TRUTH vs. “truth”
My wife and I have been on the inside of this fellowship called by some the 2×2’s, but known to those professing as “the truth”, “the way”, “the testimony”, or “this way of truth and righteousness”. Having been born again by the word of God prior to joining this group thirteen years ago, I was certain that, just like me, these people meant that the ”Way” is Jesus; that the “Truth” is Jesus. Only a few years ago it dawned on me that they do not mean that by their usage, but instead, they mean their group as “the way”, etc. That was very hard to deal with, and I felt I’d better look a little further into what this group really is all about. Enter THE SECRET SECT, by Doug & Helen Parker. That filled me in on the facts of the group’s origin, power struggles, and formation of its mythology. I became angry as I read this well documented account. Angry because I don’t like being ripped off especially in God’s name!
Enter the book: The Church Without a Name, by David Stone. This is the true story of one family’s victory in Jesus over this “secret sect”. And within the pages of this book, there is healing for those whose spirits have been bruised by this system. The healing is really in Jesus Christ. The book leads us to Him as it exalts His amazing grace.
So, what now? That’s easy at least on the surface. We, my wife and I, are getting out. In spirit, we are out right now. We are in the process of preparing our “going public” statement. We have stopped going to meetings, except Sunday mornings, and we no longer do the social scene with the friends (these group reinforcement sessions). The shunning has begun, by “friends” and workers alike. It was right on schedule as David Stone said it would be.
Perhaps some reflection on a number of events will help others understand why we reached the decision to get out of this group. From here on I’ll refer to it as a “cult”, because we are now satisfied that it is just that not a crazy “people’s temple” type cult, but spiritually just as deadly.
Several years ago when we realized what we were involved in we thought, “Well, let’s turn the church around by our testimony”. Whoa! Mistake number one! We really learned the meaning of the old folk saying: “Never try to teach a pig to sing. You’ll only frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.” How appropriate! Those who have tried to turn this cult into something better will know what I mean. Jesus let us get clobbered for trying to do it our way and we accept that, and now we are doing it His way with an incredible outpouring of love from sources never dreamed of.
After our failed efforts, having our testimony distorted by those who view life according to William Irvine’s gospel, and being on the “suspect list” of workers and elders, I recalled an old Roger Miller song of the late 1960s, “Don’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd”. It was a tough lesson to learn, but we are wiser for it and free in spite of them. Enough banter; on with the events I should have started three paragraphs back.
Two weeks ago the 23- year-old son of a young professing couple killed himself. No one, not even his parents, seemed to know what monsters he was battling. The young man came to his parent’s home on a Sunday morning and told his dad he wanted to talk with him. Dad said “not now, you know we have to go to meeting. If you care to talk wait here until we get back.”
While waiting, the son got out his dad’s 22 caliber pistol and waited until he heard the car pull into the driveway as the family came home from meeting. He went into his brother’s bedroom and shot himself in the head. The younger teenage brother found him.
We went to visitation. And it was the coldest experience of our professing years. The “friends” could be heard saying all manner of terrible things about the young man and his “worldly” girlfriend. There was a lot of head shaking and tongue clucking very noticeable throughout the group. People refused to acknowledge me and my wife. They can’t bring themselves to accept her appearance. You see she has a very short hairstyle. She had brain surgery ten months ago, and that required the medical staff to shave her head. Her hair is growing back (and really looks neat now). But as you know women’s hair to these people is a measure of their salvation.
My mother-in-law, a true blue “friend” all her life, was rebuked because she wore a red dress. And so passed our visit to the funeral home. We spoke with the parents of the deceased, and reminded them that the group may not offer healing or understanding during this “every parent’s worse nightmare”, but Jesus will. We then left.
At the funeral the following day the workers both kept true to form using a lot of repetition to drive their message home. The message that day was essentially, “You have to stay in the true way; keep pressing on, or this could happen to you.” This revealed to me how crude, callous, ignorant and devoid of compassion this “ministry” really is.
During the funeral service, the young girl who was the girlfriend of the deceased stood up and interrupted the brother worker who was ragging on about the need to keep “true and faithful to the way”. She said: “This is wrong, this is wrong. Doug didn’t have anything to do with you people or your church. Why do you have to say these things? Why can’t you say a few words about his struggle? Why can’t you say what a kind and loving person he was?” I don’t think the people will soon forget that scene, but I know they will twist it too.
New scene. November of 1989. I took my wife to the emergency room with an unbearable headache. After several hours of tests she was put into intensive care, and we were told she had an arterial venous malformation in the right front quadrant of her brain. This AVM could rupture and cause death, or leak and cause paralysis. Surgery was required to remove it, and yes, there was a chance of death or paralysis from the surgery also.
