The Man, His Mission, His Message.
David Berg (1919-1994) was the iconoclastic founder and spiritual leader of the non-traditional Christian movement known as the Family International. Founded in 1968 amongst the counterculture youth, the movement was originally known as the “Children of God.” David Berg’s legacy lies in the missionary movement that he founded and his controversial views, expressed in some of the nearly 3,000 “Letters” that he authored over three decades.
Coming from a long line of non-conformist ministers and evangelists, David Berg’s life was spent in Christian service. In 1968, he founded the Children of God movement in Southern California. Initially composed of former hippies and unchurched youths, but later drawing followers from all walks of life, the group expanded rapidly and later became known as the Family International.
David Berg’s principal legacy is undoubtedly the movement that he founded and led. He is also remembered for his controversial views, as expressed in some of the nearly 3,000 “Letters” that he authored over nearly three decades. In his lifetime, David Berg censured mainstream Christians for their failure to follow the teachings of Christ more closely, maintaining that Christians should model their lives after the first century Church, living a simple cooperative lifestyle and devoting as much of their time and resources as possible to disseminating the Gospel.
He also decried the materialism and de-Christianization of modern society, and viewed the onset of globalization as setting the stage for the rise of the Antichrist, a godless world dictator that the Bible predicts will rule the world in the last days before Christ’s return.
David Berg’s theological writings on sexuality resulted in controversy and notoriety for him and the movement in the late 1970s. David Berg retracted his more radical theological speculations regarding sexuality in the late 1980s, and these writings were officially renounced and removed from circulation.
As a mark of his legacy, during the first 25 years of the movement’s history, his leadership inspired the Family to personally share the Gospel with over 260 million people in over 100 countries, of whom nearly 18 million accepted Jesus as their Savior.
David Berg’s principal legacy lies in the missionary movement that he founded. He is also remembered for his controversial views, expressed in some of the nearly 3,000 “Letters” that he authored over three decades.
Working outside of mainstream Christian denominations, during the late 1960s, he and his wife and four children recruited, trained, and inspired thousands of predominantly unchurched young adults to carry out missionary work, and to ultimately create a worldwide missionary movement dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ for over 40 years.
Although David Berg was the leader of a militantly evangelistic organization, he chose to live in seclusion, communicating with his followers and the public via “Letters” that he wrote on a wide variety of subjects. His writings were often extreme and uncompromising in nature, yet he admonished the reader to “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” His writings are permeated with the same love for God and passion for winning others to Christ that has motivated missionaries throughout the ages.
David Berg devoted himself to his writing and the leadership of the movement. As a religious leader, he was unique in shunning the spotlight, and was mostly known through his writings.
David Berg’s primary goal in writing was to ground the membership in the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the mission of the movement, as well as to propose novel doctrinal interpretations, and teachings on biblical prophecy related to Jesus’ Second Coming and the Endtime. At the heart of his teachings was the unshakable conviction that the love of God, as manifested in the Bible and the person of Jesus, was the solution to every human need.
Copyright © 2009 The Family International