Notoriously known as the ‘Kidney Cult’, the Jesus Christians was a group that I lived with for about three and a half years of my life. During that time (2002-2005), these were the beliefs, teachings and practices of the community. Though I can’t list everything they believe about everything…I will try to explain their fundamental and basic beliefs. It is also quite likely that they have changed some of those beliefs and practices. In general:
- They believe that the Christian Church has forsaken Christ and do not actually follow Him or obey Him, so they are very critical about other Churches and approach everyone who is not a part of their fellowship as an unbeliever. In fact, they are kinder to those who have never professed to be Christian, because they believe they are more open to the truth, where as those who claim to be born again would not listen to them when they talk about obeying God. The fundamental reasons for this rejection is that mainstream Christians do not literally apply Jesus’ teachings by not selling their possessions, not living in community and continuing to work for money rather than living by faith (the way they do). Their emphasis on obeying Jesus by taking His teachings on certain (they are not literal on all things, e.g. they do not give to all who ask (Luke 6:30)) things literally is why they have chosen to add the name Jesus in front of ‘Christians’;
- They do not believe that the Christian Bible is the inerrant Word of God as most Christians do. They believe that Jesus is the Word of God and the Bible is a collection of inspired writings, which is good for teaching and pointing us to Jesus. As such, they only accept the words of Jesus as recorded in the Bible as the Word of God, and discriminate between the Old and New Testament scriptures. They believe that ‘all scripture’ (2 Tim 3:16) is not limited to the canonised scriptures, but that other writings by Christians can qualify as scripture (if they are inspired by God). For this reason, the JCs qualify the writings of DM as scripture, and often read it in place of the Bible, when they have personal Bible Studies, and sometimes quote his teachings to each other. However, they also have a strong Bible study culture and memorize lots of scriptures, which are good for them when they are preaching to other Christians who challenge their chosen lifestyle;
- Though they uphold the doctrine of the Trinity (being God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) and believe in speaking in tongues, they do not subscribe to other Christian practices of Holy Communion, Water Baptism, Sabbath or First Day observance, Tithing, calling leaders with titles such as Pastor, Reverend etc, swearing oaths (including in marriage ceremonies) or the practice of saying a sinner’s prayer.
- Their understanding of the holy communion is that Jesus meant that every time they eat together in community (which they do, as they live together), they are to remember Him and what He did. So they do not break bread and profess it to be the body of Jesus, nor profess that the wine they drink is His blood. They believe that such practices are religious, and not in keeping with Christ’s Spirit;
- They believe that there is just one baptism, which is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and not water baptism, which they say is John’s ministry. They argue that Jesus never baptised anyone, and recount Peter’s experience with Cornelius and his family in Acts 10-11, as evidence that the Holy Spirit baptism is the only required baptism for Christians;
- They do not observe any day as a Sabbath because they believe everyday is holy to the Lord, because everyday they are working for Him, and not working for money. However, they choose to rest once a week, usually Sundays (apparently because those days are slower for distributing their literature);
- They reject the practice of tithing as an old testament practice, considering that as Christians who have forsaken all things to God, and continue to do so by not working for money, they give 100% to God, and not 10%. They also do not observe other forms of offering (whether first fruits, sin or thanksgiving);
- Based on Jesus’ teachings on calling no man on Earth Father or Teacher or Master or Rabbi, they do not call each other or anyone by titles (even their parents), but refer to themselves as brothers and sisters;
- Likewise, they do not make oaths because of Jesus’ teachings about letting your ‘yes be yes’ and that anything more is of the devil. So what they make are ‘affirmations’;
- The idea of the sinner’s prayer is also rejected as heretical because they believe that Jesus laid out the condition for people to be saved…which is that they pick up their cross and follow Him. Therefore, it should be evident in their changed lifestyle and not with the profession of their mouths only.
