Thursday, January 17, 2013

The True Followers of Christ: A Group of Fanatics

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.


  1. Thanks for the great post very interesting take

  2. I am not familiar with the Followers of Christ. I was a little lost as to your blog post, but it did prompt me to click on your "about" tab
    I enjoyed reading about you and why you are writing.
    I wish you well in your academic venture! :)
    my sister is writing her doctorate in Psychology so I am aware how much work you have ahead of you!
    I wish you complete success and happiness in all you do!
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. Darren what newspaper is that from?

    Also before you write again about the condemnation of those who use doctors, you should consider answering some of the questions posed to you from the previous post. By failing to answer direct biblical questions about the faith healing doctrine you promote you lose credibility.

    Please do not take this personally but you said in the previous post you would respond and you failed to do so.

    Is that because your belief is not defensible?

  4. It was from 'The Sunday State Journal', July 4, 1909. It was an editorial about an episode in the Church which had made headlines the month before. The Kansas legislature was incited by some to place some new laws on the books to deal with the Church.

    I am not sure which questions I overlooked, maybe I could review the comments upon that post. If the question was already dealt with in my article, then I did not feel to reiterate my reasons. Also I recall that I wanted to deal with any questions after my cousin Jerry had posted his article so that we were not constantly wading through the same waters. Some of the questions may have been dealt with there.

    "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel." (Phil. 1:15-17) I more than understand my belief is not popular, but I am always ready to defend it.

    1. The Christ of love that the gospel teaches is not unpopular. The belief that doctors should be avoided and those who do not are risking condemnation is unpopular and unbiblical and often criminal as we have seen with the multitude of criminal trials in the FOC and COFTB.

      Please be careful what you defend as your belief has resulted in the needless deaths of children.

    2. unpopular? Yes. Unbiblical? Demonstrate it. Criminal? Depends on Jurisdiction. An Oregonian would not fare as well as let's say a Washingtonian. But in fact the only trial we should all be concerned with is the one on the judgment day, and the laws that govern the Kingdom of God.

  5. The freedom of belief will never be infringed upon in the US. The freedom to act on your beliefs when it hurts another person should never have been tolerated. If you give a Muslim the same freedom to act on their beliefs that have been given to Christians this place would be a legal war zone. You can believe what you like, you can't kill whomever you wish.

    1. You are comparing two different things. Those who proclaim war intend to take lives, those who practice faith healing intend to save them. Faith without works (action) is dead, so if we do not have the right to act upon our reasonable beliefs, then we do not have true freedom of religion.

    2. Darren, I haven't commented so far but almost screamed at the computer screen reading your last comment! No court in the land is going to indite you for caring for the hungry, fatherless, widowed, or abused. Works Christ commanded us to perform.

      How is it a "work" to refuse medical care for a child? You have all the freedom in the world to do with your own (adult) body what you want, but there is no right to allow another in your care to die with out basic medical care.

    3. Darren, your right about "reasonable beliefs", as in your 5:57 comment,what your doing to children isn't reasonable. That's the problem. You don't agree with abortion, me neither, because the dying child has no say in either death.

    4. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.-Proverbs 22:6

      As parents it is our duty to raise our children in both word and example. Either something is right and honorable towards God or it is not. Can you think of anything God would approve of, that should not be taught them? Children do not have choices in their early stages of life, the parents are those solely responsible for making them, not the state, or others. There will be no government agencies standing to make an account for themselves on judgement day, there will be many Fathers and Mothers.

      So why do so many indicate on here that I am within my rights to practice Faith healing, but not so to teach it to my children? If it is wrong for them, it is wrong for me, and vise-versa.

      @ Anon 9:14. A work is an action. If we truly believe God will heal us, or if we believe that the ingestion of medicines is wrong, or that we should not trust in man to save us, then why would our actions indicate otherwise?

      I want all my children to live, and not only live, but live abundant and godly lives.

      For many parents in the church, including myself, there are many other considerations. Often times there are pressures from family and others and the courts and other agencies, which cause us to make a choice between practicing our beliefs with our children, or acquiescing in these cases to the state. We should not be forced into making that decision, since it affects our religious liberty and conscience. However when the choice is to keep our children or not, we invariably choose to keep them, and follow court orders. It should be obvious to any outsiders then that we as parents do love our children. The Wylands are a perfect example of this. There was no doubt that they loved their child, and would do what they needed to keep her, yet they were scorned only because of their beliefs.

  6. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It's obvious that parents want their children to live. Intending for a child to be healed by faith, and allowing them to pass without the benefit of modern science seem to be one and the same. The parents wouldn't set out to kill their own children, but there must be a point in their sickness where they can see that they've failed? It looks from the outside like pride kills, not faith.

    1. For some parents when they lose their child under these circumstances there is a feeling of personal responsibility. The question they most ask themselves is whether or not they had enough faith, so in that instance perhaps a form of pride has entered in, since they thought control was in their hands by it. Still even when a child passes on, there is usually little thought that a doctor should have been called. And if a person had that regret, then surely the sin of pride did exist, that somehow we could have arrested God, and forged a different destiny. Some times he allows us to do just that, but our road is shown to be much rockier than before, until we just get it, or he we are totally driven off of it.


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