Last Updated on : November 23, 2014
Christadelphianism of God or Men?
An Examination Of Your Alleged "Four Basic Shortcomings" of Christadelphians
The 1st Claims
1. That Christadelphianism knows nothing of the issue of universal sovereignty.
2. That the vindication of Jehovah's name is more important than the salvation of human creatures.
3. That one does not become aware from reading Christadelphian literature that 1 and 2 are truths.
These Claims Examined:
1. The Memorial Name of the Deity is most accurately rendered "Yahweh" according to recent scholarship. Jehovah is a mongrel form not used until centuries after the Apostles (about 1518-1520 A.D.) -- The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible and Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 2, p. 199. In the preface to the Revised Standard Version it is also stated that, "The word Jehovah does not accurately represent any form, of the Name ever used in Hebrew...." p. vi. These authorities are vindicating this claim made by Christadelpians since 1858. Anyone wishing to check the Christadelphian position can do so by consulting Dr. Thomas' articles on "God-manifestation" in the Herald of the Kingdom, 1858.
2. The Memorial name, Yahweh, translated "I shall prove to be" (Ex. 3 14) by the New World translation gives part of the prophetic sense of the word. What Yahweh will prove to be, is indicated in the combination of Yahweh with other Hebrew words.
3. Yahweh manifested himself in one of the mighty ones (elohim) which went before the children of Israel. Of this angel, God said, "He will not pardon your transgressions because my name is within him." (Ek. 23:21). (See claim 5, section 2 for further development)
4. God has also manifested his character and purpose through men. Moses was to serve as "God" (elohim = mighty ones) to Aaron (Ex. 4:16). Moses was also to be "God to Pharoah" (elohim = mighty ones, again) (Ex. 7:1). The judges of Israel were called "Gods" (elohim) (Ps. 82:6). (Jesus quotes this passage against the Jews in John 10:34)
5. God manifestation is taught in the divine name Yahweh, "He who will be." Accredited representatives of God such as the angel that went before Israel, Moses, the judges of Israel, the prophets and especially Christ are part of the divine name. These are "migghty ones" (elohim) because they are made strong by the Deity.
So great was the manifestation of the Deity in Jesus of Nazareth, that Christ could say, "he that has seen me has seen the father." (Jn. 14:9). See also 1Tim. 3:16.
6. It is the purpose of Yahweh to manifest his character in his resurrected faithful sons and daughters in the age to come. Yahweh will then be "fall things to everyone." (1 Cor. 15:28)
The Deity,is now taking out of the Gentiles a people for his name (Acts 15:14) in preparation for that age.
7. It should be clear from this brief summary of the divine purpose expressed in the memorial name, Yahweh, that God-manifestation, not human salvation as an end in itself, is the divine purpose, and that sovereignty will be manifest also.
8. The first three claims of your Watchtower writer are false. They are a gross misrepresentation of Christadelphian teaching. The evidence presented in this outline may be checked to be standard Christadelphian teaching by consulting the following publications:
a. Theophany by C.C. Walker, the former editor of the Christadeiphian, (Birmingham, 1929). This contains an exhaustive treatment of the divine name concerning "'vindication and sovereignty." (Especially see the first 13 pages). This publication has circulated among Christadelphians for the past 33 years.
b. Phanerosis by John Thomas, (Birmingham, 1954 edition). This is "an exposition of the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments, concerning the Manifestation of the invisible eternal God in human nature."
c. Various issues in the examination of this claim have been touched upon in a series of "Wrested Scriptures" appearing in The Christadelphian magazine, (1957- 58).
d. The Christadelphian Advocate, a monthly magazine "in Defense of the Things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ" as embraced in "the Hope of Israel," contains a relevant article "God's Sovereignty", 1962, page 271. (Published 5104 Cavedo Lane, Richmond 31, Virginia)
e. Index Rerum, by R.C. Bingley, Sr., pages 57-60, obtainable from the Christadelphian Ecclesia of San Francisco, 233 - 23rd Avenue, San Mateo, California, U.S.A.
f. Eureka by John Thomas, Vol. 1, pages 98-115, (Reprint of 1861 edition).
