'Replies from Christadelphians'

7.  Jannene Elmer……

17th September, 2006 >

hello, I have just read this page and i must say that im a bit confused by your arguments really!
Firstly i would like to take your definition:
The word cult is from the Latin word cultus - to worship, or show reverence to something - but specifically describes people who base their beliefs on the world view of an isolated leadership which always denies the central doctrines of Christianity as taught from the Bible. All of these groups - and many others - present a "different gospel" from the historical gospel preached by the apostles (Galatians 1v6-9)......Do not be taken in by any counterfeit! If you are already studying with any of these groups - or others who exhibit the same "marks of the cults" - we advise you to contact us for more details and conclusive proof of any facts we quote
You seem to imply that we follow john thomas as our "isolated leader" which is completely untrue. i personally have never read his book, or that of robert roberts, our only leader is the one true God, who outlined the way in which we should live our lives and sent his Son as an example for all. Thomas or Roberts are in no way put on a pedestal, their works were mearly an interpretation of the bible, meant to be used as study aides or clarification, i know for a fact that others of us will have different views on minor points although we all share the same beliefs in essential doctrine. Some of us may appreciate the work of thomas and roberts but this by no means suggests that we are reliant on these books. We are thankful that someone has given the time and effort to try to clarify bible teaching on difficult subjects such as revelation, especially in a world where noone now seems to have the time. These and other books are useful to us because we do not have the direct help of the apostles or Christ himself. They are not used singularly either, just as one may compare bible versions for differences in translation or emphasis, anyone reading a bible comentary or interpretation would compare several and make up their own mind. No bible study should be undertaken without prayerful consideration anyway. Please dont try to tell me you have always understood every biblical passage you have ever read! Perhaps then you could enlighten me on your interpretation of the latter day events as prophesied by Ezekiel?
We elevate no one above each other, not even in the runnings of our meetings - we have no priests (other than the great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek), no vicars, no clergy at all -
Jesus is our only mediator between us and God, no human would ever be good enough or even worthy for this honour.
You mention that thomas drew away from his former association because he had different opinions (surely everyones entitlement!) so how does this qualifiy as the pattern of absorption of 'doctrines of demons'?
My second point from the same sentence in your definition is concerned with the "world view" of this leadership. If you knew us at all then you would know we try to steer away from all things worldly and humanist, looking instead to the Godly way of life.
Next, by saying that we are a cult, would mean that we present a "different gospel from the historic gospel preached by the apostles". This is also contradictory to what we actually present. The only gospel we preach is an exact teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, in every point, even down to total submersion in water for baptism, like as Jesus was, and not the human alteration of sprinkling water, which you made such a point about.
"It is not the label
'cult' that determines truth & falsehood - it is the gospel preached that determines the label" If you knew our gospel so well then you would know that we preach truth and not falsehood and cannot be a cult, therefore you have fallen foul of your own quote. from your web page, it is clear to me that you are determined to label us as a cult, no matter what palmer had to say in defence, if you attend with a preconceived and predetermined outcome then why bother going?
"CDs are certainly
'sinister' as far as the definition includes 'devilish, harmful, wicked' for they clearly oppose the historic gospel of Christ and Paul therefore declares them 'accursed'!" And how then do we contradict the gospel preached by paul? If you are such an expert in our faith, then you would know the loving, caring, selfless (basically Christ-like) attitude that we promote - active social, physical, financial and above all spiritual support to all our members in need - what could be less sinister/devilish/harmful/wicked?!?!
You call on the point that we are a unique organisation, i do not know how you can doubt that, i certainly have never heard of any other that professes to believe all the same things. And this makes us a cult? Maybe you should turn your attention to evolutionists, or does modern-day 'christian teaching' incorporate this too now?
And then you say we deny miracles today. Well only last week i do not know how else i stayed on the road when my car skidded on greasy tarmac. I certainly beleive the Hand of God was involved that day and in many other instances in my life. To deny miracles is to deny the power of Gods Spirit, however un-obvious they may be at the time.
"another mark of the cults is the ability to major in minors, such as baptism - Christendom is not concerned whether the believer is sprinkled or immersed for the thief on the cross proves it is not essential to salvation - but it is an absolute must for the CD, to the extent that he will twist Scripture to try and prove the thief was baptised!"
Um....I'm sorry?!?! Twist scripture to prove the theif was baptised?!?! i would like to know where you got that idea from! I think its important to note that only God can see into the hearts of men, and if that thief had turned his heart to God, believing on His Son then there is no reason why he should not be judged righteous. Therefore, in circumstances like this, then no, it is not necessary to be baptised. But when you have been brought up with the scriptures and are in no way ignorant then there really is no excuse, if one still fails to commit, to declare his allegiance to God, then maybe he will not be found so worthy of Gods gift. You also say that christendom is unconcerned with the details of emmersion vs sprinkling. well i will plainly say that you are wrong. it is MAN that is unconcerned with details, that will interpret scripture to suit himself, such is the way of human nature. In fact i think that some details are entirely fundamental.
Rawlins white - I do not know anything about the man, or why such a big point was made about him, maybe he was a CD, maybe he wasnt, but i do think it is very indicative of how people react to others that are different - in their believes, language, appearance, anything. individuals and groups are persecuted because of their differences. For example, why are you so intent on labelling us a cult anyway? because we dont believe the same as you? So what. why dont you just let us get on with it, i dont think we are guilty of brainwashing, abduction, mass suicide etc! Which begs another point. your page loves to emphasise the fact that we appear not to know what a cult actually is, maybe then we arent one, otherwise we would know more about it? So what evidence is there then that Rawlins was not a CD? being referred to as a protestant? you point out yourself that the term CD was not adopted until the 1850's. Protestant simply means that we protest against the roman catholic teachings. But anyway, whether of not this man shared our beliefs, it really has no relevance to either cause, it just backs up my point that 'different' people are persecuted, like witches!
incidentally you havent used any biblical 'evidence' to support your aguments on the page even though you make a point of using it to decide that we are wrong.
i would just like to say before i finish that this does rather sound bitchy but it wasnt intended that way. I am mearly upset by your comments and decided to reply. I did not intend to start an argument i just really dont think your points can be backed up, some of them could be considered libel. I have heard palmer speak, he is a very intelligent and spiritual man, and downright rude of you to launch a personal attack. My final point would be to leave us alone really. People will always have differences of opinion, i am simply grateful that in this country we have the freedom to voice these and practice what we believe without threat. Im actually intrigued as to what denomination if any you belong to? and what your motives are for 'exposing' the CDs? I really cant see what you can gain from it. Any way, this is long enough, i am in danger of sending myself to sleep! interesting to see if a reply arrives..…


