- Our source of authority on all matters of faith and life is the New Testament of the Bible. (This was written by the apostles and their close co-workers, who were either taught by Christ directly, and/or were eye-witnesses of the things they wrote about, and/or obtained their information from such people.) The largest “Church” groups in the world today all place more weight on their own traditions than on many clear teachings of the New Testament.
- We are prepared to go to any lengths in order to live by those teachings, no matter what it costs us. Most denominations think that this is too extreme, and find a compromise that will enable them to feel good about believing the parts of the New Testament that they like, while still enjoying a comfortable (and often sinful) lifestyle.
- Judging from what they teach, most “Christian” leaders are prepared to deny, change or explain away parts of the Bible that challenge their personal beliefs or the way they want to live.
- Judging from how they speak and live, many if not most of those who call themselves “Christians” today, in the Western World especially, are more interested in pleasing the people in the world around them than they are in pleasing God.
- When we read the writings of the early church leaders in the first three centuries we find that their teachings and their interpretation of scripture was closer to what we believe, teach and live than it is to what we see in any of the big “Christian” denominational groups today.
- We believe that the best measure of true Christianity is not the number of members in the group, but their faithfulness in practising the teachings of Christ. Jesus himself taught that his true followers would be persecuted and rejected by mainstream society (Matthew 5:11-12), just as he was, and that when He returned to this earth he would not find much true faith left.
- We do not believe that we are the only group of true Christians, but that we are an example of one such group in this world today. As we meet and speak with people from all over the world, we find that the more they seek to live by the teachings of the New Testament, the more we find that we are in agreement.
- We are but one example of many such groups that have existed since the time of the apostles.The true churches of Jesus have always been relatively small, and have always been persecuted by the other larger religious groups. The history of such people has been recorded for us in books like “The Pilgrim Church,” “The Reformers and Their Stepchildren,” and “Martyrs Mirror.” We find that the faith and manner of life of these people was remarkably like our own.
- We believe that the early church consisted of relatively small, persecuted groups like ourselves, but that when the Roman emperor Constantine made “Christianity” the official religion of the Roman Empire, it became fashionable and profitable to be known as a “Christian,” and many people converted to “Christianity” for the wrong reasons. The leaders of such people became wealthy and powerful, and their state-supported religion became a matter of ritual and tradition, incorporating many elements of the old pagan religion, and placing little emphasis on the necessity for a true conversion of the heart and of the will. This hybrid religion became the basis of what became known as the Orthodox and Roman Catholic “Churches”, and later the mainline Protestant “Churches”. Meanwhile, the groups of Christians who insisted on conversion of the heart and will, obedience to the New Testament, and separation from the ways of the world, were the true church that Christ was building. They were persecuted and maligned by all the State Churches, and their writings destroyed. We have records of an unbroken line of such churches in various countries from the time of the apostles until the present day, and we trace our spiritual history through such people.
As for being a cult, the Concise Oxford Dictionary (Ninth Edition) gives the following three meanings of the word “cult”:
- “a system of religious worship especially as expressed in ritual.”
- “devotion or homage to a person or thing ([eg.]the cult of aestheticism).”
- “(attributive) denoting a person or thing popularized in this way ([eg.] cult film; cult figure)
- There is little if any ritual that is an essential part of our religious worship. Also, there is far more to our church and community than just our worship meetings. Nor would anyone ever describe either our church or our community as a system of religious worship. This one definitely doesn’t fit.
- There are some who like to imagine that we worship the founder of our community, because that would obviously be wrong and they want to find fault with us. However, those people have never visited our community nor seen us interacting with him. If they were to visit us or to seriously read our writings they would quickly see that such an accusation is completely unfounded. We do give devotion and homage to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who founded the Church of which we are a small part, almost 2000 years ago. That part we do acknowledge, but then so do most people who call themselves Christians. To call us a cult for this reason would make the word meaningless.
- We are not particularly popular either: for every person who loves us there seems to be another one who hates us; so that eliminates the third meaning of this word also.
So, where does that leave us? We are simply a New Testament Church that has the privilege of being able to live in a community lifestyle based upon our faith.