A Study of a Religious Movement Started in Ireland in 1897 by William Irvine and Edward Cooney
By Irvine Grey, Ireland
Published 2012 in Lisburn by Impression Print and Designs NI Ltd
The book contains the full content of Grey’s thesis, “Two by Two” – the Shape of a Shapeless Movement for which he was awarded the degree of Master of Philosophy by Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland in December 2012, following his research into the history, sociology and theology of the 2×2 movement.
Note: On February 25, 2019, Irvine Grey passed away peacefully at home, The Hollows, Lurgan. Irvine, beloved husband of Ingvor, dearest father of Fiona, Lynda, David and Simon, a father-in-law, a cherished Granda, a much loved son of Elsie and the late William and a brother of Eveline, John, Valerie and Samuel.
Review by Lynn Cooper
July 28, 2013
The book is 183 pages including appendices, Bibliography and Epilogue and took around seven hours of concentrated time to read. I offer this review.
The book is an excellent, honest summary of the group which Grey refers to as the 2x2s focusing mostly on the doctrine of the group in light of scripture. A summary which I could relate to even though I live on the opposite side of the world to Grey. It was as if he wrote my story and that of so many who are in the group or left based on my observations and letters I have received over the years. Grey gives an example of an advertisement where the workers have called themselves modern-day apostles yet as Grey points out they have little in common with the original apostles sent out by Jesus. Grey uses the group’s original focus based on Matthew 10. Certainly, I heard many times in the 30 years I was in the group this chapter cited as proof they were continuing the work of Jesus today. However, Grey aptly draws attention to the fact that Jesus did not call women into the ministry as the 2x2s do and although they claim to be following Matthew 10 they do very little of it, picking and choosing what they want while discarding other parts as being not relevant for today.
Grey successfully shows how the workers are unable to see scripture for themselves outside of what they preach. It is if they have blinders on and only see the parts they can relate to while largely leaving most of the Bible untaught.
One argument which could be used against the book is that Grey borrows liberally from the books written by Stone and Daniels who left a number of years ago which some in the group would echo that the group is no longer like that. However, this argument is soon dispensed with as Grey attended many meetings and conventions, uses quotes from these meetings and conversations with workers to back up Stone’s and Daniel’s assertions.
What particularly impressed me was Grey’s ability to skilfully collate a number of historical documents into chronological order, causing the information to blend giving a coherent picture of the history of the group. Grey appears to have studied the group extensively having just on 100 books listed in the Bibliography section, several journals and magazines and around 20 websites as well as having attended gospel meetings, conventions and had conversations with workers. I was not left with anything less than the conclusion that this is a well-researched piece of work which starts off as a historical review leading to a climax as Grey reaches his conclusion about the group in light of Scripture. He shows how the group reduces the sacrifice of Jesus – the central core of the Bible; to the workers, their ministry and meeting in the home.
Although the workers shy away from the word doctrine, Grey compares the doctrine or teachings of the workers with that of mainstream Christianity. What amazes me is the inability of the workers to read scripture and see what it says. Instead, they take a very limited part of the Gospel and apply it to themselves at the expense of other scripture. It is as if they miss the central theme of the Bible and end up with an incoherent message or as Grey puts it, vagueness ramblings which as Grey points out is not the Gospel message at all, but an emphasis on man’s way of doing things. He rightly says the Gospel that the workers preach is a homeless ministry and meeting in the home. The 2×2 message is the workers and their ministry. This is not the Gospel message we read about in the Bible which Grey so aptly describes as being the Cross and resurrection of our Lord. The focus of the Gospel message we read about in the Bible focuses wholly on Jesus not on man who is prone to sin. Jesus was the sinless one and no comparison can be made between our efforts and the life and sacrifice of Jesus which Grey points out in his book.
My criticism with Grey’s book is that although I believe in the trinity I do not believe this alone gives any group the label of being a cult. Grey also states that the workers do not believe in the deity of Christ. This is debatable as although the workers stress that Jesus is our pattern preacher and that by looking at the workers one can see Jesus which makes Jesus not greater than earthly men and women I would argue that they do see Him as divine. However, this can be argued against as in meetings I heard many times that Jesus had to become perfect meaning he was not always perfect or was not perfect from the beginning. The words in Hebrew were quoted in this regard. So in writing this I guess that that tells me that maybe Grey is correct when he says they do not see Jesus as divine.
