The Life & Ministry of William Irvine
Revised February 27, 2011
Fact Sheet For The Three Factions Originally Founded by Wm Irvine:
(1) The Church Without A Name - Also Known As: The Truth, The Friends, The Workers, The Two-by-Twos, The Cooneyites, The Way, The No Name Church, Christian Convention Church (CCC)
(2) The Wm Irvine Omega Message and Followers
(3) The Edward Cooney Followers – The chief spokesperson for this group, author Patricia Roberts, was invited to give their views on the following subjects, but declined.
POLICIES & PROCEDURES
GOVERNMENT & ORGANIZATION
WHAT THEY BELIEVE
THEIR FOUNDER AND HISTORY
HOW THE 2x2s DIFFER FROM ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN BELIEFS
In What They Believe
In What They Do NOT Believe
1. GROUP NAMES and NICKNAMES:
2x2: Claim to take no official name, but group is called: "The Truth, The No-Name Church, The Friends, The Way, The Two-by-Two's, The Cooneyites," etc. Officially registered with various governments under names of: Christian Conventions in USA; Assemblies of Christians in Canada; The Testimony of Jesus in England; The Christian Assemblies of Australia; The Christian Assemblies of New Zealand; The United Christian Conventions of Australasia and New Zealand; Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies.
Omega: Group calls themselves "The Message," but this is not a formally acknowledged name. They are called the Omega Message Followers; they are “In The Message." Some outsiders refer to them by the eponym: “Irvinites.”
2. MEMBERS – NAMES & NICKNAMES:
2x2: Called: "the friends, saints, children of God, brothers/sisters in Christ, the Kingdom, family of God."
Omega: Called: "The Little Ones,” “the Message People,” “The Witnesses,” and “Little Ones.”
3. THEIR CLERGY:
2x2: Called: "workers, servants, handmaidens, evangelists." Shun formal religious training and education in original Bible languages. Lay members supply ministers' needs. Workers travel with assigned companions of the same sex, usually with older having authority over younger. Ascetic lifestyle.
Omega: Have no clergy, leaders, preachers, workers or saints; no classes of members. Each person is responsible for witnessing to others. There is no hierarchy or member list. (To keep a member list would be considered wicked, as it would give someone the power to judge and decide who is on and off the list.)
2x2: Sin is possible after age of accountability, usually around 12 or 13 yrs of age. Sin is “missing the mark” and “falling short.” Transgression is a sin of presumption, or deliberately sinning, as in remarriage. Sin is disobedience to what the workers’ dictate and/or their interpretations of scripture. Sinners are (1) all those not walking in the 2x2 System; and (2) those in the 2x2 System who are not “of the way,” by being disobedient in some area. Some believe remarriage after divorce is an unforgivable sin.
Omega: Sin is human nature, from which there is no escape. God doesn’t judge the "honest hearted" people for sin. Sin includes all thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, except those specified as wicked. Wickedness is the opposite of "honest hearted" and will be judged by God. There are a few signs of wickedness which will send a person straight to hell.
· Gossiping, judging, despising or accusing others of sins.
· Participating in any religious ritual, church activities, including praying in public.
· Not accepting Wm. Irvine as the prophet of God.
Sin is between the individual and God only. One only need to confess to God—not to the individual who was wronged [Ps 32:1]. The sin unto death is when the wicked one is allowed to make us hate, despise, get angry, accuse and scandalize and hurt our brother. (See June 14, 1930 Letter to Loitz)
2x2: Contends the group is a family, not an organization, religion or a denomination; non-incorporated, not tax-exempt, with no headquarters.
Omega: All churches, organizations, or anything "made by hand" is hateful to God. "God does not dwell in temples made by hand." “…there is no God in the (church) buildings, nor in the people who go to buildings to worship God, and the men whom we call priest, ministers etc. only do it for an easy life and gain from deceiving others as they have been…” (See May 6, 1928 Letter to Mrs. Mattes)
6. DAY OF WORSHIP:
2x2: Worship on Sunday because Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Sunday considered day of rest, and they cease work.
