The Move (Sam Fife)

The Move (Sam Fife)

The Move (also known as The Move of the Spirit or Move of God) is the unofficial name of a non-denominational charismatic Christian group that was started by an ex-Baptist preacher named Sam Fife in Florida in the 1960s.

This movement espouses theological beliefs similar to those of the pentecostal-charismatic Latter Rain Movement. There is no official name or doctrinal creed, and members number in the thousands, and many live together in communal farms all over the world. Farms are in operation or have been in operation in the United States, Canada, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, Guatemala, Colombia, and Peru. Additionally, non-communal congregations, called "city bodies", also meet or did meet in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Venezuela, Kenya and South Africa. Many city bodies still have community associations in the United States as well.

History

The movement started in the early 1960s through Sam Fife's ministry first at his church in New Orleans then in his prayer group in Miami. Soon other groups following Fife's teachings sprang up throughout United States, Canada and later other countries. Considered by some to be an apostle, Fife drew together a group of other ministries who believed his vision of the role of the church in the end times. In fall 1971, Fife began to preach what was referred to as the "Wilderness Message" and within a few years thousands of his followers had moved to a number of communal farms mostly in Canada, Colombia and Alaska. [http://www.iglesiadejesusenlalinea.org/t3/page2.asp?Id=38084&Rf=63&Rt=2 Samuel Fife and the Move of God] Iglesia de Jesus en La Linea Website]

Sam Fife was the author of a large number of booklets outlining his beliefs. He was killed in a plane crash in Guatemala on April 26, 1979, despite claiming he would never die. Many of his followers still believe they can achieve eternal life on this earth.Fact|date=January 2008

Following Fife's death, his teachings were carried on by other ministries in "The Move", notably C.E. "Buddy" Cobb. In 1982, Cobb and others founded Covenant Life College to educate young people in the group in theology, teaching and other skills. The Move's traveling ministry now operate under the name International Ministerial Association (IMA).

The number of people involved in The Move has been in a long, slow decline, which began with the closing of some Move farms in BC in the early 1980s. While some farms did close, there was another influx of people in the early 1990s to the farms in northern BC, with some of the communes numbering over 100 people, many of them youth.

This influx lasted about ten years until people began to leave again in the late 1990s. Since then, some of the farms have closed, some are reduced in population, and some thrive.

Teachings

'Divine Order' Teaching

Sam Fife's vision and teaching on what he called Divine Order became the guiding principles that characterized the Move's authority structure.cite web|work=Sword of the Lord Ministries|title=Hearing From God|accessdate=2005-12-22|url=http://www.excult.org/ed/hearing_from_god.htm|date=1992|author=Priebe, Ed — Priebe quotes from a booklet "Unmasking the Move" by Jack Enlow]

"This is ... the move of God in which God is bringing forth a many-membered manchild to govern the world, through whom Christ will govern the world during the millennium that is to come. Therefore, we are in God's school of Divine Government, and God is training us as one many-membered man, teaching us, training us, preparing us to be the government through whom the Spirit of Christ will govern the world. The way that he is teaching us and training us is by letting us practice on one another, by teaching us to govern one another and to be governed by one another after the order of Melchisedec, which is a theocratic spirit government order." [Fife, Sam; [http://www.ima.cc/godsschool.php "God's School of Divine Government"] ; Miami 1974 p.1]

"Now that governmental order, at this point, is a five fold spirit ministry governmental order consisting of apostles, prophets, evangelists, elders or pastors (those two terms are synonymous) and teachers." [Fife, Sam; [http://www.ima.cc/godsschool.php "God's School of Divine Government"] ; Miami 1974 p.3]

"What God wants...is a group of elders to be His government that can disagree with one another, but in the right spirit , the humble sweet gracious Spirit of Christ and in the divine order that God has established for disagreeing with one another and thereby be one another's perfect check and balance." [Fife, Sam; [http://www.ima.cc/godsschool.php "God's School of Divine Government"] ; Miami 1974 p.4]

