire Southwest region has begun to come into focus as God is opening some exciting doors for us.
The emerging influence and direction of Boston is clearly seen in Gordon Ferguson's article. However, as it developed, Greg Marutzky and Gordon Ferguson went to Boston, never to return to San Diego. After his retraining in Boston, Greg Marutzky was sent to Denver to take Preston Shepherd's place, and Gordon Ferguson is now an elder in Boston.
It was the very next month (August 16, 1987) when Kip McKean wrote in the Boston Bulletin that Boston leadership would "officially direct the work in San Francisco."
In June, at the invitation of Tom Brown and the other evangelists of the Berkeley Church of Christ, the Elders and I sent Scott and Lynne Green to initiate the 'rebuilding' of the Berkeley congregation. (Tom and Kelly came to Boston for the summer.) In the first two months of the summer, 17 were baptized in June and 67 in July! Sensing an even greater need for more specific teaching on discipleship, high powered women's ministries and church plantings, Tom and the evangelists asked the Boston leadership to officially direct the work. Tom decided to stay in Boston and leave from here to plant the church in Los Angeles. Like the walls of Jerusalem, the Elders and I saw no need to tear down the whole structure, but to rebuild what was lacking for this part of the Christian remnant. It was decided we would not call this a 'replanting' (like Atlanta or Jamaica), but to refer to this as a 'reconstruction.' With the first phase of reconstruction beginning in June, on August 2 Tom Brown, Al Baird and I outlined for the congregation the plans for the second phase. Firstly, the Berkeley congregation with Tom's well-built foundation and Boston's reconstruction would move to downtown San Francisco and become the San Francisco Church of Christ on September 13. Secondly, the evangelists and women's counselors would resign and become interns. Therefore, when they are appointed in the future, they will be recognized in Boston as well as in our church's plantings, such as in Bombay or New York. I foresee this to help form a uniform standard of recognition throughout the multiplying ministries. Thirdly, every individual who desires to be a member of the new San Francisco congregation will need to count the cost of being a disciple. (Boston Bulletin, "San Francisco Church of Christ;" August 16, 1987.)
However, when Kip McKean wrote about the San Diego Church of Christ becoming the pillar church for the Southwest, he said:
The Mission church leadership wanted to imitate the Boston Church of Christ and thus become a model (pillar) congregation for the entire Southwestern United States ... We praise God that the Fergusons will be moving to Boston to further their training. The Boston leadership is sending Bruce and Robin Williams, assisted by Dave and Kathy Eastman, to replace the Ferguson's and Marutzky's ... However, these congregations were never to be isolated and separate from each other ... Therefore, the Boston Church will not be 'over' the San Diego Church, but Tom Brown will continue to disciple (give input and direction) to his Timothy, Bruce Williams. Bruce will disciple and further train the Elders (Titus 2:2), who direct the affairs of the church (1 Timothy 5:17). (Kip McKean, Boston Bulletin, "The San Diego Church of Christ," December 20, 1987.)
(You are urged to read this article in its entirety. See Appendix.)
The December 20, 1987 article by Kip McKean tried to show that the Boston Church of Christ was not "overseeing" the San Diego Church of Christ because of' reaction to his statement on August 16, 1987 about Boston "officially directing the work" in San Francisco. However, a careful reading of Kip McKean's writings and the Boston Church of Christ's actions toward San Diego shows definite oversight. To say that the Boston Church of Christ is not "over" the San Diego Church of Christ is to deny the facts. The controlling relationship of Kip McKean and the Boston Church of Christ over the San Diego Church of Christ will be further demonstrated in Section V (Role of Kip McKean) when he tells San Diego of its role in the decentralization of the mission effort of the Boston Movement.
When Al Baird was confronted at the Freed-Hardeman College Forum (October 10, 1987), with Kip McKean's statement that Boston "would officially direct" the San Francisco work, he expressed that he didn't direct the San Francisco Church of Christ.
I do not direct the San Francisco church. I am not overseeing the San Francisco work or the Atlanta work and neither are any of the other elders.
While Al Baird was denying that they (Boston) don't director oversee the church in San Francisco, their lead evangelist, Kip McKean, was saying the opposite in his "Get In or Get Out" sermon in San Francisco, which was delivered about five weeks before Al Baird's denial. Kip McKean said:
Now that Boston has taken over the directorship of this work ...