- They believe that it is better not to marry, and they all strive to live as Eunuchs, which they hold as superior to marriage. Even those who are married are encouraged to live as singles as much as possible (using Paul’s teaching that “those who have live as though they have not” (1 Cor 7:29) and the teaching of the 144,000 virgins in Revelation 14. They also heavily discourage having children (and use contraceptives), as their view is that the end is nigh. However, they do not forbid marriage in theory. This was a huge challenge for me and a few other people who desired to be married. Every week, we were monitored on our ability to maintain this mindset (144k Vision), by presenting scores between 0% and 100%. 100% meaning we are sold out singles for God, and marriage is not even on our minds and 0% meaning we will get married tomorrow if we met the right person! A lot of people boasted higher than they really were to look more spiritual. Anyone below 50% was considered a risk and a temptation to others. I lingered around 50 to 60% as I struggled to forsake the idea of marriage (which I understood I had to forsake in addition to everything else I had forsaken to join the group, including my family);
- They practiced and encouraged masturbation, as a way for those who strove to be single to manage their sexual desires. Though they did not condone pornography, and they did not teach or practice sexual immorality, the door of masturbation was the open door for sexual release. This idea never sat well with me. But I experimented with it all the same, as I strove to be single for God. It had its short comings because what resulted was an obsession with masturbating, and a lack of satisfaction. I learnt that it was in fact an unnatural method of controlling sexual desire, and it wasn’t long before I took to using dildos. It was at this point that the Spirit convicted me against it. I read in Romans 1:26 “for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature“. I do not believe this is talking about lesbianism. This is talking about using inanimate objects to bring about sexual release! After that, I was committed to stopping, and always felt guilty when I stimulated myself, even using my own fingers. I spoke to the group about this, that I believed it was wrong, but I was told that I was being self-righteous, and prudish, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with masturbation, which was better than sexual immorality;
- They believed in their liberty to be different from the norm, and to practice certain things that may be considered strange, offensive, unethical and/or deceptive by the world.
- They do not adhere to certain Christian manners (like not swearing/cursing), as they accused those who did of being religious. They claimed that Jesus said ‘shit’ when He talked about salt that has lost its flavour being unfit for the dunghill (Luke 14:34-35);
- They also believed in their liberty to drink alcohol (and drank socially and regularly) and were not judgmental of those who smoked (though they themselves didn’t and did not encourage people to smoke or take drugs), as they agreed with Paul that “all things are lawful for me, but not all things are expedient” (1 Cor 6:12);
- They used the fact that Jesus was secretive about who He was and His whereabouts at times to teach that it is okay to deceive the enemy – which to them is everyone that is not in their group. They actually taught that it is okay to lie (e.g. to save a life), as long as you are “honest about your dishonesty”. At times, this meant that they behaved in a cunning and calculating way, being secretive and telling outright lies (even to their new members who hadn’t yet gained their trust);
- This also meant that they frequently broke local or state laws to continue to exist on the outskirts of society. They justify this behaviour in light of Peter’s and John’s defiance in Acts 4:19;
- Also as pacifists, they do not believe in going to war but in exercising civil disobedience;
- They also do not celebrate Birthdays or Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, which they believe are rooted in materialism and paganism.
