Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 4, 1998
Last Updated :
May 10, 2013
Sexual Sharing In The Family Of Love Is Fornication, Berg's Perverted "Law Of Love", Importance Of Comparing Scripture With Scripture, "Flirty Fishing" Equates To Prostitution, AIDS, The Cult's Jesus Babies, Trained Liars And Deceivers, RNR Leadership Shake-Up, Persecution And Home-Grown Leaders, Wisdom Of Daniel, David Berg's Repeated Prophetic Missteps, Antichrist Christ's Return Berg's Death And Comet Kohoutek, Two Sackcloth Witnesses Of Revelation 11, Davidito And Maria, Ricky Rodriguez Murders His Former Nanny And Commits Suicide David Brandt Berg's Journey Down Road Of Sin And Fleshly Lust The King David Bible Verse Set, Prophecies Regarding Christ And Moshiach Ben David, Danger Of Personality Cult Worship, Berg's Writings Equated To Modern Scriptures, "The Story Of Davidito", Judaizers' Criticisms Of Apostle Paul, Position Of Roman Catholic Church Regarding The Scriptures, Family's Practice Of Praying In The Name Of David, Pray In The Name Of Jesus, Jesus Said To Call No Man Our Father On The Earth
It was also during those years that Berg was in Europe that the cult adopted the new name of the "Family of Love". This was due in large part to several new controversial doctrines which were introduced by Berg. One of these is referred to as "sharing". This practice involves the mutual sharing of sex partners, regardless of whether or not they are married. In other words, cult women, regardless of their marital status, were expected -- and sometimes required -- to meet the sexual needs of the single men in the group. This practice operated in reverse as well, and cult men were likewise expected to meet the sexual needs of single women. Wife-swapping was also common. Berg -- a.k.a. Father David -- convinced cult members that this practice was acceptable and permissible under the Bible's "Law of Love". He based this false doctrine on verses such as the following:
"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
James 2:15-18, KJV
Ignoring all of the other things which the Bible teaches us regarding human sexual relationships, in his wayward manner of thinking, Berg interpreted the phrase "those things which are needful to the body" to include sexual needs as well. He was thus convinced that any activity which was motivated by genuine love -- including consensual sex between both single and married individuals within the group -- was not a sin. However, as with the long-term adultery that was committed by Berg and Zerby, sexual "sharing" is not condoned by the Bible in any fashion. For example, consider the following verses:
"Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband . . . I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn."
1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 8-9, KJV
Please notice that we are clearly told that every man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband as well. There is no mention of sexual sharing between single individuals, or with married couples, as occurs in the cult. It is because of grievous doctrinal errors such as this that for years now, I have emphasized to my readers how extremely important it is to compare Scripture with Scripture, in order to arrive at a proper understanding of God's Word. We cannot grab a single verse, or even a few verses, and build a belief out of it; particularly if there are other verses -- which we may purposely choose to ignore -- which contradict what we want to believe. David Berg's group --and many other cults as well -- does this repeatedly. That is why such cults are both deceptive and dangerous for young Christians who do not yet possess a strong foundation in God's Word. In other words, they can be easily swayed and manipulated by false doctrine.
The second doctrine which David Berg introduced at that time became known as "Flirty Fishing", or simply "FF'ing". This sinful form of evangelization utilized sex as a lure to win new souls to Christ, and to win new converts to the group as well. Berg pioneered this practice with the full cooperation of Karen Zerby, who became the first of the "flirty fishies", first in London, England, and then on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Once David Berg and Zerby had experimented with its effectiveness, it was introduced to the enter cult during the late 1970's. While Berg initially emphasized the fact that the primary purpose of this new "ministry" was to win men to Christ who could not be won by less extreme means, and that it was to be used as a last resort, the truth of the matter is that the Family of Love soon realized that it was also a very lucrative practice. As a result, in many cases, Flirty Fishing amounted to nothing less than prostitution.
