Autobiography of Cherie Kropp-Ehrig
My Quest for Truth
There are just two kinds of people:
One to whom Belief is more precious than Truth,
And the other to whom Truth is more precious than Belief.
I was born and raised, third generation, in a nameless church. My grandparents were adults when they became followers of this church around 1930. As teenagers, my parents chose to follow in this Sect, and I did also. More or less, I inherited my spiritual beliefs.
My grandparents had asked questions and searched until they found answers that satisfied them, which came in the form of the Workers and their church. Since my parents were followers of this church, I was handed the answers without ever asking the questions. I knew what was “right” and “wrong,” but often I did not know why.
For a time, I accepted my hand-me-down beliefs without question. I was taught at a young age that our church was God’s ONLY true church on Earth and all other churches were “false churches.” We were told and believed that it had been passed down in an unbroken chain from the original 12 apostles to the Workers today. We followed Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament as we understood them.
I totally accepted the Bible as God’s Word and will. However, I did not believe that every word from a Worker’s mouth was from God. It troubled me that some church restrictions had no Biblical basis, such as the many outward customs I was expected to follow as a woman and later as a parent. I was extremely concerned because I feared some friends and relatives I loved dearly would be lost for all eternity—just because they couldn’t abide by some requirements that had no foundation in the Bible. I asked Workers questions and got nowhere. I was told my problem was myself and that I had a wrong spirit or I would not be questioning. I was subjected to their attempts to shame me and their ad hominem attacks against me. Needless to say, their answers did not satisfy me.
As long as I can remember, I have loved and valued TRUTH. For years I had been sweeping things that didn’t ring true under the rug, thinking that someday I will understand—someday down the road when I was older, wiser, more mature. The Workers frequently said that “this Way is so simple a child can understand it.” I reached my landmark birthday of 40 years and realized that I was no longer a child, and still I could not comprehend the so-called “simple truth” of the church I had been attending all my life. Furthermore, no one could (or would) explain it to me in a simple way that created conviction in my heart (much less, convince a child!)
Surely, I was now “old enough.” I resolved that I would understand the beliefs of my church. Armed with Jesus’ promises in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you,” my quest for truth began with a simple vow I made to God that was destined to have a significant impact on my life:
Lord, if you’ll help me to understand. . .I will help others understand.
God came for my words just a short time later … “for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Daniel 10:12 KJV).
Little did I realize at the time I made my vow that it would involve years of commitment. This book is the result. Now that I understand the beliefs of this church more fully, I’ve been able to help others to understand also. My work will continue until I am released from my vow. I often felt driven to write and research. I could identify with Paul feeling driven to preach, “I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16 KJV).
God does not condemn those who question or examine the Scripture. Truth can bear scrutiny. He tells us to “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1). The Bereans were commended because they “searched the scriptures [to see] whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11 KJV).
I placed my trust in Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7, prayed for guidance, and firmly believed God wanted me to understand His will and way and would enable me to do so. I began to earnestly and intensely study my Bible with an open mind and spirit. I also prayed fervently that God would not allow me to be deceived as I re-evaluated my entire belief system. I spent countless hours pursuing, investigating, measuring, evaluating, eventually either accepting, rejecting the beliefs I held because I found sufficient or insufficient scriptural evidence to support them; or I filed them in the Pending File in my brain, awaiting further information.
I was filled with joy while proving these things; in exploring my inherited, hand-me-down, unexamined beliefs, forming my own personal beliefs and values and discovering for myself their scriptural basis. I can attest that it is true, “If ye KNOW these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 4:42; 1 John 2:26-27; 1 Tim. 4:7, Matt. 22:29 KJV).
My first breakthrough occurred in 1989. An envelope arrived in the mailbox that pointed me to the answers to my questions, and at the same time, it turned my world upside down. It contained an advertisement for copies of old newspaper articles from the Impartial Reporter and Farmer’s Journal, which was the local newspaper for Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
I ordered the articles and saw names of early Workers familiar to me, such as George Walker and Jack Carroll. I read about early Irish Conventions. They also mentioned a man I had never heard of named William Irvine. Supposedly, he had founded the church in which George Walker and Jack Carroll were preachers around the turn of the 20th century; in other words, my church! These articles are posted on the website Telling the Truth at tellingthetruth.info
I knew that Workers and Friends claimed their church was approximately 2,000 years old. If these articles were true, then my church had really started around the turn of the 20th century and therefore, was less than 100 years old! This seemed farfetched and utterly preposterous. However, this information was far too serious to dismiss or to accept without investigating it thoroughly for myself.
The chief reason many of the Friends and Workers chose this church over other churches was because they believed it was Jesus’ original church that had continued in a direct line from the Apostles to Workers to Workers, from faith to faith, to the present day and to us. That it was Jesus’ only true church by way of apostolic succession. All Christian churches claim their spiritual beliefs began with Jesus over 1900 years ago—but this church claimed their Sect historically began on this earth 1900 years earlier as well, and now it appeared that may not be true.
I started by talking to some Friends and Workers and was shocked when some confirmed the 1897 beginning. I also found four American Workers had admitted in newspaper articles to there being a founder or a beginning around the turn of the 20th century. This was really disturbing.
