The answer to the question, "Is the International Church of Christ a cult?" depends on the definition of what makes a group a cult. The definition of a cult that CARM uses is a group that may or may not include the Bible in its set of authoritative Scriptures. If it does include the Bible and it deviates from Biblical doctrines sufficient to make salvation of no effect, then it is a cult. However, it is possible to have a truly Christian group that has cult-like tendencies, such as the exercise of an abnormal amount of control over its people. This control may be centered around theological or social particulars. It is this issue of excessive control for which the International Church of Christ is known. Add to this an exclusive attitude that it is the only true Church and it is no one wonder that the ICC has been labeled a cult by many people. Therefore, it is possible to have a Christian Church with cultic practices and still have it exist, technically, as Christian and aberrant.
Additionally, the doctrines that make Christianity "Christian" are the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the physical resurrection of Jesus, and salvation by grace. There can be deviations within Christianity on other issues such as the mode of baptism, frequency of communion, when the rapture will happen, etc. Usually, it is these sorts of non-essential issues which cause denominational splits.
The International Church of Christ (ICC), does not deny any of the essential doctrines of Christianity. Aside from its requirements on baptism as a necessary part of salvation, it is Orthodox. Therefore, I do not categorize the ICC as a non-Christian cult. Rather, I see the ICC as a Christian Church with some serious problems, namely, legalistic and excessive control over its members.
I recommend that people avoid this group.
This article is also available in: Español