One of the by-products of the practice of Flirty Fishing was the birth of hundreds, if not thousands, of so-called "Jesus Babies" within the group over the years. These were children who did not have a regular biological father in the cult. It is my understanding that the term "Jesus Baby" is borrowed from a phrase that has long been used in Italy.
According to online information I read quite some time ago, due to the threat of the AIDS virus, supposedly, this vile practice of Flirty Fishing was discontinued by the cult in 1987. However, given the extremely secretive and deceptive nature of The Family International -- as this cult is now known -- I cannot say whether or not this is really true. At the very least, my personal suspicion is that cult members may continue to engage in the practice of sexual "sharing", whether they publicize the fact or not. Please remember that cults such as this one are trained liars and deceivers. They make a regular habit out of it for their own survival, and to avoid legal prosecution.
Another major event which occurred during that time period was a leadership shake-up referred to as the "RNR". As with many organizations, religious or not, power and money had corrupted some of the upper echelons of the Family of Love structure. It was claimed by Father David that he personally fired some three hundred leaders due to their serious abuse of their flocks. It is also said that many of the regular members who could not adjust to the changes, also abandoned the group. Another reason for the leadership shake-up was to encourage the development of home-grown leadership in each of the countries where the cult had a presence.
As a result of their controversial doctrines, some of their political views and their aggressive witnessing tactics, some of the cult's colonies in foreign countries were subjected to sweeps by government authorities. Being as much of the cult's leadership at that time was American, this became a problem when government authorities began to deport some of them, as it created a leadership vacuum. Thus, one of the goals of the "RNR" -- or "Reorganization and Naturalization Revolution -- was to correct the situation, so that the cult could continue to survive in those countries, even if all of the American leadership was gone. Local leadership had to be grown.
While the Family of Love claimed that they were now a new organization as a result of the leadership shake-up, their enemies were not so easily fooled, and viewed it as nothing more than an attempt to whitewash the public. As far as they were concerned, as long as Father David was in power, nothing had really changed. In their eyes, Berg was still the primary culprit, being as he was the one who had corrupted their kids with his doctrines of liberal sex, communal living, radical political views and controversial witnessing techniques. Not only that, but they blamed him for turning the kids against their own parents. One thing is certain; from those years and forward, persecution, court cases and deportations became a regular part of the Family of Love way of life. However, cult members were convinced that these things were a direct result of their being obedient to God's Will.
Another foolish claim which was made by David Berg was that it had been revealed to him that he possessed the wisdom of the Prophet Daniel. According to the Book of Daniel, while the Prophet was able to interpret the dreams and visions of the Babylonian kings, when it came to the Endtime visions, even Daniel confessed that he did not understand everything he was being told to write down, as we can easily determine by the following verses:
"And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end."
Daniel 12:8-9, KJV
My skepticism regarding Mr. Berg's prophetic abilities is based on even more concrete evidence. Throughout the course of his ministry, he made some very time-specific prophecies. Primary among these was the prediction of the arrival of the Beast -- who many Christians refer to as the Antichrist -- in 1989. Eighteen years earlier in 1971, Berg had also predicted that his death would occur in the same year that the Beast appeared on the world stage; that is, in 1989. Berg was also convinced, and taught his followers, that Jesus Christ would return by 1993. Word began to circulate within the cult that proof of this claim could be found in the fact that Psalm 93 begins with the words "The LORD reigneth". Obviously, neither of these two events came to pass as Berg had predicted. Not only that, but Father David died at the age of seventy-five in 1994, five years after the date he said he had been given through prophecy many years before.
Similar to other false prophets who have populated our modern times, these were not the only prophetic missteps which were made by Berg. Another very notable failed prediction concerns the comet Kohoutek which graced the Earth's skies in January of 1974. As I mentioned in part two of this series, Jonah was a very reluctant Prophet who did not want to do the Will of the Lord. Thus he tried to flee from the Lord's presence by taking a ship to Tarshish. However, as I have already shared with you, once God dealt with Jonah about his rebellion, the Prophet got wise and went to Nineveh in ancient Assyria and did as the Lord had commanded him to do. Thus we read:
"And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown."