Omega: No special religious days are recognized. Every day is supposed to be of God. Don’t do or not do anything special on Sunday. (See October 26, 1932 Letter to Lottie Corbett)
2X2: King James Version used exclusively in English-speaking areas.
Omega: King James Version used exclusively, as Irvine recommended it. They consider Irvine's “reading” (interpretation) to be the finish of the New Testament (The Epistles).
8. PRINTED MATERIAL & HYMNAL:
2X2: Use their own compilation: Hymns Old and New published by R. L. Allan & Son, England, 1987.
Omega: Religious songs are considered wicked trappings of corrupt churches. No published hymnal or printed material. Irvine’s letters about his Omega Message have been copied and handed down through the years. There is no central bank of letters, and no follower has all of his letters; everyone keeps their own files of letters.
Cooneyites: Use Hymns Old & New, 1951 Edition
2x2: Two principal types: (1) Sunday and midweek Fellowship Meetings: participation by members in prayers, testimonies and hymns. (2) Series of Gospel Meetings conducted by their evangelists for the purpose of converting non-members.
Omega: Hold no meetings, bible study groups or conventions. Any structured service is considered wicked because someone would have to put themselves in a position of power to organize and structure it. Message People occasionally socialize informally with each other in small groups, usually at their homes or in public places like restaurants or parks.
10. MEETING/CHURCH SITES:
2x2: Congregation meets ONLY in homes for Fellowship Meetings, taking literally; "God dwells not in temples made with hands." [Acts 7:48, 17:24] No restrictions placed on sites for their Gospel Meeting services. Strongly opposed to fellowshipping in church buildings. An often used slogan indicates the emphasis placed their methods: "the ministers without a home, and the church in the home."
Omega: Do not assemble together for regular meetings.
2x2: Observe baptism and breaking of bread as ordinances given to God’s people under the New Testament. Baptism is by complete immersion; oppose infant baptism and sprinkling. Communion (bread and grape juice in a common cup) served in most Sunday meetings, usually reserved for baptized members approved by ministers.
Omega: Rituals of baptism, communion, funeral, marriage, ceremonies of any kind, and converting others, etc. is not of the New Thing, and are considered wicked. “The Devil today uses Baptism and breaking of bread to gather people into Babylon” (Oct. 12, 1932 Letter to Harvey Beard).
2x2: Address their prayers to the Father, in Jesus’ Name, asking for His spiritual help and forgiveness. They rarely ask for material or natural things. Prayer is made in private, morning and evenings, except spoken aloud at meetings and before meals.
Omega: Do not pray; do not pray for others. They talk to God about anything and anyone.
2x2: Public profession in a Gospel Meeting is required to become a member. Previous baptisms are not recognized, and a convert must be baptized or re-baptized into the 2x2 System.
Omega: Converted when a person believes in their heart that Wm Irvine is the prophet of God. No other acknowledgement is required. Irvine did not say that a person must believe the Omega Message through one of His Omega followers.
14. AFTERLIFE - HEAVEN & HELL:
2x2: Believe all people either receive eternal life in heaven or eternal punishment in hell, depending upon their lifestyle while on earth.
Omega: Believe in heaven and hell. All people either receive eternal life in heaven or eternal punishment in hell, depending upon whether they believe in Wm Irvine.
15. JESUS’ RETURN TO EARTH:
2x2: Believe Jesus will return in the clouds, but rarely mention it. It is not emphasized.
Omega: Believe Jesus returned August, 1914. Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, or fill it out and finish it off. Jesus comes back again after the 7-year tribulation with his bride which is the Disciples, Apostles in Alpha times. Not everyone will come with him.
POLICIES & PROCEDURES
2x2: Claim they have no rules or regulations. Some taboos or expectations vary according to locality. The following unwritten taboos are generally recognized by the entire group as being unacceptable: Televisions, movies, stereos, smoking, drinking, illegal drug use, swearing, gambling, dancing, reading Christian books or literature, Christian symbols, current fads and fashions, jewelry (except for wedding rings, pins and watches). No short hair, make-up, slacks or shorts for women. No long hair for men. Women are expected to dress very modestly and wear their long hair uncut and pinned up on their head.
