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Efraim Genootschap - Efraim Society

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Efraim Genootschap - Efraim Society

Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or UnorthodoxProfess to be Christian but are outside orthodox Christianity Efraim Genootschap - Efraim Society


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The Efraim Genootschap (Society), a Netherlands-based cult of Christianity, made news headlines in 2001.

A school attended by some of the kids from this movement has filed a complaint with authorities because two of the sect's families have recently stopped their children from attending school. Reportedly, the parents wanted to give their children a vacation before their life on earth ends - said to occur before the end of this year - 2001. (Dec. 22: End of the world again postponed)

According to news reports, the group believes that the ''Brides of Christ'' will be gathered up this year, and that Jesus will return in 2008 in order to defeat the anti-Christ. It considers the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist atacks in America to be a sign.

The parents involved have quite their jobs in anticipation of the rapture.

According to one of the parents, should the rapture not occur this year, the group does not plan any kind of suicide ritual, 'because no one goes to heaven by committing suicide. In the unlike event that the rapture should not occur this year, it will occur later.'

School officials (of the Christian school the kids attended) have alerted a child abuse hotline, because they consider the psychological pressure the kids are put under by their parents' beliefs too severe. Meanwhile, on Oct. 30, 2001, the parents have agreed to let their children attend school again.

Dutch newspaper, Trouw, on Oct. 31 reported that the local justice department has started an investigation into the group.


Offbeat ''Bible'' teachings

Efraim Genootschap's weekly meetings, held at a secret location, are attended by about 100 followers from Holland, Germany and Belgium.

The group's website - which is titled ''Official website of the Prophet Elijah'' - shows that the group uses the Bible and employs Christian terminology. However, its teachings place the Efraim Genootschap outside orthodox Christianity.

The group is led by self-proclaimed ''prophet,'' Heinrich J.A. van Geenen. In fact, he claims to be the biblical prophet Elijah. He is supposed to gather the 'twelve tribes of Israel' from among the countries of Western Europe.

Followers of the Efraim Genootschap are identified collectively as the 'bride of Christ.' The group claims to be the exclusive representation of the ''bride of Christ.''

Do not be tempted by a so-called (other) bride of Christ. There exists only one bride of Christ, even if they say otherwise a hundred times. Only with us can you really join His bride and only with us will you receive the real special food that God the Father has now only for the bride of His Son.

It cannot be that in your country there is now also a bride of Jesus Christ without us knowing it. Neither can there be a leader of the bride of Jesus Christ without us knowing it.

I cannot warn you against this enough!
Source: False ChristsOff-site Link Article on the group's official website. Accessed Oct. 30, 2001

Van Geenen has predicted that this bride will be raptured (taken up) into heaven by the end of this year. He mentions a possible date of November 21, 2001 (though he earlier calculated a date in last September, followed by November 7 and 11). Following the alleged rapture there will be 7 'lean' years for those Christians who have been left behind, after which Jesus will return to destroy the Anti-Christ.

Well aware of the fact that its theology does not match that of mainstream Christianity, the group claims to have special, and exclusive knowledge:

We are people who know that Jesus Christ is God the Son and that the Bible is God's word and the full truth. We are allowed to understand God's will and the mysteries that God has hidden in the Bible more than anybody.
Source: Efraim GenootschapOff-site Link, official website. Highlight not in original. Accessed Oct. 30, 2001

However, the group's teachings violate all standard rules of hermeutics (principles of interpretation). For example, Efraim Genootschap claims that it can determine the fate of countries by theire shapes, combined with what amounts to 'Bible numerology.' Such so-called scripture-twisting is characteristic of aberrant and/or heretical movements. (See, for example, Eight Distinctives Of An Aberrational Christian GroupOff-site Link)

Given that its leader claims to be the prophet Elijah, Efraim Genootschap's followers claim to ''know him personally:''

We are also those who know that the prophet Elijah has been (re)sent, as God has had foretold in the last verses of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:5,6) and we know him personally.
Source: Efraim GenootschapOff-site Link, official website. Accessed Oct. 30, 2001

However, the Bible says that Elijah has already come - as John the Baptist (some 2000 years before Van Geenen arrived):

The disciples asked him, ''Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" {11} Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. {12} But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.'' {13} Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
Source: Matthew 17:10-13 NIV - Read entire segment javascript popup window. On this, see Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary


A Cult of Christianity

Meanwhile, the group appears to claim - by stating what it is not - that it is an entirely new form of Christianity:

We are no Jehovah's witnesses.
No Seventh-Day Adventists.
No form or schism whatsoever of Reformed.
No Pentecostal movement.
No Catholics.
No church.
No (full) gospel.
No Mormons.
No Latter Day Saints.
No Protestants.

No derived form of one of these either.
We are certainly not a sect.
And if you think of some other group that is not included in this list, we can say in advance: ''No, hat is not what we are.''
(sic). Source: Efraim GenootschapOff-site Link, official website. Accessed, Oct. 30, 2001

Despite such pre-emptive claims - which are not unusual for such groups - the teachings of Efraim Genootschap with regard to (among other things)
  • an alleged relationship with, and representation of, the prophet Elijah
  • alleged special revelation
  • alleged knowledge of the timing of the rapture, and
  • its dependence on numerology
differ significantly from those of orthodox Christianity.

The group claims not to be a sect. Note that in countries outside America, that term is often used instead of - or interchangeably - with the term cult.

The publisher of Apologetics Index considers this group to be, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Sociologically, it has cultic elements as well.
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Common Cult Characteristics

The group displays some common cult characteristics. Not surprisingly, Efraim Genootschap advises those who visit its web site not to listen to others:

Read, if possible quietly, as much of this Web site as possible and ask God the Holy Spirit if he will help you understand it.

If you are touched by Him, don't let go then and, particularly, do not listen to others.
Source: Efraim GenootschapOff-site Link, official website. Accessed, Oct. 30, 2001

However, the publisher of Apologetics Index advises people who might be interested in Efraim Genootschap's teachings to seek counsel and advice from established Christians at a local, recognized church.

Like many other cults, the Efraim Genootschap wants its followers to break all ties with anyone and everyone (especially close family members) who do not agree with them:

Leave everything behind you. Truly everything! In many places on this website you will read exactly what this entails. Putting it very bluntly, you will have to hate everyone who doesn't agree with you, and especially everyone who is against you choosing the Lord. Donít let opponents of God confuse you by saying ''But isn't God love''?, or such false arguments. No-one can ever match the love of God or even comprehend the scope of it. But He hates anyone who wants to take you, who are His bride, away from Him, and He expects you to hate them too. Beware also of close family. When the devil has the opportunity he will certainly use this family to take you away from your heavenly Bridegroom.
Source: How can you join the bride of Christ?Off-site Link Article on the group's official website. Accessed Oct. 30, 2001

Followers are expected to rid their houses of televisions, newspapers and magazines. They also have to cancel church memberships.

News reports indicate that some of the group's followers have recently quite their jobs or businesses in anticipation of the rapture.
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- Sites -
Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or UnorthodoxProfess to be Christian but are outside orthodox Christianity Efraim GenootschapOff-site Link Official site, titled, ''Official website of the Prophet Elijah'' Note: The publisher of Apologetics Index considers this group to be, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Involvement with the group is not recommended.
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About this page:
Efraim Genootschap - Efraim Society
First posted: Oct. 31, 2001
Last Updated: May 20, 2004
Copyright: Apologetics Index
Link to: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/e07.html
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