'Replies from Christadelphians'

6.  Simon Richardson…...

9th December, 2004>

Having waded through your long article on Christadelphianism, I don't think you're doing your cause any favours at all. It's hard going, it's unfocused, and most of it is devoted to rambling attacks on a similarly rambling exhortation given by one Stephen Palmer, someone I don't recognise as a "spokesman" at all.

Christadelphians don't really have "spokesmen", you see.

There seems to be a problem of communication here. That is not one-sided, as Christadelphian attacks on other church's views tend to be rather badly misinformed, as most of them haven't spent a lot of time learning about those other churches. Frankly, most of them would prefer to spend their energy reading the Bible. And who can blame them for that?

If you want the real deal, the best chance you have of getting to the heart of the matter is to speak to someone who *converted* to Christadelphianism, preferably from an utterly orthodox church. A good "spokesman" might be someone who was raised Catholic, for example.

The big subject, as you rightly identified, is trinity.  This really is important, because unless you can understand who (what) Jesus was, you cannot understand why one particular execution 2000 years ago should save us, where all the other millions of executions before and since cannot.

Now Paul uses a comparison many times when referring to Jesus' death. Try looking at Romans 5:18. Try looking at 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.

The King James translates 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 as "For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Paul equates Jesus with Adam.

Now it's worth having a look at the story of Adam with this point in mind. Some things can be quickly understood.

  1. Adam was son of God (Luke 3:38)
2) Adam dwelt with God and knew His will directly (Gen. 2:16-17)
3) God went away to see what Adam and Eve would do (Gen. 3:8 has God returning, and there is no returning without leaving)

This last point is really important - it suggests that Adam could not sin when in the Presence of God. This also makes sense of another question: will there be sin after God returns to live with Man? The Bible seems to say not, (Rev. 22:3) but why not? Here is the answer - when we are in the Presence of God, we will no longer be able to sin.

But God went away, and left Adam to see what he would do.
Adam chose to disobey God.

So what about Jesus? If Paul's parallel between Adam and Jesus were accurate, Jesus would be in the Presence of God throughout his life (John 10:38) until the time when God leaves Jesus alone, to see if Jesus will make the same mistake as Adam. This is why Jesus was without sin, and why we cannot do the same. Jesus was in the Presence of God throughout his life, until the hour when God left him alone to make his choice. Now if Jesus were God, how could God leave Jesus alone?

But He did - read Mark 15:34!

Come to that, if Jesus were God, how could God die? If God died, other than the instant and certain doom for His creation, who would get to raise God from the dead?

No. Jesus was not a man exactly like us, Jesus was a man like Adam. Had Adam obeyed, Adam would have been given the inheritance of a son, and given the immortal
resurrection body (and there would be no Bible between Genesis 3 and Revelation 22). But Adam disobeyed.

Fortunately for us, God ran the test again - and the second time Jesus obeyed instead. Jesus *could* have disobeyed - that is the point of the test - but he decided not to (Matthew 26:39,42; Mark 14:36).

Which leaves us a choice: do we want to be men after Adam (="man"), or men after Jesus (="God saves")? Do we want to be judged on the basis of Adam's test, or on Jesus' test?

Do you see why the question is so vital for salvation?


*****************************************************

10th January, 2005 - TCE replies:

Dear Simon

thank you for taking the time to write to us.

We apologise for the long delay in replying to your e-mail.

You write: Having waded through your long article on Christadelphianism, I don't think you're doing your cause any favours at all. It's hard going, it's unfocused, and most of it is devoted to rambling attacks on a similarly rambling exhortation given by one Stephen Palmer, someone I don't recognise as a "spokesman" at all.

Christadelphians don't really have "spokesmen", you see.

