by Betty Bruechert “T H E C O O N E Y IT E S ” A f r ie n d from Idaho writes: “ Tell me something about the Cooney- ites, or as they are sometimes called, ‘The Two-by-Two’s.’ They are strong in this area. What is wrong with their teaching?” This is one of the very small sects in America. It began in Ireland in 1894 and emigrated to the United States about the turn of the century. The founder was a Scotsman, Wil liam Weir Irvine, who had been con nected with an Irish mission. First he worked in Methodist churches, then began to denounce them and all organized religion, claiming them to be apostate. He gathered a few fol lowers who gave up their secular em ployment and turned over to the sect their possessions. Because they in sisted that they were called to “Go,” they were first named “Go Preach ers” ; then because they did not en gage in gainful employment and wore shabby clothing, they were called “ Tramp Preachers.” The most outstanding convert was Edward Cooney, a fiery, fanatical rabble- rouser, and soon they were designat ed as “ Cooneyites.” They established “ churches” with “ bishops” at the head and conducted private home meetings on Sunday mornings and public prayer meetings during the week. Their method of operation is to locate in an obscure place, and seek those they consider “worthy.” If none respond, they literally shake the dust off their feet against them. They enlist young men and women to go out “ two by two” to propagate their doctrines, and discourage mar riage. It is difficult to pin-point Cooney- ite doctrines because they are averse to publishing any literature. They claim the Bible is but a “ dead book” unless it is preached by them. Their main theme is “ the Jesus way” but it is not Scriptural because it is not the way of salvation, based upon the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. They attempt to get people to follow “ the Jesus way”—to imitate Christ—without being bom again by the Spirit of God. In addition they teach that Christ had a sinful, human nature against which He was obliged to battle and that His work was not finished on the cross, but must be completed by them. “ From such with draw thyself” (I Tim. 6:3).
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