A misleading bible school talk

In October 2018 attendees at the Rathmines Bible School in NSW, Australia were treated to a passionate condemnation of Evolutionary Creationists[1].  Over the next few articles we will review some of the lowlights of this talk.  Gross misrepresentation would be a kind summary.  Too kind.  Long-time ex Christadelphians (atheists) were quoted as if they were Christadelphian ECs.  Judgements were flung, and irrational positions put over as unassailable truths.The speaker commenced by dwelling on the Foundation Clause of the BASF – which deals with the inspiration of scripture.  He referred to the partial inspiration debate in our community which tore holes in many congregations in the mid-1880s.  The Foundation Clause was added in response to this controversy.  Without a shred of evidence, he then baldly asserts that these issues from the 1880s are:

[3:15]…amazingly similar to what we hear today

The speaker listed the positions attributed (presumably fairly) to bro. Ashcroft in the 1884 Christadelphian Magazine[2] (although the speaker doesn’t verbally provide any source).  He then accuses ECs of holding the same views.  No evidence is provided.  This smearing is nothing compared to the awful approach which follows.  We would like to think what follows is gross incompetence rather than being deceptive, an inability to think clearly rather than dishonesty.  However it is difficult to treat the grossly misleading statements charitably given what the speaker himself knows!

The speaker quotes from what appears to be several external sources.  Initially he doesn’t mention the source:

[5.50] One popular method of bible interpretation is known as sola scriptura and it means that the bible is the sole source of knowledge concerning God and his purpose.  Who decided that the bible is the only source and why?

The speaker then breaks in on his citation to inform the audience that:

[6.08] these are Christadelphian writings

He then returns to the quote reading:

The growing realisation that we can no longer ignore the overwhelming evidence for evolution or even just the immediate fact that a rapidly growing number of us accept it may force our community to revisit its hermeneutical principles…

So far so good – if you inserted the words “old earth” for “evolution” you would accurate describe Bro Thomas’ (and most of our early community’s) approach to Genesis 1-3 versus the young earth creationists who preceded Thomas. The speaker then continues with another citation:

[6.34] the writer of Genesis did not have the faintest idea as to how the world and living organisms came to exist.  He knew nothing about evolution or genetics  or the DNA helix.  He was stuck way back in the bronze age and he didn’t even have iron tools so he made up creation stories or borrowed them from the Chaldeans, what else was he expected to do?

He again informs his audience that

[6.58] these are current writings by Christadelphians.

…before continuing to quote:

[7.03] but what he did do and what is true is that he wrote some of the most widely read and brilliant stories ever composed by a human.  (That is true) and in that sense Genesis and all of the biblical record history is true even if it did not happen in the way described

The speaker, having presented this evidence of what he claims are current Christadelphian writings, then raises the emotion of the audience and the rhetorical heat stating that:

[7.18] this is what we are facing…that we actually know better than God and it’s fundamentally going to tear our community apart

[7.44] there’s going to be a group who trust the word of God and a group who trust the philosophies of man above the word of God

The speaker then moved onto condemn science and even considering what it has to say (we will come back to this) before quoting again from his allegedly Christadelphian sources:

[9.30] many Christadelphians seem to think that we can discover knowledge about reality simply by reading ancient texts and accepting what they say. The fact it seems that the vast majority of Christadelphians believe that if what we read in those texts contradicts what we discover via the scientific method we should reject the scientific method in favour of these texts

He then comments:

[9.48] they can’t even put in it the fact that it’s God’s word, they call it ancient texts

But here is the thing.  From [6.34] these quotes are NOT from Christadelphians.  The quote at [6:34] is from John Bedson, who left the community in the 1980s and is a committed atheist.  This is claimed as “current Christadelphian”.  The material came from the http://www.ex-christadelphians.com site and was published in Dec 2010[3].  This is worse than just incompetent research.  The same speaker, in Perth 2016 informed his audience that Bedson…

…wrote plenty of pamphlets, he’s done mission work, he was a speaker, you know a very prominent speaker in his ecclesia in England, um, his life fell apart, he left the truth and now he’s become extremely bitter. And his whole purpose in life now is to recruit Christadelphians and gather them to the ex-Christadelphian group[4]

So the speaker KNOWS this individual is not a Christadelphian.  Would any listener at Rathmines have got this from the talk?  No.  They would be misled.  This isn’t the first such instance of misrepresenting this material.  In Golden Grove in 2013 the same speaker read the same quote and said:

“this is the open challenge we’re getting now from brethren in our community”

Breathtaking.  And untrue.

The speaker’s next quote [9:30] again misleads his audience into thinking these are Christadelphians.  This time he quotes from an aggressive atheist who left the community 3-4 years ago and the material comes from his page[5].

Whatever our view of the speaker’s motives and approach, we can say without doubt that his words and argument lack integrity.  Ironically, he will appeal later to the integrity of God. Yet he has sourced material from hostile former brothers, and presented it claiming it is current Christadelphian material from Christadelphian Evolutionary Creationists.

We get feedback for occasionally being too tough in our language.  If an EC behaved like this can you imagine the language that would get used?

It is sad that such intellectually feeble arguments are used – to say nothing of the dishonesty. Where does such passion come from, to erect barriers to fellowship and mislead the young?

To be continued.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] We have decided not to name of the speaker.  The audio is available on request.  [x.xx] refers to the approximate time in the audio file of the comment quoted

[2] (2001). The Christadelphian, 21(electronic ed.), 550.

[3] Since taken down but at Sept 2016 was: http://www.ex-christadelphians.com/…/why-bible-is-not-inspi…

[4] Perth 2016 (Study 2), 40m57s

[5] https://www.exchristovoiceofreason.com/2016/01/the-truth-belief-masquerading-as.html?fbclid=IwAR23oHXyMa4flv3Yt9-UZosFuhPJyOTZaofjc2L3nBB5Lu6VfIot2dLD4C8

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2 thoughts on “A misleading bible school talk

  1. Pingback: Misleading accusations at Rathmines | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

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