The 2nd Claim
A second vital and basic shortcoming of Christadelphianism is its lack of that unity for which Jesus prayed. (Jn. 17:21-23)
There are at least 12 fraternities calling themselves Christadelphians, each refusing to fellowship with the other 11. Jesus said that by the disciples love for one another all would be able to recognize his followers. Surely this love is lacking ... and stamps Christadelphian work as being not of God, but of men.
This Claim Examined:
1. Your facts are correct, but your conclusion wrong. Christadelphians have had their divisions, but so have you. Shortly after the death of Russell in 1916, a number withdrew from the "Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society" founded by Russell. A note in Preservation indicates that these have since refused to cooperate with the said society and its work, forming themselves into different and "numerous companies," taking such names as Bible Students, Associated Bible Students, Russellites, Standfasters and like names, "all of which tends to cause confusion and misunderstanding." pages 336-337.
2. The conclusion that "Christadelphianism must be of men" because they have divisions no more applies to them than it does to you. Divisions existed from the very foundations of Christianity. Jesus said "The stumbling blocks must of necessity come, but woe to the man through whom the stumbling block comes!" (Mt. 18:7)
Paul said to the Corinthians "For the disclosure was made to me about you .... that dissensions exist among you." (1 Cor. 1:11)
And to the Galatians, "You keep on biting and devouring one another." (Gal. 5:15)
But surely it is not a justifiable conclusion to apply the rule of John 13:34 to the apostles and reason that the first century Faith must have been of men because some of the members in Galatia and Corinth were factious and not exercising the scriptural love one to another. This is precisely the way you have applied it to the Christadelphians. It must be remembered that it is scriptural teaching that the gospel dragnet gathers up fish "of every kind" (Mt. 13:47-50). Some of these fish are "fine ones", others are "unsuitable".
3. Divisions have to some degree been the price of Christadelphian freedom. They are not robots who have a totalitarian machine from which edicts are issued, nor do they have a dictatorial headquarters like yours in BrookIyn. They are united upon an agreement on what they consider to be the basic elements of the gospel.
4. The writer of this reply has never experienced a major division since becoming a Christadelphian, but has witnessed a large reunion. It is worth noting that the only statistics quoted in your Watchtower article are those from 1923 and 1934, this is 1963.
In his book, Sects and Society: a Sociological Study of Three Religious Groups in Britain (published by William Heinemann, Ltd.), Bryan R. Wilson studied Christadelphians, Christian Science, and Elim Foursquare Gospel Church. His work is well documented with references to nearly every volume of The Christadelphian,magazine since 1864.
He notes Christadelphian divisions but says, anyone who has mixed with Christadelphians cannot fail to be impressed by their kindliness, friendship, and the brotherliness which prevails in their community life... goodwill is an aspect of Christadelphian life not to be underestimated. page 295
This is not quoted to prove that Christadelphians are of God, but rather to indicate that the "all men" of John 13:34 includes Mr. Wilson, and that his objective observations are quite different from those of your Watchtower writer.
5. For an adequate summary of the New Testament teaching on fellowship see Principles and Proverbs, by Islip Collyer Chapter 10 "The Principles Governing Controversy" and Chapter 11 "The Principles Governing Fellowship".
The 3rd Claim
That Christadephianism does not recognize the obligation to preach the good of the kingdom to all the nations. A 1941 U.S.A. Census report is quoted to show that, The Christadelphian province is to make known the true Gospel to the people of so-called Christendom who have been led astray from the simplicity of the truth preached by Christ and his apostles.
This Claim Examined:
1. Christadelphians are no respecters of persons when it comes to gospel proclamation work. They proclaim the gospel message to all with ears to hear, whether they be Jehovah Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Muslims, atheists or infidels. In this respect the census quoted is misleading. The Christadelphian province is to preach to all, and this "all" includes, but is not confined to apostate Christendom. Christadelphian missionary work in British Guiana, India, and Africa has led to converts from Islam and Hinduism.
2. As a body, they believe that the commission to Timothy to "Preach the word, be at it urgently" (2 Tim. 4:2) applies just as powerfully to the twentieth century as it did in the first.
The Christadelphian attitude to preaching is expressed in these extracts:
To hold forth the Word of Life is not therefore the voluntary pastime of a few of us: in some form it is the responsibility of us all.
