Great question. Here is a snippet from my 2006 essay found on REVEAL.org entitled, "From Ignorance to Heresy: A Modern-day Movement of Man." In section two, I have described their historical departure from orthodox Christianity in a section, "Countdown to Heresy." You might find it helpful. Keep in mind that "disciple's baptism" ALSO includes the prerequisite, even today's ICOC, that the seeker agrees to being 1:1 discipled or salvation is withheld. BOTH these teachings violate the gospel along the lines of Galatians, Chapter One.
Boston Chooses “works model” over “grace model” - it's important to note that prior to 1986 these Crossroad's trained leaders lined up with the mainstream COC's 5-finger plan of salvation that had no add-ons or prerequisites. McKean and Gordon Fergus, Elder, said that God had "revealed" to them that "disciple's baptism" was an old truth, rediscovered...The comments already posted on problematic NIV and word order are excellent! Some time before 1988, the poisoned pill had taken affect, they added to the gospel and chose a 6-finger plan, and a host of "reconstructions" swept the US churches making most folks "lost" until rebaptized and saved. That gave them a great deal of power.
So what’s the point in all this? These leaders had a fundamental change in their basic and long held beliefs. All of these men believed in the plan of salvation as applied in the book of Acts as summarized below:
1. Hear the message—Romans 10:17, Acts 11:14
2. Believe—John 3:16, Acts 16:31
3. Repent—Luke 13:3, Acts 3:19
4. Confess Jesus as Lord—Romans 10:9, I Timothy 6:12
5. Be immersed—Acts 2:38, I Peter 3:21 (17)
Now, however, they had adopted a human-effort gospel that looked something like this:
1. Hear the message
3. Disciple’s Repentance—Seekers had to demonstrate and prove “advanced level” changes in irrelevant and unrelated areas of their lives in order to be baptized. The group used three individual studies to weigh down newcomers-Repentance, Lordship, and Counting the Cost. Failure to perform and appear broken before leadership in any area meant you had a “bad heart” and were unworthy of God’s grace. The group’s idea of repentance was that one must perform the deeds of an already saved Christian before they had even become one, and without the power of the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 3:18). Even Paul himself did not meet these requirements nor did any of the other conversions in the book of Acts. Any lack of perfection or abandonment of sin only proved you weren’t ready to be baptized and therefore ready to be saved.
In fact, every time God’s plan of salvation is presented, the seeker is told “that they should repent and turn to God,” performing deeds appropriate to repentance (Acts 26:19-20). Thus, turning to the Lord follows repentance and occurs at baptism (Acts 2:38). By looking further into Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:17-22, we see that he was not expected to give a works demonstration of repentance before being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul did make a decision to change but his repentance was one that was appropriate in that it initially began at baptism. The deeds came afterward.
An Old Testament illustration of trying to transform oneself outside God’s plan can be seen in the changes in Moses’ face when the Lord descended in a cloud and spoke to him in the tabernacle. In Jay Wilson’s book Cleansing the Inside of the Cup, he says:
The question here is, “How much work could Moses do to make his face shine?” The answer, of course, is that Moses could never do enough work to change his face; it took an act of divine power to transform his countenance. In the same way, there is no amount of work we in our age can do to make our “spiritual faces” shine; it takes an act of divine power to transform our spiritual countenances.
Those changes and attempted changes which a person makes outside the transformation connected with beholding the Lord are the “dead works” of the Law (Heb. 6:1). Those changes are humanly possible changes which effect the external performance of the individual. But the transformation which God recognizes is that which the Holy Spirit accomplishes when the Christian beholds the glory of the Lord.
In the end, the movement’s practice of “disciple’s repentance” would simply be works salvation. It was a laundry list of uninspired obligations one had to do in order to produce cheap, visible zeal, and the outward appearance of righteousness. All who passed through these gates would become guilt-motivated, works-oriented Christians, without realizing it until later, sometimes much later.
This teaching is clearly a perversion of the gospel. The elders, evangelists, and interns used this deception, directly or indirectly, as many as several times in a day when doing individual bible studies with newcomers, to show that only their church was repenting correctly. They also preached it from the pulpit in an arrogant and exclusive manner as if to prove they were better than everyone else. This was a very damaging and abusive teaching used by the false teachers to gain more converts. It also met their need, consciously or unconsciously, to manipulate and control people for personal emotional gain in the name of discipling.
Disciple’s Baptism (immersion)—Seekers had to demonstrate and prove “advanced level” changes in irrelevant and unrelated areas of their lives in order to be baptized. The group used at least four individual studies to weigh down newcomers with their confusing definition of “disciple”—Discipleship, Repentance, Lordship, and Counting the Cost. Failure to perform and appear broken before leadership in any one area often meant you had a “bad heart” and were unworthy of God’s grace. Converts were expected to perform the deeds of an already saved Christian before they had even become one, and without the power of the Holy Spirit. This concept can’t be found anywhere in the bible. The ICC expected that a person was to act like a Christian before he/she received the Holy Spirit according to interpretations of Acts 2:38 and Matthew 28:18-20, which would be impossible!
Once again, this call to conversion limited baptism to those who would give a works demonstration of repentance and who would “walk as a disciple” before they could become disciples (based on Matthew 28:19. “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them …).
Which gospel sounds like good news to you? Either the group that taught the need to have faith, repent, confess and be baptized, the pre-1986 group, are false teachers or the add-on group of post-1986 are false teachers. Either way, one of the teachings was “another gospel.” Obviously, the Boston Movement/ICOC took the course of heresy.
There is no doubt as to the sincerity of this group, but I believe this gathering of false teachers, in their willful ignorance, did not realize they were teaching falsehood. After all, like the Judaizers, they weren’t wrong on all doctrinal points.