Posts Tagged ‘cooneyites’

Man Looks on the Outward Appearance… but God Looks on the Heart

July 12, 2014

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One Sunday afternoon recently we were visiting an elderly relative who resides close to the headquarters of the Palmarian Church in north Dublin. Just as we had parked the car I noticed a gathering of people outside this house church – a gathering which consisted of very well dressed ladies in long skirts and just a few men who were also very formally dressed. We had arrived there earlier than expected and so must have stumbled upon the congregation of this sect while they were still talking after their morning worship.

Before going in to see our relative, I took the opportunity to walk slowly towards the people who were still standing there, intending to strike up a conversation. However, I was unsuccessful in this and had the distinct impression that this was not the first time that they had been approached, although at other times it most likely would have been by journalists.

I have noted this dress code phenomenon with other cults such as Cooneyites, Exclusive Brethren and a cult which only exists in one part of the world – the Cooperites who live in Gloriavale which is based at Haupiri on the west coast of the south island in New Zealand. The latter was founded in 1969 by their very controversial leader, Neville Cooper, an Australian-born evangelist.

All of these cults have some definite things in common – there are many rules governing their respective rigid dress codes; they believe that the only way to heaven is by belonging to their organisation and most are governed by a central figurehead on this earth or men’s ideas – not by the Lord.

While I believe that we should do all to the glory of God (and this includes the way we dress) change begins in the heart and works outwards. If our hearts are not right with the Lord, all the dressing in a certain way in the world will make no difference to the ‘inner man.’

“The Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1Samuel 16v7)

Jesus said: “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7v20)

Minutes later two of the well-dressed young ladies walked past the gateway of our elderly relative’s residence and both of them made it clear by their actions that they were not at all happy with my trying to speak to them earlier.

My heart goes out to the young people who belong to this sect. The Lord loves them, died for them and desires that they come to knowledge of His truth – the truth that says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)

When our hearts are right with the Lord, we will inevitably have within these hearts of ours His great love for our fellowmen and women, even those who do not worship with us. Only in hearts which truly belong to Him can the fruits of the spirit be manifested.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5v22)

A Major Mark of a Cult – Lack of Love

April 23, 2014

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I have been told that the above is the current headquarters of the Palmarian Church in Dublin, just one of numerous cults which are active in Ireland today. There are now many thousands of harmful systems of belief scattered throughout our world – and I do believe that these numbers may well be growing by the day!

As well as being dangerous from an eternal perspective, these are harmful in the sense that they have far-reaching consequences, leading to break-ups within families. There are also hurtful attitudes towards those individuals who feel that, although they have been brought up with certain beliefs or to worship in a certain way, they don’t feel the inclination to follow in their parents’ footsteps.

Someone who is truly born again of the Spirit of God will love their children unconditionally, in the realisation that to try to force someone to believe something in the spiritual realm, is about as crazy an exercise as trying to force a bird to sing, or a flower to open.

Surely we should pray for our children and always be there for them until our dying day?

I met a girl once who had been ‘disfellowshipped’ by a Jehovah Witness community which had previously been a big part of her life. At a time when she had had a cancer diagnosis and a broken marriage simultaneously, she really did need someone to care for her and pray for her but she was totally abandoned by those she trusted because she did not adhere to some of their rules.

Other groups of which I have recently been reading as well as ‘the Palmarians,’ are the Cooneyites/2×2’s, the Church of Scientology, the Exclusive Brethren and the Mormons. To leave is to be, at best, ostracized but for some who turn their backs on the religion which they have been born into can horrifyingly mean certain death. This is a reality in many countries where Islam is in control.

Jesus said: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13v35)

This love for one another, when it is born of God, transcends culture, dominations and even doctrinal differences.

Personally speaking, I experience that affinity and warmth with those who have shared my basic experience of coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

There is a bond between those who truly know the Lord, regardless of which church they attend – or there should be. Sadly, I have met people who would say they are Christians and yet these same people refuse to speak to someone who has stopped attending their ‘fellowship,’ for whatever reason.

And of course, the true Christian will show his or her love and concern for every soul they come in contact with – whatever their affiliation (or lack of) in the spiritual realm.

Study the reaction of the members of any dubious religious organization… how do they behave towards someone who no longer worships with them or leaves them completely?

I have attended a church and known individuals to have left – but I still love and pray (not in a patronizing way) for those people today and if I happen to meet them walking in the street, we can have a warm conversation.

They may have been quite right to move on or perhaps it was the wrong move to make – but I am not their judge.

Perhaps some of the saddest stories I have read recently relate to those who have lost families and loved ones as a result of leaving a cult; the heartache that this causes does not bear thinking about.

Surely only those who have come to trust and lean on the Lord Jesus Christ can know of the following experience… “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3v17-19)

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1Cor. 13v13)

 

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“Reading the Bible Together” – The Cooneyites Advertise in Local Newspapers

October 29, 2013

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Just last week I noticed this small advertisement in our local free newspaper: “Reading the Bible Together. Anyone interested please contact… (telephone number)”

After reading this, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to ring the phone number in the advertisement. The lady who replied was most polite and friendly but very reluctant indeed to tell me with whom she was associated. Having discovered that I preferred the Authorised Version of the Bible and the old hymns, she whole-heartedly agreed with me, telling me about where their weekly Bible study was held. After giving me an invitation to come along, I discovered that it is held in a parish community centre in the town.

At this point I was still curious about her background. I told her of my own experience and of how I had come to ask the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart around 35 years ago. After that there was an awkward silence and I instinctively knew that the lady did not regard this wonderful change in my life as something to rejoice about. On the contrary I had the distinct impression that she did not think that it was valid at all.