Later in this sermon, Kip McKean made it clear that he no longer believed in autonomy, as he had previously, that San Francisco would be directed by him through Frank Kim, just like Paul directed Timothy for as long as he lived, and anyone who has problems with it has a "heart problem." The following is an excerpt from the sermon that Kip McKean delivered in San Francisco in either late August or early September 1987.
It is interesting. Some people I heard had some problems with an article that was written about the San Francisco church. That is disappointing. That is really disappointing. You know, you can tell a lot about a person's heart if they get bad attitudes, before they give the benefit of doubt to a brother. You know what I mean? And I really believe the challenge that is going to be before you is understanding this: The church here, its direction, ultimately better be from God and His Word. Amen! But the way God works is through men and women. And the Bible teaches that with disciples in Christ with evangelists that are sent different places, they direct the work in that particular place in the absence of elders. You have no elders here, and so Frank Kim as your evangelist will be directing the work. Frank in a very real way is my son in the faith. I studied with him. I baptized him. I discipled him. Elena (Kip McKean's wife, JJ) discipled Erica (Frank Kim's wife, JJ). Listen, we love these people to death. They are a son and daughter in the faith. They are still disciples of Jesus Christ. They still receive discipling and they still receive direction. All you have to do is open up your New Testament and you will find, yes, Timothy when he was young got direction from Paul, but he was still getting direction from Paul as Paul was about to die and Timothy, by this time was in his mid 30's at least. See, Timothy always got direction. See, I think we have been born into a tradition, so many of us--a lot of us--are not from the church of Christ, but we have accepted so many of the traditions. I remember I was talking to my dad about some of the things I had been studying out in the Bible. My father is not a Christian, and I said, 'You know, Dad, some exciting things are happening all over the world in the different churches that we have planted from Boston. He said, 'Yes, tell me about it.' I was sharing all the great things and I said it is really of God. He was a little bit reserved about the situation. And I said, 'You know the great thing, Dad, I think there is going to be a movement that is going to be even greater than the Reformation Movement. As a matter of fact, Dad, our movement is now on all the populated continents of the world, and the Reformation Movement was largely contained in Europe. It is incredible what God is doing. He said, 'Well, now, this seems a little different than what you talked about a few years ago, Kip. You told me that in the churches of Christ each one was totally autonomous.' He said 'Have you changed that?' 'Well. yes, Dad. I never found the word autonomy in the Bible.' He said, "Well, okay.' He said, 'Let me ask you here, are we talking confederacy or union?' I think we are talking union, Dad. Definitely union! We are going to win the war! Amen! Now here is the thing. Autonomy is something we were taught but we were never shown a verse on it. We accepted it. I challenge anybody to find the word autonomy in the Bible. If you do, hey, let's be autonomous. But if you don't, let's do what it says in 1 Peter 2:17. Let's love the brotherhood. Amen! The one church of Jesus Christ. It is time to begin a revolution. It is time to say, 'Listen, I'm in. Count me in! I want to follow Jesus. I want to preach the good news to the poor. I want to preach freedom to the prisoners. I want to release the oppressed from sin. I want to be a revolutionary. I am ready to lay down my life.' Let me tell you something. Your life is not anything worth living unless you have something to die for. I believe with all my heart you have got to see you are part of a world brotherhood. You are not a stepchild of the Boston church by any ways or means. You will be directed by the work in Boston just as in the Bible as Paul gave direction to Timothy. As Timothy gave direction to the church at Corinth or Ephesus or wherever he traveled. This is the Bible pattern. We have got to accept it if we are going to have a revolution like Jesus! Amen!
In November 1, 1987 in the Boston Bulletin, Thom Bogle wrote:
Replacing 'Congregational Autonomy' with Congregational Cooperation. The traditional idea that each group of disciples in a city is entirely autonomous from other disciples is not found in the Bible and has severely damaged efforts to win the world for Christ. Those with a heritage in the restoration movement have wrongly used the false teaching of 'congregational autonomy' to justify disunity and non-cooperation with other brothers. As a result, they have often grown indifferent about the needs of Christians in other places and apathetic about Jesus' commission that together they preach to an entire world! Leaders should shepherd the local flock, while at the same time be influenced and exert proper influence around the world (2 Corinthians 8:lff; Acts 15:lff; 11:29ff). God never intended there be autonomy in relationships between brothers and sisters in Christ. This concept is just not in the Bible! Can you imagine if one member of your physical family arrived at the dinner table and announced his intention to be an 'autonomous' member of the family? We would immediately challenge this independent spirit.
