Its adherents believe only the words of Jesus can be taken as gospel. They say the epistles are mainly concerned with organizing and ordering a Church edifice, and the various rules thereof. The DOJ thinks lives should be shaped by the words of Jesus, and those words are often at odds with many of the customs of mainstream religion.
The primary book to which the disciples adhere is The Gospel of Jesus on the Mount as rendered by the disciple Thaddeus, in which Thaddeus proclaims that Christianity is best understood as services to God via services to humanity. Among such services is the Service of Hidden Good, the Service of Secret Giving, the Service of Protective Peacemaking, the Service of Righteous Justice, the Service of Relentless Forgiveness, and the Service of Wise Mercy.
As a segment of Christianity, DOJ is unique among religions in its opposition to practices and beliefs condoned by Church “fathers” across a very broad spectrum of denominations. For this reason, DOJ has been the target of criticism and derision and is considered illegitimate by other faiths. Some DOJ positions differing from the mainstream include many of the cherished customs and rites commonly seen in other Churches.
The Followers do not go to church on Sundays. Or Saturdays. They think picking a day in which one performs religious duties leads inevitably to six other days that one does not. The danger is that having performed their Sunday (or whatever day chosen) obligation, they are quit from worrying about it for the rest of the week. DOJ claims that this is not Christianity – rather it is an overly tidy, easily fulfilled stand-in for Christianity.
Disciples of Jesus do not build or occupy church buildings. They meet often at one another’s houses or outside, but not according to a schedule, nor is there any ritual. They reason that God is as equally on the outside of a church as He is inside. So why waste money that could be better used to build homes for humans who do indeed live in houses. It’s a waste of resources to try to contain God in a church.
The DOJ refer to each other as Brother and Sister and abhor any suggestions of church hierarchy. They quote Jesus’ words from Matthew 23:8:
But you, do not be called Rabi, for one is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father, for one is your Father, He who is in heaven…but he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.Matthew 23:8
Disciples of Jesus say that creating offices and positions is not optional, as the words of Jesus clearly forbade it. A man-made hierarchy is a false system, which cannot help but be problematic.
In addition, much to the annoyance of the religious and non-religious alike, it is nearly impossible to argue with DOJ. Arguing about God, they say, is a silly waste of time, as faith is not an arguable vector, being based in the realm of the spiritual and may only be spiritually apprehended. They are, they say, unable to produce God for the sceptic’s consideration, nor is it their job. Their only job is to love God and be kind to others. The importance of being factually accurate in one’s belief is held very secondary to goodness.
At times, believers were hunted and crucified. Throughout Europe of the 1200s, Lisbon’s Catholic Archbishop waged a campaign of elimination against the group in which thousands of adherents are believed to have lost their lives. On December 3, 1771, Pope Clement XIV ordered the execution of 47 DOJ members by crucifixion. The longest survivor of the group died after five days.
However, despite the ostracism of the DOJ, the sect contributes to the world in a very real sense. The Followers place great value on education. They believe that the only things we can take with us when we die are knowledge and love. Hence education is a lifelong occupation and used to assist others without prejudice in a wide range of fields, medicine and science being foremost. The Disciples of Jesus has remained a considerable presence throughout their history, and the real contributions to the society in which they live has made them valuable to mankind.
Prominent members of the DOJ, renowned for their wisdom and sought after as teachers include Sister Calliope of Dakar, Brother Zosima of Portland, Sister Whitehorse of Se’ahl, Brother Joseph of Bristol, and Sister Elisabetta of Lagos. These and other members are sought after as teachers, healers, peacemakers and agents of social justice.