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Testimony of Truth by Chad Moore

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Testimony of Truth by Chad Moore

Review of First Impressions by Clay Randall

In 2006, professing member Chad Moore self-published his book Testimony of Truth. It is a work of historical fiction loosely based upon aspects of the Friends and Workers' fellowship. In the foreword Chad explains his purpose for writing:

"This book was written for the sole purpose of presenting the truth, the way, and the life, in everyday lives of the friends and fellow workers. To finally bring out and portray the dealings of the Holy Spirit, a more perfect picture of an earlier period of time long ago, which had almost been completely forgotten about, due to modern times...to present a labor of art and his own creative story, which will spread hope and comfort to those who have fallen from grace and to encourage those who remain faithful."

The Testimony of Truth story is told through Chad's semi-autobiographical character Bradley McKnight, who had been raised in the Truth Fellowship but strayed away and had been gone for many years. During the summer of 1954 he decided to attend convention in Colorado because he was feeling God's call to be "convicted of his sins" and turn toward Him. After singing hymns and offering prayers at the first meeting, two sister workers spoke about their work in Missouri and Ireland, as well as the origins of the gospel in Galilee and "when it had come to the British Isles at the turn of the century". Then many from the congregation gave their testimony such as the young lady who announced how much she "cherished the Gospel, and how thankful she was for the privilege of convention". This same gratitude was "expressed by nearly every person who spoke". When it came time for the workers to preach from the platform, Hubert Camps spoke about God's promises:

"Salvation was given to us by Jesus Christ's death and resurrection on the cross. He shed His own blood for our redemption, providing total forgiveness for all our sins, the world over. God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to be a light unto the world and a perfect pattern for us to follow."

Bradley spent some time in thoughtful prayer, reflecting on God's love for him despite his own sinfulness. It was a change that he had been resisting for years, but in the Saturday evening meeting he finally stood up and gave his heartfelt testimony:

"I have realized the greatness of God as I witness His gentle Spirit in these meetings and among the people. I was born and raised in this fellowship, and have been attending these conventions for a long time. I have resisted the Spirit's work. My prayer is to be uplifted by God's helping hand to make the right decision and allow Jesus to live inside me. I need the strength to overcome the doubts Satan has tried to place in my mind. So much encouragement and love has been show[sic] to me at this place. I know I cannot run away from the Lord's will, and I want to do the right thing, by not leaving this convention unchanged. It is my desire to be consumed by the Spirit of truth. I want to submit more of my life each day."

Some of those doubts Bradley had been struggling with had to do with reports circulating about the historical origins of the Truth Fellowship. Help and encouragement came in the person of the old Irish worker Tom Clifton, who explained how the Truth Fellowship began by speculating about how "persecution of Christians in Rome probally [sic] forced the rest into hiding". Tom then asks:

"You know Bradley, if we could prove that our little gathering today is directly descended from those first Apostles, would it change our faith in Jesus? Or would it only cause us to have hearts of pride and arrogance? We cannot stake that claim, because in the scriptures it plainly tells us there are 'other sheep' of this fold. YES, the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ. But it's not through being a part of a particular group of people. We can't save anyone."

After talking to Tom at convention, young Bradley was reassured and even decides to enter the work. The next morning he traveled with his new companion, Hubert, to the Texas Panhandle to visit his parents. It was there that he held his first meeting as a worker, speaking about finding a safe anchor in life. His father's testimony at that meeting was: "I want to express my feelings to all of you that I am very grateful for this spiritual family we've got here. I believe these get-togethers draw us closer to one another."

Bradley and Hubert had been holding gospel meetings for several weeks when they received a letter from a fellow worker regarding some "wounded" friends in Canada. This actually seems to be one of the main reasons Chad wrote his book - to address the sense of hurt and betrayal many members of the Truth Fellowship have experienced when they learned of William Irvine. The fictional worker writes:

I, Leon Harper, would like to set the record straight about the current situation in Canada and the northern States [sic]. I continue to share the struggles, trials, sadness, and even rays of happiness at times, with the rest of our dear friends. I have seen, first hand, the wounded ones in our field who have separated themselves from our fellowship due to misunderstandings, and it sorrows all of us greatly. There have been varied stories circulating, and at this time, we are doing our very best to give any who have questions honest, scriptural answers.

A number of our friends have learned the historical fact that an Irish worker by the name of William Irvine organized our fellowship group in 1897. This has caused a number of questions and some confusion. Of course, we know the true 'founder' of truth was none other than Jesus Christ our Lord. There can be no dispute, it is He we follow and He we worship. Jesus gave us God's plan for the ministry of the Gospel. His apostles [sic] were to go in pairs, spreading the news to the Jews first, and then to the Gentiles and the whole world. God has always raised up messengers to carry out His Word. There have been some very dark ages; but still, God's light can never be put out. I believe William Irvine was used by the Lord to carry it on, to remind us of the good order and perfect plan laid out."

As Hubert later explained to Betty Kates, who was one of those upset by historical questions, "Irvine was just a man, and did not found any religion. We are Christians. And Christ is the founder. Irvine was simply an instrument used by God. I think we can be thankful for the mysterious ways the Lord accomplishes His purpose on this earth...Over the centuries, God has been able to send forth messengers and raise up faithful ones again out of the ashes. It's possible there may have been periods of history in which there were dark ages where none followed after Christ in this fashion. But God is faithful and He will preserve those who seek Him honestly."

As Bradley settles in to his role as a worker, the story ends; however, this is where the questions begin.