However, I disagree and believe that Grey is conferring that the 2x2s do not believe in the trinity therefore they do not believe in the deity of Christ. Grey appears to link the 2 together. There are many deities in the world and many people like the 2x2s believe in the deity or divine nature of Christ but not the trinity. However, Grey does argue this statement successfully and as above, it appears that although in some regards the 2x2s appear to preach and believe in His deity they also show just as much evidence that they do not see Jesus as much more than their example.
My conclusion is that Christians say that Jesus is 100% human and 100% divine, the 2x2s emphasise the human part of Jesus at the expense of His divinity. The unique part of Jesus to a Christian is His divine nature which is minimised in the workers’ message. Their ministry is focused on themselves as being like Jesus rather than the focus being the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the Cross for humankind. The workers’ sacrifice is emphasised as proof they are the true church and one which people who profess must accept rather than ones faith being placed in Jesus alone. Grey has given many examples of this for those who doubt this is the case.
The trinity on the other hand I feel is a separate issue but Grey bases his definition of a cult on this based on Theological reasons namely their lack of belief in the deity of Christ and the trinity. I feel the confusion regarding the trinity comes when people stress that the Father and Jesus are One being, when clearly that is not the trinity. I did not see a clear definition of the trinity in Grey’s book and one can be forgiven for thinking that Grey sees the Father and Son as one being. As Wikipedia states, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons – the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit; “one God in three persons”. The three persons are distinct, yet are one “substance, essence or nature”. As some put it, Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Jesus. The 3 are separate but together are God.
When assessing whether a group is a cult or not society has been more prone to look on the psychological or sociological aspects of a group rather than the theological given the number of groups whose members have followed their leaders to death. This alone shows the danger of following men. It is the psychological and sociological aspects of the group which leads to disaster. Having said that my observation has been that those groups who do not believe in the Trinity are often exclusive and controlling of their members. However, there are also Trinitarian groups who are cultish in their practices. I can see a danger when we exalt ourselves to that of Jesus or bring him to our level resulting in our focus becoming inward leading to exclusivity and an inward focus as opposed to being Christ-focused.
A key factor for me in Grey’s book is that Grey points out that the 2x2s started as an evangelical movement. The early workers went around setting up halls and preaching to the unconverted. The workers started off with only a few people and not so many years later attracted a large number of followers. Today workers do not go out into the world preaching but instead preach to the converted. Their focus is inward. Most in the group today are 3rd or 4th generation members whose grandparents ‘professed’ as a result of the evangelical efforts of the early workers. The group has largely stagnated with workers relying on existing members for emotional and practical support. The group has become inward-looking compared to the focus of the early workers who obeyed the great commission of going out into the world and preaching the Gospel. Today it is largely a closed group with little focus on reaching the outside world but focused on keeping existing members together and as Grey stated, “and keeping the world out.”
Also what I found interesting was Grey’s experience of talking to the workers and the worker saying they will only talk if the spirit leads them/him to. Grey rightly defines this as the workers using this kind of statement as an excuse not to talk to him. They over emphasise the spirit almost blaming God or the Spirit rather than taking responsibility for their own actions. Grey also points out that the workers talk about the spirit and leave out Holy when the Bible talks about the Holy Spirit.
Grey certainly shows up the workers’ lack of Bible knowledge. Grey knows his Bible and does not need to twist and turn to make it say something to support his view. He has simply stated what the Bible teaches with regard to truths. He has given ample evidence that the workers are not teaching Biblical truths but given this is a research document he is limited and is no doubt required to meet certain requirements from reliable sources to form a foundation to his work. The workers with their limited Bible knowledge and focus on the homeless ministry and meeting in the home clearly show a lack of substance in light of Jesus Himself who came to be a sacrifice for us which is the centre of the Gospel message. The workers’ Gospel is one of the ministry, whereas Grey’s is one that focuses solely on Jesus for our salvation. The workers cannot answer any Bible-believing Christian,,as has been the experience of many, regarding simple facts of the Christian faith based on the Bible. Grey certainly shows this in his research and experience.
