Cults

The Christadelphians

Christadelphians confirm Cult Status! (continued)

Justin  Martyr (died 165 AD) addressed  the  defence of the  Christian  faith  to  the  Roman emperor and  prominent philosophers of his  day  - particularly in answer  to accusations of  "atheism"  from  the  Romans because the Christians  refused to worship their emperor or gods:

"So we are  called  atheists. Well,  we  do indeed proclaim  ourselves atheists in respect  of  those whom you call gods,  but not in regard to  the  Most True God....On the contrary, we reverence and worship Him  and  the Son who came from Him  and taught us these things,  and  the army of the other good  angels who follow him and  are made like him.  The prophetic Spirit we also worship and adore."  (Justin  Martyr, First  Apology, 5. ref. Jurgens, The  Faith of the Early Fathers,  Vol. 1)

Justin's  statement  could  be  taken  out  of  context  and  interpreted to say that  Jesus  was  created like the angels  who follow him "and are made like him." However, the context  demands the  opposite,  for  not  only  does  he assert that  Christians worship the  Father,  the  Son,  and the Spirit - 
Trinitarianism - but he  also  speaks  of  God as "the True  God" (ibid., 13) and  "the  good and unbegotten God," and  continually refers to Him  in  the singular. He also refutes  the notion that  lesser  angelic  creatures, such as demons,  should be referred to as  gods, saying that "the demons who  do such things are not only not rightly called gods, but are  in fact evil and unholy demons." (ibid., 5)

Athenagoras (161-180 A.D.) was a Christian apologist of exceptional rhetorical ability and  a contemporary of Justin and Tatian the Syrian.  His 
"Intercession on Behalf of the Christians" was written to the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus to answer the false charges of cannibalism and incest. He declares: 

"I have sufficiently demonstrated  that we are not atheists, since we acknowledge one God...We  recognise also the Son  of God. Let no one think it laughable that God should have a  Son. For we do  not conceive of either God the Father or the  Son as do the  poets,  who,  in their mythmaking, represent  the gods as no better than men. The Son of God is the Word of the Father....the  Father  and  the Son being one...[T]he Son...is the First-begotten  of  the  Father,  not as having been produced  - for from  the  beginning God had the Word in Himself, God being eternal mind and eternally rational."  (Athenagoras, Intercession on  Behalf  of the Christians,  10. ref. Jurgens) 

With one eloquent  and  succinct  statement he proclaims the  unity and eternal co-existence  of  the  Son with the Father  and soundly refutes  any  notion that Christians believe the  Only Begotten to be  a  creature  with  a beginning in time.  Does Athenagoras believe,  then,  that  God  is some sort of  plurality of gods,  thereby  blending  pagan polytheism with  Christianity? Not at all, for he says: 

"If, moreover, it is  claimed  that,  just as hand, eye, and  foot are constituent  parts  of  a  single body,  so God's unity is made up  from  two  or  more  gods, this is equally false...But God is  uncreated,  impassible, and indivisible.  He does not, therefore, consist  of parts." (ibid., 8. ref.  Richardson) 

After emphasising the  unity  and  indivisibility  of God he  proceeds to explain the nature of the Godhead: 
"The Son of God is  his  Word  in idea and actuality; for by him and through him all things were made, the Father and Son being one. And since the Son  is in the Father and Father in the Son by the unity and power of the Spirit, the Son of God is the mind  and  Word  of  the  Father...[T]he Son...is the first offspring of the  Father.  I  do  not mean that he was created, for since  God  is  eternal  mind,  he had his Word within Himself from the beginning, being eternally wise....Who, then, would  not be astonished to hear those called atheists who admit God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who teach their unity in power and their distinction in rank?"

Clearly, what Athenagoras believed  about  the nature of God  and Christ differs in no  material  way from the doctrine of  orthodox Christianity throughout  the  centuries.

