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The Twelve Tribes.....

Who are they?

Oct. 2004



The Twelve Tribes communes are springing up all over North America, drawing off followers from the various churches. They follow the teachings of Elbert Eugene Spriggs, a three-times divorced man, remarried for the fourth time. Being bitterly disillusioned with the established churches, he identifies them with the Whore of Babylon, requiring his members to have no fellowship outside his community. In spite of this, former Campus Crusade for Christ members ordained him as an apostle!

These terms are used by Twelve Tribe Members: Yashua (instead of Jesus); Edah, Messianic Communities, The Vine Community Church, The New Apostolic Order in Messiah, T.H.E. Community, The Community in (name of city); and the Northeast Kingdom Community Church. Their publications include Freepaper, Common Sense Chronicle, and other assorted publications. They usually have some kind of an eating establishment to generate income, staffed by their volunteers. Our local one is called "The Preserved Seed".

Members are encouraged to hold all goods in common. Those with worldly goods are expected to sell them and give the money to the commune. Those with no money or debts can pay off their debts with the help of the commune. They believe that the keeping of possessions is what brought the downfall of the early church.

The doctrines of the Twelve Tribes are a curious blend of Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Moonies (the Unification Church), and Open Theology. Recycled heresy!

Spriggs teaches that if Jesus had not prayed intensely in the garden, he would not have gone to the Cross. He further teaches that Jesus' atonement on the cross only covers half of the gospel! Like the SDA's, sins up to the time of conversion are covered, but from that point forward the person needs to get to work! Also, Christ's atonement only covers "unintentional sin" after conversion. Intentional sin is unforgivable. Mercy is missing!

Salvation eventually ends up in the hands of the Twelve Tribes as they believe they will be ruling and reigning in the Holy City. (Some of the faithful of old get to be in the Holy City as well). Those outside the Holy City could include some good people declared righteous by God if they live in submission to the Twelve Tribes, ruling from the Holy City. This amounts to salvation outside the provision of Jesus Christ. All others go to the Lake of Fire, according to Spriggs.

Twelve Tribe followers hold to JW doctrine on Jesus Christ, namely that He is not God, and was only a good man on earth. They use all the same distortions of scripture that the JW's use to arrive at this twisted cult heresy. The Jesus Christ of the Bible is truly God and truly man.

Colossians 2:9 plainly says "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form". So, even in the flesh, in bodily form, Jesus was God in all fullness. Like all cult groups, Twelve Tribes trust in their own good words for salvation, and believe salvation is in their group only. No one gets to heaven but them--the earth is the best the rest of us can hope for!

Other works include keeping absolute unity (don't ask questions!). As Spriggs says, "There can't be any anger, nor even a difference of opinion, between brothers and sisters". (Gospel in Brazil May 24, 1992.1.) This sounds good, but suppressing feelings eventually leads to an emotional explosion, especially when living in community.

Members must strictly keep the Sabbath, just one part of the Law, even though the Bible plainly says in Romans 10:4. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes"

We are no longer under the Sabbath law as believers, but under grace, with provision for the forgiveness of our sins, praise God!

The Twelve Tribes are also blatantly racist. Spriggs teaches that white people (Shem) are to be served by black people (Ham). Even in the communes black people must serve the whites. Even Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons gave this one up long ago! Shame on them!

In conclusion, what can we observe? The Twelve Tribes are just another cult on the horizon, matching these marks of a cult ;


1. Belief that they are the only true church on the face of the earth. Yet, Jesus Christ alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), not some commune, no matter how righteous.

2. Belief in more than the Bible for Truth.


Ask, could you become a Twelve Tribes member by studying the Bible alone? The answer is, of course, not! They require the extra-biblical ideas of their founder, Spriggs, who borrowed his teachings from existing cult groups. They are not unique.

3. Where are they evangelizing?

Most Twelve Tribes members come out of the churches.No wonder Romans 16:17 says, "Keep your eye on those who cause divisions among you--and turn away from them". The Apostle Paul also warned that there would be those coming to the church preaching "another Jesus", a "different gospel" with a "different spirit". (2 Cor. 11:4) These descriptions match the evangelizing of the Twelve Tribes. We have been forewarned!

4. What Salvation are the Twelve Tribes offering?

The salvation plan of the Twelve Tribes has done away with the Bible teaching of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. (see Eph. 2:8,9; 1 John 5:11, 13). Their "salvation" is a convoluted program of works and obedience. How different from the words of Jesus when He was asked in this question in John 6:28,29: "They said therefore to Him, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent".

Yes, our works consist of believing in Jesus Christ. Good works will be evident, but they are a RESULT of our salvation, not a CONDITION for it!

5. What Do the Twelve Tribes think of Jesus Christ?


The Twelve Tribes call Jesus "Yashua". The name is okay, but they have grossly misrepresented the Jesus Christ of the Bible and Christianity, as shown previously. Their Jesus is the heretical Jesus of the Jehovah's Witnesses, not God, and only a good man on earth. Like all cults, they deify man and humanize Christ.

In a meeting in our town of Nelson, B.C., their spokesperson denied that Jesus was God, denied the Trinity, and when asked outright if he was a Christian, he said "no".

In closing, let's look at some of the fruit of the Twelve Tribes commune. They have been exposed for their use of child labor in the manufacture of some of their products over the years.

In June of 1984, Vermont State Troopers raided the Twelve Tribes and removed 112 children, amidst reports of them being beaten with sticks. Although charges were not pursued, and the children were returned due to the raid itself being illegal in that State, the incident is suspicious to say the least.

As far as living communally, it is reported in the Bible that early believers did this for a time. (Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-37). However, there is no command to live this way since that historical event. The bible reports churches meeting in various homes, not communes. Also Jesus went to Peter's house to heal his mother-in-law. Early rich Christians were encouraged to be generous (1 Tim:6:17-19). Obviously they had not given up all and moved to a commune! Believers also lived in "Caesar's household" (Phil. 4:22), not a commune. The Jerusalem council advised believers what was necessary for them--and communal living was not mentioned.

We could go on and on, but suffice to say, Twelve Tribes meets all the criteria of a cult and should be avoided by true believers.

(Based partly on research done by Watchman Fellowship)




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