Given that Irvine requested input from people I found that input was rather limited borrowing largely from books about the group. I do not share the same view as Grey when he stated on several occasions that researching the group has been a difficult task due to the fact that the group does not state its beliefs in writing. As Grey pointed out it is apparent what the group tells the outside world and what it actually preaches inside the group are 2 different things so I believe that any statement of belief will not necessarily be the true teachings of the group which tries to appear somewhat mainstream to outsiders but in reality, is an exclusive tight-knit group with its own doctrines based on the sacrifice of the workers and not solely on Christ. As Grey put it, they add to the Gospel by saying Jesus and the ministry. I think the proof is in their preaching and Grey has used sources from inside the group due to his own attendance at meetings, reading an enormous amount of literature and correspondence with others to back up his conclusions.
Although Grey says the group does not print any literature I find this to be contrary given that the group does have in print and circulate numerous notes of sermons by workers. There is ample literature on the teachings of the group.
In conclusion, I do not see that Grey has done an evaluation based on his own beliefs or that of his own denomination The Baptist Church, but one based on the Bible. He has seen through and related the non-Biblical doctrine of the workers in light of the Bible.
At times I found myself disagreeing with Grey only to reflect and realise that Grey is correct. Being just distant enough from the group having only attended meetings while on holiday with his grandmother as a child and more recently as an observer as well as being a scholar of the Bible, Grey was able to give an objective view in light of the Bible and was aptly equipped to handle such a topic.
One incorrect statement I noticed was on page 38 of the book where Grey writes that Cooney died in New Zealand. This is not correct as Cooney died in New South Wales, Australia. One could be forgiven for mistaking the New in NSW for New in NZ. However, I was impressed that Grey has been able to collate so much information with such accuracy. Overall, I was very impressed with the book and the manner in which it is presented and one I could recommend that those in meetings read. My view is that Grey’s book is one that is more likely to lead people to Christ rather than away.
Thanks for your honesty, effort, and a well-deserved degree, Irvine Grey.
Reviewed by Lee Harmon:
Note: Grey’s description of the 2×2 movement is a bit negative, often quoting disgruntled ex-members, and he concludes that the 2x2s are a “dangerous cult.” This he means not in the scholarly nor in the pejorative meaning, but in its Christian meaning, such that it describes nonconformity with traditional Christian beliefs. He uses Bebbington’s quadrilateral as a measuring stick. I surely agree with this assessment of nonconformity, even as I find it unhelpful to use a term with such a derogatory connotation as the word “cult.” In the 40-some years I was in this movement before leaving it, I found the lifestyle to be encouraging and uplifting, certainly not “dangerous.” As a liberal Christian, I tend toward pluralism, so I feel no negativity about differences in belief, and indeed I am profoundly grateful for my upbringing in this wholesome atmosphere. Now on to the review…
It is a difficult thing to define the “shape of a shapeless movement.” The 2x2s are a small worldwide Christian spin-off, but they just aren’t the same the world over. For example, Grey writes about the 2×2 claim of an unbroken line back to Jesus, but in my neck of the woods, I’ve heard this claim from only one person. Rather, the usual claim is that God is able to revive periodically in history a look-alike movement operating exactly the way Jesus taught the apostles, and the recent 2×2 movement is one such revival. In another example, Grey finds that “attendance at all meetings by members is mandatory and failure to attend is closely monitored.” Failure to come [every Sunday and Wednesday evening] will invite a “little visit” by a worker (minister) and discipline if continued. That is hardly my experience. For a third example, Grey writes that workers refuse to participate in weddings, though one certainly officiated at my wedding! So, yes, it’s tough to nail down specifics on a shapeless movement, and Grey can be forgiven for trusting a few too many of the sweeping generalities of his sources.
