The Twelve Tribes

I spent 5 hours Saturday with the Twelve Tribes community in Vista. Have you ever heard of it?

  • Ben Keller

    October 24, 2005, 7:18 pm

    Yup…my brother-in-law’s sister and her family have been disciples of the group for about 10 years. I’m curious about your observations.

  • Kevin Clark

    October 27, 2005, 7:34 pm


    One of the women at our church has been investigating them for several years. She is drawn to their philosophy so much so that she has spent several weekends living with them, and is still, to my knowledge, contemplating whether or not she’d like to join. She met them at the Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market where they frequently sell produce and other goods.

    Since she raised some good questions, namely about why most Christians don’t sell all of their worldly goods and take care of one another in a communal family, and she was able to present Scripture at every turn of the conversation, I decided that my best bet would be to visit them, to see what they were all about. My thoughts were that given they were very “biblical” in their lifestyle methodology, I figured I couldn’t refute their approach unless I met them and asked them some hard questions.

    So, I scheduled a lunch appointment and met with one of their leaders, David. He, as it turns out, is a former pastor who grew up in the Jesus People movement and moved around the country starting several ministries, never finding the life of Christ he sought, etc. He’s probably one of the people you met too. I asked a lot of questions, to which he always replied with appeals to the side of every Christian that says, “Why don’t I experience the fullness of life God seems to promise.” Nested in his replies were Bible verses that, taken very woodenly, could be said to back his view.

    Most of his answers were well-formulated, but I felt like I struck a nerve when I asked about their return to the Old Testament Jewish ways of life, namely hair for the men that is long and pulled back, dietary restrictions, etc. He constantly came back to the claim, “We are priests and this is what priests did, so we do it too.” He didn’t really have a good reply when I brought up Paul’s arguments in Galatians about legalism and practice.

    The most interesting part of the conversation came when I tackled their Three Destinies” belief, namely that each person has three possible eternal destinations. Those who put their faith in Christ, which means they have heard his message presented by a Twelve Tribes leader and have renounced their personal possessions and now live in one of their communities, will rule in heaven. Those who hear the same presentation and reject it intentionally will wind up in hell. Those who never hear or who hear “incompletely,” wind up in a lower level of heaven (my oversimplification).

    When I challenged this belief, they brought out another young man who “coincidentally” also happened to be a former church staffer. He vehemently defended this belief, flipping very quickly from one verse to another and making a fascinating hard-and-fast distinction between those who are “righteous” because they choose to live based upon conscience, and those who are followers of Christ.

    All in all, it was a fascinating four hour conversation… I’m intrigued to know whether or not you got anything more by having spent eight more hours with them than I did. Someday we’ll have to get together to compare notes. Once I returned, I discussed their views with the woman at our church. I’m not certain that I entirely convinced her, but she is still with us at the moment. I also did some research on web sites that report cult organizations and found them listed repeatedly. I found several big sites run by ex-members who are trying to keep others from joining.

    The Twelve Tribes are intriguing. They have enough biblical backing to draw people who don’t know Scripture well or who are prone to interpreting it very literally. They have existed mostly under the radar for quite some time. I’d like to investigate them more, but time is limited. So… enough rambling… what did you think?

  • Kevin Clark

    October 27, 2005, 7:36 pm

    After I posted, I realized that I misread your original post. You didn’t spend twelve hours with them. Your time with them was similar to mine. I’ll be curious to know who you spoke with, and what the general topics were.

  • D. Goodmanson

    October 27, 2005, 9:08 pm

    I just sent you an email. I spoke with David as well as Wade, their local leader. I also spent time at the communal home in Vista. I’ve followed up that time with a few phone calls for add’l information.

    More to come…

  • Jacob

    November 6, 2005, 3:34 pm

    Was the woman mentioned above have a daughter and own a store.
    I was visiting their apostle, Yoneq or Eugene Spriggs, in Vista over past differences whe I witnessed them having a private meeting. It was mentioned in the evening gathering that they would hope she would give up her life and property and they could open a Mate Factor on the beach.

    I also confronted them about how they were dressing the young girl in their clothes without her request because it could be a form of brainwashing. I was told their God wanted people dressed the way they dress.

  • Jacob

    November 6, 2005, 3:41 pm

    The TT is a cult and I am one of the few who have their teachings outside the group to prove it. 1500 or so.

    You do not have to take my word… read their teachings.
    I have the Authority teaching posted on Factnet.

  • Bodhi

    March 7, 2009, 9:46 pm

    I lived with the 12 tribes for almost a year and was a baptised member. Anyu questions, feel free to ask me…. I lived in their manitou springs community, their vista and their valley center communities…

  • George

    August 30, 2011, 11:15 am

    BODHI I reall need to hear from you, i have avery close friend, like an adopted son who joined the TT 5 months ago. i want some have facts not jus hear say or suppositions on the TT beliefs. Especially some direct Bibles contraditions between their teachings and the plan Word of God.