This high-demand, racist
group is led and controlled by "Super Apostles" Elbert Eugene Spriggs, aka Yoneq
The group's aberrant
teachings identify it, theologically, as a cult of Christianity
. Sociologically, there are cultic elements
as well, including the high level of control leveled over the group's followers, as well as the beating of children
The New England Institute of Religious Research
(NEIRR), a countercult
organization, has done extensive research
into this group (among other things, the NEIRR has examined 20 years worth of the group's teachings).
High control groups traditionally
have "inner and outer" doctrine. The "outer doctrine" is for public consumption and the "inner doctrine" is for the "elect members" of the group. This is not to say that there is necessarily a conflict between the two, however, "inner doctrine" will reflect more clearly the true nature, beliefs and practices of the group. In the Messianic Communities they have both inner and outer doctrine. Their outer doctrine is the Freepapers and other works they make available to the public and press. Their inner doctrine, which can only be understood if you are under the "anointing," are the teachings of their self proclaimed "apostle," Elbert Eugene Spriggs. He is referred to in the group as "Yoneq." Of the over 1,000 teachings that we have gone over, clearly 95% of them are from him. They were not given to us by the Communities because we are not under the "anointing" and therefore could not possibly understand them. Rather, former members who had been in leadership positions have provided us with them. We were accused of misrepresenting the reality of life in the Twelve Tribes by distorting these teachings of the "apostle." Thus, we post these representative teachings
, with very little editorial comment, for the benefit of any who desire to truly know the "fruit" of the life of this group. Draw your own conclusions.
High Control + Theologically Deviant
Based on its extensive research into this group, the NEIRR concludes:
Elbert Eugene Spriggs, "Yoneq," is
the key to understanding Messianic Communities and its evolution. His own personal spiritual odyssey has been reflected in the group. Just as a local Church tends to take on the personality of the pastor, for better or for worse, so Messianic Communities has taken on the personality of Spriggs. It is our studied opinion that his influence has been immense over the life, leadership and direction of the Communities. Unfortunately, as time goes on and the group moves further from the original Vine Community Church of Chattanooga days, this influence is more destructive and controlling.
Renowned Christian author, Gene Edwards, wrote a book called Letters to a Devastated Christian
. In this book he suggests some guidelines for evaluating groups and leaders. "Does the man who is leading the movement have in his nature a need to control everyone within his environment?" He then goes on to explain that some people have a "psychological flaw" to control. God can break that in a man's life and then use him. However, "if this need to control remains unbroken in a man, then he will almost always tend towards authoritarianism." Messianic Communities, under the leadership of Spriggs, has tended towards an extreme
This group is a classic study of the evolutionary process that occurs when a person rises to a position of leadership, claiming a "direct pipeline" to God and having no accountability. Back in the early 1970's when the Vine Community Church first began Spriggs had an undisputed authority. However, there was a more "free-wheeling" expression of life and devotion to Christ. The group was then far more orthodox
theologically and open to other Christian expressions. Many street people had their first encounter with Jesus through the witness of the Yellow Deli's, Areopagus, musical band "Salt," Freepapers, etc. People were allowed more freedom to come and go, express their opinions, dress individually. There was also always the promise
to raise up others who would have a shared
leadership position with him. This never developed. There are others who have the titles
of leadership within the Messianic Communities, however, nobody wields the authority and power that Spriggs does. It is our conclusion that had the Messianic Communities truly been led by a "Responsible Ten" who were accountable to one another and shared in all decision making the group would be radically different and far less controlling.
The primary vehicle of control within the Communities are the "teachings." Since Spriggs is the source of new doctrines and the standard which measures the truth of any other teachings his influence is singular and absolute. Sociologically, the group has become more controlling over the years and more theologically deviant. A large part of the reason for this is the extreme isolation of the group. People live in community and look and behave alike. People also are not allowed to have any diversity of opinion, and certainly never question the leadership of the "anointing." They are also cut off from outside intellectual stimulation and challenge. What information is fed to the average Communities member is thoroughly filtered through the narrow lens of Spriggs' construct of reality. This is not to say that he personally reviews every piece of disseminated literature. However, it is his theological "never, never land" that has a secure and steadied influence over every aspect of Communities life.
