Resources

For Cross-Examining the Church with No Name (2x2s)

Those who are transitioning from hyper-fundamentalism to mainstream Christianity often have so many questions—good questions—more than we can answer with our content alone. In an endeavor to help you find quality content to read and consider, we’ve compiled the following directory of resources addressing frequently asked questions.

There is a lot of information here. If you’re still in the process of disentangling faith and hammering out what you believe, this page may quickly become overwhelming. Please don’t feel pressured to find all the answers in a day. God sees where you are, He is pleased that you are seeking His truth, and He cares about you. If you find yourself becoming mentally/emotionally exhausted, it’s okay to take a step back, breathe, relax, and come back at a later time when your mind is refreshed and able to focus. If at any point you need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out! We’re here for you and are happy to listen, as well as connect you with likeminded believers.

This resource page was created to be as comprehensive as possible, so please feel free to bookmark the page and take your time working through each topic. Please note, we may not be in complete agreement with all the content, authors, and organizations we recommend. However, each source on this page has been carefully selected and vetted as much as possible for alignment with Christian values. If a resource made our list, then we believe it contains valuable information that is worth taking into consideration. We pray that iron will sharpen iron as you examine various interpretations in your search for Scriptural truth and disentangle from harmful teachings.

Directory

2x2s/Friends and Workers/The Truth/The Meetings/The Church with No Name

Different former members of “the Church with No Name” have mentioned that this group (referred to by outsiders as the 2x2s) does not publish or record their doctrines.  This makes cross-examination of their doctrine more complicated, but definitely not impossible. That is why the resource page is started off with the personal stories of those who have disentangled from this movement and yet remained Christians. They are able to identify teachings and combat them with Scripture in a way that would be more difficult for someone coming from the outside.

Great lengths seem to have been made not only to keep the public from knowing the 2×2 teachings, but also their history. It is vital to look back on the origins of the Two-by-Two’s to understand it today. This history begins with two men named William Irvine and Edward Cooney, from the early 1900’s in Northern Ireland.

Certain teachings of the 2×2’s, and misunderstandings of traditional Christian beliefs, are then addressed in the following section.

After that, because such a large number are leaving due to scandals within the group, resources are listed for those who need it.

The resource page is concluded with advice from former 2×2’s, Facebook support groups to connect with other former 2×2’s, and a list of comprehensive websites with more information and historical documents regarding the origin and teachings of the 2×2’s.

Our prayer for you is that as you work through this page, you become confident that Jesus is The Way and The Truth, rather than the 2×2 belief system and ministry model.

 

Personal Stories

Books

Podcasts

  • The Hidden Truth Podcast (interviews other former 2x2s) on Spotify or Apple
    • Cheri Kropp’s interview (author of Preserving the Truth) on Spotify or Apple
    • Hod Allen’s interview (former 2×2 minister/worker) on Spotify or Apple
  • Spectrum: A 7NEWS Podcast
    • Elizabeth Coleman’s interview (author of Cult to Christ) on Spotify or Apple

YouTube

Cross-Examining 2×2 Teachings

Is the 2×2 Ministry Model “The Way” and “The Truth?”

Books

Articles

YouTube

“I would like to ask, did Jesus come to set up ‘a way’ or was He ‘the Way’?”

—Lynn Cooper, “The Church With No Name,” emphasis added

“What the Bible Teaches…What the Workers Preach”

By Lynn Cooper, in “The Church with No Name”

“The Bible teaches…Salvation is through Jesus alone by grace through faith
The Workers preach…Salvation is through the Workers and through our own works (self-denial)

“The Bible teaches…Grace is God’s unmerited favour towards us
The Workers preach…Grace is an easy way to heaven

“The Bible teaches…Repentance is turning from sin as in Galatians 5:19-21
The Workers preach…Repentance is following the workers’ rules; believing other churches are wrong

“The Bible teaches…Sin the works of the flesh as in [Galatians] 5:19-21
The Workers preach…Sin is worldliness as defined by the Workers

“The Bible teaches…Faith is believing in Jesus
The Workers preach…Faith is following the workers

“The Bible teaches…The Gospel is the message of being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ
The Workers preach…The Gospel is the two by two homeless ministry and the church in the home

“The Bible teaches…Truth is Jesus Christ (John 14:6)
The Workers preach…Truth is the meeting in the home and the two by two ministry

“The Bible teaches…The Way is Jesus Christ and He is the only way to God
The Workers preach…The Way is the meeting in the home and the two by two ministry

“The Bible teaches…Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins
The Workers preach…Jesus came to show us a ministry

“The Bible teaches…that Jesus is our Saviour.
The Workers peach…that Jesus is our example, pattern and our elder brother.