Omega: None. All dress and behavior is "of the flesh" and of no consequence to God. They believe if a person "has a honest heart" (meaning they believe in Wm. Irvine). God will forgive everything, including murder. The only exception to that is what constitutes wickedness (gossip, judging others, participation in church activities, not believing in Wm Irvine). Use rule of moderation—nothing excessive. No rules regarding smoking, alcoholic beverages, dances, movies, TV. No customs for women regarding slacks/shorts, hair length and style, wearing jewelry or make-up. Wm Irvine smoked a pipe.
NOTE: Wm. Irvine regretted his stand in The Testimony prohibiting drinking and smoking: "When they have all finished, they will be convinced as I am that we gravely misrepresented our God in the way we treated the use of wines and tobacco. It had no more to do with the Gospel than the color of a man's hair or the smell of onions… If I had all the words I have spoken against drink and tobacco back again, I would drink them all down so that they would never stumble another; for now I know they were of the Devil, while I thought they were of God when I spoke them." (December 13, 1920 Letter to Alfred Magowan)
2x2: Usual holidays observed, including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Easter and Christmas are not celebrated religiously. Customs vary.
Omega: Usual holidays observed, including Halloween and Thanksgiving. Easter and Christmas are not celebrated religiously. Customs vary; some consider it wicked to participate in any way in Christmas activity.
2x2: In general, they do not now forbid higher education, but it is not encouraged either. In the decades since 1950, there has been far less discouragement of higher education. Prefer training for trades where you work with your hands, nursing and teaching. Professions in law enforcement, the arts (music), anything involving politics are not acceptable, and any profession that restricts the ability to be off on Sundays.
Omega: Higher Education is not encouraged, as “the more people are educated and exalted, the further from the possibility of hearing the Voice of the Lord God by The Man whom He sends…“ (See Nov. 24, 1927 Letter to Hooes)
2x2: Career in politics is not approved; no political involvement preferred. Some do not vote, feeling God is in control, and what happens is His Will.
Omega: They pay very close attention to current world events and look in them for Wm. Irvine’s prophecies being fulfilled.
2x2: Held annually in most states for four days, three meetings per day. Size in the U.S. ranges from approximately 300 to 1,200 attendees. Members are strongly urged to attend one complete convention per year. Convention property owned by approved members. Buildings used especially for the convention are usually constructed with funds donated by members.
Omega: None (see Services)
21. MILITARY SERVICE:
2x2: Approved method of serving in armed services is in Conscientious Objector capacity, refusing to bear arms, taking literally the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill.”
Omega: Serving in the Military to defend your country when necessary is the duty of a citizen. "Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's."
2x2: Do not approve, except in exceptional life-threatening instances.
Omega: Personal choice. No life will be taken that isn’t God’s will.
2x2: Marriage is the Second Best choice of how to spend one's life. It is preferred that couples do not to marry, and instead become a Worker. However, for those who marry, it is strongly recommended that spouse be a group member. Performed by civil authorities, as their ministers are not licensed. Home weddings are common. Some elders perform marriages.
Omega: A civil contract; human issue. Considered to be "of the flesh" and of no consequence to God. Handle as parties involved see fit. Shouldn’t be unequally yoked with a person other than a Message Person. Performed by civil authorities. Home weddings are common. Having children is strongly warned against "woe to those who give suck in the last days." Families, eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage is all vanity and dust. “Home, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, wives, children and property--what men love most are the dust pile which clings and clogs any attempt to go forth as He did and taught others to do.” (October 27, 1944 Letter to: Southworths)
2x2: Highly discourage divorce. Some believe remarriage after divorce is an unforgivable sin.
Omega: Considered to be "of the flesh" and of no consequence to God.
2x2: After spouse dies, remarriage to group member is acceptable. Privileges permitted divorcees after remarriage vary depending on the overseer in charge. Some believe remarriage after divorce is an unforgivable sin.