Certainly the first commandments to preach were given to the Apostles themselves (as was inevitable), but these examples show how much wider was their scope. In addition to the Apostles or those directly appointed by them, we find in the Acts alone that the gospel is preached by Prisca and Aquila, By Apollos, by men of Cyprus and Cyrene, and by "many others also" (Acts 8:4; 11:20; 15:35; 18:2-3, 24). Preachers should be as many as learners: "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come: and let him that heareth say, Come." (Rev. 22:17). This admits of no exception. Our duty is not a matter for conjecture or preference.
A.D. Norris., Preaching the Word, Birmingham, 1944, p. 9
We have a purpose to fulfill. We are preachers. We must say, Come. God has ordained that it shall be so.
The Bible Missionary, October 1956, p. 29.
3. Christadelphians are no where numerous in comparison with other churches. They do not expect to find a massive response to the message they proclaim. If they did, there would be good reason to suspect that they were no longer proclaiming The Way "that was everywhere spoken against", for among other reasons, Jesus said, "Narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it." (Mt, 7:14). They do though, have advertising schemes working in many countries. These have included; Holland, India, Ceylon, East, Central, and South Africa, Malaya, Ghana, the British Cameroons, The Philippines, Nigeria, Pakistan, Burma, Latin America, the South Pacific, Germany, France, Scandinavia, Jamaica, Trinidad, British Guiana, Tobago, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Belgium, Borneo, Sarawak, Rhodesia, Barbados, China, and Japan. In some of these areas Christadelphians have established ecclesias. This is not quoted to glory in their efforts, but rather to correct the uninformed comments of your Watchtower writer.
4. Christadelphians do not claim that only those trademarked "Christadelphian" will constitute the kingdom. They recognize that Yahweh, throughout the earth, could still have his 7,000 men, "who have not bent the knee to Baal." (Rom. 11:4). Christadelphians would rather not speculate as to how many constitute the "great crowd" of Rev. 7:9. On scriptural authority they do say "the witness to God's Truth" has been the "immortal Jew". Yahweh has not left "practically the whole world without a witness to his truth." In every nation under heaven the Jew has been the unwilling witness, eg. compare Is. 41:21, 22; 42:9 with Deut. 28, Lev. 26 and such passages as Ez. 11:16 and Jer. 31-33.
Anyone wishing to examine further the Christadelphian position regarding this claim and reply, may find the following Christadelphian works helpful:
1. A.D. Norris, Helps for the Campaigner -- This is a 13 page typed extract from the larger work, Preaching the Word.
2. A Letter to Jehovah's Witnesses - Christadelphian Ecclesia 19053 Ingomar, Reseda, California.
3. Any copy of the Christadelphian Bible Missionary.
The 4th Claim: (General)
That Christadelphians have a lack of hope for mankind's dead because they affirm that the Bible says many will never be raised.
This Claim Examined:
1. In the 1st claim, Christadelphians were erroneously condemned to be of men because they were supposed to be teaching human salvation to be more important than the vindication of Jehovah's name, and now in this claim they are condemned as being of men because they supposedly teach that human salvation matters not a wit to the millions of unenlightened who perish in their graves. There is a strange lack of consistency in this kind of reasoning.
2. Christadelphians on scriptural authority teach that God will never raise those human beings encompassed in the following passages:
a. "Earthling man, although in honor who does not understand is indeed comparable with the beasts that have been destroyed."(Ps. 49:20). Christadelphians entertain no notions of the resurrection of animals.
b. "Never more will they see the light". (Vs. 19)
c. Jeremiah speaking of the Babylonions says, "they must sleep an indefinitely lasting sleep, from which they will not wake up." (Jer. 51 :57)
3. Isaiah insisted that "all the nations are something non-existent in face of him; as nothing and an unreality they have been accounted to him." (Is. 40:17). In fact, the nations are as a drop in the bucket. "All those who sinned without law will also perish without law; but all those who sinned under law will be judged by law." (Rom. 2:2). Perishing here is the translation of the strongest word in the Greek to connote total annihilation.
4th Claim Part (A)
"Jesus Christ is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world's." (1 Jn. 2:2). These words clearly show that there is hope for others besides the "little flock" of the Christian ecclesia or congregation.
