For such are false apostles, deceitful workers,
transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:13

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Peter 2:1

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1

Rev. Ewald Eisele

Traveling about in the countryside ar small towns of America, Great Britain, Australia. South and Central America and many other nations in Europe, Asia and the islands of the -. are men and women, always two together, propagating their “gospel.” They disclaim any connection with the various sects of Christendom and say only that they are of ‘the Truth” or that they attend “The Church is the Home” or that they are followers of “The Way.’ (Not to he confused with “The Way International” sired by Victor Paul Wierwille).

The cult is really a nameless house sect which has been nicknamed over the years, Two by Twos, Cooneyirtes, Tramp Preachers, Preachers Without a Home. Church in The Home, The Family of God, Walking Disciples, Carrollites, Black Stockings, Friends, Dippers, The Truth, Christian Missionaries, The Perfect Way, and The Reidites. Their official and registered legal name is The Christian Conventions.

It is difficult for anyone not “initiated to get to know anything of their origin, or the doctrines which they bring. They purposely have refrained from publishing books or tracts with the exception of a hymnal, claiming that a person can derive no benefit from reading these or even the Scriptures. The Bible, according to the leaders is a dead book unless it is made to live through the mouth of one of their workers/preachers. Likewise, they condemn all tracts and books written by others for the encouragement of believers. or the awakening of the unsaved to their lost condition. It is forbidden reading for all members of this cult.

The originator of the movement was William Irvine. However, the Two by Twos (the name that I will use in this article) claim apostolic succession, that is, that their movement has come directly from the early church in Acts without interruption. Mr. Irvine was born in Scotland in 1863. After his “conversion” at age 30, he worked as a missionary or lay evangelist with The Faith Mission. Sometime around 1897 he read in Matthew 10:8-10 where the Lord sent forth His disciples two by two without money, without pay, and without a change of clothing. Totally disregarding the context Irvine decided that this was the only right way to preach the Gospel. In 1900 be broke away completely from Faith Mission and with a small group of followers began to put his Matthew 10 princip1e into practice. At the first they were known as Tramp Preachers. They denounced the paid clergy, the church buildings in which Christians met and any kind of denominationalism. They insisted that all others were going to hell and the only way to escape that end was to join their movement. Basically this belief has not changed and that is still what the “workers,” those who have dedicated their lives to be preachers, proclaim in one way or another.

The Two by Twos claim that they do not have any kind of organizational structure. However, anyone looking at the movement from the outside finds that they have a highy organized oligarchy with workers or 9 ministers, who control the friends or saints (the followers of the movement). The friends are subject to the workers in all things.

The workers are subject to overseers in the various states or areas of supervision. Before being accepted as workers by the overseer the prospect must sell all of his possessions. He then will go out with another of the same sex, except in the case of married couples, and act as pastors to the flock and missionaries to the outsiders. Workers are revered by the friends as direct descendants of the early apostle and are provided all they need by the families in the organization. They feel that whatever the workers say is from God because they alone possess the Spirit of God. Because of this the workers exert a strong, however subtle, control over all the friends in their jurisdiction. Actually, the people in the organization, the friends, have given up their own wills and submitted themselves totally to the workers, believing that this is the only true and perfect church and their only hope of salvation.

Sa1vation, incidentally, is not based on the finished work of Christ on the cross but by professing acceptance to the worker, the message proclaimed by him, and then walking in the “Jesus Way.” The “convert” must break all ties with any religion or faith of the past and must conform to “the Way” and the expectation of the worker. If one endures this to the end, then the blood of Christ will have its effect. The Lord Jesus Christ is seen as their Example of Submission rather than the Substitutionary Sacrifice for their sin.

Though they want to project universal amity between the workers and the overseers, there seems to have always been a certain amount of personal and political friction. The overseers expect from the workers exactly what the workers expect from the friends-total submission to their authority. As in any organization this leads to power plays and some measure of rebellion and, sometimes tile expulsion of a worker or his voluntary departure. Whichever takes place, it results in the departed one being declared to be “losing out.”

A worker may become an overseer by strictly conforming to the demands of his Overseer and being accepted into this “hierarchy” by the approval of others who hold this position. The overseers, acting together in fellowship, exercise general supervision of the movement as a whole. Overseers receive funds from the workers when more is received than actually needed for their livelihood and/or ministry. In turn, whatever is left after the overseer’s needs are met, is held to pay for the expenses of “conventions” or the purchase of Bibles and hymnals for new converts. The Bibles used are the King James Version and the hymnals are called Hymns Old and New.

Conventions are held in key locations several times a year in each area of supervision. They are generally held on a large farm with the friends, workers, and overseers either living in buildings on the farm or camping out. Here in Minnesota, at least three are held in the month of October. The one held just outside of Hector, Minnesota in October of 1984 drew over 100 cars, recreational vehicles, and motor homes with about 800 average daily attendance over four days. At these meetings, (which all denominations hold once a year calling them conferences or annual meetings), the Two by Twos are exhorted by their leaders, both workers and overseers, regarding their proper conduct. Seldom is doctrine mentioned. Those speaking do so without notes because in Matthew 10 the disciples were told not to take any “script,” which the workers misapply as meaning script or notes. Conventions are also used to convert and indoctrinate any new converts as well as to present any new decisions reached by the corporate body of overseers. Generally any disciplinary action deemed necessary is also taken at these meetings.

While there are no published membership figures knowledgeable, estimates have ranged from 50,000 to 450,000 nationwide. The membership is more or less se1f-perpetuating for almost without exception the children follow on in the movement.

