Thanks to Darren Russell for providing this excerpt of an editorial about the True Followers Church. It is totally the opinions of an outsider looking at the church.
Last April, Mr. Russell wrote an article explaining his reasons for faith healing. Tomorrow, January 18, I will publish a follow up article by him on the same subject.
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By R. W. Gilbert
The Sunday State Journal, July 4, 1909, excerpted from Editorial page.
Down near Hutchinson, Kansas, there remains still some of that faith which is the salt of the earth. A group of fanatics dubbing themselves “The True Followers of Christ,” have begun to actually and literally follow the teachings of The New Testament. Of course we all do this so far as is consistent with our business interests, and the welfare of our families, but these people, who are in the strictest sense heretics-that is more religious than their brethren- follow the New Testament to their own and children's undoing. These are the sort of people that are really dangerous to conventional Christianity and ought to be sent to the asylum or burned at the stake or something of the kind.
Among other things requiring splendid courage, truly heroic faith, these people will take a live rattlesnake in their hands “in the name of Christ” and let it bite them, with even greater courage they will hand it to their sons and dear ones and let it also bite them. Think of it! In this cautious, cold, skeptical twentieth century, with it's timid worship of the safe and sane, it's Laodicean faiths and it's still more moderate heterodoxies, there are men and women and children who are voluntarily risking their lives, voluntarily submitting their bodies to torture for the sake of a few words of Jesus Christ. Ignorant, absurd, irrational, criminal? Certainly, so were the prophets before them. Certainly, for their Kingdom is not of this world. Certainly, for they are really religious.
The rattlesnake test? It is not such a bad one after all. The man who endured such a test successfully would be worth something, would be worth a whole conference of ecclesiastical side steppers and stand patters. Such a man would be an excellent addition to the United States Senate just now...he would do what he thought was right in a homely, straightforward way, he would say exactly what he pleased, and he would not give a whoop if the president and both parties and all the crowned heads of Europe were arrayed against him. Simply because he would be religious.
Another reason why the rattlesnake test would be a good one to apply to the modern world is that there are so many things in the modern world worse than rattlesnakes. There are so many deaths in the modern world more dreadful than death from the bite of a serpent. For at the worst a rattlesnake can only make your body swell up and die, but the sins which folks introduce into their houses without the slightest qualms may make their souls swell up and die.
So much for the “Followers of Christ.” They will soon be wiped out, or conform (which is an ignoble method of being wiped out) and go the way of the Doweyites and Doukhobors and such like folks who follow the Bible with a crazy consistency. But the expediently orthodox person and the prudently heretical person will remain with us and keep up their sham battles. They will do no particular harm or good to the young people, as young people want above all to be interested and flabby folk are not wont to be interesting. A narrow minded bigoted zealot will make converts because he believes in something with all his might...but the tolerant preacher and the religious “expert” will make no converts for the simple reason that you can not make something out of nothing. There is not the slightest danger that the professor who is personally unconvinced will “create conviction,” whereas the man of original religious endowment will create conviction whether he wishes to or no. God has made heaven for his saints, and hell for his enemies, but only He knows what fate is reserved for the folks who merely “study religious phenomena.”
But men were made to do better than they know how, to be considerably bigger propositions than harmless skeptics. They must be believers, they must be willing to adventure everything on the turn of the die, they must somehow or another drop their anchor into the unseen and cease their drifting and driveling, or be forever not worth mentioning in an obituary or otherwhere . The one thing that matters is belief, the attitude you face life in. If you grasp the rattlesnake boldly, if you face death and pain without flinching, then everything else is of little account. If you dodge and shrink and make objections and slip back into an easy-going self-indulgent life, then who cares how learned or rich or gentlemanly you may be. And the only real dynamic courage and hope and joy that I know of is religion. We praise practicality and efficiency and deplore other worldliness, but the most faith in the Christ of the New Testament.