Doctrine of Sinless Perfection

Continuing Sam Fife's teachings, Buddy Cobb teaches that not only should the goal of the Christian be sinless perfection, but also that it is a requirement to be saved. Mr. Cobb stresses that we shall be saved by his (Christ's) life and defines his life as reaching sinless perfection in the teaching "Dead to Sin":

"Therefore, what are you saved by? His life! What are you saved from by His life? Saved from living your own life and when you live your own life you are always living in sin. There is only one way to get out of sin, that is to get into His life. The life in which there is no sin...
If you are not saved from your sins yet, you’re not saved yet...
Now if you were living unto God, you would no longer living unto sin?... Because sin is our work, righteousness is His work. You can see how theologians got confused with the scriptures and tried to cut works out of salvation all together. Since it is on the basis of grace, it is not on the basis of works. That is a bunch of baloney. The truth is, that you will never be saved but by works." [Cobb, Buddy; [http://humlog.homestead.com/dead_to_sin.htm "Dead to Sin"] ; Bowen's Mill, Georgia 2001]

Culture

Following a doctrine of separation from the world, women formerly always wore dresses or skirts, and most men kept their hair short and facial hair.Todd, Douglas; "Peace River Commune Awaits Imminent Apocalypse: Christian Community"; "The Vancouver Sun"; September 22, 2003; p. B1] This was a common stance among most communes until after the year 2000.

If a man and woman are interested in each other, they can "walk out a year," with the permission of their local Elders. "Walking out a year" is a distantly similar concept to courtship. The couple isn't allowed to be physically affectionate or spend time alone together, or even hold hands. At the end of a year if the couple wants to get married and the eldership approves and confirms with visions from the prophetic ministry, they can then get married. The details of the rules vary from farm to farm.

Members who do not live on the communal farms often congregate, sometimes in members' homes, in groups numbering from a half dozen to several dozen people. This is punctuated by large gatherings called Conventions which are held several times a year. At these conventions, several hundred people meet for several days to praise and worship God and listen to the preaching of elders and traveling ministry. The traveling ministry consists of elders who travel from group to group, convention to convention, with special messages and are often highly respected by the rest of the people, while elders were more the day-to-day leaders of the groups.

Conventions are held in Bowen's Mill, Georgia; Lubbock, Texas; Shepherd's Inn, BC; Sapa, Alaska; Upsala, Ontario and various other locations throughout the world.

Criticism

Critics point out that although the Move teaches that everyone is free to hear from and be lead by God, in actual practice, this is only encouraged if the local ministry agrees with them. The practical outworking of this is that members must turn over their headship to the local ministry or be labeled divisive and rebellious. [ cite web|work=Sword of the Lord Ministries|title=Hearing From God|accessdate=2005-12-22|url=http://www.excult.org/ed/hearing_from_god.htm|date=1992|author=Priebe, Ed] The Move has also come under criticism from some ex-members who report suffering physical, sexual and psychological abuse while involved with this group. Fact|date=September 2007 Many other members have endured long-term social, psychological, and spiritual damage, usually stemming from the Move's teachings of complete submission to an often impure and corrupt system of leadership.Fact|date=August 2008 Some have even gone so far as to label this group a cult.Fact|date=August 2008

References

See also

*Sam Fife
*Latter Rain Movement
*Fivefold ministry

Further reading

* — Murphy reports on his visit to several The Move communes.
* — Leonard " [http://www.stephenshousepress.com/PRJuly13%3A05.htm relates her time as a member of a widespread, if little-known, cult loosely termed the Move of God] "
* — Dager states that Fife and others have "a pattern of taking Scriptures relating to entirely different time periods and applying them to the present age".
*
* — "Sam Fife [...] taught that the aging process had stopped for him and when asked his age, he would simply answer 'I AM'. He assured people that he would never die but was in the process of being changed into an incorruptible life."
* A booklet examining the Move's teaching and beliefs by Johnny Enlow, Foreword by Jack Enlow.

External links

* The official website of the IMA, the Move's traveling ministry.
* — This is a report bringing out the "move's" tendencies and referring to it as "The Body of Christ".
* A FACTNet message board discussion among ex-members.
* A rebuke given by Art Katz concerning how the movement has strayed from Orthodox Doctrine.
*
* Active email group of former and current "Move" members


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