If you are in love with your spouse, just imagine the fear, pain, panic at this moment when you suddenly find yourself talking about “what if I die in surgery”, “what if I’m paralyzed from it.” I have never in my life felt such pain in my heart, not during Viet Nam, or at any other time. After a lot of tears and banging on Heaven’s door the day arrived for surgery. My wife was incredible. As the orderly was pushing the gurney into surgery my wife kissed me and said “Jesus said he would never leave us, I’m not afraid.”
For several days before surgery, I spent a lot of time on my knees and I could not bring myself to sleep in our bed, so I slept in a chair in the intensive care room where my wife was hooked up to a variety of biomedical machinery. The nursing staff were magnificent around the clock! Of course, family and “friends” came to visit. There was the anticipated head shaking, and my wife’s sisters cried a lot by then I was cried out.
One day the workers came. They just stood in the room and said nothing. Then on the day of surgery (which took 10 hours), they came again. They said nothing to me but seemed to enjoy visiting with my wife’s parents dad’s an elder in the church. Other of the friends came to briefly say “we’ll be thinking of you”.
But Christians came too! Boy did they come! From my office, from my wife’s office, all day long they were dropping in. And everyone spoke of Jesus, of prayer, and they hugged me, and they reminded me that a great network of prayer was going up for my wife, for the surgeon, for everyone! And I appreciated that. Jesus responded days before. I know he sent angels to guard my wife in that intensive care room, and I know they were in surgery also. (I believe it is in Hebrews where the writer says of angels that they are “…ministering spirits. Sent to minister to those who are heirs of salvation). It’s true, we experienced it by the Grace of God. I know they were there, I could feel it. And I was very calm from that point on.
God gave me back my wife. No paralysis either! Even through our joy, I could not help asking “where was the ministry of the workers”. Answer: there is not. One cannot impart what one does not have, and where there is no love there is not God. Our evangelical, Catholic, Lutheran, etc., “friends” ministered God’s love!
Before I brought her home from the hospital, I went out and bought a very nice NEC, flat screen T.V. so she would have something to entertain her during her recovery period at home. When my mother-in-law saw it she nearly freaked out! She said to my wife when I was not there “I thought he had a better understanding of salvation than that”. Can you believe it! I’m not kidding, this really happened!
After a ten-week convalescence, my wife was pretty much back to normal except for a boot camp-looking hairstyle, and a scar from the 50 stitches that were used to put her skull back together, so for a few weeks she wore a wig. Well, one night we were invited to supper with our elder and his wife. Workers would be there for what I call their obligatory special meeting visit. We went, and endured an evening of idle chatter, which reminded me to ask myself again: “where is the ministry”. The next day one of my wife’s sisters called with the grapevine update. One of the brother workers who was at supper with us asked my sister-in-law if my wife was still professing. He said he couldn’t tell because she “looked like some kind of Hollywood actress with her hair the way it was” and he meant it! How pathetic. Here my wife wore a wig so as not to offend the workers, and that was their response. Now she does not wear the wig, and they are offended because her hair isn’t kosher! The Pharisees of the first century would be proud of these folks.
Going back a few years to another event. Our oldest son (now 23) professed at age 13. He played the role for several years and gave really neat testimonies at meetings. About his sophomore year of high school, he decided to quit professing. No one, not a worker, not an elder even asked why. None of them came to visit or even called. By his senior year, he had some real emotional problems that landed him in the hospital for several weeks. Again, no one came to see him except “outsider” friends from school and their parents. He came through it well and is successfully serving in the U.S. Air Force at this time. Where was the ministry? Not with the “lost sheep” I can assure you.
Another event. There is a “dirty old man” in our Sunday meeting. He’s one who really plays the game, complete with tears splattering over the pages of his bible at every Sunday meeting. He has a history of “touching” women any and all. About a year ago he was brought into court on a charge of sexually molesting his 12-year-old granddaughter. He got headlines in the local newspaper and immediately began damage control efforts by saying he was “set up” by a vengeful daughter-in-law. Not true. The social worker at school called the police, as is the way it so frequently is discovered through a child’s sharing the horror with her peers who tell the teacher. Her mom got a call from the police, and that’s how she learned of it.
The old man (late 70’s) now has the story out that he has been cleared by the court. And the friends buy that, workers still favor his home. He was never disciplined in the church. He still is in full participation. We called the D.A.’s office to check on the status of the case. The judge stayed sentence for two years while this man gets professional help. He cannot see the grandchildren without supervision. If he violates any of the court orders he will go to jail immediately. I’ve asked a certain elder why, if this is the real church just like in the first century, there is no leadership, and no discipline. Why are things just ignored. He could not answer. I asked him where the ministry is, and again he could not answer. My father-in-law attempted to give me an answer by saying “you know, the tares will be among the wheat until the harvest.” I said “tell that to the abused child and her mother.”
