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Homestead Heritage is an intentional community in rural Texas.
Rooted in Oneness Pentecostalism, it denies the doctrine of the Trinity and teaches an anti-grace message -- denying salvation by grace alone. Theologically it therefore is considered to be a cult of Christianity.
Sociologically, some cult-like problems have been reported as well -- particularly in the area of a shepherding-type leadership approach.
Homestead Heritage: Elm Mott, TX, formerly Koinonia Communities or Emmaus Fellowship, is an abusive shepherding goup that teaches modalism and multilevel works salvation. Their leaders claim their authority is that of “Jesus coming in the flesh.” The group operates a large farm with a crafts center and yearly public fairs. They also publish homeschool materials under the name, Essential Christian Education and Truth Forum. They were featured in the February 2005 issue of Christianity Today, and President George W. Bush chose them to construct his house in Crawford.
- Source: Index of Cults and Religions, Watchman Fellowship
Ex-members report having experienced spiritual abuse under the group's heavy-handed leadership.
Christianity Today magazine in 2005 published what amounts to a gushing endorsement of Homestead Heritage:
Beginning on the mean streets of Manhattan and migrating to the serenity of the Texas prairie, 43 Christian families are living together in a bold experiment on a 500-acre farm north of Waco, Texas. Many Christians talk about overcoming American individualism through Christian living. But the residents of Homestead Heritage go beyond talk.
This intentional Christian agricultural and crafts community blends Pentecostal fervor with Anabaptist simplicity and accountability. The group is divided into the Brazos de Dios residential community (named after the river that runs through its property) and Homestead Heritage, the umbrella organization under which they do all their work. Brazos de Dios residents are not Amish or even Mennonites, although they have forged close ties with traditional Anabaptists. Rather, they are Christians from many different walks of life engaged together in a modern-day experiment in radical discipleship.
Homestead Heritage began as an inner-city mission in New York City. In the 1970s and 1980s, it evolved into an experiment in community living, moving to a Colorado farm and then to Texas.
Along the way, changes came about and an Anabaptist influence surfaced. While some elders come from Oneness Pentecostal backgrounds, the present community defies easy categorization. One leading elder told me they do not use the word Trinity in teaching about the Godhead, but in my close questioning I have detected no aberrant teachings about God even though they are reluctant to affirm the language of Nicene orthodoxy. Their impulse is to stick closely to biblical language.
Homestead Heritage theology is generally evangelical but without system or speculation. They choose not to have a creed or a written confession. The focus is on conversion to Christ by faith and self-sacrificial discipleship within the body of Christ. Each member is accountable to the community and learns what Christian living means in and through that context. They love Jesus Christ and worship him as God and Savior.
Rather than produce systematic works of theology, Homestead's elders are voracious readers and prolific authors, producing home-schooling curricula and other print materials on organic farming, peacemaking, and agrarianism.
- Source: Roger Olson, Where Community is no Cliché, Christianity Today, February 2005.
Unfortunately, Christianity Today has a record of poor discernment when it comes to evaluating whether or not certain groups or movement are within Biblical orthodoxy. For instance, it has voiced support both for such cults of Christianity (theologically) as Oneness Pentecostalism and the Local Church.
Field Trip Review: Homestead Heritage A review by Jennifer Epstien on her blog, Jen's Gems.
Homestead Heritage Official website of Homestead Heritage.
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