“The Bible teaches…The Holy Spirit dwells within the believer and is part of the ‘Godhead’
The Workers preach…The Holy Spirit is ‘a force.’

“The Bible teaches…That the Body of Christ is all those who believe and follow Jesus
The Workers preach…That the Body of Christ is all those who follow the workers

“The Bible teaches…That the Word of God is revealed through the Bible which is God’s Word. It is alive and powerful ([Hebrews] 4:12)
The Workers preach…The Word of God is a dead book unless made alive by one of their workers.”

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

— John 14:6 —

Understanding The Bible

Is the Bible a dead Book unless interpreted by a Worker?

Articles

    “Salvation is only possible through hearing ‘their’ Gospel, through ‘their workers’. It is dependent on ‘finding’ and ‘following’ them. Faith in Jesus alone is not enough.”

    —Lynn Cooper, “The Church with No Name”

    Understanding the Gospel

     

    Understanding Salvation

    Does The 2×2 Belief System Produce Salvation?

        “The Gospel message according to this group is the Church in the home, having no name, and an itinerant homeless ministry which goes out in twos. Jesus, they believe, came to earth to set up this ministry and salvation can only be obtained by following that ministry. Their central message is their ministry, not Jesus. Salvation is based on works of self-denial and not what Christ has done.”

        —Lynn Cooper, “The Church With No Name”

        Miscellaneous Teachings

        No Collections Taken

        The Meeting in the Home

        We Are The Only Group Not Started by a Man!

        History

        “At first this [Living Witness] doctrine claimed that one could be born again only through Irvine or one in fellowship with him [laity/followers]. But by 1907, this had been reduced to Irvine and his fellow preachers only.”

        –Patricia Roberts, “The Life and Ministry of Edward Cooney”, p. 57, emphasis added

        Different Names Used

        • Different Names Applied to the Movement

        • “[…] but they are generally called Irwinites [Irvinites], after their leader, though, on the other hand, they say they have no leader. They think that the churches have lapsed or back-slidden, and that they are called by God to rouse people to a sense of their danger from hell-fire.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)

        • “[…] and so far as the outside world can judge, Mr. Edward Cooney (after whom they are generally called the Cooneyites) seems to be the accepted high priest or leader, a post at one time held by Mr. Irwin.” The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (September 29, 1904)

          Information about William Irvine and Edward Cooney

          Local Newspapers at the time described William Irvine

          • “[…] with a hard and harsh voice; rugged, denunciatory, argumentative, Pharisaic, self-sacrificing, full of earnestness, consumed by the idea that he is God-sent, and that he has a great mission to fulfil. Mr. Irwin is absolutely adamantine in his manner. No sweetness or graciousness. Nothing winning or attractive. And yet because of the zeal and power of his speech, and his threats of hell, he obtains adherents…” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 6. (January 29, 1903)
          • “This Mr. Irwin, who uses our streets and blocks our thoroughfares with meetings, and pays no rates for their upkeep, leaving that to ‘the ungodly’…” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)

          William Irvine in middle

          Left to right:

          William Gill (future overseer of the Great Britain movement), William Irvine, George Walker (future overseer of the United States movement)

          Cooney

          Edward Cooney

          Irvine

          William Irvine, in Jerusalem

          gospel meetings

          Tent meetings to attract outsiders

          See more early pictures of tent meetings

          first 2x2 convention

          Conventions

          “Conventions” are actually not unique to the 2×2 ministry, as they were originally patterned after the “Keswick Conventions” held in England.

          See more information about the first annual convention.

          The early movement, according to “The Impartial Reporter,” local Irish newspaper

          “The newspaper in Eniskillen, Ireland, The Impartial Reporter and Farmer’s Journal dating from 1903 to 1917 chronicles the origin [of the movement]. These news articles were eye-witness reports and great detail is given to doctrine and sermon notes. References are made to factions within the church, as well as emotional problems observed in the congregation. Some articles were written by members in defense of the workers.”

