September 30, 1985
Dear elder of Great Commission International,
I am sure that it both of our desires that the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted above every name and that the gospel go out strongly to all peoples. It is because of this that I am writing this letter. It is my desire that God use you in the fullest way possible; however, Micah 2:6 says, "But if they do not speak out concerning these things, reproaches will not be turned back." It is my prayer that I would write this in a gentle and broken spirit and that you would read and consider what I believe the Lord wants to say to you.
There are a number of teachings and actions occuring in GCI which I believe are not according the scriptures and are sin. I have written both Jim McCotter and Dennis Clark twice addressing a few of these concerns but to no avail. I believe that 1 Timothy 5:19-20 applies then. Also, according to Romans 16:17 I believe that GCI is teaching doctrines contrary to that of Christ and Paul and is thus dividing the body of Christ. I will outline some of the more important topics. Please prayfully read them and respond to them.
Concerning this, one of my biggest fears is this area of apostleship. I did a 21 page Bible study on this which was sent to Jim and Dennis. I pointed out that I believe that what is taught in the Leadership book is false teaching and that they are improperly exalting themselves. They never did deal with a single issue or concern I brought up but rather told me that if I would not respect their position then I should go elsewhere. This lack of a response bothers me. Sin and reproach is far too serious to pass off by telling those who disagree with you to leave. The sin needs to be dealt with and not the person who points it out. One of the DC leaders also told me that Jim and Dennis might not respond because they are "too busy reaching the world." Nowhere does the Bible say that we can afford to overlook sin because we are busy. I was not only amazed but appalled at such a shrugging off of sin and rebuke and for making excuses for someone else's lack of response. Are you simply a buffer and protection for Jim and Dennis? If you would be interested in reading my study on apostleship then I would be happy to send it to you.
If it is countered that Jim and Dennis were asked to be apostles then you might examine Judges 8:22-23 where the people wanted Gideon to rule over them but he refused since only God should rule over them.
Also, the emphasis on the church being an army is dangerous. Even the Leadership book, which concerns authority, has military stripes on it. Christians are analogized to soldiers but they are also analogized to farmers and athletes among others, and though the Bible does speak of us being in a spiritual war, nowhere is the church ever called an army; which I believe is important. The authoritarian structure of the army is that of heads, sub-heads, sub-sub-heads, etc. This is the way in which GCI is set up with the two main apostles, then the rest of the DC leaders, then the local leaders, etc. This kind of structure is wrong. It spiritualizes men by making some either more important or more powerful than others. This is why the church is never called an army. It is, instead, mostly called a body. This is because a body has only one head and for the church this is Jesus Christ. All the parts of the body are run by the head just as all the branches go only to the vine (John 15). Your hierarchial structure is not Biblical.
In Revelation 2:6 God says, "Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." The word "Nikao" means "to conquer" and "laos" means "the laity." The Nicolaitan error of "conquering the laity" is considered to be the first instance where ministers set themselves above the laity thereby falsely dividing an equal brotherhood. This error is the same as GCI's teaching that total (or at least close to it) submission is God's best and that the leaders can never make a mistake in giving direction to a person's life since, as long as that person obeys their leader, that God will bless them even if their counsel was not, in reality, very good. This is nowhere taught in the Bible and is simply "lording it over them" but under the guise of "mystical manipulation." God hates this authoritarian structure and so do I. Your concept of a "chain of command" is unbiblical.
Stategy and techniques
The reason why you so boldly claim that GCI is the "best" is because you are the only ones who are "reaching the world" with the correct stategy. Nowhere in the NT is one stategy ever compared with another nor is any technique ever compared with another. What then gives you the privilage to make such a comparison? Paul neither emphasized stategy nor techique. Why was this? Because, even though organization and stategy is important, there is no one set and fixed way to obey God. You are essentially saying that God has set such a narrow way to obey Him in spreading the gospel that He will not completely bless anyone except those who are able to figure out His special stategy which, of course, you have. I believe that God works in many and great ways and will fully and completely bless any humble church regardless of its stategy. You have confined God to your narrow "vision and stategy."
Divisive and proud spirit
Jim and Dennis's condemnation of missionaries on pages 99 and 100 of the Leadership book is, I believe, not only ignorant of how God is greatly using missionaries to spread His word but is an arrogant statement. Even if it is true that Jim McCotter has somehow discovered the "hidden stategy" which has eluded other Christians for almost 2000 years this does not give him the privilage to so blantly condemn the efforts and sacrifices of other men of God; especially overtly stating that they are "inexperienced", "not God-trained", and distracted by "the devil" among other accusations. This, to me, is not the spirit of a humble man, and, even if he is right, God opposes pride.
Your outright belittling of other denominations (see page 47 in the Leadership book) is also divisive. You seem only interested in working within your little group and set yourselves above others. I believe that the same sin which Paul rebuked in 1 Cor 1:10-13 is what you are practicing - "I am of GCI!"
I also remember hearing GCI elders teach, by name, that Billy Graham, the Navigators and others would fail where you will succeed. Pride! Since the Bible nowhere commends one stategy over another you can make no such declaration humbily. God will neither bless proud men nor a proud church no matter how great and wonderful their stategy and techniques. Please consider this since it may affect your own personal walk with God.