Perhaps Grey’s sources come primarily from more strict areas—if so, it would hardly surprise me if these areas generated more disgruntled ex-members—but while the 2x2s have no published doctrine or creedal statement, Grey does dig down to the gist of the matter. The 2x2s are an exclusive, sectarian, closely-knit branch of non-Trinitarian believers, emphasizing a homeless, travelling ministry in same-sex pairs and church meetings in the home. They disdain ministerial education, traditional clergy and church buildings, instead lean heavily on Matthew chapter ten for guidance.
Grey gives equal attention to the two primary founders of the 2×2 movement: William Irvine and Ed Cooney. The two joined forces around the turn of the 20th century, determined to return to the simple way of the first apostles. By 1905, the movement had grown to fifty-five full-time “workers” (ministers) travelling to spread the gospel to several other nations, including the United States.
Grey’s intention is to evaluate the 2×2 movement so as to determine “whether they are evangelically Christian, an exclusive sect, a New Religious Movement or a cult.” Grey concludes the latter, because the 2×2’s deny some cardinal doctrines of the Bible, while adding to others in such a way as to make them erroneous. A good example of this is the insistence upon a homeless ministry travelling in pairs. Yes, the early apostles often found it convenient to do exactly this, but it was hardly a staple of Christ’s teaching. With several of these doctrinal issues in mind, Grey believes the 2x2s thus qualify as a cult, using this standard: “A cult of Christianity is a group of people, which claiming to be Christian, embraces a particular doctrinal system taught by an individual leader, group of leaders, or organization, which denies one or more of the central doctrines of the Christian faith as taught in the sixty-six books of the Bible.”
There is one great frustration I share with Grey about the 2×2 lifestyle. Grey writes, “In their sermons, the workers constantly point to Jesus as their example, yet they have little or no interaction or contact with those outside the movement.” He is right, and this contradicts the teaching of Jesus, who, in many written examples and as the book of Acts tells us explicitly, “went about doing good.” This inward focus of the 2x2s, sticking closely to members of their own brotherhood, only exacerbates the exclusivity of the sect.
This exclusivity also builds distrust in Christian theology, which results in less-than-scholarly preaching. Grey provides several partial sermons as evidence of dull, unstudied preaching—he’s hardly impressed after attending about fifty such gospel meetings. I share this preference with him of intellectually stimulating sermons and found them to be rare, yet I believe most attendees are more appreciative of spiritual encouragement than theology, and that sort of guidance simply does not require institutional education. 2×2 ministers preach from the heart to the heart, not from the head to the head.
Yet, while I find religious exclusivism of any form to be unhealthy, I am unable to speak very negatively about my former belief system. Here is a different quote from the book that better describes my own experience: “The 2x2s demonstrate enough to let them pass as a quaint and primitive Christian movement wishing to emulate that of the New Testament believers, but at the same time reject the uniqueness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as accepted by evangelical Christianity as historical, rational and empirical.”
Click Here to read on Reviewer’s Website
Reviewed by Cherie Kropp
Title page: “A study of a religious movement started in Ireland in 1897 by William Irvine and Edward Cooney.” Throughout the book Grey uses the start date of 1897. He refers to the sect as “Two by Twos,” and uses the abbreviation “2x2s.” Grey considers Cooney to be the “co-leader” of the 2×2 movement, and John Long to be Wm. Irvine’s “co-worker.”
Commendation by Doug and Helen Parker: “…Irvine Grey rightly discerns its nature as a cult of relatively modern origin, and shows the sect is a Christian deviation….We warmly commend this book, which provides scholarly discussion on the identity and history, sociology and doctrine of the nameless house church.”
Irvine’s academic study examines the movement’s history, sociology and theology, with his main emphasis being theology. As his focus, Grey “examines the movement’s theology and reviews this against Beggington’s four characteristics of evangelicalism–the bible, the cross, conversion and activism—as the criterion and a comparison of the gospel preached and taught by the 2x2s.”
Author’s background: Grey grew up with maternal grandparents who professed in 1935 when his mother was 12 years old; however, neither his mother nor any of her siblings ever professed. He describes his grandmother, Minnie Crowe, as “devoted to the movement, and an active participant in all the meetings and conventions.” He personally met Edward Cooney in 1959. He had discussions with Dr. Patricia Roberts who has written books about Cooney. He also visited with the son of the John Long who wrote a Journal about the starting of the 2×2 church and its early days.