Omega: Considered to be "of the flesh" and of no consequence to God.
2x2: God does not hold children accountable for their actions until after they reach the age of accountability – usually around 12 or 13 yrs of age.
Omega: Children are in the Covenant of either blessing or cursing with their parents till they become of age to choose for or against. Father or Mother can always claim for each other or the family. Home ties and fellowship are of little value.
2x2: Women have an equal part in worship services. Wives are to be submissive to their husbands. It is preferred that wives stay at home and be full-time housewives. Women preachers are subordinate to the male preachers.
Omega: William took a dim view of women preachers or leaders. He wrote a long letter about “The Feminist Movement” (February 25, 1927 letter to J. J. Fladung). “No woman can be an Apostle in going forth as He sent His chosen disciples to be, then, now and forever. They who were Apostles forsook houses, father, mother, brother, sister, wife and children and lands, which were necessary for the generation of the world.” (May 18, 1944 Letter to Edwards)
28. DEATH & BURIAL:
2x2: Funeral services by workers usually held in funeral homes. Burial is usually in ground. Some use cremation.
Omega: No ceremonies, no preachers. Either cremation or burial are acceptable
2x2: Contends the group has no headquarters; is not an organization, religion or a denomination; is not incorporated and is not tax-exempt.
Omega: None. Not affiliated with any group, church or organized religion. Against organized religion. Members keep in contact with other followers through letters and visits. Followers are scattered across the world, with most located in the USA.
30. NUMBERS OF ADHERENTS:
2x2: No census records of membership available. Member estimates range between 150,000 and 250,000 worldwide. In 1987-88, the USA and Canada listed a total of 1,071 workers with 63% being women and 37% being men.
Omega: No member list. Estimate for the year 2000 is less than 200 worldwide. Since they are not organized, no one knows their numbers, and most do not know each other. Some followers are known to be in Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia, USA-California, Oregon, Seattle and some in southern states. Some are in their 7th generation from WmI.
Cooneyites: Estimate less than 100 worldwide.
31. OUTREACH or EVANGELISM:
2x2: Found in majority of countries worldwide.
Omega: No organized collective outreach. People witness to others as the opportunity arises in their daily lives. Irvine’s writings are purposely not published. He believed the Omega Message should be given as Jesus and the Disciples gave the Message of their day, one-on-one, through individual contact sharing Irvine’s reading of Revelation with anyone who would listen. They do not go door- to-door.
2x2: States, provinces or regions are controlled by a male head worker who assigns fields to workers under his authority. Each field contains various home churches, where up to 35 meet, over which an elder presides. Overseers and elders are men. There are less than ten senior USA overseers, to whom the state leaders report.
Omega: No leader after Wm Irvine died. Any attempts to become a leader are considered wicked.
2x2: Group is characterized by rigid authoritarianism. Workers have absolute authority in all matters. Members have no representation and no means of recourse. Members exist for the 2x2 System, rather than the System existing for the members. Unquestioning loyalty is expected.
Omega: None. Everyone does what their conscience dictates. There are no leaders, preachers, workers or saints.
2x2: Implemented with talks, threats and shunning. Not unusual for communion or baptism to be withheld; or for the offender's part in prayer and testimony to be taken away. Meeting may be removed from an offender's home. Excommunication occurs rarely.
Omega: No formal process. However the history of the Message is rife with people being ostracized by others shunning them, which practice is considered wicked, and the members vehemently deny doing so.
2x2: No collections taken. No accounting of donations made to the congregation. Claim ministers do not use bank accounts. Monetary contributions are made by laymen individually to various ministers, rather than collectively. Do not accept donations from non-members.
Omega: None. Sell nothing, collect nothing, do not expect anything in exchange for speaking to people about Irvine’s reading of the Revelation Message. Follow Wm. Irvine for free, “without money and without price.” Irvine's followers supported him by sending him money.
WHAT THEY BELIEVE
2x2: No doctrinal statement published. Profess their doctrine is the Bible only.
Omega: No doctrinal statement published. Profess their doctrine is the Bible and letters from Wm Irvine.
