Karlson, Ester, March 24, 1916

Dear Brother in the Lord,

To-day a Circular was handed to me dated March 1st, 1915. In it I saw your request for information about the origin and doctrines of the people known as “Cooneyite”. As I to my sorrow know a good deal about these poor deluded people, having some relatives and acquaintances among them, I thought it right to give as far as I am able the desired information.

The originator of this sect in the hands of Satan is a man with the name of Erwin, of England, who was a member of the Presbyterian Church, but left about 28 years ago. Claiming Apostleship he professed to have received direct revelation of the true gospel which had been lost sight of. He is a man of strong personality, judging by his photograph, and the description of his followers “energized by that spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”.

Among his first converts was a man with the name of Cooney, who being a gentleman of means gave up all his possession end become a “tramp preacher”. Thus the name of Cooneyites” was given them, which they will no more own then we own “Plymouth Brethren”. Their doctrines are as old as Cain, who offered a bloodless sacrifice to God. They seek salvation by imitating the Life of Christ, perverting such Scripture as “how much more shall we be saved by His Life, to support this soul-destroying heresy.

The Sacrificial and Substitutional death of our Blessed Lord is lowered to an example for self denial, a death of self. According to this principle they also “break bread”, which is done every Lords day morning. Their attitude in regard to the Atonement is that of Sheldon in his “In His steps”. They profess to believe in the Deity of Christ but deny His Godhead by blasphemous utterances, as “Jesus overcame His own flesh”. They are THE Church, all the rest of Christendom is under condemnation; all preachers are false prophets.

Notwithstanding the apparent Simplicity of these preachers, there exists a real Priestcraft. They preach (men and women) and are sent out in twos according to Matt. 10. They call themselves “Matt. 10 preacher”, confounding the gospel of the Kingdom with the gospel of Grace. But unlike the “Pentecostal people” they do not believe in any supernatural manifestations. They say God is not in the least concerned about these bodies, or in any of the affairs of our daily life.

They practically ignore the work of the Holy Spirit. All is self effort. The preaching claims to be the 140,000 in Rev. 14, which number they identify with the Bride. When this number is complete, they believe the Lord will come for them. The “saints” have not such a privileged position. There is distinct Nicolaitanism, The preachers are Christ come into the flesh. They profess to live on Faith lines, but they know how to drill into the people that they are not their own and all their substance belongs to Jesus, who walks among them in the form of the preachers. Consequently they have sent forth hundreds of preachers into different countries. They have not gone to heathen countries, believing they are “beginning at Jerusalem”. They get hold of those people whose consciences have been stirred up, in many cases by Brethren who have passed one and left the poor souls at the mercy of these Agents of Satan, who for the sake of one soul will preach for two or three months every night.

Their methods of working is effectual. Eternal life is only imparted through the example and preaching of their preachers, as in a case of emergency one of the “saints” may be used. The Bible is a deed book except it is made a live thing through the mouth of these preachers. The bible is read by every one of them morning noon and night, but alas! “the God of this world has blinded their eyes lest the truth of the gospels may shine into their hearts.” Satan with his myriads of subordinate evil spirits uses the very Word of God through his yielded human agents to impart “doctrines of demons”.

Their work through these people is different from that among the Pentecostal people or Spiritualist. All seems so natural, and sober, just suits the unregenerated religious minds of sober quiet people.

They teach the necessity of the new birth, which takes place by turning from the “wrong way” into “the Jesus Way” or into “the Testimony of Jesus”, which also is a favorite phrase with them. This means that you give up everything which formerly you have received as truth and yield implicitly and unconditionally to the teaching of these preachers. None of them seem to be quite sure about their eternal salvation. They may fall away, in fact some have left them already; for such is no hope. They cannot possibly be renewed. But while they are in the “Jesus Way” they are safe.

The preachers discourage, marriage, in fact in a subtle way forbids the marriage of preachers. Those who were married before they were chosen in the number, generally separate, the children are given up, and the wife is sent out with another woman. They disregard natural relationship, seek to kill all natural affections, and have thus caused much sorrow. They quote in supporting this teaching, the Lord’s words “Who is my mother, brother and sister,” etc. They find abundant Scriptures, perverting the precious name of God, to cover Satan’s lie.

They profess to believe in the resurrection of the body and eternal punishment. They do not believe in the salvation of little children. This would contradict their doctrines and bring in free grace, Sovereign grace, which they bitterly oppose.

Their meetings are similar to ours, but every one is expected to give a testimony, men, women and children. They meet in houses. The Sunday morning meeting is in the house of the “Bishop”. They have prayer meetings twice a week, nothing except sickness will hinder them from going. They are mostly honest earnest people.

We firmly believe that many will be delivered from the snare of the devil. We praise the Lord that a number of dear souls in South Australia, who were just on the verge of joining them have been prevented through our decided attitude against this subtle scheme of Satan. These preachers are very bitter against my husband, and me; they say we go about blaspheming. You can easily recognise a daughter of the Harlot in this system and one not at all unlike her old mother. What a responsibility is ours to whom so much truth has been entrusted. “He that hath my Word let him speak my word faithfully”. We have sadly failed. May the Lord stir us up at any cost to His own honor and Glory.

Kindly give our Christian love to the Saints.

With love in the Lord from us both to you and family,

Yours by grace divine

Esther Karlson
Melbourne, Australia