He attended some meetings and conventions in Ireland with his grandmother when he was a teenager. “Over the past three and a half years between conventions and missions I have heard more than fifty sermons from workers from various parts of the world but mainly Ireland… *I attended three different Irish conventions, one of these in two successive years as well as countless missions by several different workers.” He quotes from sermons at these conventions and meetings.
*In personal correspondence Grey stated he attended the conventions of 2010 Cork and Fermanagh; 2011 Fermanagh, Down and Sweden. Missions from October 2008 in Armagh, Down, Antrim and Fermanagh. The workers in those missions included Florrie Walker, Eva Drennan, Agnes Smylie, Jack Duncan, Herbie Jennings, Wilson Greene, Andrew Leeper, David Delaney, Ben Beggs, Harold McKnight and Edgar Lowe. He attended a convention in Stockholm Sweden for 3 days in July 2011. He did not attend any fellowship meetings.
Sources-Published: In his introduction, Grey reviews the books about the 2×2 movement that have been published, beginning with Parkers’ book, Patricia Roberts, David Stone aka Kathleen Lewis, Lloyd Fortt, Lynn Cooper, Cornelius Jaenen, Kevin Daniel, Joan Daniel and Daurelle Chapman. Other published sources include Faith Mission publication Bright Words and I. R. Govan’s book Spirit of Revival, a history of the Faith Mission, and articles from The Impartial Reporter Newspaper in Enniskillen, N. Ireland.
Sources-Unpublished: Grey quotes from unpublished accounts by Alfred Trotter, Goodhand Pattison, John Long’s Journal, and Keith Crow’s thesis The Invisible Church. From private emails and Facebook messages, some from anonymous sources; From worker sermons, some that he personally heard in the approximately 50 meetings he attended. From private conversations with Tommie Gamble, Overseer of Ireland; as well as a “senior worker,” and various unnamed 2x2s.
Sources-Websites: From VIA, WINGS, Truth Archive, TTT, RIS, TLT, and Edgar Massey’s website. He uses numerous quotes from TMB members which he states that he verified with personal correspondence.
Pages 28–52 – Origin and History
Grey reviews the history of the movement, stating that it began in Ireland in 1897 from a revelation of its founder, a Scottish Faith Mission Pilgrim, named Wm Irvine. That Edward Cooney joined him in 1901 and Grey considers Cooney as the co-leader, even though Cooney joined Irvine 4 years after Irvine started his independent movement in 1897. He comments about their refusal to take a name and the living witness doctrine.
He reviews Cooney’s life of faith; his conversion as a teenager; his association with Irvine; his excommunication in 1928 and his loyal followers. He reviews Wilson Reid’s life, who became the overseer of Ireland. Mentions that the annual Fermanagh County, Ireland convention moved from the Wests to Reids in Fermanagh County, at which time the movement began to be referred to as the Reidites in that area, and still is. He reports that Cooney continued in his ministry until 1960 when he died. Grey incorrectly states the location of his death as New Zealand–it was Australia.
He reviews Irvine’s life of faith beginning with his conversion under Rev. John McNeill, his time spent in John Anderson Bible College, his time spent as a Faith Mission pilgrim, his Freemason membership and his association with John Long–who Grey refers to as a co-worker excommunicated by Wm Irvine in 1907. Discusses the rapid worldwide expansion of the movement, workers and their teachings, and Irvine’s expulsion in 1914 from the movement he started.
Grey made the following statements, without providing a viable source:
(1) “Irvine remained a paid preacher with the Faith Mission until his resignation”? (page 42)
(2) “It is indisputable that during his tenure with the Faith Mission he received his income on a regular basis but in the background was busy laying the foundation for his movement.” (page 48)
(3) “Irvine did not resign from the Faith Mission until 1901.” (page 48)
Parkers’ book contains this resignation information and states it was witnessed by George Walker and Matt Wilson. However, Parker has no footnote for supporting documentation. I’ve tried and have been unable to verify this resignation actually took place. Faith Mission has no record of it.
Personally, from my in-depth research this past year, I believe William Irvine began acting independently in September 1899 and that he supported himself from offerings he personally received. He stated he was put out of the FM in 1899.