Arianism was condemned at the  Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.  because the  followers  of  Arius  continually asserted that  Christ was not of the same substance (homo-ousia) with the  Father, but of  similar  substance  (homoi-ousia). To many  today it may seem  odd  that  the  Church Fathers could have  been so upset over the  rejection  of a single letter of the  alphabet; but in reality the  absence or the presence of the  iota signified the  difference  between  a  Saviour who is  truly God and one who  is  only a created being, a creature,  and therefore between a  Christianity  which is able to save  the souls of men and one which can not! The most noteworthy  Arian-like Christology in  modern  times  is the teaching of  JWs and "The Way" - both deny the eternality  of the Son of God,  the  doctrine  of the Trinity, and, like  Arius, posit the  Logos  as  an  intermediate, created being  between the Creator and creation. It is because of the importance of the doctrine of God that the last creeds that Palmer finds
"great difficulty" with were composed to remove all loop-holes and doubts about what the church recognised that Scripture was saying! Go back to the references about Christadelphian John Thomas' work on their non-Biblical doctrine of "God-manifestation" and note that it says:  'he did not find his problems already worked out, neither were the difficulties he encountered already solved and only waiting to be 're-hashed up.'.....hard study and careful investigation were required before he could, in the lucid way he did, 'open up the Scriptures' to enquirers after the way of life.... We repeat - it is impossible to prove that anyone ever believed exactly what the CDs believe today and therefore they are saying that the gates of Hades did prevail against Christ's church - but Trinitarians can prove their beliefs right back to the Bible.

The church has had  to  insist  repeatedly  that Christ is a  unique person - that  in  him  true deity and true humanity  are joined to form one person  and that He is truly God as  is God the Father and as truly  man as we are! Also, it was  not a  man 
per  se  but  manhood,  that  is, impersonal  generic human  nature,  that  Christ  took  into  union with  Himself. Since He had two  natures,  He also had two wills;  the human, however,  being  always  in perfect harmony with,  and subordinate to, the divine.  This was illustrated by His  prayer in the garden: "Not  my  will  but thine be done" -  and is the  reason  why  He  was  able  to  say  that He was  returning to "My God and  your  God".  We are thus able to  distinguish, but not to  divide,  the two natures of Christ.  As a perfect man He  would  speak  of "My God" and recommend  God the  Father  to  other  men  with  whom  He  could fully  sympathise since He shared every  weakness - yet without sin  (Hebrews 4v15; 2v17-18; 2  Cor.  5v21) -  but He could also  accept worship from men since He was still true deity. 

If God decides to reveal  something  of His nature which was  not clear to us before  -  as  the  existence of the Son was  only hinted at in  the  Old  Testament but fully revealed in  the New Testament - we  can  either listen and re-adjust our  thinking, or we  can  object  and  attempt  to  find our own  rational solution in order to  maintain our former view. The  New Testament clearly  reveals  Christ  as  God and the Holy  Spirit as  a  Person,  yet  each  being  different: The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Holy  Spirit is not the Father, etc.

Faced with Scripture that  clearly taught that three Persons  shared the attributes of the Godhead, and yet there can only  be one God (
Deut. 6v4; 4v35,39; Matt. 22v37; Mark 12v29-30;  Luke 10v27), the Church  Fathers responded to the Spirit's leading to develop doctrine  that did not compromise the clear teachings of Christ and the apostles.  While  this  may  result in theology that  appears to  be more  complex  than  some  of  the "simpler"  alternatives, such as that of the JWs and CDs,  it is the most impervious  to  attack  - which is why it has  stood the test of time and Arius et al have only had their  views warmed up now and then through history. The orthodox  Christian view has survived because  it does not deny ANY of  the Scriptural  statements  concerning the Godhead. This can easily be proved by viewing the CD & JWs Witness attempts to 'wrest' the Scriptures that simply do not fit their theology!
The indisputable error fallen into by Arius merely introduced a Pandora's box of difficulties, the most obvious being the Arian heresy that there are two Gods: the Father, and the "lesser god" Jesus, who was created as a god. In the  attempt to simplify  the  New  Testament imagery this denies  the original concept of One  True God, who stands alone, and  who said He never  did  create and never will create a god alongside Himself - that there is not even another
like Him  and  He  made  everything  by  Himself!  (Isaiah  43v10-11;  44v6,8; 44v24; 45v5,6,12,18,21; 46v9; 51v13).  It is obvious  from the  context  of  the  passages  that  He  would not be  co-operating with any sort  of  god  in His creating.  What  could be clearer  than  "by  Myself" (Isaiah 44v24)? If you try and maintain Arian monotheism, as the JWs have tried, you become polytheists  -  the  very  accusation that they  levelled at  Trinitarians  -  or  else you join the CDs in "God-manifestation" and fail to  honour and obey Christ in  the  clear Scriptural way that He  instructed in John 5v19-35. 