2x2: State they believe and follow only "the teachings of the New Testament."
Omega: State they follow the teachings of God’s prophet, Wm Irvine, whose word supercedes the Bible.
2x2: There is only one God. God is the Heavenly Father, the Creator.
Omega: There is only one God. God is God, the Father, the Creator. The Trinity are the Three sides of God's Personality. The Jesus of Revelation 1 is the God they worship today.
2x2: View Jesus as God's only son, who is today under the authority and position of His Father; but He is not considered God the Son. They believe Jesus was the promised Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; lived a perfect life; came to establish a ministry pattern [Matt. 10] to be followed universally forever after; was crucified, died and rose again bodily before ascending to Heaven; look for His second coming.
Omega: God’s only son. Believe Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; lived a perfect life, was crucified, died and rose again bodily before ascending to Heaven; look for His second coming. In the last days, Jesus will play a big role in vengeance against the world, which is viewed as wicked and corrupt. Jesus is God. Jesus is Lord of Hosts; Jehovah in Old Testament; the God-child. Jesus came as Alpha to finish off the Old Testament work. And to offer himself as the supreme sacrifice, through His Blood, but salvation is obtained through the end of Jesus' work, which is the Omega work. The Jesus of Revelation 1 is the God they worship today.
40. HOLY SPIRIT:
2x2: God’s Spirit. A force or power emanating from God or Jesus to a child of God. The Spirit comes and goes.
Omega: The Holy Spirit is the Mother side of the trinity; the one that leads, guides, teaches, nurtures, and protects.
2x2: A fallen angel engaged in an age-long struggle to deceive and seduce men to follow him rather than obey God. He is evil, a deceiver, a murderer, a liar, and has power only insofar as God allows.
Omega: A fallen angel engaged in an age-long struggle to deceive and seduce men to follow him rather than obey God. He is evil, a deceiver, a murderer, a liar. He will also play a big part in the last days.
2x2: Created by God per Genesis account. Adolescents reach "the age of accountability," when they are responsible to God for their actions, usually around 12-13 years of age.
Omega: Born in sin. They are basically wicked and evil to the core. Only through belief in Wm. Irvine as the prophet can one be saved. Do not believe in Original Sin.
2x2: Men and women follows Jesus' instructions to His disciples in Matt. 10:5-14, Mark 6 and Luke 9. They leave their homes, give their possessions away and go from place to place preaching in pairs (two and two), unmarried, living with and taking meals from those willing to receive them. They do not ask for contributions, accept no salary, taking literally Jesus' command: "freely give as you have freely received." [Matt. 10:8]
Omega: All followers are lay people.
2x2: Salvation can only be obtained by accepting Jesus (professing) through one of their workers, following their particular belief system and the worker’s doctrine, which meets in homes for worship and continuing faithfully in it until death. They believe they may earn salvation by their good works. It is not known if one is saved until after death. Faith in Christ is proven by adherence to the teaching of the workers’ exclusive ministry.
Omega: Accepting and following Irvine’s prophecies is the only way to get to Heaven. They are worshipers of God the Father and the OMEGA Jesus, but disciples of William Irvine, as Jesus’ Messenger-prophet. It is vital to accept Jesus as Omega and recognize that "The Last Days" began in 1914, when He took the Throne. Only the people who hear and accept His Omega Message are God’s people. Only God knows who they all are, because man has until the eleventh hour to choose. Salvation is between the individual and God, and will occur AFTER Rev. 12 is fulfilled, which is after the Rev. 22 conditions have been met. [Rev 12:10] “…saying in heaven, Now is come salvation…” No one is saved now, not even Wm. Irvine or the Apostles. “Saved" means saved from the Tribulation, which hasn't started yet. Wm Irvine's litmus test for salvation: "And men, good, bad or indifferent or perfect are to be Judged by their attitude to my reading of Revelation." (April 18, 1928 Letter to Ted Baessler)
2x2: Good works earn one rewards and salvation. Rewards and salvation are not differentiated.