In the same year at the Southeastern Leadership Conference held in Atlanta, Wyndham Shaw (presently an evangelist in the Boston Church of Christ) stated:
Autonomy has been far more stressed than brotherhood. Isolation has been far more the role than interaction in relationship and in sharing our leaders and our leadership, our members and our memberships, and our resources with and for and to one another. That ought not to be. Brothers, that's been wrong. That's been wrong. Whatever autonomy was meant to mean, it wasn't meant to keep us from what these guys had. You see, that has been destructive and has isolated us. That has been enjoyed by Satan and has been hated by God. That has thwarted world evangelism and has killed growth in isolated individual congregations where people wanted to see it happen, but didn't have the resources they needed to get it to happen. And God has not been able to give the increase. It is not like He didn't want to. (Southeastern Leadership Conference, Atlanta, October 22, 1987.)
One real hindrance to brotherhood unity has been an ungodly view of church autonomy. Although each congregation obviously has responsibilities on a local level, we are still one body. The idea of a non-cooperative, and often prideful, separation from each other as congregations is absolutely non-biblical. It guarantees that the world will never be evangelized. It is therefore contrary to the very purpose of God and is sinful. The early church knew nothing of such isolation. Each member was part of one body on a brotherhood basis. They worked together with an amazing lack of sinful competitiveness. They cooperated in the prime mission God has given the church, and as a result, the entire world heard the message of Christ in about 30 years (Colossians 1:23)! Such marvelous unity was based on a united leadership, brotherhood wide. Leaders are the ones who produce unity and they are always the ones who promote disunity. After Paul wrote that there was one body (Ephesians 4:4--a universal church), he went on to describe the leaders that God has placed within that one body (Ephesians 4:11-16). Notice that these leaders were given by God to build up, unite and mature the body. 'This body' is no different in verse 12 than the 'body' in verse 4 it is the church as a whole, rather than one congregation. In other words, the Church in the first century considered leaders to be brotherhood leaders rather than simply congregational leaders. A careful study of Acts will demonstrate that key leaders had a striking non-attachment to any one congregation. They went where they were most needed at any one time. They were sent to places where they could best serve. The example of congregational independence, produced by leadership independence, is absent from the pages of Scripture. 'Church autonomy' as we have practiced it is an invention of sinful man--an ungodly tradition. (Boston Bulletin, "Progressive Revelation," Part IV, June 5, 1988.)
In the earlier days of the Boston Movement, the Boston church taught and practiced autonomy. Its first church planting (Chicago) was described in a letter dated June 14, 1982, as being an "autonomous" congregation after meeting only four weeks. This letter was signed by four leaders: Martin Fuqua, Jim Krause, Ben Holt and Cecil Wooten. (See Appendix for the complete letter.) Cecil Wooten and Martin Fuqua are still a part of the Boston Movement. Ben Holt and Jim Krause were appointed elders in Chicago, however, they both left the movement because of the unscriptural practices of the Boston Movement. It is even more interesting to observe what Kip McKean wrote on March 28, 1986, in an open letter to the elders in Gainesville, Florida:
In closing, we realize that the scriptures stress by example the autonomy of the congregation and yet, I believe the Lord's church has not sufficiently emphasized the biblical imperative of being one universal brotherhood. (See Appendix for complete letter.)
Kip McKean also used the word "autonomous" to describe present congregations in the Acts Study Series which was designed as a guide to reach non-Christians. Kip McKean taught:
You may not feel awesome about going, but once you get there, doesn't it feel great to know that you have been? 'And you know, man, Satan was trying to keep me away from the services just so I wouldn't be encouraged. This is exactly what I needed.' Let me tell you something, when a non-Christian is counting the cost about becoming a Christian, this is going to be one of the big ones. Because you need to nail down with them the commitment there is to the body of Christ in your place. Now, we understand this, churches are autonomous and so different elderships have set up different times for the churches to meet.
He also wrote that the scriptures stressed autonomy by ex-ample (Open Letter March 28, 1986) and now condemns it with great vigor as something foreign to the New Testament since it isn't specifically mentioned in the Bible.
During Kip McKean's ministry at Charleston, Illinois, the Heritage Chapel Church of Christ was criticized in the city newspaper (Times-Courier). The leaders wrote a response (April 1979) to the criticisms and the article clearly sets forth their view of autonomy and church government:
Each congregation of the Church of Christ is independent and autonomous. There is no hierarchy. Heritage Chapel Church is not controlled by any other congregation in Florida, Texas or anywhere else. (Heritage Chapel Church of Christ Leaders, Times-Courier, "Heritage Chapel: The Issue Is the Bible," April 1979.)