I found a book titled The Secret Sect by an Australian couple named Doug and Helen Parker published in 1982 that presented an account of how and when this church began and continued. The book was well written and well documented. But what did I know? With my salvation at stake, I was not about to simply believe the words of some authors I had never heard of! I had to find out for myself.
“From the cowardice that shrinks from new truths…
From the laziness that is content with half truths…
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth…
O God of Truth, deliver us.” (Author unknown)
I decided I would do my best to independently verify the facts in Parkers’ book, The Secret Sect. For example, I independently obtained my own copy of a letter that Parkers claimed George Walker had written to the Selective Service System in 1942, which stated:
“During the closing years of the last century and the first years of this century, a number of people in the British Isles and in America were exercised in heart and mind, through their study of the Scriptures, in regard to the methods of preaching and worship in the several churches of which they were then members. They were deeply concerned about spiritual things and became fully convinced that there should be a return to the methods and purpose taught and carried out by Christ and His first disciples. This conviction led to…religious meetings, and in due time a number of these people went forth to devote their lives to the preaching of the Gospel” (Walker 1942, TTT).
In Hymns Old and New, I noticed the only hymns dated before the year 1900 were written by outsiders, i.e. no hymns were written by a Friend or Worker before the year 1900. This agreed with the starting date for the church given by Parkers.
As my investigation continued, with every confirmation of Parkers’ claims that I unearthed, my confidence in the church slipped another notch. By the end of my investigation, I had found only a few small insignificant errors in Parkers’ book. None jeopardized the accuracy of the book. They were not falsehoods, but rather were scribal errors, not intended to deceive—errors in dates of newspaper articles and in the spelling of a few names. There seemed to be no way around the obvious. Parkers’ information was accurate. I finally came to the point where I accepted Parkers’ facts as truth and realigned my beliefs accordingly.
The agony of deceit was crushing and extremely painful. I felt as if a rug had been pulled out from under me. My foundation crumbled. It hurt more since we had been deliberately tricked! Betrayed! Like a child discovering Santa Claus is Daddy (only far, far worse). I felt robbed, ripped off, swindled, gypped, hoodwinked and cheated. We had been intentionally deceived by those we trusted above all others—the Workers who referred to their church “the Truth.” I grieved.
I resolved to allow only God and the Bible to lead me, believing that: “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). I no longer trusted any person to lead me in matters of faith. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5). God had not let me down—it was men who had.
I asked the Head Worker of Oklahoma, Harry Brownlee, for the scripture for some of their requirements and scripture showing their church was Jesus’ only church. He replied with experiences, not scripture. He had heard that William Irvine was an early Worker. As to the beginning of the church of which he was a preacher, he only knew of the beginning for his family, i.e. when the Workers came to their community. On the other hand, he firmly stated, “It is not of apostolic succession.” His reply further confirmed to me that Parkers’ facts were accurate.
Eventually, I simply could not stay in Meetings. I reminded Harry Brownlee that the Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit” (1 Thes. 5:19 KJV). I told him I didn’t see how I could obey that verse if I stayed in Meetings. I knew that by leaving, I risked losing my family, parents, husband, brother, friends and my lifestyle. To my surprise, my mother, brother and husband left about a year later. My young children had not professed. We explained that we had discovered some new information about the Church that caused us to decide it wasn’t the best church for us. They found that to be a good reason and accepted it.
I attended my last Gospel Meeting in June 1990. I let about 100 of my friends and relatives know of my decision and reasons for it in an exit letter. I received some nice and some not-so-nice replies. Some who were already aware of the Two by Two Sect’s short history and its founder, William Irvine, wrote me about their knowledge. To some, the idea that this fellowship had a founder was simply inconceivable. Others provided their viewpoints, arguments and expressions of regret, kindness, understanding, compassion, scorn, reproof, pity, judgment and warnings. Some left Meetings later and called or wrote to apologize and said they now understood the contents of my letter and agreed with it. Those were precious replies.
I resolved to do unto others what I wished had been done to me, taking seriously the command, “as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31 KJV). I sincerely wished my family and I had known the details concerning the origins of this church. That knowledge would have enabled us to avoid much hurt, pain, suffering and heartache
I wrote this book to help set captives free to enjoy the grace of God and freedom in Christ. To help relieve suffering and aid the oppressed. To promote justice and mercy. Contrary to what some seem to think, my purpose has never been “to destroy the faith of others.” Far from it—that’s the last thing I would want to do. I hope to help others have a closer walk with God, and I recommend placing faith and trust exclusively in Jesus Christ and relying on His blood sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.
Soon after I left Meetings, I began writing this book. I have enjoyed this project immensely and it has been very fulfilling. I’m indebted to countless sources all over the world who have helped me along the way. I am dedicated to protecting, preserving and sharing the facts about the beginning of the Church without a Name, its Founder, William Irvine, and his ministry which have been hidden and covered up for over a century.
My goal is the same as Mahatma Gandhi’s, “I shall conquer untruth with truth.”
Written for the Love of Truth,
Cherie (Berry) Kropp-Ehrig