Email from reader:
“I would be grateful if you would be so kind to look up a movement that I have been looking into recently... I met with these sincere believers in their home recently. Their women dress in plain dresses and the men usually dress in black and white… One of their members have been calling me to request fellowship since my visit to their home. I shared my testimony of how God started revealing to me the errors and fallacies of the institutional church system... They seemed enthusiastic and willing to hear more but they also held some peculiar views regarding their fellowship. If you have the time, please check it out and share your opinion with me. I truly regard your wisdom and insight into God's word.”
My Edited Response:
From what it looks like, they are probably very nice people and many or maybe even most of them may actually be true believers in Christ. I do not know for sure as I do not know them.
But, whenever you get a group like this that starts to legislate things like dress and so severely (everyone only wearing black or near black colors and every women in strange religious looking dresses), you've generally got big problems. All the black and near black clothes that I saw in their photos did not likely come from everyone being in consensus and certainly not in consensus as to the leading of the Holy Spirit. No, rather this seems like a sure sign of an underlying cultic authoritarian regime at work. And if so that is a major problem.
I have not looked at their doctrine regarding salvation in great depth but from a quick look at their web site they seem OK on the surface. However their doctrines of Christian living are apparently very messed up, especially in practice. They seem to have a tremendous amount of legalism present that hampers the individual Christian's God-given personal freedoms in Christ. God wants us to learn how to make good sound decisions for ourselves based on the truth of His written Word, not join a cult that will legislate how we live in every minute deal. We are actually advised to avoid such people.
What I do see time and again in churches like this is that even if they start out with sound doctrine regarding salvation and the major tents of the Christian faith, those doctrines often gets corrupted over time as a direct result of the doctrines of Christian living (such as those regarding our freedoms in Christ) being violated.
From their online photo gallery, they seem very much like the Amish, nice people but strange people, people shut up within the confines of their own legalisms and not likely poised to greatly impact the world with the truth of the Gospel. God has called us to be salt and light, strangers and foreigners in this land but not odd balls in dress, etc., in the sense of putting people off before we even meet them and have a chance to share Christ with them.
Now, would it be better for someone to become a Christian and join a group like this rather than not becoming a Christian at all? Of course. But it would be far better still to become a Christian and not fall into a legalistic group as this group appears to be.
There are a number of forms of legalism. And it is not at all legalistic to obey God's written Word or to want to obey God’s Word. That is what we are supposed to do and want. But the kind of legalism that appears to be operating in this church is where you have men misinterpreting God's Word and then demanding that everyone follow their misinterpretations. Big trouble to say the least.
I don't want you to think that I make a big deal out of clothing. I don’t. In this case it just seems like a sign of huge underlying legalistic and authoritarian problems. I don’t think these people would be open to sound teachings that contradict their views. I would probably avoid them.