- They practiced charity to an extent that is unusual for most, as they took literally certain passages on giving. For example, in their adherence to John the Baptist’s teaching that “he who has two coats should give to him who has none” (John 3:11), several of their members have donated organs (mostly kidneys) to those in need. They also did charity work in India for many years (I don’t know if this is still going on) and moved to Kenya. However, they are not very charitable to the poor in developed countries like the UK and the US, who they suspect live on the dole or receive enough handouts from other givers;
- They practiced the three stage grievance process, drawing from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15-17. This is where Jesus said to first go to the person who offended you to resolve the issue, then call in two or three witnesses, if it escalates, and then take it to the Church if that doesn’t resolve the issue. When it gets to the Church, if the person in the wrong doesn’t back down and apologize, then s/he must be excommunicated, and treated like an unbeliever. This teaching is good, but was abused within the fellowship. There was no grace, as to be expected of people who lived by works and not grace. Grievances were not approached lovingly and with compassion, but often like a witch-hunt. They were often escalated to second stage and third stage resolution unjustifiably. Grievances were common because they were also concerned about not sweeping things under the carpet that would fester and result in bitterness, so any small thing could result in your expulsion from the group. Sometimes, if you wanted to avoid a grievance and make peace by letting the issue go, another person who observed the incident would come in to it and take it to second stage, which often led it to go to third stage. One of the challenges with this system is how the word ‘pride’ very quickly gets thrown into the mix. Pride is an accusation that no one can refute, for to refute that you are proud is equivalent to saying “I never lie”. So once it is thrown in, usually at second stage, the person being accused of it is in a no-win (catch-22) situation. Whether or not the real issue is pride, if they do not confess to pride, it goes to third stage, where they are likely to face expulsion from the group (or admit pride just to stay in the group). It was a very emotional grievous experience that broke everyone who went through it. It seemed that was the aim;
- They hold strong views on End-time Prophesy. Here are some in no particular order:
- They believe that the second coming of Christ is imminent, and that the signs (as recorded in Matthew 24) preceding His second coming are already taking place;
- They believe that the Mark of the Beast (Rev 13;15-18) will be instituted by a world leader (the Anti-Christ), as literally the only means by which people may buy or sell (being a chip implanted on one’s forehead or right hand). They believe that the cashless society and bio-metric identification systems are all leading to that;
- They believe that the fall of America will precede the Anti-Christ (likely from the USSR) coming to power, and they liken America to Babylon;
- They believe that Christians will not be raptured until the middle of the Great Tribulation (three and a half years after the Anti-Christ comes to power);
- They believe the Two Witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11 are prophets (and DM implied through his book, ‘Listening’, that he could be one of them);
- They believe that they will be leaders in these times, when people will learn from them how to live by faith and hear from God;
- They believe that the Anti-Christ will rebuild the Jewish Temple (along with a Mosque and a Church) and “the abomination that causes desolation” spoken of by Jesus in Mark 13:14 will be an idol or a shrine to the Anti-Christ placed in the Temple;
- They believe in the 1000 year reign of Christ with His redeemed Bride (the Church), after a long wedding feast in Heaven (for the remaining three and a half years of the Great Tribulation), before the devil and his hosts are defeated in the Battle of Armageddon and bound and cast into outer darkness for eternity;
- In his book, ‘ARMAGEDDON’, DM predicts the timeline for Jesus’ return, even giving a countdown based on Daniel 7, 9 and 12, and teaches that those who will be caught as “thieves in the night” are the disobedient, and not the faithful;
- They also believe a remnant of Israel will be among those who are saved.
- As much as they believe in acceptance of and obedience to Christ, they believe that people of other faiths, who are sincere and practice love, will be pardoned by God and saved (drawing from Jesus’ teaching on the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46) and John’s profession that “anyone who loves is born of God” (1 John 4:7)). They, however, believe few will be saved and that it is possible to lose your salvation. They reject the doctrine of “once saved, always saved”, in keeping with Jesus’ teaching that only those who endure til the end shall be saved.
DON’T THROW OUT THE BABY!
The temptation is always to throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is what many people, who reject the way Christianity is today, do when they conclude that Jesus or God is a myth. They judge Christianity by our division and lack of adherence to our own teachings and beliefs.
I don’t want to make that mistake with the Jesus Christians. I joined them because I believed that they had truth that I hadn’t found in any other expression of Christianity. I learnt a lot from them. But they lacked the grace of God, which is why many who have walked into their fellowship have walked out burned and broken.
You will find that I still express a lot of the things they believed in my writings, but God has shown me how important grace is to the Believer and our ability to bear fruit. I’ve learnt to be careful how I judge. One of the things I observed with the group was how harsh and critical they were of other believers. They mocked them, they didn’t love them.
In their emphasis on obeying Jesus, they missed the most important commandment of all…
“Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34)
I encourage you all to accept the truth, wherever you hear it, from whomever (even a donkey!), and walk in the grace of God, which enlightens our path and binds us together with love.
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