That the Messianic Communities "majors in minors" is consistent with the corrosive effect that occurs in groups where members essentially abdicate all the decision making power in their lives to those in "authority over them." Major concerns for Communities members now consist of the "correct" name of Jesus, beards, ponytails, Sus pants, head coverings, complete obedience to authority, establishing 12 tribes, dietary restrictions, name changes, Sabbath keeping, etc. This appears to be Phariseeism. The Gospel of Jesus Christ should set a person free. However, people in Messianic Communities become increasingly weighed down with an ever expanding number of rules and regulations that demand strict adherence. To deviate from these regulations is to be "cut-off
" from the "Body" and potentially be sent away. This is analogous to being damned. This is all managed with the greatest sincerity. Our initial reactions, when we had the privilege to visit various Communities, were only positive. We have met many, many fine people who have given up their lives to Messianic Communities. Thus, upon first exposure to the group there does appear to be a love that is demonstrated in a way not often found in Christianity. However, there is a seamier side to Communities life. The devastation in most ex-member's lives, and the teachings of Spriggs, evidence a litany of spiritual and emotional abuse. In their zeal to "forsake all for Yahshua" it is, in reality, a forsaking all for the Communities. This is because the members commitment to Messianic Communities is their commitment to God. This is a common confusion that often occurs in high control groups.
In our opinion, Messianic Communities is essentially a Galatian heresy. In Paul's letter to the Galatians he is deeply concerned about those who would once again reestablish the Law as a means of pleasing God. Paul asks them in Galatians 4:9-11,
"But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain."
This question must also be answered by Spriggs and Messianic Communities. In their zeal to serve the Lord people are once again enslaved, and tragically, in His name.
The Twelve Tribes' offbeat and un-Biblical theology is evident in all its teachings, including its views on segregation, globalism, and multiculturalism:
The Creator of all mankind didn't want the nations and the races of earth to come together. That is why He divided their languages at the tower of Babel. He saw that they were not maintaining the boundaries of conscience and would need further boundaries to keep them from destroying themselves. Therefore He separated them into nations to become distinct races and cultures. By themselves, they would have a better chance to hear the voice of their conscience and the voice of creation speaking to them. Through this, it was possible for them to see their need for their Creator and find a way back to Him.
Nations have to impose laws and sanctions in order to keep order in a multicultural society. Multiculturalism pressures people to cross boundaries that go beyond the realm of natural law, coercing them to be one with a neighbor that doesn’t even speak their language or have their culture. It goes beyond the realm of how God wanted people to live in separate nations for their own welfare and safety.
Multiculturalism increases murder, crime, and prejudice. It goes against the way man is. It places impossible demands on people to love others who are culturally and racially different. This is unnatural — it forces people to go against their instinctive knowledge, like trying to love sodomites. They are told, "You can't discriminate." Although discrimination is viewed as an evil sin, it is still within a person's prerogative (right) to segregate himself.
If the human race had remained united during the era of the Tower of Babel, then globalization would have resulted sooner. The leaders of that generation would have seized the reins of history and there would have been no end to their rebellion against God. Just as back then, globalization today is the proud attempt to displace and exclude the Kingdom of God. It is a satanic attempt to take over the earth in a unified one-world government.
See the NEIRR site
See also the articles in our news archive
Database of archived news items on this subject
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database
For newer items, see Religion News Blog
The Twelve Tribes
(CON) Extensive documentation from the New England Institute of Religious Research
The Twelve Tribes
(PRO) Official site
Extensive site, by an ex-member. Note: cult apologists
claim that ex-members lie. For a more informed opinion, see this entry
The Purpose of this web site is to help Parents and others affected by the Twelve Tribe's Cult. As a former member, I was devastated emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically and psychologically. I lived with the Twelve Tribes for almost three years, and during this time my parents suffered because they didn't know where to find information about the Twelve Tribes from a former member's vantage point. For those parents whose children are caught in the cult I seek to give them accurate information right from Elbert Eugene Spriggs' own teachings. This material is the result of many hours of research, which has been compiled for the readers.