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The Christian church with no name, (aka. "Two by Twos")

Part 2 of 4

Practices & beliefs of the group.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Group practices:

bullet "Two by Twos" are a high demand, very conservative Christian faith group that requires a firm commitment from its members.
 
bulletThey have two classes of membership:
bullet Members (called Brothers in Christ, Children of God, Friends, Saints, Sisters in Christ, Truthers), and

bullet Ministers (called Brother Workers, Handmaidens, Laborers, Servants, Sister Workers, Workers).
 
bulletFull-time ministers donate all of their assets to charities or the poor. They take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and are supported financially by the general membership. They lead an ascetic lifestyle. They evangelize in pairs - usually with an older minister in authority. Members often have the ministers board with them for periods of time; members often give the ministers the use of their cars.
 
bullet "...smoking, drinking, dancing, attending movies and watching television are condemned." 3 These rules are gradually relaxing. Television sets and computers are being used by an increasing percentage of the membership.
 
bullet Each state in the U.S. or province in Canada is under the control of a single male overseer. Each state or province is divided into a number of "fields." There are two workers active in each field.
 
bullet In English speaking countries, they use the King James Version of the Bible exclusively.
 
bullet They do not publish religious material, with the exception of a hymn book.
 
bullet They rely on person-to-person contact to communicate the gospel.
 
bullet The group meets in house churches of up to 20 members. Each house church is presided over by a male bishop or local elder.
 
bullet One source 1 describes a typical house church meeting on Sunday morning:
bullet the service is led by the "presiding member," the man of the house where the meeting is held. He sits facing the congregation and asks for suggestions for a hymn.

bullet the hymn is sung, without accompaniment.

bullet individual members deliver extemporaneous prayers; "none...refer to personal problems, material needs or current events."

bullet attendees of all ages describe the meanings derived from their private Bible study, and its effect on their lives. The presiding member gives his testimony last.

bullet another hymn is sung.

bullet they engage in the ritual of the Lord's Supper in which bread is broken and passed among the congregation. Grape juice is shared from a common cup.

bullet The leader says a closing prayer.

bullet The meeting ends. No program was distributed; no sermon given; no collection taken; no announcements were made.
 
bullet They also meet mid-week for Bible study.
 
bullet They celebrate two ordinances: adult baptism by total immersion and the Lord's Supper. The taking of the "emblems" (bread and wine) is celebrated weekly. They do not recognize baptisms performed by other denominations.
 
bullet They practice adult baptism. Before they are baptized, members normally "profess" their faith at a meeting by giving their testimony to the congregation.
 
bullet Celebration of Easter and Christmas is not encouraged.
 
bullet Members dress plainly, with little jewelry and no makeup. Men are all clean-shaven with short hair. Many women do not cut their hair, but wear it collected in buns at the back of their head. They typically wear dresses. The wearing of pants, and the cutting of small amounts of hair is frequently debated in some fields.
 
bullet Marriages are performed by secular authorities, as nobody in the group is authorized by state or provincial governments to perform marriage ceremonies.
 
bullet 2X2 members are subjected to strong discipline. Members who deviate significantly from expected norms of behavior may have privileges removed. One event is described where members were met with disapproval because they had purchased a television set. 2 They lost the privilege of holding Sunday morning meetings in their home; they were not allowed to speak or pray at meetings; they were not allowed to take communion; they were not allowed to give donations to the workers. More serious transgressions can lead to shunning and excommunication.

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Group beliefs:

Because the group does not publicize material that describes their sect's doctrines it is difficult to find definitive information about their belief systems. Theological discussions are rare among the 2X2s. Some sermons have been published by ex-members; it is not known how representative this material is of the group's actual beliefs. The following is believed to be reasonably accurate:

bullet They follow the instructions recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: Matthew 10:7: "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (NKJ)
 
bullet According to the Religious Movements article on the 2 x 2's:
bullet They apparently ignore the concept of the Trinity and believe that God, the Father, is a single deity, undivided, and not three persons.

bullet Jesus is viewed as the son of God, a person separate from the Father.

bullet The Holy Spirit is seen as a force or power emanating from God, not a person within the Trinity. 3
 
bulletTheir beliefs about salvation are somewhat ambiguous. We have heard two mutually exclusive concepts:
bullet Some ex-2X2s who had been long-term members state that only individuals who hear the gospel from the 2X2 workers can be saved...and then, only if they join the faith group, continue to be a member, in good standing, live according to 2X2 standards of lifestyle and appearance, and faithfully attend 2X2 events. They can lose their salvation at any time. A person's salvation status is only determined at death. Only their group, who total perhaps 0.001% of the human race, will be saved. This implies that very few humans will go to heaven when they die. 99.999% will "go to a lost eternity" i.e. to Hell.

bullet Other sources state that their teachings are identical to those of many other conservative Christian faith groups: that salvation is given to anyone who repents of their sins and trusts in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

We suspect that the former belief is accurate, and that the latter is a cover story given to outsiders. We have been unsuccessful in attempting to verify this.
 

bullet They disagree about relationships in heaven. Some believe that they will recognize each other in heaven; others argue that everyone will have new, celestial bodies "and will not recognize or even want to recognize our friends and loved ones." 19
 
bullet Within some fields, members who marry divorced people, or marry spouses outside of the faith, who leave the faith group, or who sow discord are often shunned or excommunicated.
 
bullet They have a slogan: "the ministers without a home, and the church in the home."

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare the first draft of this essay in 1998 and update it since. Only the first hyperlinks is still active today.

  1. Benton Johnson, "Christians in Hiding: The 'No Name' Sect," published in M.J. Neitz & M.S. Goldman, Eds., "Sex, Lies and Sanctity: Religion and Deviance in Contemporary North America," JAI Press, Pages 37-55. Reprinted at: http://www.tellingthetruth.info/
  2. A personal home page which describes an alleged sexual molestation by a "two by two" member, and a alleged subsequent cover-up and lack of support by the local organization is at: http://pages.euphony.net/
  3. "The 2x2's," at: The Religious Movements Homepage Project, at: http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/

Copyright 1998 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2015-NOV-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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