Whereas Monarchianism and Arianism both tried to clarify the  "difficult" New Testament passages  and retain monotheism by  either:  (1) denying the separate identity of the Father and Son (and  Spirit), as in the case of modalistic Monarchianism, or  (2) denying the true Deity of Christ and the Spirit, making Christ a lesser or "adopted god" as in dynamic  Monarchianism and Arianism.  Trinitarianism alone  retains  the  separate identity of  the Father, Son and Spirit - as do the Scriptures - while maintaining the full Deity of the three as one God.

Those who point a  finger  at  the Trinity as representing a  "mysterious" or "pagan" approach to  the identity of God are  simply  ignorant  of  the  whole  controversy,  and  fail to  acknowledge  the  complications  resulting  from  their  own  faith. The  contradictions  and  problems introduced by the cults' theology make it  much harder to believe in than  the Trinity - they have just  failed to address the contradictions  and tried to sweep the  obvious deceptions employed  over  the major "problem texts"  (e.g.
John 8v58; Coloss.  1v15;  2v9;  John 20v28) under the  carpet.

Whereas the early church  began  with  a simple
saving faith in the  Father as God, Christ  as  Lord  and God, and the indwelling  Person of the Spirit equated with God (the thief on the cross must have had an even simpler faith and we say he was & is saved for eternity - CDs, JWs and Mormons can only say he is not saved - and add to Scripture!), it is a fact that new  heresies always force a further clarification of the truth.  But the further  clarification  will  not contradict the old  belief.  The  first  theologians   choose  their  points  of  concentration  in  reaction   to   the  false  teachings  of  Gnosticism rather than  in  a  fully  logical and systematic  exposition of the  Gospel.  Whereas  we  have discovered the  first documentary evidence  for  the  existence  of a fairly  complete  New  Testament canon, the Muratorian fragment (dating from ca. 200), what Palmer doesn't tell you is that the canonicity of some books of the New Testament remained controversial until into the fourth  century - by which time many substantial doctrinal works had  been written to refute the  heresies mentioned above. Equally important to note is that if the  doctrines of the JWs, CDs, Mormons, et al, were  true  we would expect to find an  equal abundance of written  works  to  support their views -  BUT this we do not find. This is most important for it proves that if these cults were correct then Jesus lied, for when Peter responded 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,' He declared that He would 'build his church on this rock - and the gates of Hades would not overpower it'! (Matt. 16:15-18) If the cults are correct then the church foundered on the gates of Hades with the death of the apostles and Christ was wrong! Who do you want to believe?

Ignatius (
tried and condemned to death for his faith in Christ in 108AD!) was another who stressed  the Person of the Spirit (which JWs and CDs deny), and the triune formula as well, in refutation of heretics: 

"For they alienate  Christ  from  the  Father, and the law  from Christ. They  also  calumniate  His  being  born of the  Virgin; they  are  ashamed  of  His  cross;  they deny His  passion; and they  do  not  believe His resurrection. They  introduce God as a Being  unknown; they suppose Christ to be  unbegotten; and as to the Spirit,  they do not admit that He  exists. Some of them say  that  the Son is a mere man, and  that the  Father,  Son  and  Holy  Spirit  are but the same  person, and that the creation  is  the  work of God, not by  Christ, but by some  other  strange  power." (The Epistle of  Ignatius to the Trallians, Chapter VI) 