          —Kathleen Lewis, “The Church Without a Name”

          the impartial reporter
            • Glorified persecution
              • “The Pilgrims know they are not liked and for that reason they say they are ‘persecuted.’ One of their dogmas–for they have no doctrines–is that if you are ‘really saved’ you must be persecuted; and if you are not persecuted you cannot be saved. They roll the word ‘persecution’ like a sweet morsel under their tongue. One lady … says that… if they are not persecuted it is a sign that they are unfaithful […] When this [world] blames her she knows she is right: when the world says she is right she is inclined to think she is wrong. She welcomes opposition. 
                [But in reality:] They appear to dwell on the idea of a persecution that does not exist. No one persecutes them…” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
            • Donned “severity of attire”
              • “It is no doubt true that [Cooney] and his assistant preachers have donned the plainest tweeds, discarding, in some cases, the collar and tie, and in every case cuffs. But everyone knows that peculariaty in dress, even if that dress were a sackcloth, does not necessarily betoken a regeneration of the inner life. One man may be quite as proud of his assumed humility of habit as another would be of the costliest broadcloth…”The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (June 2, 1904)
              • “The use of the razor is eschewed; and those in the highest state of grace, like Mr. Irwin himself, did not use linen collars or shirts; but latterly the white collar has come into use again, but the razor is still avoided.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
              • “The ladies affect severity of attire. How far that may go has scarcely yet been defined; but it has gone so far that feathers are discarded and a straw sailor hat is the regulation headcovering.” – The Impartial Reporter pg. 6 (January 29, 1903)
            • Emphasized selling all you have to join the homeless ministry
              • “‘Sell all you have and give it to the poor,’ says Cooney. If every person did this, what would Cooney and everybody else do? It would be hard for all to find free lodgings and free food.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (June 9, 1904)
              • “[Referring to John 3:16]…This is emphatic enough, but according to Mr. Cooney it ought to read, ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever ‘selleth all that he hath’ should not perish but have everlasting life.’” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (June 2, 1904) 
            • Emphasized Jesus’ lifestyle and pattern of ministry over His deity and sacrifice
              • “This is how they bring themselves into co-operation with God. ‘Jesus Christ was the great soul-saver, and we are partakers of His nature. We must be soul-savers and bring others into the kingdom.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
            • Emphasized hell when preaching
              • “The spirit of this new mission, which boasts that it is the same as in our Lord’s day–(when and where did women preach in those days?)–is an utter absence of Christian charity. Every one (almost everyone) is going to hell.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
              • “…the Almighty God, who is generally spoken of as a God of Terror, not as a Heavenly FATHER […]” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
              • Irvine: “The aristocracy of heaven are the people who dress cheapest: and the finest linen and the silk handkerchief is the mark of the man who is going to hell: if you see a man with fine dress and fine gold he is going to hell […] the people who are dressing in purple and fine linen are qualifying for hell. The man who gets rich in this world is very likely to burn in the next.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
              • “In fact, take away ‘hell’ from the addresses of these people and there is nothing left. They have no teaching power.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 6. (January 29, 1903)
            • No official doctrines
            • Had little to no education
            • Emphasized the necessity of “confession” (professing)

          See the copies of these original newspaper articles.

          See a more comprehensive list of original newspaper articles before 1960 or after 1960.

          Straw Sailor Hats

          Around 1903, it was decided that 2×2 ladies’ hats could not have feathers in them (a fad at the time) and instead had to look plain. On the right is a picture of a “straw sailor hat” from the same time period, similar to the ones that the ladies were allowed to wear.

          Different firsthand accounts, such as Lynn Cooper’s book The Church with No Name, have stated that until recently, ladies had to wear hats to meetings.

          sailor hat

          “We had to wear hats to ‘meetings’ when I was young. This was also taken from Paul’s words which says that women are not to pray or prophesy with their heads uncovered (1 Corinthians 11:5). However, even women ‘workers’ do not wear hats today, not even when they preach. Dropping certain ‘customs’ while insisting that others be observed shows no consistency to the rules that this group follows.”

          —Lynn Cooper, “The Church With No Name,” emphasis added

          Hyper Fundamentalism in the Early 2×2 Movement, as Documented by “The Impartial Reporter”

