Who was First?
The belief became firmly established that people could ONLY come to Christ through a worker, not through the laymen, saints or friends. “At first this doctrine claimed that one could be born again only through Irvine or one in fellowship with him [the saints and laity included]. But by 1907, this had been reduced to Irvine and his fellow preachers only.” (The Life and Ministry of Edward Cooney by Patricia Roberts, p 57). Although it was not always so, the Living Witness Doctrine became an integral part of the group’s essential teachings, and it remains so to this day.
The Living Witness Doctrine in simple terms as we understand it today is this: “You have to hear the Gospel from a Worker in order to know the truth of Jesus.” In other words, you cannot know Jesus or have the Spirit unless you hear the Spirit speak through a Worker. The problem lies within the doctrine itself. The following is a diagram of how this all got going. Notice this idea that one must hear from a Worker came in 1904.
From this, we see that the Faith Mission was present and continues unchanged even today. The Faith Mission sends out Workers in pairs to preach the Gospel and encourage local church attendance. William Irvine split from the Faith Mission in 1901. From him, we see three separate religions emerge.
Now, the question is, “If you HAVE to hear the Gospel from a Worker, WHO got the original revelation (and Spirit) from God?” If it was William Irvine, then how can the Irvinites or Cooneyites not know the Truth? Also, Irvine was saved in a Presbyterian church. So, it couldn’t be him since he was of a “worldly religion”.
It could be Edward Cooney, but he was eventually excommunicated for speaking out against the LWD. Also, he heard the Gospel from William Irvine, not the other way around. So, it couldn’t be Edward Cooney.
Could it be Joseph Kerr? It was really his preaching that helped William Irvine develop the Living Witness Doctrine. Could it be Joe? Well, the answer is “no” because he was later excommunicated for not accepting this principle. He said it was heresy.
The only way to claim that “The Truth” is the only way is to have George Walker (or one of the earliest workers) be the one God raised up. BUT, if that is the case, why did all these get re-baptized after knowing William Irvine himself? This would mean William Irvine was first. BUT, we disproved that earlier. Also, this would mean Edward Cooney and Joseph Kerr knew the truth. So, now we are in an endless loop of the chicken and the egg.
The argument could be that Jesus started it. OK! But when you are trying to follow succession, it doesn’t work. No matter how you try to fit it in, it doesn’t work. The idea was started to give William Irvine and his followers a monopoly on religion since they were preaching against the very denominations in which led them to the Lord.
How can “the way” claim they are the only way, when there are two other “ways” with the same beginning? If the LWD is accurate, then all three of these “ways” rightly claim to be right. However, when they claim to be the “only way”, then they make their own doctrine a lie. Oh! What a mess that results when men start creating doctrine!
Finally, if God raised one of these men to “continue” His way, then he must have used the Spirit to guide one of these men. If that is the case, then why can’t the Spirit speak to anybody outside of a worker? Why do we limit God’s power of the Spirit to a person in Ireland at the turn of the century? To simplify the LWD, “The Spirit has not the power to work unless it is given by a Worker”.
Like Joseph Kerr said, “This is heresy.”
By Jano Mitchell
October 19, 2009
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