TCE:   We trust you've noted the reason for the article?  If it really is rambling, as you claim, then you can point out where we have not answered Palmer.  But we suspect that the truth lies closer to your attempted denial of Palmer as a 'spokesman.'  Since the dictionary definition is 'a person who speaks on behalf of another or others, esp. one chosen or deputed to represent the views of an organization, group ... The chief representative or exponent of a movement, period, etc.... A public speaker, esp. one formally addressing a deliberative or legislative assembly' it is utterly undeniable that Palmer is a Christadelphian 'spokesman' - whether you want to recognise him as such, or not!

You write:   There seems to be a problem of communication here. That is not one-sided, as Christadelphian attacks on other church's views tend to be rather badly misinformed, as most of them haven't spent a lot of time learning about those other churches. Frankly, most of them would prefer to spend their energy reading the Bible. And who can blame them for that?

If you want the real deal, the best chance you have of getting to the heart of the matter is to speak to someone who 'converted' to Christadelphianism, preferably from an utterly orthodox church. A good "spokesman" might be someone who was raised Catholic, for example.

TCE:   You may consider communication to be a problem, but your suggestion that 'A good "spokesman" might be someone who was raised Catholic' coupled with your proposal that they come from 'an utterly orthodox church' betrays one of the many misconceptions Christadelphians suffer under.  There is very little that is 'orthodox' about Roman Catholicism which is 'astray' from the truth every bit as much as Christadelphianism.

You write:   The big subject, as you rightly identified, is trinity.  This really is important, because unless you can understand who (what) Jesus was, you cannot understand why one particular execution 2000 years ago should save us, where all the other millions of executions before and since cannot.

TCE:  We have never yet met a Christadelphian who understood 'The Trinity', or the true nature of the  Lord Jesus Christ.  If only Christadelphians did read nothing but the Bible.

You write:   Now Paul uses a comparison many times when referring to Jesus' death. Try looking at Romans 5:18. Try looking at 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
The King James translates 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 as "For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

Paul equates Jesus with Adam.

TCE: Obviously, stating that 'Adam was son of God (Luke 3:38)' does not make him fully equal to Jesus, for many other scriptures make it clear that the Lord Jesus Christ is uniquely the Son of God and Son of Man (Mark 1:1; John 1:34; Matthew 8:20; John 1:51).

When you write 'Adam dwelt with God and knew His will directly (Gen. 2:16-17)' we read in the next verse:

18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."

As far as the instructions and commandment he was given go, Adam understood God's will!  But God would not have said Adam was 'alone' and needed a 'helper' if God was always with him.  If God is all-knowing - as Scripture makes clear - He knew 'what Adam and Eve would do'!  God knows everything about everything.  He knows what men are thinking (see Ezekiel 11:5; Luke 5:21-22).  He knows everything that is going to happen. He even knows everything that could happen, under any set of circumstances (e.g., 1 Samuel 23:10-12; 2 Kings 8:10; Daniel 2:22). God cannot devise a bad plan or fail to bring His purposes and promises to their conclusion because He knows everything. His omniscience undergirds His wisdom.

You write:  This last point is really important - it suggests that Adam could not sin when in the Presence of God.

TCE:  It may 'suggest[s] that Adam could not sin when in the Presence of God' to you, but this does not address the means by which true believers may dwell in the presence of God because of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus.  Why did God create Adam (and then Eve) knowing that they would sin when left to their own devices?  If it was only the 'Presence of God' that prevented them from sinning, why did He ever leave them alone when He would have known that this was so?  Because the Christ - who Christadelphians claim did not yet exist - was already prepared to die to redeem mankind from the very 'foundation of the world'!

Ephesians 1:4 - 'even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.'