Jonah 3:4, KJV
In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and the Psalms of David, we also find the following very interesting verses:
"Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound."
Isaiah 30:26, KJV
"[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] In the LORD put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?"
Psalms 11:1, KJV
So how do these prophecies and warnings by Jonah, Isaiah and King David relate to the prophecies of David Brandt Berg? As it turns out, prior to the arrival of comet Kohoutek, Berg published one of his famous "Mo Letters" in which he claimed that the comet was a harbinger of the great destruction which would soon befall the United States -- which he referred to as "America the Whore" -- as a result of her sins against the Lord. Berg warned cult members to leave the country if it was at all possible. In his communiqué, Mr. Berg quoted from King David and in fact warned his followers to "flee as a bird to your mountain". In his deception, Berg gave a prophecy which was supposedly from the Lord, in which he wrote that the Sun would shine sevenfold, exactly as the Prophet Isaiah wrote.
Well, once again it is obvious that Berg's prophetic skills proved to be absolutely worthless. The USA was not destroyed in forty days time, and hasn't been yet. This is not to say that it is not going to happen -- after all, it has become a very wicked, violent, ungodly nation -- but it most certainly did not occur in the time frame that Berg had prophesied.
Allow me to share one final example which demonstrates Berg's prophetic illusions. In a "Mo Letter" which was published in 1978, Berg discussed the well-known Two Sackcloth Witnesses who are described in detail in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. As I discuss in my own article entitled "The Two Sackcloth Witnesses of Revelation 11", similar to a number of other Christian writers and Bible students, I have long theorized that Revelation chapter eleven may possibly be describing Moses and the Prophet Elijah. However, David Berg had a very different understanding regarding the identity of this enigmatic pair, as he informs us in the following excerpt that is taken from his 1978 letter:
----- Begin Quote -----
"Davidito and Maria are going to be the Endtime witnesses. They are going to have such power they can call down fire from Heaven and devour their enemies."
----- End Quote -----
Contrary to Berg's prediction, while Maria -- Karen Zerby -- continues to be the spiritual leader of the Children of God cult to this day, the life of "Davidito" ended with violence and tragedy. "Davidito" was the Family's name for the only son who was born to Karen Zerby as a result of her engaging in the aforementioned practice of Flirty Fishing. "Davidito" -- whose real name was Richard Peter Rodriguez -- was the heir apparent in the Children of God / Family of Love cult. To David Berg, there was nothing more important than raising this child, and preparing him for his predestined role as the leader of the cult along the side of his mother, Karen Zerby.
As some of the controversial publications of the cult clearly describe, from the time that he was born, "Davidito" -- who assumed the name of "Ricky Rodriguez" after he left the cult -- was raised in a very sexually liberal environment. This included having a number of nannies who voluntarily met his sexual needs from the time that he was extremely young. One of these was Sue Joy Krauten, who had also been his mother's longtime personal assistant. In later years, Rodriguez grew to hate what had been done to him sexually during his many years in the Family of Love cult; not only to himself, but to a number of other young children and teens in the cult also.
Thus, Ricky Rodriguez -- a.k.a. "Davidito" -- wanted revenge against his mother, as well as against the other women who had abused him during his childhood. According to news reports of the time, and various other sources -- such as the free online epub book by Don Lattin entitled "Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge" -- one January evening in 2005 in Tucson, Arizona, Rodriguez murdered Sue Joy Krauten by slicing her throat, and then later blew out his own brains in his car. Thus ended the life of the heir apparent of the Children of God cult. This is just one example of the bad fruit that eventually resulted from the fleshly lusts of David Brandt Berg, who claimed to be the "Endtime Prophet" of God.
In light of this evidence, and Moses' admonition regarding false prophets which I shared with you in part five, it is rather difficult for me to believe that David Brandt Berg -- or Father David -- was the great Prophet of God which he and his followers claimed him to be. He was just a foolish old man with misguided illusions of grandeur, just like so many other false prophets who have risen during the past century. His mixture of religion and unrestrained sex was a dangerous brew which resulted in serious abuse, violence and death.