In the summer of 1988 during his sermon on reconstruction at Denver, Kip McKean said:
Unity is had by relationships. You know, I am going to continue to disciple Preston. He is a Timothy in the faith to me. Tom Brown is going to disciple him. Pat is going to continue to help Sandy. Kelly is going to help Sandy. There is a relationship that is bonded there. But Preston is already great friends with Phil Lamb in Mexico City so now you are connected to Mexico City. You have Grant right here and he is going to go to Germany and you are connected there. Bob and Laurie are coming for a little bit this summer, and they are going to Cairo and you are going to be connected there. I mean you start to see the networking of relationships and thus the networking of the churches around the world. I mean there is one church, one body, one family, one brotherhood, one kingdom! Amen! The word autonomy is not even mentioned in the Bible. Kingdom is emphasized over and over again. And Paul says love the brotherhood.
The Boston Movement's opposition to autonomy as practiced in the churches of Christ is attacked on the basis that it was an over-reaction to Protestant denominationalism.
Even churches who today preach restoration, blinded by the reactionary theology of their early leaders coming out of Protestant denominationalism, failed here to apply the word of God. Instead, they developed biblical perspectives about church autonomy, holding on to the traditions of their fathers. (Nick Young, Boston Bulletin,. "Like Men Sent From God," September 24, 1989.)
The view of the Boston church directing world evangelism and serving as a "mother church" is also clear from other materials. After the seminar in 1987, a world map (Kip McKean, Boston Bulletin, August 30, 1987) was published showing the pillar churches with their territories and Boston functioning as the over-all director.
One month prior to the Freed-Hardeman Forum, Al Baird explained the Atlanta situation at the 1987 Boston World Missions Seminar and stated the following in a class entitled "Atlanta Story:"
The statements made by Al Baird at the Boston World Missions Seminar and at Freed-Hardeman College are only five weeks apart but are contradictory statements. If you believe the Boston Bulletin (August 16, 1987) and what Al Baird said at the Boston World Missions Seminar, the Boston Church of Christ does direct other churches. What is the difference between oversight and direction?
When Al Baird and Kip McKean came to Atlanta Highlands Church of Christ to conduct a Bible Study Leaders Workshop on July 17-18, 1987, all of the participants were challenged to either get in or out. The Boston leaders gave them a form to complete and to have their decision made by August 1, 1987 (see Appendix for the form). However, the Atlanta Highlands Church of Christ divided the next day (July I9, I987) and the Boston Movement segment officially began meeting immediately.
Al Baird: She is in Nashville. She is not in my - and I love her.
Question: She does not belong to your church?
Al Baird: I am an elder in the Boston church.
Question. So you have no ...
Al Baird: I don't have any oversight of the Nashville Church.
Question: Who assigned the evangelist there?
Al Baird: I appointed him.
If the Boston Church of Christ assigns evangelists (Nashville) and appoints them (San Diego -- see Boston Bulletin, May 8, 1988), how could they still claim not to oversee or direct them? Kip McKean stated that Tom Brown in Boston would give input and direction to Bruce Williams in San Diego (Boston Bulletin, December 20, 1987).
To deny that the leadership in Boston doesn't "oversee" other churches presents several problems. Let's assume that the statement about San Francisco was wrong ("would officially direct," Boston Bulletin, August I6, 1987) and should not have been made. How does Boston leadership explain other statements? In the September 1987 Map of Pillar Churches, it should be observed that each church has a designated territory except Boston. If Boston has the same relationship to other churches and doesn't have any "oversight" of other churches, why do they not have any territory? Does printing "Boston" larger and giving it a larger star communicate any meaning?
The Boston Movement church in Chicago teaches that they can have oversight over churches in the Midwest. Randy Walters of Chicago wrote:
During 1987, discipling ministries in the Midwest have united in a way never before seen. Evangelists in these various cities have humbled themselves to seek out advice, discipling, and oversight from leaders in Chicago. God's blessings to their humble hearts is obvious in the fruit that has been born ...