          • Authoritarianism 
            • Irvine was reported to have a “holier than thou” attitude. “Speaking one night to an audience, he told them they were sunk in sin. ‘You are lepers,’ he said. ‘For you to touch me would be to defile me.’ This is the person who claims to be a follower of the friend of the Magdalen.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 6. (January 29, 1903)
            • Irvine: “‘Everyone who lifts his voice or pen against Jesus Christ or against his messengers–-and I am one of them– has to answer his God.’”–The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
          • Fear tactics
            • “It was ten o’clock on Monday night when Cooney got his disciples to give their testimony. Cooney threatened them if they did not give their testimony, they were damning their souls.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (June 9, 1904)
            • “One young girl of 15 at a meeting rose to leave. ‘I saw the devil in that girl’s face, and the devil would not let her sit,’ said William Irwin most improperly.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
          • Elitism
            • “[…] and are so self-convinced that they are the messengers of the Most High God, that they have persuaded others to believe them. We have seen such things in every age and clime; and what we see to-day will be repeated a year hence, as long as human nature is the same. […] to this day there thousands of adherents of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. These religious crazes have their day.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
          • Exclusivity
            • “One earnest young man had given expression to the hope that all the churches in Enniskillen would unite for a revival. But a loud-voiced lady showed that they would not touch the churches. ‘The Lord will work in His own church’ was the pointed reply.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 6. (January 29, 1903)
            • “[…] Unwarrantable attacks upon church organisations in general, and upon ministers of the gospel in particular…” The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (June 2, 1904)
            • “[Irvine] says that the Enniskillen merchant, going to Church on Sunday morning with his Bible under his arm, is going to hell.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
            • Irvine– “If you believe the rich people in this town are going to heaven I don’t, for I think they are nearly all going to hell.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
            • “Almost every one, according to them, churches and people, are going to hell […] and they cannot understand why Enniskillen folk will not listen to them and accept God’s message from His ministers–namely, themselves […] the people are not right unless they be ‘saved’ after the manner of these people, and ‘testify!’” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
            • “But probably the Pilgrims would say that these men, although clergy, are ‘not saved,’ […] Indeed, they profess little respect for clergy. Although most of these people have come from the Methodist ranks, they are severe in private conversation and public statement upon ‘ministers and preachers.’ Hell is a word in frequent use with them. Everyone–almost everyone–is going to hell, according to their ideas.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
            • “[…] and like the Pharisees of old, indicate that they are truly saved, and they only are right.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
            • One worker was quoted saying that “‘The Town Council talk, and they preach politics, but they will not turn to God.’ This was rather hard on some local preachers, who are members, but there would be no Town Council there nor any right for that man to speak in the streets […] if other people were like him, for he would not even record his vote at an election. ‘Render unto Ceasar the things which are Ceasar’s’ is not understood by some folk. This speaker is, of course, another of God’s messengers, he claims to be one, and the stiff-necked people of Enniskillen are such folls as not to recognise it and to hail him as a Divine teacher.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
            • “Various speakers at the meetings say the townspeople are going to hell. They are all very cock-sure about it. No Pope ever claimed the power of loosing and binding in hell and heaven stronger than these Pilgrims or Tramps claim to know those who will go to the hot place. They do not know of such a passage evidently as ‘Judge not,  that ye not be judged,’ nor of God’s great mercy or patience, nor of the repentance of the dying thief in his last moments; for they are always judging their neighbours severely, and scarcely ever in charity; their preaching is invariably of hell; and as to God’s mercy and His infinite compassion it is so seldom dwelt on that it is not remembered. Every other sentence almost of Mr. Irwin’s oration one night had hell mentioned in it.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 22, 1903)
          • Potential spiritual gaslighting
            • A new convert who had formerly been saved in the Methodist church described “his past life in the worst light” and told a Methodist minister that he was “‘an emissary of the Devil, and leading the people to hell.’” He then went on to publicly state that his family is going to hell, meanwhile, his mother was watching his child while he was away. The newspaper journalist calls this “disreputable conduct” and quotes the Fifth Commandment about honoring parents. He decides that “the new craze seems to have developed a taste for dishonouring parents.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
            • Another new convert says he wasn’t saved before (although he was preaching and teaching) but now he is really saved. “How he knows the difference is the puzzle! He imagined it once: he may imagine it again.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)
            • A third new convert is upset that he didn’t “shout so much as he did after he was ‘saved” and because of that, “God is not so much with him lately.” –The Impartial Reporter pg. 8. (January 15, 1903)

          See the copies of these original newspaper articles.

          See a more comprehensive list of original newspaper articles before 1960 or after 1960.

          “They put themselves in His place, and consider that the state of things existing now justify them copying the Master’s methods 1900 years ago. Why not copy His dress also? And walk from place to place? Bicycles, which are largely used by the ‘Pilgrims,’ were not used by the Master. Guns are put aside now and rowboats because the Master did not use them, and newspapers are not read because He did not read them, but neither did he use a bicycle…”

          —The Impartial Reporter pg. 6. (January 29, 1903)

          SA/CSA Resources for Former 2x2s

          Websites

          Podcast

          • The Hidden Truth on Spotify or Apple discusses different SA/CSA cases within the 2×2 movement

          YouTube

          Moving Forward

          Video

          • You had enough courage to leave meetings… now what? by David Alink
            • One piece of advice he mentions in this video is that getting a new Bible (even a different translation) helped him, because it felt entirely new, not attached to memories of certain meetings or to certain things that workers said.

          Articles

            Facebook Support Groups for Ex-2x2s

            Comprehensive Websites

            “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says,Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. Foreveryone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

            — Romans 10:9-13 —