(4) “Unlike Cooney, when Irvine was removed from power he did not have followers who joined him and he was left practically isolated.” (Page 46) This is incorrect. Irvine had many followers. This is known from the volumes of letters he wrote, starting in 1919 (copies reprinted on TTT). The Ritzmans, a California couple who had convention on their property were followers, as were some of the early workers: Robert Skerritt, Willie Edwards, James Gordon, Percy Abbott. From 1919 to 1947, the 28 years he lived in Jerusalem, there is no record that Irvine worked for pay. He was supported by free will offerings and gifts sent to him in letters. His will shows that he died a wealthy man.
Pages 53 to 86 – Sociological Aspects of the 2×2 Movement
Grey examines the claim “This movement seeks to give the impression that they are without hierarchy or organization and that their entire modus operandi is by the leading of the Holy Spirit” and finds it to be unfounded. Grey concludes: “This organization is self-centered with concern only for the well being of its workers and members without regard for the problems of the outside world.” Gives examples, including not wanting to attract “rice Christians.”
He quotes Dennis Jacobsen, Edgar Massey, and mentions CSA cases involving Darren Briggs and Noel Tanner.
Page 87 – 151: The Theology of the 2×2 Movement
Begins with a quote from Long’s Journal March 1898 setting out Irvine’s views at that time. Compares the 2×2 movement to the New Testament and early church. Discusses beliefs/claims about the 2×2 beginnings; i.e. “goes back to Galilee.”
Discusses the major role in the 2×2 movement of the Matthew 10:5-15 model and selective fulfillment of it by workers (healing the sick & lepers, raising the dead, casting out demons, etc.). Also addresses female preachers, mission of God, the limited 2×2 evangelistic outreach, the dependence of 2x2s on the guidance of the Spirit, their view of “faith comes by hearing,” etc. Stresses the need to distinguish what is prescriptive and what is descriptive in the Bible.
Preachers: Devotes 6 pages to the homeless unsalaried preachers and provides support for preachers being paid; i.e. muzzle not the ox, laborer worthy of his hire; the right of Christian preachers to have generous support from the churches in which they labour. Lack of workers outreach to nonbelievers compared to apostles and Jesus. Grey finds little evidence of scholarship in workers’ preaching. Criticizes their poor teaching and workers’ interpretation of scripture which does not use principles of interpretation or hermeneutics.
Church: Devotes 5 pages to church in the home. Finds little evidence that 2x2s resemble the NT church; discusses importance workers give to church meeting in homes. Doesn’t find evidence of the five-fold offices of the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers.
Trinity: 4 pages devoted to Trinity and Deity of Jesus. States they reject the divinity of Jesus; i.e. “By rejecting or not teaching the doctrine of the Trinity workers are neglecting to address a major tenet of the Christian faith.” Finds a lack of preaching about the cross or blood. Maintains that “the litmus test for any movement is how they define the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Found lack of clear definition in meetings as to what the gospel really is, and states: “2×2 meaning of gospel bears no resemblance to the Gospel recorded in the NT.” Grey notes the workers’ emphasis on following Jesus as “our elder brother,” rather than “Jesus, our Savior.”
Conversion: Discusses the 2×2 meaning of the term “professing.” Grey believes the 2x2s reject the deity of Jesus, which is not universally true among 2x2s. Some may, but many do not. He believes 2x2s view Jesus as an example and not as Savior and Redeemer. This is not true. Grey states the emphasis in gospel meetings is on following Jesus–who is our example–instead of preaching Jesus as Savior. Most 2x2s view Jesus as Savior, Redeemer AND an example or pattern preacher. That may have been the case in the mission he attended, but again, this is not universally true, and the few missions he was in are not a representative sample of the sect worldwide (see p. 144-5). Grey asserts their workers’ gospel is not the gospel of salvation by grace and not works through faith in Christ alone; that the 2×2 definition of grace is not the same as that used by evangelical Christians. He incorrectly states: “Conversion or professing for a 2×2 always means accepting Christ plus their additions.”