There are several reasons for classifying this group as a cult. They do not preach that one is saved by faith alone in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Their concept is that assurance of salvation is dependent on personal merit and following explicitly the dictates of the overseers and workers. They do not believe that anyone can be “saved” unless he hears the “gospel” from the lips of a worker.

They believe that one must “keep faithful” and that involves personal sacrifice. Each individual will be rewarded eventually according to how much has been sacrificed.

Anyone who disagrees with their concept is excommunicated. From all indication, they do not believe that Christ was either perfect man or perfect God but rather an example for the worker/preachers to follow. They do not accept the doctrine of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ as taught in the Bible and believed by true Christians everywhere. Their primary emphasis doctrinally, if it can be called that, is that their worker/preachers are the “true way” preachers and that they meet in the true biblical way, that is, they have meetings only in homes.

Two by Twos can be reached for the Lard Jesus Christ. It takes patience, not belligerence; love, not condemnation. Most of the friends are in the organization because they have not been taught the Word of God properly. Do not “preach” to them or find fault with their organization. Witness to the blood of Christ and the real meaning of His death, burial and resurrection. If you are able to shake their confidence in their worker and his interpretation of the Word, and get them to think on spiritual matters apart from the workers influence, half of the battle will be won.

The above article is taken from a very old pamphlet that is hardly legible and the author’s name could be misspelled due to the deterioration of the print on paper. This nameless cult operates worldwide but mainly in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand as well as many other countries with no identifiable names. If need so required by the country they operate in, a likely name would simply be Christian churches.

Basically, the founder of this group is William Irvine who started conducting his meetings in Ireland back in the 1890s. Edward Cooney was another prominent leader of this cult group but these two leaders were eventually excommunicated due to internal feud and the group then sought to hide their identity and disclaimed any connections with these two men. This group started off as a movement to protest against institutionalized churches as they were disillusioned by the rapid changes during the time of industrialization and the cold indifference of the churches in their respective denominations. Their enmity against these institutionalized churches did not however, prevent them from using their facilities and goodwill to get their work off the ground.

They built their organization based on a passage from Matthew chapter 10 taken out of context and they exacted great sufferings from their preachers and workers to follow closely to the requirements in the passage.

Matthew 10
5: These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8: Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
9: Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10: Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
11: And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.
12: And when ye come into an house, salute it.
13: And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.
14: And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
15: Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

While there are some Christians suffering from a persecution complex who believe that Christians should not carry swords but keep their purse (probably due to lack of faith and a false sense of piety for being a pacifist conformer), this group takes the requirements of Matthew 10 to the extreme ignoring the transitional order given to the disciples to go just to the house of Israel. From here, they built their organization by this means and thus inflicting great pains and sufferings to their preachers under a false sense of spirituality. One wonders whether they read the subsequent requirements given by the Lord in Luke 22:36: Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

So they believe in going two by twos and they glory in extreme poverty. As such, members almost always meet at homes for their meetings. They may initially rent a building (even from an organized church) to get meetings going but later when enough people are convinced that they are from the beginning, or the way, they will retreat to meeting in members’ homes and preachers and workers feed off from the members. From there, they preached against all institutionalized churches and clergy and claiming that they are the only true church from the beginning. Of course, the early founders are never mentioned in order to keep members in the dark in believing that they are indeed from the beginning from the times of the apostles.

They also believe that preachers should be like Paul and should abstain from marriage and hence bachelorhood among preachers gives them another sense of spiritual superiority and their followers look them up as truly from God. Their doctrines are not published as they have no publications to identify what they truly believe. Hence, this gives them flexibility to respond to whatever crisis that might arise from time to time to justify their stranglehold on members to keep them in the way for salvation comes from the mouth of their spokesmen who are believed to be directly from God.

While some sincere Christians seeking to live holy and separated lives being conned into their group are saved, they are brought into another form of bondage from which the Lord Jesus Christ came to set them free. These are the modern day Pharisees going about to proselyte unsuspecting Christians by their emphasis on outward piety but little is preached about the doctrines of Christ and the liberty they may enjoy in their salvation brought about by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. So the next generation growing up in such groups is hardly ever saved as the Lord Jesus Christ is regarded as just an example for them to follow but not really the Lord and Saviour.

The kind of control exacted on members is astonishing to say the least. Members are expected to live by faith and selling away their possessions and laying them at their leaders’ feet to become preachers are encouraged. So coming to money matters, especially when accountability is questionable, abuse and exploitation are expected. With the expulsion of the founding members, William Irvine and Edward Cooney, the new leaders bind heavy burdens on their members just like their founders. It is like the story in Animal Farm, some are more equal than others. After the expulsion of the former tyrannical leaders, the new leadership exacts the same tyranny on their members to keep them in line. These people are not easy to identify and they prefer to go about recruiting members quietly and they work under low profile. They usually have a meeting for their own members only and another meeting open to the public to get newcomers to join them.

For more information on this secretive sect, you may try to obtain a copy of the book “The Secret Sect” written by Doug and Helen Parker. The writers are Australians. This book was first published in 1982 after thirty years of research, the writers being insiders to this group. This book documented their origin, history, activities and method used by them to control the entire organization worldwide. You may try to write to P.O. Box 68, Pendle Hill, 2145, New South Wales, Australia. Another place you may write to is Book Seller U.S.A., P.O. Box 1612, Richland, WA 99352, USA. The information here will come in handy should you come across anyone who seems to fit into the profile of this nameless cult.