Christians Debate with International Church of Christ Member On Water Baptismal Regeneration

Landon Thurman & Jason Osborne


In this lively debate, we discuss the controversial topic of water baptismal regeneration with a student from the International Church of Christ. the Bible is clear that salvation comes by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by any works such as water baptism of our own doing.

Why Water Baptism is Not What Saves You

The International Church of Christ follower counters with their interpretation of biblical passages such as Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38, which they believe supports the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Watch the debate unfold and discover the biblical truth about salvation and the role of water baptism in the Christian faith. This is at the University of Texas, Arlington, with ICOC aka “Dream/Thrive Ministry. We are grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this incredible experience, and we’ll continue to spread the message of hope and redemption in truth to all those around us.

Ezekiel 36:25-27; John 3:5; Acts: 1:5, 8:13-24, 11:15-16; Romans 1:16, 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 12:13; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:5.

Understanding the International Church of Christ and What They Teach

The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) is a global association of churches that originated from the Churches of Christ, both of which are non-denominational and part of the Restoration Movement. The ICOC, which was formed in 1993, has over 700 non-denominational churches in around 150 countries.

The ICOC is also known as the Boston Movement, the Discipling Movement, the Crossroads Movement, and Multiplying Ministries, among other names. In addition, many of its local assemblies add the name of the city where they are located to their name. The ICOC teaches that there should only be one church per city, and all other churches outside of the ICOC are considered to be sinful.

The ICOC places a strong emphasis on discipleship, but this practice can be different from what is commonly practiced in other churches. Some former members of the ICOC have reported experiencing “heavy shepherding” tactics, which involve high-pressure, intrusive, abusive, or manipulative behavior from their assigned leader.

The ICOC focuses its evangelism almost exclusively on college students through campus groups such as Campus Advance, Christian Students Association, and Disciples on Campus. This strategy aligns with the ICOC’s preferred method of “love-bombing,” which involves surrounding a person with high levels of friendly contact, various forms of assistance, and a sense of being part of a community, especially appealing to first-year college students. While these practices are not inherently unbiblical, the ICOC uses them as a manipulative tool to increase membership.

Theologically, the ICOC holds to the basic tenets of Protestant evangelicalism, except for two significant deviations. First, the group is exclusivist, claiming that the church should only be divided by geography. Any church outside of their unified system, not under the ICOC’s leadership, is not part of the “true church.” Second, the ICOC teaches baptismal regeneration, the belief that water baptism is necessary for salvation. The ICOC believes that anyone who is not baptized is not saved and must be “evangelized” and brought into the church. Additionally, the ICOC asserts that the only “valid” baptism is one performed by the ICOC, and baptism is not allowed until the person is a “disciple” committed to the organization. However, the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works, including the work of baptism.

The ICOC has a strict and invasive power structure that employs manipulation and indoctrination to control its members. Many individuals have been emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually harmed by this group. Due to its manipulative practices and erroneous beliefs about salvation, caution must be exercised in getting involved with the ICOC. In 2006, the ICOC gave rise to another group, the International Christian Church, which teaches the same doctrines and practices.

If you have been negatively affected by the ICOC or any other manipulative group claiming to be Christian, it is important to seek healing, knowing that God is loving and able to heal those who have been spiritually abused.

The ICOC has issued an apology for some of its past actions and has made some changes to its leadership structure and discipleship approach:

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Testimonies Of God seeks to empower and encourage the members of Christ’s Body in the principles of biblical evangelism and to provide them with practical tools to proclaim the gospel.