  • Why does Bradley use the term "truth" when he is really referring to the Truth Fellowship? The use of truth and Truth synonymously is misleading.
  • Is there any substantial difference in the testimony a Worker gives in meeting and that of one of the Friends, or is it simply the fact that one is a Worker and the other isn't?

    SUMMARY

    The Testimony of Truth is a simple and idealized portrayal of the Truth Fellowship. As explained on the back cover, it was written "to reach out to the wounded souls, friends, Christian believers, and the entire world if possiable [sic] leading them to Jesus way." It appears that Chad's attempt to reach out consists mainly of an appeal to emotion, i.e., "allowing you to relive the vivid memories". Through Bradley McKnight, the reader is bombarded with all sorts of emotional imagery, from his "vivid memories" of going to convention with his grandfather when he was a child ("and now I was thankful to them like never before") and plowing the fields with his father ("I remembered the pleasant times"), to remembering convention preps ("Those were good memories...that was my favorite part"), to his gratitude for the reunion with friends he hadn't seen in many years ("the thankfulness I felt in my heart was nearly overwhelming"), to remembering when workers would throw out candy to the children at convention ("the joy it had given them"), to the descriptions of nature ("surrounded by the majestic trees, I could really feel the power and awe of God"), to recounting all the delicious meals in detail ("pots of potatoes, greenbeans, lasagna, salad, chicken casserole, meatloaf, corn, and every dessert you could imagine. It was just like the many Sunday afternoons when I was growing up.")

    There were encouraging statements of nonexclusivity such as Tom Clifton's when he said, "Do we claim to be the only way to heaven? We cannot stake that claim..." On the other hand, there was also the typical needless emphasis on workers going out two by two, while any meaningful dialogue on the nature of grace was virtually nonexistent. I found Chad's well-meaning attempts to confront the historical origins of the Truth Fellowship to be superficial, such as his pointing to similarities to other Christian groups that are merely too generic to even suggest descent. For example, Mormons can claim Jesus is their founder, too, but I doubt the Friends and Workers would mention them when claiming a spiritual lineage. Leon Harper's letter first minimizes the historical problem, then dismisses it, as he wrote, "We are not accountable for other men's actions and mistakes that occurred in the past. But to dwell on such things is of no good result."

    You can tell from Chad's statements about his book that he cares deeply for the spiritual welfare of the Friends and Workers as well as "outsiders". Clearly, Testimony of Truth was a labor of love for him. He offers a brief glimpse of people whose sincere love of God should not be questioned, but their way of life leaves more questions than answers. Indeed, I wish Chad well in his search for the answers to why these questions never go away.

  • Why did Bradley uncritically accept the explanations of the Truth Fellowship's origins by old Tom Clifton and Leon Harper's letter without actually investigating it himself?

  • Did it occur to Bradley that Jesus is also considered the true "founder" of every single Christian religion that exists? In other words, the question is not a matter of when our Lord Jesus came, but when did the Truth Fellowship come into existence?

  • If the only thing even possibly unique about the Truth Fellowship is the fact that workers travel in pairs and they meet in homes, is that enough for an exclusive right to preach the gospel?

  • Do Bradley and the others focus more on the method of spreading the gospel (i.e., workers traveling in pairs) instead of the Gospel itself? As Hubert said, "We are trying to follow the ministry that He established in Galilee with his disciples and the apostles..."

  • How is it possible that, as Hubert explained to Betty, "there may have been periods of history in which there were dark ages where none followed after Christ in this fashion", when Jesus promised that the gates of hell would never prevail against His church (Mt 16:18) and that He would be with us all days (Mt 28:19-20)? Note that Hubert qualifies his statement by talking about following Christ "in this fashion".

  • Bradley told his father, "Things weren't working out for me. I found work on a ranch in Colorado, building fences and moving hay. Figured it was time to come home. God called me into the work, Dad." Multiple times he comments on "feeling" the Spirit of God. He is moved to tears on many occasions ("the world had beaten me down...") and mentions pleasant memories in direct connection with the Truth Fellowship. Isn't is possible that his conversion of heart was one based purely upon emotion and lack of vocational direction rather than a fully formed conscience?

  • Tom Clifton said both "the only way to enter heaven is by accepting God's beloved Son", but he also said that "the only ones who have any right to preach God's Word are those who are doing it the way Jesus ordained." Did Bradley not recognize the inherent contradiction here? In other words, what if a person "accepts God's beloved Son" after hearing the gospel from a Methodist minister? Bradley apparently believed that a "spiritual awakening" in the United States did not occur until the "early days" [of the first workers], back when Model T Fords were "rumbling down the mountain road".

  • Leon Harper's letter exhorts the Friends and Workers by saying "May there be no cause for the world to speak ill of any who bear the Lord's name." Yet, workers worry constantly about "enemies of the truth" (p. 22) and "man-made ideas of religion" (p. 31) and "strangers who will come into our flock and try to steal your faith and joy" (p. 32) and "spiritual battles against enemies of the truth" (p. 36); how the wounded friends had ingested "spiritual poison" and to be warned against "wolves that appear in sheep's clothing to lead the sheep astray". The question is - why is a Christian outsider "bearing God's name" who talks to the Friends about their faith called an enemy of truth?

  • Why is it that the only unprofessing person they witnessed to was the friendly woman named Hazel in a restaurant off Highway 287, and then only because she happened to be their waitress?

    Source: Pillar of Truth Online HomepagePillar of Truth Online
    TTT Photo of Book Cover
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