This Claim Examined:
1. All Gentiles before the sacrifice of Christ were "without Christ alienated from the state of Israel and strangers to the covenants of the promise ... had no hope and were without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). The redemption effected by Christ made salvation available for all (the whole world).
2. But for the sacrifice of Christ to have efficacy for the individual, there must be belief. "For God so loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life." The opposite then to the believing faith which is able to save an individual, is perishing or annihilation.
3. The Scriptures indicate that many will not exercise their free wills to embrace this belief. (Eg. Mt. 7:14; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Tim. 3:1-7). For this perishing group the sacrifice of Christ and "the torture stake" has no "power" (1 Cor. 1:18).
4. Those who "come forth" at the bidding of the Son of God, do so for "judgment", either unto "life" or "damnation" (Jn. 5:29, K.J.). There is no other opportunity.
5. This passage (1 Jn. 2:2) has nothing to do with a big or little flock.
4th Claim Part (B)
"All those in the 'sea', 'Death' and 'Hades' will come forth."
This Claim Examined:
1. "All" is nearly always qualified in the New Testament.
a. "Now in those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered." (Luke 2:1). The "all the inhabited earth" did not extend to South America, but just to the Roman World.
b. "All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers." (Jn. 10:8, K.J.). The "all" here does not include the prophets and John the Baptist.
c. "The end of all flesh has come before me." At the time of the flood the "all" did not include Noah, nor those animals to be taken into the ark.
2. Rev. 20:13-15. Those who come forth from "the sea" "Death" and "Hades" are said to be "judged individually according to their deeds" (vs. 13). But again, what deeds are pagans, idiots and babes going to confess?
Furthermore, the all in this passage cannot refer to literally all the dead coming forth because it would contradict the testimony of at least three inspired Bible writers which plainly speak of those in the graves who shall not come forth (Ps. 49:20; Is. 26:14; and, Jer. 51:57).
3. The evidence of scripture must be faced that there are the dead that God does remember, both the righteous and the unrighteous, and these shall come forth in the resurrection day (Acts 24:15), but that there are also the dead whom "Jehovah ... has remembered no longer." (Ps. 88:5)
4. It is worth noting that your Watchtower writer has not one supporting claim from the Old Testament on this issue.
4th Claim Part (C)
That the resurrection is not limited to responsible ones is further made clear from Matthew's application of Jer. 31:15, 16, to the babes of Bethlehem, for Jeremiah goes on to show that these babes will come back from the land of the enemy and Rachel will be rewarded for her labours. (Mt. 2:17, 18).
This Claim Examined:
1. The land of the enemy is not the grave. It is the territories in which the Israelites were scattered. The babes who died under Herod, "are no more" (Jer. 31:15).
2. An examination of Jeremiah 31 establishes the following:
c. That natural Israel will be restored to Palestine.
3. Rachel and Leah "both ... built the house of Israel." (Ruth 4:11). In this sense Rachel is the "mother" of Israel. Some of her sons "are no more" because of God's punishments through Herod. But Yahweh comforts her (vs. 16) with the promise that her scattered sons will return from the "lands of their enemies" to Palestine, their homeland. The passage has nothing to do with the resurrection of babies.
4th Claim Part (D)
Would the children of believers be termed holy if their destiny was that of unholy mankind in the event they died before reaching the age of accountability?
This Claim Examined:
1. "Holy" in the New Testament means separate, set apart. Here are two examples:
a. "Every male opening a womb must be called holy to Jehovah." (Luke 2:23).
b. Israel is spoken of as the "holy" first fruit (Rom. 11:16).
But neither passage carries the implication that all Israel or all fathers have a resurrectional destiny with the faithful.
2. The passage in 1 Cor. 7 is of the same category. The context discusses the status of a Christian believer having previously married a pagan partner. Paul says that the children are "holy". The believing partner has the responsibility to bring the children up "in the discipline and authoritative advice of Jehovah" (Eph. 6:4). Because of this, and for the sake of the believing parent, the children are "set aside" or "separate" under God's special care. In the Old Testament the whole house of Abraham was blessed for his righteousness and Paul indicates to the believing partners in Corinth the effect of the same principle. Paul nowhere mentions that the "holy" has any application to a resurrectional destiny.
The 5th Claim -- The Supposed Prehuman Existence of Jesus.