“Yes, well, about our Bible Study…” she went on, completely ignoring the simplicity and the wonder of something which meant more than life itself to me. A true Christian, on the other hand, would have immediately warmed to this reference to my testimony and denominational differences would have melted into insignificance as we would go on to testify of our love for the Saviour.

Because of this experience, I am now reluctant to label myself as ‘non-denominational,’ although I can understand the thinking behind a phrase I once heard used: “denominations are abominations.” I suppose that denominations, although they came into existence following dissension amongst the brethren and doctrinal differences since the early church, are one issue – but cults are quite another. “A cult,” I have heard it said, (certainly of pseudo-Christian cults) “is a group of people who follow one man and his misinterpretation of the Bible.”

After listening to her enthusiastically give me this invitation to the Bible study, strangely I remembered the information that I had read about Cooneyites and decided to ask her was she associated with them.

I didn’t expect her to be so straight with me… “Well some people refer to us as that,” she said, “but we don’t call ourselves this.”

Professing to follow “the Jesus Way,” the Cooneyites concentrate on the life of Jesus but not on His precious shed blood for the sins of mankind; like other erroneous systems of belief this cult has sadly strayed into the path of ‘salvation by works.’ While there is no better example to follow than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in all our attitudes, thoughts, words and actions, it is not by attempting to follow His life in our own strength, that we are saved – but by repenting and putting our trust in His shed blood at Calvary, in the knowledge that He has risen, is alive in heaven today and ever lives to make intercession for us. Only with faith as the sure foundation upon which we stand, can we ever be “Christlike” in His strength.

There is so much more that I could say about the aspects of this cult which was founded in Ireland in 1897 by William Irvine, who was originally an evangelist with the Faith Mission. Cooneyites have also been known as Irvingites, Go-preachers, Two-by-two’s, Workers and the Nameless House Church or Christian Convention Church. However they prefer to call themselves “The Way,” “The Jesus Way” or “The Truth.”

The lady I spoke to worked with another lady friend and from what I could discern they were both middle-aged and unmarried. “I felt led recently to work along the east coast of Ireland,” she had told me.

 ‘Led by whom?’ I wondered. (The Cooneyites do not believe in the leading of the Holy Spirit, in the Trinity or in the deity of Christ.)

It has also been said that they even go so far as to declare that the Bible is a “Dead Book” unless it is “made to live” through the mouth of one of their preachers

“You will come along, won’t you?” the lady pleaded with me towards the end of our conversation.

“You know,” I said, avoiding her question, “at the end of the day you and I and everyone else in this world… really what we want is the knowledge that we will definitely at the end of this life go to heaven. It is so wonderful to have that assurance.”

“Yes…” she replied hesitantly, “we can but only hope in God’s mercy…”

Today I pray for that lady and for the opportunity to perhaps speak to her again, even if it is only over the telephone – and I also pray that those souls who are genuinely seeking will not be snared by this cult which like many others is weaving its web in an Ireland where unwary people are weary of hypocrisy in the traditional teachings of a major system of idolatry which has betrayed the young and old.

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Reaching out with Christian Literature in Balbriggan, North County Dublin

October 24, 2010

I remember seeing this small town for the first time back in the early 1980’s when it was little more than a village with a few extra housing estates under construction. I don’t know what the population was back then, but according to the census in 2006, it had reached 15,559. Today it is estimated that more than 20,000 people live there, many of whom are of African and East European origin. Last week, armed with Christian literature and a burden for souls, I apprehensively set out to reach one estate in particular. It was a cold, dark evening as I rang the first doorbell. No one was in! I found this to be the pattern at quite a few houses, although perhaps people were reluctant to come to the door after dark – especially when they had to climb down a couple of flights of stairs, as this particular estate had narrow three-storey town houses. On these occasions, I pushed a tract into the letterbox. After a time I came to a house which was completely decked out for Halloween – although Halloween at that point was nearly three weeks away! I felt suddenly an evil presence and also very despondent and alone in my endeavours. Here I was trailing around houses where the vast majority of people probably just didn’t want to know. Recent disclosures about the clerical abuse of children in Ireland have resulted in anger, cynicism, apathy – and a reverting to old Pagan ways. Many feel justifiably hurt and furious about the horrific abuse that took place over the decades, but sometimes they look at anyone whom they would view as ‘religious’ with this same cynicism. Despite this, the human soul has a need to worship and some are turning to systems of belief other than Roman Catholicism.

This is where other cults sometimes step in. A Bible study set up by a group in this town is mysteriously unforthcoming about who is running it; I have reason to suspect that these may be ‘Cooneyites.’ My conviction is that any system of belief which has its roots in ‘salvation by works’ as opposed to faith must be termed ‘a cult.’

I thank God for His gifts of freedom and faith – something that is missing from erroneous systems of belief. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36) I do not have to ask permission from anyone before I embark on telling others of the wonders of His love for mankind. He sent His Son to die that people in Balbriggan, in Dublin; in every country, city, town, village, hamlet and tiny homestead in the world might have life – and life that is more abundant. And so those of us who know Him as Saviour must keep our lights burning as we witness to others until the Lord calls or comes to take us Home.

Above is a photograph of Balbriggan lighthouse which reminds me of that hymn: “Let the Lower Lights be burning!” The story behind this hymn by Philip Bliss is that many lives were lost on a ship, all because the man who was supposed to light the lower lights along the shore, failed in his duties. In this allegory, the lighthouse is that Great Light of the gospel, through the Word – while Christians are ‘the lesser lights along the shore.’

Let us never fail to serve Him on the darkest, most depressing nights; in spite of the prevailing cold winds of apathy, cynicism and the threat of ‘spiritual wickedness in high places.’ May the Lord empower all who do so with a clean heart, a bright light, courage – and a love for the souls of this world for whom He died.    

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/l/l/llowerlb.htm