In August, Dick Runge and Kevin Mains expressed interest in further training. The Chicago church was asked to take oversight of the church there. Dick Runge has moved to New York for further training and Kevin Mains moved here. We sent Bob and Barb Harpole to Cincinnati to serve as the evangelist and women's discipler. The church there had 170 conversions in 1987. (Chicago Fire,. "More Than We Could Ask or Imagine!" January 3, 1988.)
When Bruce Williams moved from San Diego to Chicago in September 1989, John Mannel who serves as an evangelist (previously served as one of the elders before Roger Lamb moved and the eldership was disbanded) wrote about Williams' arrival in Chicago:
The Lord has moved powerfully with the appointment of Bruce and Robin Williams as Lead Evangelist and Women's Counselor of the Chicago Church of Christ. This position, which includes the oversight of the Chicago church as well as nine Midwestern congregations and one Canadian congregation, is a tremendous responsibility. Most importantly, however, their appointment is a statement of God's confidence in their hearts and leadership. (John Mannel, Chicago Fire, "Welcome to the Williams Family," September 3, 1989.)
Question: Who appointed Bruce Williams to his new position? The answer has to be Boston. It is obvious that Boston "oversees" other churches that "oversee" other churches. For leaders in the Boston Movement to say they don't oversee other churches is a misrepresentation of what they are really doing. Since they do oversee other churches, they are "directing" other churches which is a contradiction of what they say they do.
The importance of Boston's position in the history of the restoration is seen in Joe Garmon's closing remarks during the Brockton House Church reconstruction when he gave his view of the demise of the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville and the place of Boston.
... and there was a strong line commitment and it didn't take long for it to be watered down and to become a church that had the whole nation roaring against them because of the radical commitment--called the total commitment movement--had the whole nation upset with them and now became another church. And when that happened, had it not been for Boston the kingdom would have stopped just like it has done generation after generation.
To better solidify its hold on all the churches, Boston taught that the ligaments in Ephesians 4 are the relationships between the evangelists in all the churches. Al Baird stated:
We find out that the evangelists actually had authority in a number of different congregations as they were sent into these different situations. You read verses like Ephesians chapter 4 and verse 16 and you sort of start to understand why. Because he says there that the whole body is held together by every supporting ligament. Now I've preached sermons from that verse, but the way that I preached the sermon--and I think it certainly applies--is in the local congregation. But when you really look at the context of Ephesians chapter 4, he is talking about the church as a whole. And do you know what the supporting ligaments are? The relationships. Relationships is what holds this body together. But he is also saying it is relationships that holds the brotherhood universal together. Now what are those relationships? By and large the relationships of the evangelists, going from place to place, that ties those things together. I mean, I made a list of the people that are here this morning who serve as evangelists in different places. Frank. Frank Kim. Frank and Erica are here from Paris going to San Francisco, on their way to Tokyo. Do you see the ligaments that are being formed? Scott and Lynne, having been in Boston, being in Berkeley, going to Hong Kong (tape turned over and part missed, JJ.). Steve Richards is here. Sam and Jerri Lang coming from Atlanta to Boston. Andy and Rita Lindo coming from San Diego to Boston, going to Atlanta. J.P. and Pat Tynes from Orlando coming to Boston, cementing some relationships. Jim and Kelly coming from Berkeley to Boston, going to I.os Angeles. Steve and Laura Pipkin coming from Tampa to Boston. Don and Heidi Burrows coming from Charlotte for further training to go back there. Ed and Karen Townsend coming from San Diego to Boston, then going to San Francisco. John and Andrea Walsh, Brian and Adrianne, being converted here and going to Paris. I mean look at the ligaments that are being formed. You see we've got a worldwide brotherhood that is being forged and the ligaments are growing tighter and tighter the way that it needs to be. Now is each congregation, in a sense, autonomous? Yes, I believe in that even though the word autonomy is never mentioned. I mean, there are to be elders in each congregation where there are qualified men and they are to oversee that flock. However, it is really becoming clear that the evangelists have the role of tying these congregations together, through relationships, through influence. You know, Ed and Karen Townsend going to San Francisco, Gloria and I have discipled Ed and Karen for over a year. We've got a super great relationship. Am I going have influence in Ed's life? Is Gloria going to have influence in Karen's life? You better believe we are. That's going to be a lifetime influence. There are going to be some ligaments that have grown there that will never change. People like Doug Arthur in London is already having more of a worldwide influence. Already he is widely influencing the churches in Europe. He is so close. He's got the relationship. He can fly up to Stockholm in just a couple of hours and have a great impact on the church there like he did a few months ago. It's just a short hop over to Paris. He'll be just a short way from Germany. You see, these relationships are really going to tighten things together.
