DI Director meets with two workers of the Home Fellowship of Christians

Mike Garde the Director of DI met with Craig Fulton from Strabane in Co. Tyrone and a very new Worker called Richard Hughes from Armagh who are currently working in the Dublin region.
This meeting resulted from the book by Irvine Grey which described the “Two by Two’s,” as a very dangerous cult. Through my contacts on Skype I was introduced to Craig who agreed immediately to meet. We had a three hour session over a nice lunch at the Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin.
Glass house

Craig Fulton Richard Hughes
The Workers Craig Fulton and Richard Hughes

Botanic glasshse

I got a bit of a shock when I first saw Craig on his own, thinking he would bring his wife. Then I remembered that workers remain unmarried, but then when Richard came round the corner I remembered they go out two by two.

In meeting them I had to put the theological categories I was used to aside as they try to attempt to remain uncategorised. Craig struggled to define his role but agreed he was an overseer of a type but was clearly not wanting to be thrust into the limelight.
From the start we agreed that we would not enter into debating the beliefs of the movement, but would work from a different angle to understand each other. My work is about understanding cultism and though I am a theologian I did not see that debating their theology was part of my brief at the present.
I mentioned that there used to be a Church in Abbey Street called 12C. Why? Because the Christians there just wanted to be known as Christians. However, people did not find that adequate so they called them 12C! They seemed to have no sense of their origins other than what had been passed down to them by oral means by former workers. Irvine in a sub title called them a shapeless movement. I think they clearly have a shape of home meeting with from say 12- 20 people which are made up of the workers and the local members. Then there are public meetings like the ones advertised below. So rather than calling it shapeless I would say it has very clear sense of identity.

Meetings

In Ireland they have 24 female Workers and 12 male Workers.
Their equivalent of what other Churches call General Assemblies or Conferences is called a Convention and takes on more of an residential character in a set location usually a farm.
Craig had been working in Romania and had very much matured out of a very confined Northern Ireland context affected by the violence of the ’70’s into avery well rounded European.
We had a very wide ranging set of discussions which for the moment will remain confidential as we explore how to develop the relationships.
Dealing with this group over the past few years I have been struck by their failure to record and reflect on their history, theology and mission. My sense is that their mission is pre crucifixion, pre resurrection and pre Pentecost. These are issues we will need to explore to see if that is the case. They are rooted in the mission of the 70 but the question is it rooted in the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ? As I said, all I have to go on is what I have learnt from the blog and from books that regard them as a cult. I have been struck by the many ex members who are very well trained in the theological, historical and social sciences and wonder along with a member from the the movement who has done history at third level that they could not form a theological college to both teach their non theological theology and their non historical history? A question that we will get onto is do they regard themselves as the only movement which can lead people to the truth, or do they recognise other Christians as fellow believers?
I am still trying to reflect on Irvine Grey’s conclusion that they are a dangerous cult. We are not afraid to answer that in the negative, but whether their theology is Christian or whatever you call it without denominating it, is not an issue for this blog to address.
a5irvine

6 Responses

  1. No I have not seen any of them since this meeting. Yes we agree on the inadequacy of a purely theological definition of cultism. We are required to retain the cult word over the vague term New Religious Movement. It narrows the definition but we can then broaden it. We need to take into account psychological and sociological aspects. In a way as a theologian I am interested in the theological differences but it is not part of our mission to address religious beliefs. However, if there was an issue of cultism it would be different.

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  2. Your objectivity is pretty clear Mike so you rank high for credibility in my estimation.

    The “particularly dangerous cult” phrase by Mr.Grey has long puzzled me. I have had many attempts to obtain clarity on his meaning and it has been a long process. My best understanding of it today is that he is referring to 2×2’s as a theological cult, having a few non-mainstream theologies such as a different tilt on the Trinity. So the “danger” isn’t suggesting any criminal activity, or any deliberate emotional or physical abuse as one tends to associate with a “dangerous cult”, but the danger is that mainstream Christian doctrine is threatened because of the different theologies. For that reason, I would expect he would label Mormons as a “particularly dangerous cult” as well, for the same reasons in spite of the fact that 2x2s are far more mainstream than Mormons…..so perhaps a bit less dangerous?

    I think you hit the nail on the head with regard to the heavy emphasis on the 70 mission. This is the nucleus of thought right from the Irvine/Long/Cooney beginnings and remains a significant focus today. This is why they used to claim they went “right back to the beginning” (ie back to the 12 and 70 missions) and sadly that became twisted into a belief in a sort of worker/apostolic succession idea that a few older folks still cling to.

    Part of that 70 mission focus was to reject any doctrine they saw as extra biblical or post-biblical. They always emphasized the simplicity of Jesus so concepts like the trinity, original sin, transubstantiation etc were avoided or rejected.

    You don’t make a statement on any progress you made on substantiating the exclusiveness of 2×2 doctrine. As a member (and a relatively rare non-exclusive member), the vast majority of members and almost all workers believe in the exclusiveness of the meetings and the necessity to “profess through” a worker. At most 10% will casually accept the profession of other Christians. Among the 90%+, there is a growing “maybe/don’t know/special circumstance exceptions” attitude supplanting a once-staunch “no way other than this way” attitude.

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  3. Craig Fulton wrote,

    Morning Mike,

    Yes these people are part of our fellowship. I worked in Meath/Westmeath area in1988/89 and that was the first time that I came across the White Mice title. I also remember hearing some of the older folk talking about the Rathmolyon mission when quite a few families left the Church of ireland. Craig

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  4. Also there is a mass of material for someone who has the ability to work with this material:
    http://www.workersect.org/2×203.html

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  5. The connection to Rathmolyon is quite interesting as it is a split from the Church of Ireland which is the real start of the Irish movement. Also the history of the split in this movement is breath taking.

    http://www.tellingthetruth.info/founder_book/04-1Cwmibook.php#WhiteMice

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  6. This link was sent to me on Facebook:
    http://www.workersect.org/2x205a.html

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