Irenaeus (born about 120AD), a disciple of Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple  of  the  Apostle   John,   testified   in  the  same  manner  concerning Jesus Christ:

"For I have shown from  the  scriptures,  that no one of the  sons of Adam  is  as  to  everything, and absolutely, called  God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in his own right, beyond all men who ever  lived,  God, and Lord, and King   Eternal, and the  Incarnate  Word,  proclaimed  by all the  prophets, the apostles, and  by  the  Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth.  Now, the  scriptures  would  not have testified these  things of him, if,  like  others,  He  had been a mere man."  (Irenaeus Against Heresies, Chap. xix.2) 

Irenaeus spoke much of the Son  not having been a created or  lesser being  in 
"Irenaeus  Against  Heresies,"  Book II,  Chap. xxviii. 6-8; Book II,  Chap.  xxx. 9. He also spoke of  the Spirit clearly in  a  Trinitarian manner and established  the  Personhood  of   the   Spirit   in  "Irenaeus  Against  Heresies," Book I, Chap.  x.  1,2;  Book  II, Chap. xix. 9;  Book III, Chap.   viii.3; xvii.1; Book IV, Chap. xx.12; Book  V, Chap. vi.1; xviii.2 

Notice that these  writings  appeared  around 180 A.D., long  before the Nicene  Council,  and  80  years before the first  significant challenge against the Deity of Christ by Paul of  Samosata in 268 A.D.
In case any try to  argue  that the Trinitarian Doctrine was  not widely believed in by the early church we have the clear  testimony of Irenaeus (in about 150 A.D.) that believers all  over the world were united on the fundamental doctrines (Chapter X - Unity of the  Faith of the Church throughout the whole world). Thus the church had not gone into the apostasy of the doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1-2) spread by CDs, JWs, and the other cults.

Palmer continued with his attempts to discredit orthodox belief:

"Now your faith may not be built on the same foundation as ours is - I can understand that. And you may say, well, I don't care what historians say - and, even if it's not there in the Bible, I know it to be true for some other reason. We'll say....well, we actually pin our case on what it says in the Bible. And if it's not there we have real problems with making it fit...You can't just ignore it - because it's the touchstone of whether we're Christian or not."

As you have just read,
orthodox Christians do care what the historians say and, most importantly, the historians we rely on are those eye-witnesses to the theological debates which occurred - of the ilk of Irenaeus, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Theophillus, Polycarp - men who quoted the Bible so extensively that, even if we lost the Bible today, we would still have their writings in which they quote the whole of the New Testament bar ELEVEN VERSES only! Palmer has called his witnesses - wimps of the order of the neo-orthodox Brunner & the utterly misled Cardinal Newman who jumped from the frying-pan of the Anglican church into the fire of Rome!   Even teenage  GCSE  students  are taught in  history lessons to go to  primary  sources and to beware the  opinions  of  secondary  sources  -  particularly  when  you  suspect that someone has an "axe  to grind." We can also prove that most of our witnesses died cruelly by torture and at the stake for the faith they believed in - we don't have to invent our martyrs!  We will see in a minute if this statement is true: 'we actually pin our case on what it says in the Bible. And if it's not there we have real problems with making it fit.'

Palmer quoted these Scriptures from the overhead projector with the introduction:
'What do we believe the Bible teaches?'

'This is life eternal that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.' (John 17:3)
'To us there is but one God - the Father ..and we in Him...and one Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Cor. 8:6)
'There is one God and one mediator between God and men - the man Christ Jesus' (1 Tim. 2:5)
'My Father is greater than all' (John 14:28)

'Now the trinity is incomprehensible by definition. Those (pointing to the Scriptures on the overhead) are comprehensible to everyone in the room - even the little children can understand what  those verses say. You don't need to be a professor of theology to work those out. Now which would you put your faith in - that which can evidently be seen and understood - or that which required 300 years of sophisticated thinking to develop?'