Activism and Social Action
Evangelism: Grey states that activism for 2×2 is a mission held a few times a week. He writes that they treat their church like Noah’s Ark which keeps the few of them safe from the destructive world outside. Claims they believe that one can only find salvation thru hearing the gospel from a worker; yet they show little interest in propagating their message among those who have never heard it. Complains that 2x2x do not openly witness to their faith. He compares them to Paul’s activism in Acts 20: 17-36 and points out that Paul’s gospel was a call to repentance and the gospel of grace of God with no emphasis on patterns of ministry or church in the home.
Grey contrasts workers’ evangelism with the early workers who spread their message all year long in missions and preached in the open air. States workers are not passionately evangelistic. He does not find current 2x2s have the evangelical fervor that the early workers had. “No evidence that this movement demonstrates a passion for the lost by engaging in evangelistic activity or shows their faith in Christ by works of compassion and mercy.”
Charity: Noted they are not involved in collective activities for the poor. “Despite all their preaching on following the example of Jesus, this is one area where they certainly do not emulate him.”
Theology Critique – Pages 148 – 153
Summary of: Where does the 2×2 movement stand on the four pillars of evangelical Christianity: the Bible, the cross, conversion and activism?
Bible: States that the 2×2 approach to the Bible is menu based in that they take from it what they need to support what they teach and leave the remainder unexplored. “Jesus did not leave a command for all time of an itinerant, homeless ministry and never once referred to the concept of the church meeting in the home.”
States: “In the Bible we find the doctrines of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Gospel of grace alone through Christ alone, all of which the 2×2 movement is at best ambiguous about if not denying outright. The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the cornerstones of Christian Faith and failure to affirm it discards the very backbone of the Christian faith.”
Cross (Blood of Christ): Grey claims the workers mention the blood of Christ and the cross in prayers and sermons but are vague as to exactly what these mean. Quotes statement by the late Leo Stancliff made in 1981 “my hope of salvation is the blood of Christ. But I would like to explain to you what it means. The blood of Christ is the ministry and the church in the home.” Grey commented: “Any Christian movement that neglects, rejects, or minimizes the centrality of Christ and his work on the cross abandons the right for inclusion in the evangelical Christian mainstream.”
“Conversion in the evangelical sense is not part of the 2×2 teaching or doctrine and those who profess must show blind loyalty to a system that does not believe that Christ alone is sufficient for salvation.”
Communion: Grey does not discuss the 2×2 beliefs about the sacrament of communion, and he did not attend any fellowship meetings.
Conclusion Pages 154 – end
Grey addresses the 2×2 exclusivism. With a few exceptions, those “in the movement are entrenched in the notion that they alone represent the church that Jesus ordained during his earthly ministry.”
Grey states 2x2s reject the doctrines espoused by early Christian creeds and the characteristics of evangelicalism with which Grey’s study is concerned. “This research has established that this movement rejects the doctrines of the divinity of Christ, the Trinity and the significance of Christ’s death on the cross as a sufficient sacrifice for redemption. Their emphasis is on the homeless preacher and the church that meets in the home, neither of which has a mandate in Scripture. The role of the worker is elevated to that of Jesus and the apostles and, by looking at the lives of the workers, people are expected to see an exact imprint of them.” “They restrict the Bible to the few texts that support their ministry and fail to recognize the importance of the major doctrines of the Christian faith. These are the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of the divinity of Christ, both of which they explicitly or implicitly reject.”
I pointed out to Grey that the above quotes are not accurate statements. Most, if not all 2x2s, do believe that Jesus is divine and they do not view Jesus as merely an example preacher. While their theology concerning the trinity, deity, divinity and incarnation are not the same as the definitions used by orthodox Christianity, neither is it what Grey stated. The 2x2s hold (3) views regarding the trinity/deity/divinity. Most 2x2s hold View #2.
These views held are:
(1) Some believe “Jesus was a mere man” and because He managed to lived a perfect life, etc., God awarded Him the title and glory of the “Christ.” Phil 2:5-11,
(2) Some believe literally that Jesus was the Son of God, as the scripture states, and that He has the same divine attributes as His Father, but was under His Father in authority, as in a Father-Son relationship. In other words, they view the Father-Son relationship the same as that of a Father and Son in human beings. To them, this is considering Jesus to be “divine.”