Omega: “Verse 11 shows it don't matter whether people are unjust, filthy, righteous or holy. Their reward depends on their attitude to His Man and Message of Revelation. They will either be for or against him and their reward according to.” (Sept. 27, 1935 Letter to Hooes)
2x2: There is no cohesive teaching or interpretation of the Book of Revelations. It is rarely addressed. When it is the subject of a worker’s sermon, it is usually not from the point of prophesy, but is spiritualized.
Omega: They are waiting for the Second Woe, or The Worldwide War to occur. Three wars are mentioned in Rev. 8 and 9; World War I was Rev 8; World War II was Rev. 9:1-12, and the next/third war will be the Second Woe, which begins with world wide drought.
47. HEALING, MIRACLES, SPEAKING IN TONGUES, CASTING OUT DEMONS:
2x2: Viewed as divine signs occurring only in the first century to confirm and convince. They interpret the term “speaking in tongues” to mean speaking in foreign languages.
Omega: Viewed as works of Satan to lead people astray from God.
48. OTHER CHURCHES:
2x2: All other churches and religious groups, including Omega followers and Cooneyites have been deceived, and consequently, all their adherents will suffer a lost eternity.
Omega: Feel the 2x2s are no different than the Catholics, Protestants or even Satanists. They've all been lied to by people who wanted place and power.
THE FOUNDER AND HISTORY
49. STARTING DATE:
2x2: The 2x2 sect is about 100 years old, and was started by William Irvine, John Long and Edward Cooney in Ireland around the turn of the twentieth century. In 1914, the chief workers overthrew the leadership of Wm Irvine, and took control for themselves. Irvine was demoted. The majority of the sect's adherents continued to follow the other leading workers (sometimes referred to as the “2x2s, The Testimony, The Truth”).
Omega: Official Break-off Date from The Testimony: In 1918, Irvine began to believe he was divinely appointed to bring the last message of Jesus to the world before the age of grace ended in August 1914. Most of the other workers did not agree with Wm Irvine’s new revelation. Some remained loyal to Wm. Irvine, and these are sometimes referred to as the “Message People, the Witnesses, or Irvinites.”
Cooneyites: Official Break-off Date from The Testimony: In 1928, Ed Cooney, considered to be The Testimony co-founder, was excommunicated from the 2x2 sect. Some of his loyal followers also left with him (who are sometimes referred to as the "Cooneyites").
NOTE: None of these three groups that sprang from the sect originally founded by Wm Irvine take an official name for their belief system.
HOW THE 2x2s DIFFER FROM ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN BELIEFS
In What They Believe:
That Their Fellowship:
is a direct historical continuation of the New Testament church
is "from the beginning"
is God's ONLY true way; therefore, all other church members, preachers, churches and religions are "false".
comes by grace AND works (self-effort)
is earned or merited through faithfulness and righteousness
is determined at death
is not possible without being in their fellowship
is conditional upon works and not secure
sanctification comes BEFORE justification
came to be a perfect example, pattern minister or way-shower
life is equal or more important than His death
created a way to Heaven through His death; and a way on earth by his life; which is one and the same method as their fellowship.
That Their Ministers:
are God's only true ministers
one must go through them (mediators) to be saved
are the supreme authorities in Biblical interpretation
have authority and rule over members
viewpoints are considered as authoritative as the written Word
traditions are equal in importance with God's commands.
HOW THEY DIFFER FROM ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN BELIEFS
In What They Do NOT Believe:
in the Triune God
in the deity of Jesus (That Jesus is God the Son)
in the deity of the Holy Spirit (God the Holy Spirit)
the Holy Spirit permanently indwells every believer
in the finished work of Christ
that Jesus came to be our substitute in His life and death
that man is born in sin
in eternal security
in the priesthood of all believers
conversion can take place through the written Word without human agency
one can know they are saved in this lifetime
salvation can be attained without going through their ministers
in total reliance upon Jesus' shed blood for salvation
that salvation is an unconditionally free gift of God
in salvation solely by grace through faith in Jesus, and not of works
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