Unity over truth
It is obvious that GCI considers unity (defined as "agreement with the leaders") as more important than truth (defined as anything except that foundational to the Christian faith). Just reading through the 1985 June-July issue of The Cause makes that evident. Jim and Dennis's response to my apostle's study (see above reference) also proves that. The word "truth" is mentioned 200 times in the NASB. The word "unity" is only mentioned 5 times. One of the DC leaders told me that the way to understand the scriptures is through unity. Not one verse in the Bible says this. All throughout the 1985 June-July issue of The Cause, division and slander is constantly related to disagreeing with the leaders. What if the leaders are teaching false doctrines? Are the people to simply sit back and wait for God to change the leaders' hearts? You will not find one verse that promises that God will not allow Christian leaders to go astray in their teaching. God does not honor sincere "obedience"; He honors sincere, truthful obedience. If you are following the wrong teachings of your leaders then it is you, too, who are in sin because you did not follow 1 Thess. 5:21-22 and examined everything carefully.
Francis Schaeffer said, "Cooperation and unity that do not lead to purity of life and purity of doctrine are just as faulty and incomplete as an orthodoxy which does not lead to a concern for, and a reaching out toward, those who are lost." I believe that you not only consider but also teach that agreement which the teaching of the leaders is more important than the actual truthfulness of that teaching (witness the apostle's doctrine). When unity with a man is placed above God's holy word then this borders on idolatry. God will hold you accountable for this. Nowhere does the Bible ever say that truth can be compromised for the sake of unity.
Loyalty to men and a church system is overemphasized
In my eight years in GCI I have heard the Manhattan elders teach on what elders are six times but they gave a Bible study on who God is only five times. Did we become Christians to learn how a church operates or to know God deeper? The teaching of GCI is far more about techniques and the church than it is on how to sit at God's feet and just learn about who He is. I remember one teaching about the attributes of God in which there was basically an apology about the study since it did not have any practical applications. The great majority of the Bible does not teach on techniques and the church but is simply truth for truth's sake.
A Christian's loyalty is to God and God only. Nowhere in the Bible is loyalty to a church ever mentioned (except Paul's rebuke of this in I Cor 1), yet it has been clearly taught that if someone got saved as a result of GCI then for them to leave is to be out of God's will. I challenge you to find any scripture (and not man's reasonings) which teaches this.
The teaching that each local church (or even GCI itself) is a family is also very unscriptural. The only verses which any of the leaders have given me to support this is by connecting Eph 6:1 with Heb 13:17, yet in the Greek the words "obey" are two completely different words with two very different meanings and used in the rest of the NT in two completely different ways (study this out for yourself). Because we all share the one common Brother of Jesus Christ there must only one family of God. Your teaching is separating the one family of God and is, therefore, division and sin. It is false teaching.
I believe that it may be God's will for someone (even someone who got saved through GCI) to leave and attend another denomination and that there is no scripture which states otherwise. Worshipping and serving God is what demands our loyalty and not a church. To say otherwise is to proudly teach that it is only in GCI that a person can fully do (or is more easily able to do) all that God wants them to.
Church discipline is an extremely serious matter which is very rarely mentioned and utilized in the NT, yet GCI is excommunicating people at a rate that is incredible. And what is most troubling to me is that the charge is almost always "faction and slander" (which is essentially disagreeing with the leaders). If there is this much sin in GCI then perhaps the biggest problem is with the leaders or the church structure. It is almost impossible for this particular combination of sins to be so prevalent in so many GCI churches across the country without there being some common source. Remember that the attitudes and actions of the leaders are passed down to the rest of the church. If there is so much of this type of sin then perhaps you should examine your own life first before you "stone others."
Also, nowhere in scripture does it even imply that you can excommunicate someone who is no longer in your church and under your authority. Nowhere does it state that once a person joins a church that they are forever under that church's jurisdiction even if they leave. This would be like an employer firing someone long after that person has quit that job and is working for another employer. I believe that this tactic is simply a method GCI uses to discredit and ostracize particularily "pesky" men and being without any scriptural basis is, thus, wrong.
I, also, know of a number of cases of excommunication in which Matt. 18:15-17 was definitely not followed.
Though I could elaborate further on any of these topics I do not feel that it would be necessary. I pray that you will seriously consider these charges. Though it is true that every church has its problems, these areas which I have outlined above are not typical nor are they minor. These are very serious charges which neither you nor GCI as a whole can afford to ignore. I believe that these sins are hindering the spiritual growth of many of the people in GCI (possibly even yourself). I also believe that God is not really blessing GCI (witness the failures of Today's Student and U.S. Press; the number of GCI churches which have either folded, split up, or split away; and how almost none of the numerical goals which are set in The Cause are ever reached).
If you agree with any of these reproofs then it would be necessary for you to repent before God and before any whom you have affected because of your sin (this being all of GCI if needed). It would also be necessary for you to confront Jim and Dennis on these issues. If I am wrong then you are commanded in 2 Timothy 2:25-26 to correct me. Please respond. If these charges are correct and you do not respond to them (at least to God) then your hearts may become callous and hardened to God (Proverbs 29:1).
That Jesus Christ may be exalted
A Critique Of Leadership: Elders And Apostles
Bob LaForge to Jim McCotter, With Response, 1985