A small but fervent group advocating radical Christian discipleship and known for their controversial practices.
Founder: Dave and Cherry McKay
Location: Worldwide, with a significant presence in Australia, Kenya, and the United States
Offshoot of: Children of God/The Family International
Other names (and associated groups): Rappville Christians; A Voice in the Desert; End Time Survivors; Como Vivir Por Fe; Christians; The Medowie Christian Volunteers; Australian Christian Volunteers
The Jesus Christians was a small religious movement that garnered attention for its radical interpretation of Christian discipleship and its controversial practices. Founded by Dave McKay in the 1980s, the group emphasized literal adherence to the teachings of Jesus, particularly the aspects of communal living, forsaking material possessions, and intense evangelism.
Origins and Ideology
The Jesus Christians was established by Australian Dave McKay in the early 1980s. McKay, a former member of the Children of God, another religious group, formed the Jesus Christians as a response to what he saw as the failure of mainstream Christianity to live according to the true teachings of Jesus. The group drew from a variety of Christian traditions but did not align itself with any specific denomination.
Core Beliefs and Practices
The Jesus Christians were characterized by their literal interpretation of the teachings of Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount. Key beliefs and practices included:
- Communal Living: Members often lived in communal settings, sharing resources and responsibilities.
- Poverty: They advocated living in voluntary poverty, often forsaking regular employment and relying on odd jobs and donations.
- Evangelism: Members were heavily involved in street preaching and distributing religious literature.
- Kidney Donation: The group became known for their advocacy of kidney donation, with several members donating kidneys to strangers, a practice that attracted significant media attention and controversy.
Controversies and Criticism
The Jesus Christians were often at the center of controversy. Criticisms included allegations of brainwashing and coercive control over members. Their practice of encouraging members to donate kidneys was particularly contentious, with accusations that the group was pressuring members into donating.
Media and Public Perception
The group frequently used media, including the internet and self-published books, to promote their beliefs and respond to criticism. They were skilled at garnering media attention, often through public demonstrations and controversial acts.
Dissolution and Legacy
In 2010, Dave McKay announced that the Jesus Christians were disbanding, with members encouraged to continue their individual Christian journeys. The legacy of the Jesus Christians remains controversial; they are remembered for their radical commitment to the teachings of Jesus, but also for the controversies and criticisms that surrounded their practices and beliefs.