5th Claim Part (A)
That the plural "us" of Gen. 1:26 ("Let us make man in our image") cannot refer to God himself because a "Bible Scholar", Delitzsch, said that this cannot be shown.
This Claim Examined:
1. Since your Watchtower writer acknowledges neither the author, nor the title of the Christadelphian publication to which he refers, it has not been possible to establish the context of his remarks.
2. Christadelphians do not claim that the "us" of this passage (Gen, 1:26) refers to Yahweh. The "us" in this passage is the "elohim", and for reasons developed in the examination of the next claim, Christadelphians understand the "elohim" to be God's mighty ones, his angels.
3. Writing on the "elohim", Smith (an acknowledged authority on Hebrew), in his Dictionary of the Bible says, from whatever the root, the word may be derived, most are of the opinion that the primary idea contained in it is that of strength, power; so that Elohim is the proper appellation of the Deity, as manifested in His creative and universally sustaining agency...
Article "Jehovah", p. 956, Vol. 1.
Of the many Bible commentators, this quotation most accurately summarizes the Christadelphian concept of "elohim" in Gen. 1:26.
4. The usage of "elohim" is generally very elastic in scripture. It has been translated in the Authorized Version; God (Gen. 1:26), Angels (Ps. 8:5), Goddess (1 Kings 11:33), judges (Ex. 21:6), and even applied to pagan idols in Judges 16:23. The meaning of elohim (like that of spirit or soul) is best established by the context of the passage in question and the ability of explanation to fit the basic pattern of Bible teaching.
5. Delitzsch, rather than refuting the Christadelphian claim, bolsters it. He is correct. A plural in scripture cannot be shown where God is solely speaking of himself. The divine name though is often accompanied by plural words, and "elohim" is one of those words. For example in Ex. 3:15 or Deut. 28:58 "Lord God" in the Hebrew is Yahweh elohim. This can be rendered, "He who will be mighty ones." Again the significance of the Divine Name in God manifestation is demonstrated.
5th Claim Part (B)
That God was speaking to the Logos, his Son, when He said, "Let us make man" is apparent from Jn. 1:3 and Col. 1:15, 16, where the Logos is shown to have been God's active agent in creation.
This Claim Examined:
1. John 1
a. By checking any Bible Concordance, it is evident that logos is used scripturally for the utterances of man as well as God.
b. In the Authorized Version, "logos" is translated by at least twelve different words. The definition of "logos" does not denote personality. The personal pronoun "he" indicates that logos is a masculine noun in Greek, but in the French "logos" is feminine and the personal pronoun "she". Confusion is avoided when the pronoun is translated "it" as in your Emphatic Diaglott.
c. God did not speak to "The logos, his son" in Gen. 1:26, because:
Jesus Christ was the product of the union of the Holy Spirit and Mary (Luke 1:34, 35). It should be clear that he was neither the Holy Spirit, nor Mary, but as stated the product of the union, Christ had no personality prior to his birth and therefore was not in existence to do the creative work of Genesis.
d. Angels (Gen, 16:10), prophets (Heb. 1:1), and lastly Christ have been the vehicles for the expression of God's logos (His speech, wisdom, reason). It should be apparent that your equation, Christ = the logos, is not correct. Christ is only a part of the logos, although the supreme manifestation of God's logos, "It is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily" (Col. 2:9). What did exist before Christ was born was the "it", the logos or the word of God, but God, not the logos was the personality.
e. The "it", the logos, or the word, speech or reason, was intricately related to all God's activites revealed in scripture. God spoke and it was done, done that is by His angelic messengers, who "carry out His word," (Ps. 103:20). In this sense all things came into existence by the logos.
2. Colossians 1
a. Colossians provides its own explanation of the "first-born of all creation" in verse 18. Here the "first-born of all creation" is interpreted to be the first-born from the dead.
b. The Biblical qualification on "all" is acknowledged by your writers and has been clarified earlier in this reply. The "all" of which Christ is the first-born, are those new creatures, born of the water and spirit. Christ is the head of this body.
c. The "creation" of Col. 1 is not the creation of trees and animals of Gen. 1, but the new creation, the regeneration of men and women. Create and creation are frequently used in this regenerative sense, eg. Gal 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17; James 1:18; Eph. 2:10, 4:24, 2:14, 15 (in all these the root word is the same as in the original).
d. Christ is not only the "first-born of all creation". but also "the image of the invisible God", a plain allusion to "let us make man in our image". Christ is the beginning of a new creation. He is the second Adam. In him both earthly and heavenly beings are "created" because in him they have a new function in the great purpose. It is written, "let all God's angels worship him." (Heb, 1:6), for they are connected with the new creation, "to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14).
