The Twelve Tribes….. Who are they?

Source: MM Outreach.Inc

October 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)

3 Comments On “The Twelve Tribes….. Who are they?”

  1. I lived in the community in Nelson, BC for about a year. I grew up studying the scriptures of the bible and I found that many of their daily teachings were contradicting scripture. I was confronted in front of the whole congregation about my belief that Jesus is and was God in the flesh. I was told to renounce that belief and that I could not be saved until I started accepting their teachings. I expressed my concerns about the three eternal destinies teaching they have that claims that there is three eternal destinies (hell, heaven, and that the “righteous” unbelievers” get to go to heaven. Which contradicts the word that says in Revelation 21:8 – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    also John 3:36 – He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    One day I was told that the 12 tribes community members “if your baptized and saved.” are higher than the angels. I told them about how the word says PSALM 8:5 -”You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

    These are some examples of myself witnessing their teachings that contradict which there are many more, but after being there so long I just zoned out into their teachings which were a blur. In my heart I knew that their doctrine was off but i think the reason why I stayed so long is because of my love for the children there, they were a real joy in my life. It bothered me very much how often the members would discipline their children and how physically hard they would discipline them with the rods, especially the men. I hope that God does expose them and reveal to the members His true grace and mercy. The twelve tribes communities are living lives of slavery.

    When I was working very hard long hours for no pay for so long in the 12 tribes I would remind myself of this verse “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

    One last thing that really bothered me is that they suppress you from reading the WORD. I was told I was only aloud to read Psalms and Proverbs because If I read anything else in the bible I would get confused and I only should be taught by the “elders bible teachings” This also contradicts our freedom in Christ to be able to read as much of the word as we want. I found some verses the day before I hitchhiked out of Nelson, BC community and they spoke to me enough to get out of there.

    Psalms 118:9 – [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
    Jeremiah 17:5 – Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
    Psalms 118:8 – [It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

    The men called themselves princes there what a coincidence! Don’t trust in a prince.
    Also they told me that I never had any relationship with God, and that he has NEVER answered any of my prayers until I got emerged into their community. I was coerced to denounce any relationship that I thought I ever had with God before I got baptized. Now I look back at this, it is extremely blasphemous to God. He has saved me and knew me before I was even born!

    Galatians 1:5 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him

    Thank you,


  2. Ive known them a long time and tried living there for some time, but constantly found myself having conflicting ideas. They did, gowever, allow me to read any part of the bible, encouraged it actually. But i most threw my whole life away, everything i worked hard for, just to ” die” and surrender and join their community. Im thankful im out and was able to salvage pretty much all of what i gave up and get on with my life. I am, however, still fearful of what will really happen to me in death. What if they are right? I can onlt pray they are wrong, but i guess no one really knows. It doesnt help that i made some great friends there and totally fell in love with one of the single brothers who they conveniently sent away. I miss them all alot and pray they are truely happy and safe… i also noticed how they minimize you to that of a 5 year old. You are no longer able to have your own thoughts or opinions, especially as a woman. And they really push the authority teachings. You must submit to all authority, even if you dont agree. This is what they teach.
    There is virtually no repect for wilflife. It was particularily hard for me to listen to the stories of killing animals. If they caught a rat or some other animal, they would dround it. While on walks through the woods, the children would step on every caterpiller and other insect. They would throw frogs, stab snakes…you name it..I found it disturbing, being a naturalist.
    Then the is the constant disipline of children. If they were in the gathering, and so much as shifted their weight, they were brought out of the room, sometime 5 or 6 times throughout the gathering, and hit with their little whippin sticks. I could never figure out what they did that was worthy of any discipline.
    Anyway, even after seeing all this, i still think of the community daily , sometimes still wishing to live there. Thats how good they are at controlling your mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>