We also have a new family in the church in the town next to us. The father in that family has been having an incestuous relationship with his teenage daughter. When it was discovered, they moved here, and people are simply ignoring/denying it even though our Department of Health and Social Services is involved. And my wife is shunned because of her hair? My mother-in-law is rebuked for the color of her dress?
And these events are really nothing compared to the heresy that the workers preach from the platform. For example I heard a sister worker say “Jesus drank of the cup of suffering and death, and we all must drink of that same cup.” I heard an older brother worker say “Jesus will save us if we are willing for the conditions: if we are willing to make the sacrifice to be worthy of salvation.” I have also heard workers say that there is salvation only through hearing the gospel from the workers.
Their “gospel” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 1 know that now. It has taken 13 years to discover that, but now that we know we must leave, there is no other choice. I hope anyone who reads this will understand. This is just a little of what we have been struggling with. The worst part, for me, has been trying to deal with the deception that can be traced to George ‘almighty’ Walker and his seizing control of the group back around 1914. Have you ever noticed how the older generation speaks with a hushed reverence when they mention George’s name? My wife grew up in a household out East where George frequently was a guest. I think part of her “fear” of leaving relates to the constant exposure in her childhood to this wolf in sheep’s clothing.
But these examples are only a glimpse into what is the standard, everyday responses of the 2×2 church to the legitimate concerns of humanity.
Your Brother in Christ,
August 7, 1990
It is with sadness that we write this message. Sadness that it will not likely be understood, and that it will cause some pain for those who have loved us so dearly and shared all with us. But for us, there is a deep joy and peace with God as we announce that we are terminating our participation in the “Truth”. We are not trying to be contentious, and certainly don’t want to be a stumbling block to anyone’s faith. We do not do this in anger or bitterness. We still love each and every one of you. This is not intended to be a full presentation of our struggle of the past years. We trust you will receive it with the same love that compels us to send it.
Our decision was not easily reached nor has it been painless. It is the result of years of prayerful study, observation, questioning, listening and honestly trying to grasp the doctrine of this church. We have heard inconsistencies as well as heresies in the workers’ preaching, and all the while they would have us believe that salvation comes only through hearing the gospel from them. We have, however, witnessed the marks of Christ in many “outsiders” including at least one Jesuit Priest and a host of denominational ministers.
The 2×2 ministry and church in the home were never part of the gospel, and were not even issues in the New Testament, but seem to be the very essence of William Irvine’s “gospel” that has persisted (though he was silenced) for 100 years. It is clear from the text of Matthew 10 that that ministry was temporary, and that Jesus sent the apostles on a specific mission to the Jews. We have only to read Luke 22 to observe the first step in the evolution of the ministry. The fact is that the ministry did change, and the workers today in no way resemble the ministry of Matthew 10. Yet from our first encounter with workers they emphasized that they were the literal continuation of the apostolic ministry, and that the “true” ministry has remained unchanged. The ¬gospel Jesus sent with his twelve apostles was the gospel of repentance. After He was rejected and gave Himself for us on Calvary, and was raised from the dead, He sent the apostles to the entire world with the good news of salvation by his blood. The message changed, and the ministry changed. Paul brought the good news of the dispensation of’ grace to the gentile world, and his emphasis was on Jesus the substitute not Jesus the example preacher.
We are concerned about the deception surrounding the origin of the “Truth”. The true story has been well researched and presented for any who want to study the facts that have been veiled in secrecy for so long. We can understand the effort to legitimize the “way” and create a mythology that would connect the movement spiritually to the first century apostolic church, but to suggest it has been “from the beginning”, in the historical sense, is pure fabrication. Now that we know the facts, we do not want to be part of this deception.
Some will ask why we feel we must know about the origin of this church. It is because only in knowing can there be an understanding of why people are as they are, and why workers preach as they do. History has the power to either validate or discredit, and that is precisely why denial, and then revisionism occurs. It is so important to know the truth of the past because, as George Santayana said: “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”. What then of those who either don’t know or deal deceptively with the past? Even the Bible begins at the beginning with “In the beginning God…”. So the question that must be asked is “Why this deception”? That can be understood only if one looks into the life and times of William Irvine, and that is not our purpose in this letter.
We believe Jesus is God fully God, and fully man. We have verbatim notes from conventions quoting workers saying, “Jesus is not God”. That is heresy.
We believe we are saved by the grace of God, through faith and that is a gift (Eph. 2:8). We do not believe, as many of the friends do, that one can “be more worthy” by the practice of self denial, and following all the unwritten rules. Our best is never acceptable to God. “All our righteousness is as filthy rags” says lsaiah. That’s why Jesus had to die. He is our worth.