The Trinity is certainly not
'incomprehensible by definition' - but, as we shall now prove, the CDs refuse to comprehend plain facts before their eyes. Bear in mind that Palmer claims of the quoted Scriptures: 'You don't need to be a professor of theology to work those out.' So, what is the Biblical Teaching? 

John 17:3 - First, as we are sure Palmer will agree, no Scripture should be allowed to be quoted and considered alone - if you do this you can prove anything you want to prove! When discussing  verses referring to God ask yourself: What does the whole of the Bible say about Jesus? What do we do with the Scriptures that clearly declare Jesus is God? Is Jesus a true God or a false god?  If Jesus is a true god who existed from eternity, then CDs & JWs believe in more than one true God (which is polytheism).  If Jesus is not the true God, then He must be a false god for the witness of the Bible is that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8 etc.). Let us look at Scriptures that reveal the truth about Jesus. Neither CDs or JWs will admit that John 1v1 says that Jesus is God, although in the New World Translation, Jesus is 'a god,' and, in all translations by Greek experts, Jesus is God (the true God some call Jehovah or Yahweh - we will use the latter name throughout). The CDs refuse to admit that it says here that Jesus is the Word who is God, so, let us find out what Scripture says further about 'the Word.'

John 1:1-14 is unequivocal, although the CDs try to dilute the meaning by arguing that the passage does not say "In the beginning was Christ....and Christ was God" and that this passage therefore does not support the deity of Christ. But they are willing to admit that if it did Christendom would have "a simple direct passage to quote." CDs have argued that when the Word was made flesh that was the beginning of the existence of the Lord Jesus Christ, since the phrase "was made" occurs in John 2v9 ("the water that was made wine") this speaks of one thing becoming another. This reasoning does not help them in any way since it admits that one thing already exists and then becomes another. It is still necessary for CDs to prove that Jesus was not eternally existent - and for Christendom to prove that He was!  In reply to the claim that we cannot prove that John 1v1 should be understood as "in the beginning was Christ....and Christ was God" we turn to Revelation 19v11-16 and read:

11  And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself.  And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and
His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."   

Even CDs admit that these verses speak of the Lord Jesus Christ - and 
verse 13 testifies that "His name is called The Word of God." Christians will wonder how CDs can miss the clear testimony of Scripture - how could God have made it plainer than in these verses?

John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Who became flesh? What was He called? When did He exist from - the same beginning spoken of in
Genesis 1v1?! Clearly the spirits that blind the eyes of the CDs cause them to miss the clear connection made by Scripture and proven by such simple syllogism (definition: a form of reasoning in which from two given or assumed propositions/premisses, which have a common or middle term, a third is deduced/concluded):

 
  The Word = God   (John 1:1)
    Jesus Christ = The Word  (Rev. 19:13)
    Jesus Christ = God   (John 20:28)
    --------------------------------------------------

   
ˆ Jesus Christ = The Word = God

CDs try to argue in private that the use of personal pronouns (
"masculine pronoun for the masculine noun 'Logos'") do not make the Word a person any more than the use of "she"in Proverbs 8. They prefer to look at "the beginning", happily quoting Gen. 1v3; Psa. 33v6,9; 2 Peter 3v5,7, and concluding that "the Logos was the expression of the mind of God" and "in the Lord Jesus Christ the mind of God 'full of grace and truth' was revealed in human nature." Now, bearing in mind the comments Palmer made about the Trinity not being found in the Bible - or even in Strong's concordance! - and our comments about "God-manifestation" not being found in the Bible, go and search your Bibles and concordances and try and find these phrases. It is difficult to even find phrases approximating to these.  Interestingly, if you survey the early Church Father's work you find phrases such as 'since  God  is  eternal  mind,  he had his Word within Himself from the beginning...", in the writings of Athenagoras et al - yet they believed the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and not the "God-manifestation" of the CDs - despite their use of phrases that Palmer might say are from "Greek philosophy."  Despite Palmer's claims they simply do not believe the literal truth in the Bible - but we have just quoted Scriptures and then drawn a conclusion from the overall picture presented of God - this is how all our doctrines, such as the Trinity, were arrived at.

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