While David Berg may have truly loved the Lord and possessed a sincere desire to win lost souls to Jesus Christ, clearly, there was something which was just not right about the man. Not only was he not a real Prophet of God in the truest sense of the word, but he turned downright evil once he decided to satisfy the lusts of his flesh, and tried to justify his vile actions through the Scriptures, no less. Abandoning his wife -- Jane Miller Berg -- for a much younger woman was merely the beginning of Berg's journey down the road of sin and fleshly lust. As I explain in a few other articles, which I will list at the end of this series, based upon reliable sources and evidence, it is known that Berg basically became a drunk. Not only that, but he encouraged, promoted and practiced incest. As if that was not enough, according to public court records, as well as testimonies from some of his actual victims, Berg engaged in multiple acts of pedophilia as well. This was not a true man of God.
Just as verses from the Book of the Prophet Malachi were used to support the belief that Herbert W. Armstrong, William M. Branham and Mark John Allen were the supposed Prophet Elijah of the Endtime, in similar fashion, members of the Family of Love cult were encouraged to memorize a set of Bible verses which were known as the "David Set", in order to enforce the belief that Father David was the fulfillment of various Old Testament prophecies concerning the re-establishment of the Throne of King David during the Endtime. This group of verses included such Scriptures as the following:
"And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it."
Ezekiel 34:23-24, KJV
"And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever."
Ezekiel 37:24-25, KJV
"But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them."
Jeremiah 30:9, KJV
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days."
Hosea 3:4-5, KJV
"In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:"
Amos 9:11, KJV
Because all of the previous verses were written many hundreds of years after the reign of the Biblical King David, members of the Children of God erroneously assumed that they must be referring to a future king of the same name; in other words, to their very own David Brandt Berg, a.k.a. Moses David and Father David. However, as I more amply explain in a few other articles, the cult understood these verses out of context. As some of you may already realize, these Scriptures are a direct reference to Jesus Christ, who all three Synoptic Gospels call the "son of David". Tragically, the Children of God are not the only ones who misinterpret the aforementioned verses. As I explain in the series entitled "The Kings of the North and the South", the Orthodox Jews are likewise convinced that they are prophecies regarding their long-awaited messiah, who they refer to as "Moshiach ben David"; that is to say, "Messiah, son of David".
As I mentioned in part five, similar to the other people we have examined in this series, I do believe that Father David founded his organization upon strong Biblical doctrine which included Eternal Salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit, and a vision for worldwide evangelization. This is clearly reflected in many of Berg's articles which I had the opportunity to read decades ago. In fact, you can still find a number of his less controversial articles online today. Furthermore, despite the controversy which surrounds this man and his organization, I must admit that it is because of some of his writings that I too was motivated to dedicate my life to the Lord many years ago. He was not the only force to influence my decision, but he was one of them.
However, in addition to the shameful fact that Berg was not able to keep his sexual appetite in check, which ultimately led to his grievous sins, it appears to me that one of his primary errors was the same one that was committed by the men we have already discussed. In other words, Mr. Berg knowingly allowed and encouraged his followers to set him and his words on a pedestal, and he became the focus of personality cult worship, exactly as I explained in part three. The practice of memorizing the "David Set" is one clear example of this; but it is by no means the only one. The practice of using titles of royalty -- such as "king" -- is another. However, the problem goes even deeper than this, as you will see in a moment.
As I discuss in the article entitled "Have You Read the New Scriptures Yet?", The Family International -- as it is now known -- also believes that the writings of David Berg are new scriptures which in certain cases may even supersede the accepted canon of the Bible. In other words, if they happen to not agree with something that is contained in the Bible, then Berg's opinion, as expressed in his letters, will take precedence. As shocking as this may be to some of my readers, this belief can be verified by reading some of Berg's earlier writings, if you are able to find a copy of them.
