“PURITY OF DOCTRINE – This has always been at the centre of inter-ecclesial controversy. The main issue on this point is just how far we go in certain matters, some will always wish to go further than others. It is therefore essential that all concerned should keep closely to the actual agreement reached and not try to go further.”
Dangerfield, AC (1973) “The Unity Book – Conclusion” The Australian Christadelphian Shield Magazine, page 110 Vol 76 # 5
A little over a year ago we discussed the Lampstand Magazine & Australian Christadelphian Bible Mission intervention in Taiwan. We compared the calamitous situation of the ecclesia pre and post the actions of Australian based brethren. Bro Jonathan Burke was disfellowshipped and his wife cut off (without a word) from the community as well. Today? An ecclesia of two (sometimes three?) remains affiliated with ACBM. Another group of sheep have no contact and the Burkes remain cut off. As the Australian community considers how to treat varying approaches to creation, it is worth remembering the fruit borne by literalist hardline actions. Continue reading
As requested by the Australian Conference, the AACE – a consultative Australian body – has commenced a process of considering the Bible’s teaching on creation. There are people of balance and goodwill on the committee. However the majority of the committee are decidedly literalist. A sub-committee will examine the issues. A sub-committee including zero Evolutionary Creationists. It does contain high profile anti EC individuals and some decent individuals, but ones whose opinions are literalist approved only. Anyone can have input but only anti-ECs can have a voice.
The project scope excludes any science. Ie no accountability to God’s reality for any conclusions. If we read the Bible to say the earth is flat, then it is flat. Simple, accessible and obvious evidence for ongoing ancient life (human and animal) is conveniently off limits. We can use archaeology as evidence in Bible lectures, but not to check what we think the Bible is teaching. Illogical. However this is a core demand of literalists on such “investigations”. Ignore inconvenient truths which might serve as a check on our exposition.
Optimism is somewhat hard to maintain. The AACE tried to establish a fair process, but the literalists succeeded in squashing the inclusion of any evolutionary creationists. Without a voice on the sub-committee, there is no pressure to address issues in an even handed way. The sub-committee proceedings are a closed book. The results of the handpicked review group will be delivered to the literalist controlled AACE. This body will then deliver a report. Barring a miracle, the result is a foregone conclusion and an opportunity to engage and learn has been effectively neutered.
Once again The Lampstand Magazine (Oct 2018) has an article proclaiming that evolution is impossible because something is complicated. Obviously they think this rules out evolutionary Creation. However ECs are firmly of the opinion that nothing is impossible for God, complexity is no barrier for Him.
The article wonders “how could blind chance assume that sound even exists and that these vibrations can somehow be detected and translated into meaningful information“. Indeed. But EC is not beholden to blind chance but the infinite wisdom of the Almighty whose ways are far beyond our understanding. Continue reading
Once again The Lampstand Magazine is running articles which essentially put the argument that:
- this is very cute/complicated [delete as appropriate]
- we can’t imagine how God could have made this evolve
- because it is really amazing
- therefore God used special creation
Obviously the argument depends on the irresistible logic that the creative techniques available to God are dependent on our understanding or imagination. Not a great foundation.
Perhaps the argument works well for those who reject evolutionary CREATION out of hand, but the logic won’t go much further.
When someone withdraws from a contest they started it tells you about the strength of their position. The draft business meeting agenda for the 2018 Australasian Conference included a motion from Salisbury (SA) and Wilston (QLD) supported by Enfield (SA) ecclesia. They were trying to achieve majority agreement on THE way to read the basis of fellowship and thereby exclude evolution creation. Despite having the many votes of the Inter Ecclesial Advisory Committee (a group of SA ecclesias), they withdrew the motion at the last minute. Why? Because many east coast ecclesias advised SA of their opposition. Rather than face public defeat, the South Australians withdrew. Will they now cease insisting their understanding is the only understanding? that they alone are right? We can only hope so – a little tolerance of different consciences is after all biblical. Continue reading
Those who have no secondary interests to subserve apart from the truth only desire to know that they may believe and do. But where to know more would jeopardize the “vested interests” of a sect, and extort the confessions of its leaders and members that they were in error and knew not the truth, investigation is discouraged, and the things proscribed as too speculative and mysterious for comprehension, or, if understood, of no practical utility. In this way mankind infold themselves as in the mantle of their self-esteem. They repress all progress, and glorify their own ignorance by detracting from things which they fear to look into, or apprehend are far above their reach. 
So wrote John Thomas the founder of the Christadelphians. He decried any attempts any limiting open investigation of the bible and also rejected the notion of the bible being in conflict with the facts of God’s creation. He spoke plainly against the restrictions of free thought and investigation common to established organised religion.
Christadelphians who attended the 2018 Glenlock Bible Camp listened to numerous denunciations of the new ideas and investigations of unnamed Christadelphians. The audience were left in no doubt that those present were members of “The Truth” – an unchanging body of knowledge consistent with the first century beliefs. Progress? Not necessary! John Thomas was open to changing his ideas. Some of his thinking in Elpis Israel was incorrect and he changed his mind e.g. his explanation of the angels that sinned in Jude on page 21. In other instances time has proven his understanding of prophecy incorrect.
We could work together quietly on addressing the challenges of the created reality and varying interpretations (many of which have long existed in our community) over various passages. Or we could strongly discourage investigation, condemn those who do/have and ignore the evident and growing problems. The difference between John Thomas’ approach and that proclaimed by some sections of the community is stark.
 Thomas, D. J. (1990). Elpis Israel: an exposition of the Kingdom of God (electronic ed., p. 4). Birmingham, UK: The Christadelphian.