(3) A very few believe that Jesus is God, and/or in the triune God concept; and these were usually those who came into the fellowship from the outside and believed this already, and they often assumed the F&W’s believed the same.
*Grey replied: “From Scripture there is no room for three beliefs held by any movement as to the relationship between Jesus and God. Most 2x2s have no difficulty in stating that Jesus in the Son of God and divine but ask them to expand on this, will the reach the conclusion that the Trinity is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. That Jesus Christ was God Incarnate? Can they say without equivocation that they fully believe the prologue to John’s Gospel 1:1-18 ‘and the Word was God’? Or with Thomas ‘my Lord and my God? Or with Paul, God was manifest in the flesh’ 1 Timothy 3:16? The answer is no they cannot. This leaves them outside the evangelical spectrum.”
*”Difficult though it may be to accept, denial that the Incarnation is fact, however, scuppers the plan of salvation. On the one hand, it takes away at a stroke all grounds for supposing the Trinity to be fact. On the other hand, it constitutes a denial that, when mankind was perishing in sin and had forfeited God’s favour and provoked his wrath, the Father loved the world enough to give his only Son to become poor so that we might be made rich, and to bear the unimaginable agony in enduring the sinner’s death so that we might know righteousness and life. Romans 3:21-25 and 2 Corinthians 5:19-21. I am sure you will appreciate that I did not reach the conclusion lightly and without a struggle.”
Grey wrote me that he used as his source Gene and Grace Luxon’s book, Has the Truth Set you Free, revised in 2012 the *“statement about workers not attending weddings. As a matter of fact, they make many statements including ones on the Trinity and Deity of Christ which reflect my findings.”
Grey believes that workers’ limited principles of interpretation led to them building doctrines and practices that lack a clear mandate from scripture. “The founders of the 2×2 movement built their doctrines on single obscure texts and over the years followers have blindly emulated what was taught as revelation.”
Grey concludes that the 2×2 movement falls short of earning the label of “evangelical,” and correctly states that the term “evangelical Christian” is irrelevant to the 2x2s. Grey has no doubt that the 2x2s fall in the category of a “New Religious Movement.”
Grey believes that because they reject the orthodox central doctrines of the Christian faith, they exhibit cult tendencies. He compares the 2×2 movement with the cult definition used by orthodox Christianity, “therefore for orthodox Christianity, cults of Christianity are groups that while claiming to be Christian deny central doctrinal tenets such as the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. They deviate from the doctrinal norms set forth in the Bible and historical creeds of Christendom.”
Grey concludes: “This research has shown that the movement rejects central doctrines such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ and could not affirm the historical creeds. Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion one can reach is that the 2×2 movement is a cult and a particularly dangerous one.”
Cherie Kropp’s comments, August 26, 2013: Mr. Grey makes many good points and comparisons. His book is well written and easy to follow. Regrettably, Mr. Grey’s frequently uses the words “always” and “never” in reference to many 2×2 practices. This language does not allow for a single exception and it only takes one exception to disprove a conclusion and render the statement false. In terms of accuracy, it would have been far better had he not used those terms.
Other than filling out the general questionnaire Mr. Grey posted, I was not consulted. Mr. Grey does not quote anything from my book: Preserving the Truth: The Church without a name and its Founder, William Irvine, and I have reason to doubt that he has read it.
As noted above, Grey makes some inaccurate statements, but in my opinion, these errors do not compromise his conclusions which were based on a particular criterion; that of how the 2x2s stacked up according to Beggington’s four characteristics of evangelicalism.
The errors are somewhat understandable, since Grey is an outside observer who was never a 2×2 member, and it is, therefore, simply not possible for him to have the depth of understanding and knowledge of the 2×2 sect as those who have been participating members. As Grey wrote me, *“I have spent a lifetime observing them up close as an outsider…I make no claim that the book is perfect but given the material, or lack of material that I had to work with, it is as close to perfect as I was going to get!”
* indicates extraneous comments from emails by Irvine Grey to Cherie Kropp which are not printed in his book.