Please note that finding some of these writings online may prove to be rather difficult, if not impossible, because TFI has gone to great lengths to not only remove some of their controversial material from public circulation, but to even outright destroy it. Such is clearly the case with "The Story of Davidito". This is a Family publication which chronicles the early life of Ricky Rodriguez -- a.k.a "Davidito" -- and includes many of the sexual shenanigans that occurred between him and his various nannies and helpers.
However, the Children of God aren't alone when it come to the issue of rejecting parts of God's Word. As some of you know, in more recent times, I have learned that there are certain Christian Zionists and Judaizers who have a similar attitude towards the writings of the Apostle Paul. Not only do they heavily criticize Paul, but some of them even claim that Paul was not a real Apostle because he championed the Grace of God through Christ, rather than dependence upon the Mosaic Law in order to obtain one's Salvation. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church has long believed and taught that the opinions of the so-called "church fathers" and the pope take precedence over the Biblical text.
Another practice which points to the degree to which members of the Children of God have idolized their founder, is in the fact that some of them have been known to pray in the name of David. For example, a prayer by a cult member might end with phrases such as "In Jesus' and David's names I pray, amen"; or perhaps "in the name of David I ask, amen", or possibly "in your servant David's name I pray, amen." Obviously, this practice clearly contradicts the Scriptures. As I explain in other articles, Jesus taught us that if we are going to pray in anyone's name, it should be in His name alone, because it is His name alone which has been exalted, as we can determine by the following verses:
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:9-11, KJV
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Acts 4:12, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
"And whoso shall receive one such little child IN MY NAME receiveth me."
Matthew 18:5, KJV
"For where two or three are gathered together IN MY NAME, there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20, KJV
"But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle IN MY NAME, that can lightly speak evil of me."
Mark 9:39, KJV
"For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink IN MY NAME, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward."
Mark 9:41, KJV
"And these signs shall follow them that believe; IN MY NAME shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"
Mark 16:17, KJV
"And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child IN MY NAME receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great."
Luke 9:48, KJV
"And whatsoever ye shall ask IN MY NAME, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing IN MY NAME, I will do it."
John 14:13-14, KJV
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send IN MY NAME, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
John 14:26, KJV
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father IN MY NAME, he may give it you."
John 15:16, KJV
"And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father IN MY NAME, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing IN MY NAME: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask IN MY NAME: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:"
John 16:23-26, KJV
In the Book of Acts, and in the Epistles, we discover that everything was done in the name of Jesus Christ. People were saved in the name of Jesus Christ; people were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; and miracles were performed in the name of Jesus Christ. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told to pray in the name of anyone else; not in Mary's name, and certainly not in Father David's name. Thus, while The Family International may not erect physical idols to Father David, it appears that they do hold him as an idol in their hearts, which is just as bad. Now, in all fairness, being as the man has been dead for quite a few years, and I have not closely researched the group in many years, I honestly do not know if any TFI members still pray in this fashion, but some of them did do it at one time, whether they admit to it or not.
Turning to a related issue, just as the Roman Catholic pope and the leaders of other denominations are regarded with a great deal of esteem, and just as the Roman Catholic clergy and other priests adopt the title of "father", the very fact that David Brandt Berg adopted the title of Father David is a clear sign of placing himself above others, and a symptom of self-glorification and self-aggrandizement. Remember again what Jesus teaches us in the Gospel of Matthew:
"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven."
Matthew 23:9, KJV
What does Jesus mean by this? My understanding is that He is not condemning the practice of calling our biological dad "father"; rather, He is stating that we should not reverence any religious authority upon Earth with the same degree of respect that we give to our Father in Heaven. In other words, if a certain religious leader teaches or practices something which we know is clearly against the Scriptures, then it is our obligation to disregard what they do or say, and to give our Heavenly Father and His Word preeminence in our lives. To do otherwise would be to allow this earthly spiritual figure to usurp the position and authority of our Father in Heaven. In my view, the fact that The Family views the writings of David Berg as being equal in status to the Bible makes them guilty of this very thing. By extension, I must wonder how they now view the writings of his heir, Karen Zerby.
Please go to part seven for the continuation of this series.
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