1 Peter 1:20 - 'He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake'.

When God placed our first parents in Eden He set before them one simple restriction, namely, not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for, said God:  "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).  Genesis 3 records the fall of man.  Adam disobeyed God and immediately the life-cord was severed.  Adam died both physically and spiritually. Physical death began to do its work, and the grave was just a matter of time for Adam.  Since his spirit was also separated from God, he was dead spiritually while alive physically and no longer retained God's image and likeness.  Now all men, from Adam down, are born into this world spiritually dead in sin, possessing a sin-nature capable of every trespass against God (Ephesians 2:1).  The sin-nature of Adam and the guilt of his sin were imputed to the whole human race, so that Adam's corrupted nature is subsequently a part of all his posterity.  The highest self in man is altogether unprofitable to God.  All men are not equally corrupt in word and deed, but all are equally dead, and unless the function of death is brought to a halt, it will destroy not only the body but also the soul in hell.  Because of the solidarity of the human race, sin and death have passed upon all men (Romans 5:12). When Adam defaced the Divine image and lost the Divine likeness, he begat sons ''in his own likeness, after his image" (Genesis 5:3) and so we read "by man came death" and ''in Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:21-22).

In order that man should see himself, not in the light of his own goodness, but beside the perfect standard of God's holy Son, the Son of God became Incarnate.  The Lord Jesus Christ said: ''If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin." (John 15:22).  Responsibility increases with knowledge, and so Christ's coming showed man how far short he came of God's standard of a righteous man.  The Lord Jesus said, "If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin . . . " (John 15:24).  He did not mean by this statement that man would have been without sin if He had not come. There had been sin all along, as God's dealings with the human race through its four thousand years of earlier history prove. But the coming of Christ to the earth revealed the heart of man in cruel hatred for Divine holiness. The Son of God Incarnate was sinless in every respect, yet man, Jew and Gentile alike, crucified Him. Alongside Christ's perfect life and works, man can see the sin and guilt of his own heart.

When man sinned against the Son of God, he sinned against the clearest possible light:  "the Light of the world'' (John 8:12).  He came unto His own and His own received Him not (John 1:11), and then Gentiles joined hands with ''His own'' to put Him to death.  If we want a view of the degree of sinfulness of the heart of man we need only look at the horror of Calvary to see us at our worst.  Time has never improved human nature and men still trample the precious blood of Christ under foot.  The world, having seen the light, turned from the light, for "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil'' (John 3:19).  Romans 1:18 to 3:20 enunciates the most searching and conclusive arraignment of the human race found anywhere, and the birth and death of Jesus Christ attest to the truth of this awful indictment.

The Apostle Paul states clearly the purpose of the Incarnation in the following words:  ''But when the fulness of the was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law" (Galatians 4:4, 5).  The Old Testament contains the accurate record of some four thousand years of sin, human failure, and consequent Divine judgment.  The one bright hope was the coming of the promised Seed, the Redeemer (Genesis 3:15) and Messiah (Isaiah 53) who would come to deliver the people from their sins.  Jesus Christ is man's Redeemer, his Saviour:  "Thou shalt call Him name Jesus (meaning Saviour), for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).  At His birth the angel testified again, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Even the Lord Jesus Himself voiced emphatically the purpose of His Incarnation when He said:  "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).  The awful state of the world of mankind necessitated the coming of the Redeemer since there could be no hope of deliverance apart from Him. The character of God, which is righteousness, absolute and uncompromising, demands that every sin be dealt with.  God is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger, forgiving iniquities and transgressions, ''that will by no means clear the guilty " (Exodus 34:7).  God is holy and righteous, so holy that He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and [canst] not look on iniquity'' (Habakkuk 1:13). His righteousness demands that every sin must be dealt with impartially. In order to be true to Himself, God had to deal with the problem of sin. In order to deal justly and, at the same time, mercifully, someone had to suffer the death penalty for the sin of the world.