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25th October, 2006 - TCE replies:

Dear Jannene

as made clear on our home page, we no longer respond to all e-mails due to other initiatives (and the very common nature of the 'counters' from respondents).

You have reminded us again of our intention to catalogue such e-mails and we have now made
'Replies from Christadelphians' our first priority.  It is also for this reason that we have replied to you with some brevity - because you have followed the general trend and we have already answered many of your complaints in some form in previous e-mails and you will therefore now be able to read these others at:
http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page150.html.  ff.

Back to your e-mail:

You write:  You seem to imply that we follow john thomas as our "isolated leader" which is completely untrue. i personally have never read his book, or that of robert roberts, our only leader is the one true God, who outlined the way in which we should live our lives and sent his Son as an example for all. Thomas or Roberts are in no way put on a pedestal, their works were mearly an interpretation of the bible, meant to be used as study aides or clarification, i know for a fact that others of us will have different views on minor points although we all share the same beliefs in essential doctrine. Some of us may appreciate the work of thomas and roberts but this by no means suggests that we are reliant on these books. We are thankful that someone has given the time and effort to try to clarify bible teaching on difficult subjects such as revelation, especially in a world where noone now seems to have the time. 

TCE:  As we have already shown on the pages you have supposedly read, Thomas and Roberts are clearly responsible for the major doctrines of Christadelphianism; the quotes prove it and your words above confirm this fact: 'others of us will have different views on minor points although we all share the same beliefs in essential doctrine.'  Why do you share the same views on essential doctrine?  Because, although your words are contradictory, you tacitly admit what you try and deny!: 'Some of us may appreciate the work of thomas and roberts but this by no means suggests that we are reliant on these books. We are thankful that someone has given the time and effort to try to clarify bible teaching on difficult subjects such as revelation, especially in a world where noone now seems to have the time.'  First you try and deny our claims - saying that 'Some of us may appreciate' - and then admit that 'We are thankful that someone has given the time and effort to try to clarify bible teaching on difficult subjects such as revelation'!  Can you not see the contradiction?  Note: even if you haven't read your founders' works, those who lead your groups have and will therefore obviously impart such influences to those they speak to and teach!

