Brother Worker Howard Mooney said, “We need never fear that truth will die out because He who is the Vine ever liveth. And He who is the Vine, never changeth. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. This ASSURES US THAT THIS truth will never change.” (Eureka, MT, 1954)
William Irvine’s experiment to “restore” God’s true way to earth wasn’t a novel or unique approach. This very same ideal was embraced by many of the leaders of The Restoration Movement in the early 19th century who had the ideal of restoring the primitive New Testament church and returning to the faith and practice of the Apostolic Age.
Recognizing the church was not what Jesus intended, various men unknown to each other (Alexander and Thomas Campbell, Walter Scott, Barton Warren Stone) began working independently to unite the divided church. They believed it needed more than reform or repair. Their goal was for the church to return to the essential marks of the primitive New Testament church of the Apostolic Age.
They yearned to restore the church to its original state and to return to the simple teaching of the Bible alone for the Christians’ guide and rule. One of their more familiar mottos was: “Where the Scripture speaks, we speak; where the scripture is silent, we are silent.” They abandoned all manmade creeds, traditions, confessions, teachings and doctrines. They called themselves “Christians” only, but did not believe they were the only Christians (unlike Irvine). They considered this return to primitive Christianity a MOVEMENT, not a new denomination or sect.
Wm. Irvine’s movement included many of these same principles–his ideas were not original or unique. They had been put into effect by men nearly 100 years earlier.
Like the 2×2 fellowship, several other religious movements also hold the belief that no one on earth for eighteen centuries has really understood the Bible–UNTIL their particular self‑proclaimed leader was “raised up” to “restore” the correct interpretation of God’s truth, will and way to mankind through his personal “revelations:”
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, claimed the Bible had been so badly distorted by human error and mortal mind that she alone had been inspired by God to “restore” its correct interpretation to mankind.
Charles T. Russell, the founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, launched an attack against the teachings of Christianity, proclaiming all evangelists, pastors and teachers to be dead wrong; that he alone correctly understood God’s will, the long‑lost truths of the Bible, and he “restored” God’s real intent in the Bible to mankind.
Mohammed, the founder of the Moslem religion, taught that Christianity and Judaism were utterly corrupt, and that the true message from God was “restored” through him alone.
Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of the Worldwide Church of God claims to have received one-man “revelations” in which God “restored” through him the true gospel of Christ which was not taught for nineteen and a half centuries, making the Worldwide Church of God the one and only true church of God.
Victor Paul Wierwille, the founder of The Way International in the early 1950s claimed God spoke directly to him and gave him the first accurate knowledge of the Bible since the first century; that true Christianity was lost early in church history, and God gave him the job of “restoring” the gospel message today.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (Mormons), claimed that every church was corrupt, their creeds were an abomination to God, and that he alone had been chosen to “restore” Christ’s kingdom on earth. Smith claimed God and Jesus both appeared to him, gave him divine revelation, continue to give him progressive revelation, and appointed him as His “prophet”. Some of his “revelations” were in the form of books he wrote to which the Mormons religiously adhere, along with the Bible.
The claims made by the above religious leaders may appear absurd to some. These religious leaders claim that at long last God has broken through His hundreds of years of silence to speak through them alone.
In his way, Irvine made this same claim, and this claim continues to be made and taught both explicitly and implicitly in the 2×2 fellowship today.
Could it not be appropriately added to the above list of religious leaders:
“William Irvine, the founder of the church without a name, believed he alone had been divinely anointed to “restore” God’s true way to earth, claiming every other way, church and ministry to be absolutely false and hell‑bound, and the church he founded to be God’s ONLY true way on earth.”
What makes Irvine’s “revelations,” experiment or ideas any more reliable or superior than the “revelations” of these other men? What makes Irvine’s “revelations” true and the “revelations” of others false? All were self‑proclaimed “revelations,” unaccompanied by miracles and signs.
By Cherie Kropp-Ehrig
Revised July 15, 2005