House of Aaron: A small church gains international recognition
'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.'
The name, 'The House of Aaron' might not ring a bell, but this small church located in the nondescript and sparsely populated town of Eskdale, Utah, in the United States has somehow found inventive ways to explain world events within a biblical context, and garner international attention in the process.
Arguably, it has done an enviable job. Focused and passionate, its evangelical reach belies its humble surroundings.
Not unlike other religions, the House of Aaron, incorporated in 1942, was born out of a series of angelic revelations channelled by Maurice Glendenning in the 18th century. Interestingly, Glendenning traced his lineage to the biblical Aaron. His is a message of hope and optimism, a reassurance, no less, that God's promises to restore the House of Israel will be fulfilled.
Today, Conrad Joseph leads this vibrant religious body that has established a name for itself in theological circles. In an hour-long interview, it is not difficult to understand the growing fascination with the house of Aaron. It speaks of love, respect and dialogue among religious bodies. It is strengthened by an airtight explanation of biblical homogeneity.
Its outreach program in the cauldron that is the Middle East, places the Aaronic Order, as it is some times called, at the centre of cataclysmic events. Not surprisingly, Conrad viewed the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the millions of Jews who have since returned, as a watershed moment, signalling the unfolding of Divine Providence.
He identified two houses of Israel, one comprising of Jews who never lost their identity and those who are unaware of their birthright. "In time, though, we will all join in the Commonwealth of Israel under the banner of Yeshua. In the Messiah, we are all one people," Conrad said, opting to use the Hebrew name for Jesus.
Conrad, whose parents were formerly Mormons, spearheads ecumenical efforts to bridge differences and build on commonalities among Christian churches.
"We can relate in many ways to the Mormon Church because it speaks more than any other movement to the Restoration Period that we are now living in, but, again, we have always been open to meaningful dialogue with others."
Conrad was dismissive of Palestinian leaders although he was sympathetic to the suffering of their people. "Their leadership must recognise the sovereignty of Israel. To use violence against Israel is an affront to God." He conceded that the Palestinians have rights and are also God's children but argued that they are misguided when they embrace the nihilistic teachings of their leaders.
Conrad has visited the Holy Land countless times and has developed a working relationship with Messianic Jews (Jews who believe that Yeshua is the messiah). "We are also working there with Jews who reject Jesus but relations are cordial and productive because we are all serving the God of Abraham."
Unlike many Christian Churches, the House of Aaron is steeped in the teachings, traditions and practices of the Old Testament. It reenacts many of its ceremonies, for example, the feasts of Passover, the Pentecost and the Tabernacle. Congregants also avoid pork, shelled fish, and worship on Saturdays. And while Conrad acknowledged that the Messiah was not born on December 25, the House of Aaron still celebrates the day "to honour a figure that has, and will change the course of history".
According to Conrad, today's churches rely too heavily on the New Testament. The coming of Yeshua was long prophesied in the Old Testament. And while this is not a new thesis, the House of Aaron is more detailed and surgical in identifying scriptures to bolster this argument.
He cited countless references to the coming of Yeshua, including Isaiah 7:9 and Deuteronomy 18.
The following excerpt from Isaiah 53, he views as overwhelmingly convincing.Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Responding to the growing number of detractors of the Old Testament, repulsed by an anthropomorphic God bent on genocidal rages, (Chronicles 1:21; Deuteronomy 6; Joshua 21), Conrad countered with Jonah 4:1-2, stating that God cared for the Assyrian people in Nineveh, the sworn enemy of the Israelites. "We must be balanced and view the Word in the right context."
It is at this juncture that he warned against questioning God, stating that we can hardly comprehend the infinite intricacies of Cosmology and human destiny. And to support this view, he quotes God's admonition in Isaiah 55:8: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways."
On the incendiary debate over gay marriage, Conrad was cautious, sensing the sensitivity of the issue. But firm and uncompromising, he remained. "We love all people and cannot discriminate on any level, but at this point we cannot proscribe biblical teachings to satisfy the wishes of others."
When asked about the 'End of Days,' Conrad was noncommittal, mindful of the many failed predictions by Christian leaders in the past, but offered, "I can say with some certainty, though, that every major global event today suggests that the end is nigh at hand."