This interpretation ligaments appears again in a speech given by Wyndham Shaw on October 22, 1987 at the Southeastern Leadership Conference:
We have got to be united by our relationships. When you think of the first century church going back to Ephesians 4 here, it says that the whole thing is united, is pulled together by every supporting ligament. What do you think the ligaments were in the first century? Who do you think they were? I have to believe the strongest ones were the Pauls, the Apolloses, the Barnabases, the Timothys, the Tituses--the brotherhood leaders who would not allow the brotherhood unity to be broken apart even when sometimes people--sometimes like the Corinthians--who were unspiritual and worldly tried to pit them against each other ... what kept it together at Corinth? Paul said, 'Look, I love Apollos and I love Peter and don't you guys divide the church over any of us. We are God's fellow workers. We are not going to let you use us and we are united' and Peter writes in his letter, 'Our dear beloved brother Paul even though he did rebuke me.' He is still dearly beloved. You see they had relationship, they were the ligaments that pulled it together. And you see, brothers, the leaders of each congregation can either be used by Satan as a lever to divide or by God as a ligament to unite ... We have to be the supporting ligaments that hold the whole thing together as each one does his part. And you see that cannot be based just on doctrine, not based on purpose, but it has to be based on people. You--some of you--do not know Andy Lindo down in Atlanta, but we are talking to you about tying into Atlanta and getting relationships with the brothers down here as a pillar church in the southeast, but a lot of you know me and I know Andy--you see that can be a ligament that ties us all together because you trust me. I trust Andy. You see you can trust Andy through me. Some of you do not know Kip, but you know me. You know Sam. You know we are telling you we haven't been annihilated black and blue, forced to do things against our conscience or seen Boston be a place that is not sensitive to people. It is not that way, folks. And so you do know Kip if you know me. So they didn't all know each other in the churches there, but they knew somebody who knew somebody and it was a network of ligaments that pulled the whole together and that is the way it needs to be.
Gordon Ferguson agreed with Al Baird and Wyndham Shaw's interpretation of "supporting ligaments" in Ephesians.
The early church was united because leaders viewed themselves as belonging to the body as a whole. They were in fact the key 'supporting ligaments' which joined the 'whole body' together, making growth a reality rather than an unreachable dream (Ephesians 4:16). Probably the most impacting way that these leaders became united was in their training. From the inception of Christ's discipling of leaders, He never left any impression that they would be 'located preachers,' clergy in one location on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. They were taught to be 'movers and shakers'! This approach of Jesus in His personal ministry was predictably followed by the apostles in their training of leaders. The importance of this approach to discipling leaders cannot be overestimated! Leadership training in its practical application produced a brotherhood unity which in turn produced an evangelized world. We must return to the approach used by the early church. Nothing else has worked! (Boston Bulletin, "Progressive Revelation," June 5, 1988.)
(You are urged to read the article by Tom Yoakum, "The Body's Ligaments: What Are They?." See Appendix.)
It has already been shown that the Boston Movement taught the concept of autonomy with its first planting in Chicago in 1982. Their roots in the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville taught autonomy and rejected the idea of a hierarchy, which is clearly the Boston Movement's present position.
Chuck Lucas taught that he never believed or taught or sanctioned "that any hierarchy should exist in the church other than the spiritual leadership set forth in the scriptures." (Firm Foundation, "An Open Letter to the Brotherhood of Churches of Christ:" November 17, 1981.)
When the hierarchical arrangement was taking shape in1987 with the emergence of the Boston Church of Christ as the leader of the discipling ministries, the critics were asking if there were differences between the hierarchical arrangement of the Catholic Church and the plan that Boston was developing? Kip McKean referred to this criticism in his major speech at the 1987 Boston World Missions Seminar entitled "Why Do You Resist the Spirit?:"
Someone says, 'It looks a little like the Catholic Church to me.' You haven't been in a Catholic Church service recently, I don't think.
Kip McKean's remarks were a "dodge" of the major issue. No critic was implying that the worship service of the Boston Church of Christ reminded anyone of a Catholic Mass; the similarity was in the organization! Kip McKean didn't address the similarity of the organization. Students of the New Testament understand the organization structure of the Catholic Church isn't found or taught in the New Testament and wasn't a practice of the first century church. Would the Boston Movement have any scriptural objections to the authoritative structure of the Catholic Church?
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