ACBM – rewriting the basis of fellowship

The ACBM is in contravention of the basis of interecclesial fellowship in Australia.  It’s requirements of fieldworkers stands in stark contrast to the voice of Australian ecclesias expressed in the 2016 Sydney Conference then ratified by an Australia wide vote.  Ironically its additions to the basis of fellowship demonstrate that the official basis as expressed doesn’t necessarily contradict evolutionary creation.

Its tough when you are attacking people and ideas but instead your own materials support your opponent’s case. Such is the experience of the ACBM – especially the South Australian branch.  Convinced of their doctrinal position they have pursued Evolutionary Creationists and any who might be vaguely sympathetic to them.  Many a loud voice insist (while ignoring the record of God’s creation) that EC cannot be reconciled to the creedal statements of Christadelphians.  However the very actions of the ACBM demonstrate how this is incorrect.

The ACBM has published doctrinal guidelines for fieldworkers.  Among other matters the guidelines say the following:

“you will subscribe to the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith and if you are a member of an Australian ecclesia, the Cooper-Carter Addendum as expressed in the Australian Unity Book.  You will also be expected to uphold the doctrinal standards outlined in the following paragraphs.”[1] 

The ACBM requirements DO NOT MATCH the basis of fellowship in Australia.  Interesting.  Even more interestingly the Cooper Carter Addendum – the Australian creedal statement on the nature of Adam and implications of the fall is reworded.  The differences are highlighted below:

ACBM Requirements Cooper Carter Addendum
“That by the first sin in Eden, the Divine sentence came into effect

 

 

and Adam fell from his very good state both morally and physically,

 

 

 

 

and since that time, as his descendants, we inherit the same mortality which came by sin

 

and its physical consequences, namely a sin biased nature leading inevitably to death.”[2]

“We believe that Adam was made of the earth, and declared to be very good; because of disobedience to God’s Law, he was sentenced to return to the dust.

 

He fell from his very good estate,

 

 

and suffered the consequences of sin-— shame, a defiled conscience and mortality.

 

As his descendants, we partake of that mortality that came by sin,

 

and inherit a nature, prone to sin.”[3]

 

Notice what the ACBM has done.  A few important things are obvious.

  1. It is quite difficult to accommodate the reality of us having more than two ancestors 6,000 years ago into this framework.
  2. Some fairly important and well known Christadelphians would be rejected as missionaries by the ACBM.  Sorry Harry Whittaker, CC Walker, David Levin…and probably Roberts at the end of his life.
  3. ACBM has redefined the basis of fellowship.  The Sydney Conference in 2016 passed a motion ratified by the Australian ecclesias which defined the basis of interecclesial fellowship as the Unity Agreement “without addition or further explanation”.  Point blank the ACBM is outside of the Australian interecclesial basis of fellowship.
  4. The ACBM’s rewording demonstrates the way conservatives read the statement is only one reading & actually needs changes to eliminate other possibilities.  The statement (and the bible but leave that aside!) does not say Adam fell from his state physically and morally.  By changing the words the ACBM makes plain the weakness in the conservative position and their need to insist on their reading although plainly this is not what the CCA says!  So too the telling change from “partake” to “inherit”.  The reality is the CCA doesn’t remove the possibility of evolutionary creation – luckily since all the evidence says this is what God did!  The way conservatives reword the statement in their mind is laid out plainly.

The ACBM – especially its South Australian branch, has moved to insist on full conformance with its changed reading of the Christadelphian creeds.  Even accommodating those who disagree is unacceptable.

It remains to be seen whether the community at large will hold to the broader basis of fellowship or be cowed by loud voices into accepting the defacto rewriting of the creeds.

<NOTE: A reader has contacted us to point out that ACBM is now ACBM Incorporated, a legal entity under Australian law this means essentially all Australian Christadelphians are legally “members” of the incorporated entity and responsible for it.>

 

_____________________________________________

 

[1] http://acbm.org.au/fieldworkers/fieldworkers-guide-book/acbm-policy-fellowship-doctrine/

[2] Ibid

[3] Australian Unity Book

 

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1 thought on “ACBM – rewriting the basis of fellowship

  1. Bruce Philp

    Please don’t use the word “conservative” this way. Today’s ACBM is nothing like what was set up by Ted Byrt, John Powell and others, to be representative of all Australian ecclesias and answerable to the Biennial Conference. In the late 1960’s when the sin of faction was rife, ACBM was determinedly non-factional and almost uniquely cross-factional, and I felt it was a privilege to share the work of ACBM with delegates from ecclesias with which my own was supposedly “not in fellowship”. This new nonsense isn’t conservative, it’s a hijack.

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