To us the “Truth” appears to be a legalistic church that emphasizes method over message, works over grace, and creates a bondage that leads people to doubt their salvation and to fear that they “haven’t done enough”. That kind of thinking is reinforced by an incredible array of unwritten rules and preoccupation with attending meetings such as “gospel meetings” where the gospel is either not preached, or is misrepresented. All this leads to mediocrity. The observable results are spiritual ignorance and fear.
We are amazed at the friends’ preoccupation with outward appearances as indicators of salvation (the length of the hair, style and color of clothing, requirements that keep women in dresses and their hair in knots, the strange acceptability of many “worldly” appliances and the exclusion of others, and the practice of “worldly” activities that seem acceptable when done with the friends).
We are concerned about the judgmental attitude so prevalent among friends and workers. We cannot accept their calling other Christians “lost”, or their churches “false” and their ministers “false preachers”. The message is important, not the method (see I Cor. 12:4-7; Phil. 1:15 18; Mk. 9:38 40).
We are concerned that this “way” rejects the doctrine of eternal security in Christ when one is born again. There are so many references in scripture to Christ giving us “eternal life”, but not one reference to His giving “temporary life”. Salvation is a present reality (Lk. 7:50; Jn. 3:36: 5:24; 6:47). It is also separate from rewards, but workers never preach on this, and the result is that some believe they can lose their salvation. John 10:27 30 says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, which gave them me, is greater than all: and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one”. Sadly, there is even fear amongst some about the return of Christ. That event should be anticipated with great joy and confidence. Isn’t that what we are living for?
In an effort to not be misunderstood, we reiterate: it has become apparent to us during the last several years that many of our beliefs are in conflict with the “Truth”.
We believe :
- Jesus is God. He is worthy of our worship (as in Jn. 9:38 where the man born blind worshiped Him: and in Jn. 20:28 where the Apostle Thomas acknowledged Him as “My Lord and My God”).
- Salvation comes through grace, by faith (not works). Our good works are to follow our faith.
- With grace comes freedom, and responsibility, not bondage and fear.
- For the sinner there is salvation; for faithful service of the saved, there are rewards.
- Salvation comes through the blood of Jesus, and we cannot “be worthy” of it. It is a free gift. If it wasn’t free it wouldn’t be grace. We are aware that some Christians abuse the gift and treat it presumptuously, but that doesn’t negate the gift of grace.
- Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. There is no sacrifice we can offer that God would accept. Our part is to be of a “broken spirit and a contrite heart” as we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.
- The Way is Jesus Himself not a method of fellowship.
- We are eternally secure in Jesus (see Jn. 3:16 & 10:27 30).
- Jesus brings joy not depression.
- Matthew 10 has been grossly misinterpreted by the workers, and is taught without concern for its historical context.
- We must receive and do the will of God, and not condone the scripture twisting initiated by William Irvine and others of his time.
- The fruits of the Spirit especially love, mercy, kindness, compassion and forgiveness should be apparent in the lives of the saints, and should require no conscious effort, but come from within as the Holy Spirit does His work.
- Our love must be unconditional as the father’s love in the parable of the prodigal son. We too frequently have observed the contrary.
- Nothing can separate us from the love of God (see Rom. 8:38,39; Jn. 10:27 30).
We do not believe:
- That the “Truth” is the only way to salvation.
- That other Christians are “unsaved”, and that their pastors are “false preachers”.
- That salvation comes only through the workers.
- That the ministry of the workers represents the ministry of Jesus.
- That outward appearance has any relevance to salvation. (Jesus said “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” Jn. 7:24).
- That deception about the origin and doctrine of this “way” is acceptable.
- That Christians should condemn others and engage in gossip.
- That the gospel gives anyone license to abuse others physically or emotionally. And that workers and elders should ignore/deny such abuses. (Paul instructed Timothy to admonish such people publicly. The answer that “there will be tares among the wheat until the harvest” is not acceptable it is used as a cop-out).
- That the gospel is about the church in the home and 2×2 ministry.
- That it is wrong to worship in church buildings (see Lk. 24:53; Acts 2:46. Also, Jesus spent a lot of time in the temple and synagogues).
- That the place of worship is important (see Jn. 4:20 24).
The reason for one leaving the “Truth” is not to join another church, although that is an option. We are leaving because we are exasperated with the level of confusion that exist in the “truth”. We know that “God is not the author of confusion”. We seek fellowship with those Christians who are joyfully letting the light of Christ shine in their lives. Jesus said: “Let your light so shine that men will see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” That is what it means to be a “doer of the word”, and we do not feel that it is possible to live that kind of life within the fellowship of the “Truth” where so many seek to flee from those in the world whom Jesus died for, and who need Him so desperately.
It is with joy in our hearts that we tell you our struggle with the truth is ended. By the grace of God we are free at last!
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Dan & Jan Curtin
August 15, 1990
John 8:36: If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.