God declares He is love (1 John 4:8) and we must recognise that He alone is capable of the greatest act of love.  Any other belief leads to another inevitable conclusion.  Jesus declared what the greatest act of love would be (John 15:13):  "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for His friends."  Since Christadelphians believe that Jesus is not God, but a creation with a fallen and sinful nature they have a serious problem.  Jesus sacrificed Himself for the sins of the whole world and, according to His own words, undoubtedly performed the greatest act of love.  He bore our sins in His body on cross (1 Pet. 2:24) and displayed monumental love.  But, if you are a Christadelphian you deny that Jesus is God and this leads to this conclusion: you believe that Jesus, who you claim is a created being, has performed a greater act of love than God Himself!  In Christadelphian belief the creature, Jesus, has actually performed a greater act of love than God Himself.  How is it possible that God is not the One who performed the greatest act of love?

In orthodox Christian belief, God is the one who has performed the greatest act of love.  This is because in the doctrine of the Triunity of God we have Jesus, God in flesh, second person of the Triune God, laying down His life for His friends.  Therefore God is the only One who has performed the greatest act of love, not a fallible, sinful, unholy, creature.  A creature could always fail.  Only  an infinite omnipotent God of love could fulfil His inspired Word of truth.

This raises another question for Christadelphians: when someone sins against you and you intend to forgive him, is it right to appoint someone else to be the one who forgives that person, or must you do it yourself?  Is it more loving for you to appoint another who is uninvolved in the offense against you to make satisfaction?  Or, must you make satisfaction yourself?  If you are God is it greater love to have a creature die for offenses suffered against You, or for You to bear the act and work of forgiveness? 

In Christadelphian theology, God is less a lover of our souls than the God of Triunitarianism.  The difference is in believing in a Saviour God (Titus 1:3) who loved me enough to sacrifice Himself for me, for a system of belief in a 'God' who cannot - and has not - performed the greatest act of love?  Why would anyone knowing the true Saviour God give Him up for the god of the Christadelphians who sent a creature to 'ensure' salvation for man - if he could?  The orthodox Christian who knows what he believes will never be fooled by the writings of Christadelphians such as Harry Tennant whose book, 'Christadelphians - What they Believe and Preach', holds views that would fool the ignorant or unstable.  However, careful reading reveals many erroneous views of Christ.

In the Person of Jesus Christ, God solved the problem of the eternal well-being of the sinner.  He sent His Son to die as the sinner's perfect Substitute, and thereby redeemed the sinner.  Man was lost to God and heaven, and God's purpose in redemption could be realized only through the Incarnate Son of God, for the Son of God Incarnate is the connecting link bringing together God and sinful man.  The sinner's relation to Jesus Christ is vital.  Christ became a man "that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9).  The Word, who is the eternal Son of God, became flesh and, in the likeness of man, redeemed all those who put their faith in Him.

Christ defined the purpose of His Incarnation and earthly ministry when He said:  "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17).  There is no implication in these words that there is a sinful class of men who need repentance and another righteous class who do not.  Nor is there a suggestion that there are "righteous ones," for in Romans 3:10 we read:  "There is none righteous, no, not one."  Yet Christadelphians follow Tennant's lead in believing that their good works of baptism can help lead to eternal life!

Consider the conditions under which Christ stated this purpose.  Scribes and Pharisees were upbraiding Him because He had gone into the house of Levi to eat with publicans and sinners (Mark 2:14-16).  His critics exalted themselves above sinners, priding themselves in an unsurpassed righteousness which thereby excluded them from any realization or acknowledgement of their own sin.

In Levi's house, however, there were those who recognized their sinful state.  It was for this reason that the Lord Jesus went to that group, namely, to bring salvation to them.  Physicians go into sick rooms, not because of the pleasantness of disease and suffering, but because of a desire to relieve and cure the sick.  So sinners are the special objects of the Saviour's love and power.  He came into the world to save sinners.

Although all men are unrighteous, those scribes and Pharisees called themselves ''righteous," for they were possessed of self-righteousness that is as "filthy rags" in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6).  Therefore, as they went about seeking to establish their own righteousness, they failed to see the purpose of His coming.  Hence they never heeded the Saviour's call to salvation, just as Christadelphians fail to see their blindness today.

(Continued on page 238)

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