You write:  These and other books are useful to us  because we do not have the direct help of the apostles or Christ himself.  They are not used singularly either, just as one may compare bible versions for differences in translation or emphasis, anyone reading a bible comentary or interpretation would compare several and make up their own mind. 

TCE:  The testimony of Scripture is that (2 Timothy 3v16): 'All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.'  Since we also accept that the canon of Scripture is closed (Revelation 22v18-19) we can be certain that Christ, the Word of God, both directly and through His apostles, has given us everything we need to read and understand the Bible.  Sadly, you make another tacit admittance that the Bible is insufficient for the Christadelphian.  Not only does Scripture tell us that we have God's Word to give us perfect guidance into His truth, but the Holy Spirit was also sent to lead the sincere believer into 'all truth' (John 16v13).  The fact that Christadelphian teaching leads adherents to insult the Spirit makes the continued deception by such false teachers fairly inevitable.  Reading alone with the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead the sincere seeker to the truth of Christ and His Salvation, but the moment you allow men and women who have read the written works of the founders of Christadelphianism to guide and influence you, then there will be an inevitable leading into their thoughts and ways!  Even if you have not read the works, ideas will be imparted to you whether you are aware of the influence or not.

You write:   No bible study should be undertaken without prayerful consideration anyway.  Please dont try to tell me you have always understood every biblical passage you have ever read! Perhaps then you could enlighten me on your interpretation of the latter day events as prophesied by Ezekiel?

TCE:  Prayer is essential but, if you insult the Spirit who desires to guide you, what leading can you expect to get?  You really shouldn't try and goad us into vain boasting; and we are well aware of the Christadelphian penchant for 'prophetic interpretation.'  The inspired apostle Peter was led by the Spirit to warn (2 Peter 3v16): 'As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.'  Christadelphian leaders have 'wrested' the Scriptures to the destruction of themselves - and all who follow their interpretations of major doctrines.  And do you really think we could be persuaded that you would give any serious credence to our interpretations knowing the stance you have taken?

You write:   We elevate no one above each other, not even in the runnings of our meetings - we have no priests (other than the great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek), no vicars, no clergy at all - Jesus is our only mediator between us and God, no human would ever be good enough or even worthy for this honour.

TCE:  Here you're attacking a strawman!  The position of believers is perfectly described in Scripture (1 Corinthians 12) and you will not find us defending those who cling to un-Scriptural 'priesthoods' etc.  We are equally certain that you have men in your meetings who take the part of Scriptural elders and deacons - even if the nature of their teachings is heretical!

You write:   You mention that thomas drew away from his former association because he had different opinions (surely everyones entitlement!) so how does this qualifiy as the pattern of absorption of 'doctrines of demons'?

TCE:  No one is entitled to a personal 'opinion' or 'interpretation' of Scripture as the apostle Peter made clear (2 Peter 1v20-21): 'Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.'  Peter emphasizes that the prophetic Scriptures originated with God and not with man; they were divinely inspired.  No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation (or 'origin'). This statement has given rise to a great variety of interpretations.  But some are clearly absurd, such as the view that interpretation of the Bible is the right of the church alone and that individuals should not study it - certainly Christadelphians would agree with us on this! Other explanations may be true statements, although not contain the true meaning of this passage. For instance, it is true that no verse should be interpreted by itself, but in the light of the context and of all the rest of Scripture. But Peter here is dealing with the origin of the prophetic word, and not with the way men interpret it after it has been given. The point is that when the prophets sat down to write, they did not give their own private interpretation of events or their own conclusions. In other words interpretation does not refer to the explaining of the word by those of us who have the Bible in written form; rather it refers to the way in which the Word came into being in the first place.  The text, rightly understood, asserts that all Scripture is not human in its ultimate origin. It is God's interpretation, not man's.  If anyone claims that certain statements of Scripture represent 'David's opinion', or 'Paul's opinion', or 'Peter's opinion' we must disagree.  Strictly speaking, we have no man's opinion in the Holy Writings which are found only in the Bible.  It is all God's interpretation of things.  No prophecy, or interpretation, of the Scripture represents an individual's interpretation: 'men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' What they wrote was not a concoction of their own ideas, the result of human imagination, insight, or speculation - but commentaries etc. often are merely the opinions of men.  In some way which we cannot fully understand, God directed these men as to the very words to write, and yet He did not destroy the individuality or style of the writers. This is one of the key verses in the Bible on divine inspiration. In a day when many are denying the authority of the Scriptures, it is important to stand firmly for the verbal, plenary inspiration of the inerrant word.  By verbal inspiration we mean that the words as originally penned by the forty or more human writers were God-breathed (see 1 Corinthians 2v13). God did not give a general outline or some basic ideas, then let the writers phrase them as they wished. The very words they wrote were given by the Holy Spirit.  By plenary inspiration we mean that all the Bible is equally God-given from Genesis through Revelation. It is the word of God (see 2 Timothy 3v16). By inerrant we mean that the resultant word of God is totally without error in the original, not only in doctrine, but in history, science, chronology, and all other areas.

Now, you may believe that you agree with all this.  But 'private interpretation' means that no prophecy should be isolated from the rest of Scripture or interpreted apart from the leading of the Spirit who gave it to us. The Spirit wrote one Book, and it must be understood as a whole.  Sound exegesis and hermeneutics are essential so that wildly differing views on individual matters of prophecy do not occur!  Through the Holy Spirit's agency, God is involved in both the production and interpretation of Scripture so, when anyone comes up with a bizarre interpretation that is not fully compatible with all Scripture, we know that they are acting on their own 'world view/opinion' and not inspired ('moved') by the Holy Spirit. 'Moved' (
phero, Gk.) means literally 'to bear along.' Scripture is infallible precisely because the Holy Spirit 'bore along' the prophets who spoke and wrote.  Peter was inspired to set out general principles concerning the right way to interpret Scripture (v19-21) in order to establish the 'standard' against which the false prophets of Chapter 2 may be judged - and it is these 'standards' (coupled with the other Old & New Testament warnings) that betray the claims of such as Thomas!

A prophecy of Scripture must not be interpreted on the basis of thoughts rooted in a person's old nature, such as those of the false prophets of Chapter 2, but on the basis of what the Holy Spirit makes clear about its meaning, since Jesus sent the Spirit to guide believers into the truth (John 16
v13).  A prophecy has never come as a result of human willing.  This is why prophecy should not be interpreted on the basis of one's own preconceptions, one's own willing and thinking (v20).  'Prophecy' may be used here as a general term for divine revelation. Private interpretation means 'origination.' Just as people moved by the Holy Spirit (compare Acts 1v16;  Hebrews 1v1) spoke a message from God, so people moved by the Holy Spirit should interpret the message from God.  Since he sent the Holy Spirit to the believers as a community we are to be cautious of those who offer 'the true word' but avoid subjecting their opinions to the scrutiny of other believers.  People like Thomas do this by withdrawing from those who would dare to scrutinise their teachings by comparing them with Scripture.  If any understanding of a passage fails to fall within the mainline of conservative, evangelical teaching over the history of the church, then that view is suspect (1 Corinthians 14v36): 'Was it from you that the word of God [first] went forth' Or has it come to you only.'  Much false teaching, both in Peter's day and our own, arises from people's developing their own idiosyncratic interpretations, supposedly hearing the Holy Spirit, but without examining other views or admitting that their own could be mistaken.  Prophecies are not to be subjected to eisegesis (putting one's own pre-conceived ideas in), but to exegesis (getting the inspired writer's ideas out).  Interpretation of verses or passages of Scripture is never in isolation from all that the Word has given elsewhere.  Moreover, the exegete ought not to make interpretation of prophecy a vehicle for self-aggrandizement and self-exaltation, gaining a reputation at the expense of perverting Holy Writ.  You may consider that Thomas never sought such exaltation, but such is an almost inevitable consequence of claiming unique interpretations of Scripture (which we have already shown on the Christadelphian web-pages, and elsewhere, to be the clear claims of his devotees culled from his writings - cf.  'Phanerosis').

(Continued on page 241)

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