Paul in Colossians declares that Christ is "the first-born from the dead" (1:18), but if Christ pre-existed as Michael, the Archangel (The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 49), then how could he die, for angels neither marry nor die, (Luke 20:36)?
3. Genesis 1:26
a. The "us" and the "our" of this passage refer to God's mighty ones, his angels, and not to the "logos". Angels are God's accredited representatives. For reasons given in the examination of the first claim, it should be evident that when we read of God performing certain acts, He was doing it by His messengers, who spoke in His name and acted by His power. Further examples may be cited:
b. When we read, "God said, let us.," it was the "elohim", God's angels (in this case) who being "mighty in power, carrying out his word," were the "ministers of his doing his will" (Ps. 103:20). These were the "Sons of God" who shouted in "applause" and "joyfully cried out together," (Job 38:1) while accomplishing the creative acts.
5th Claim Part (C)
"Father glorify me alongside yourself with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was." (Jn. 17:5). Obviously Jesus was referring to a certain place that he occupied alongside or near by his Father before the world was.
This Claim Examined:
1. It is essential that the following divine principles be understood:
a. that "known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18, K.J.)
b. and that because of this, Yahweh can "call the things that are not as though they were." (Rom. 4:17).
2. The Bible language then, that speaks of Jesus as the "Lamb slaughtered from the founding of the world." (Rev. 13:8) can be understood. Christ's sacrifice is here expressed as though it occurred at the beginning of time, but the true sense is apparent. The glory could only come after the cross. Jesus did not literally die before the world began. This kind of Bible language is a way of emphasizing the self-evident truth that it was in the foreknowledge and plan of the Father from the very beginning that Jesus should die as the "Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn.1:29).
3. Note the way Peter drives the nails into the pre-existence casket. He says explicitly that this Lamb was, "foreknown before the founding of the world, but he was made manifest at the end of the times for the sake of You." (1 Pet. 1:20). Note: He was foreordained or foreknown BUT NOT FORMED. Jesus did not have a literal pre-human existence.
4. The Bible speaks in a similar way of the seemingly literal pre-existence of others besides Jesus.
a. The Believers ... God "beforehand prepared (past tense!) for glory, namely us." (Rom. 9:23). Like Christ, the ultimate glory of these believers was apparent to the Father "before the founding of the world." They were "foreknown" to Him, (Rom. 8:29, K.J.) They were chosen in Christ before the "founding of the world" (Eph. 1:4; Rev. 17:8).
b. The Prophets
1) Jeremiah..."Before I was forming you in the belly I knew you, and before you proceeded to come forth from the womb, I sanctified you." (Jer. 1:5).
2) John the Baptist... If you are going to be consistent in your translation, why not render the literal force of the Greek in Jn. 1:6, "There was a man sent from beside God" would you now proclaim that John existed as a "spirit being" in heaven before he was born of his mother Elizabeth?
5. There is a similar expression in Mt. 25:34, "come you who have my Father's blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world." The kingdom, like Jeremiah, the believers, and Jesus, have been in the Divine purpose in prospect since the very beginning -- "prepared from the founding of the world". The architect sees and knows the beautiful details of his proposed construction before the site is prepared or the foundation-stone laid. In this sense, and this sense only, Jesus had glory with the Father before the world began.
6. The tragedy of pre-existence ideas of Christ is the way it affects our thinking about his nature and sacrifice.
a. If Jesus was conscious of having existed in heaven as the glorious creator, how could he in any sense be tempted the way I am? (Heb. 4:15)
b. It seems that the complete relevance and force of Paul's argument in 1 Cor. 15, is also lost if Jesus pre-existed as a spirit creature. Paul says, "Nevertheless, the first is not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterwards that which is spiritual." (vs. 46). But if Jesus pre-existed, then for him this divinely appointed order is reversed; first spiritual, then natural. How then is he the firstborn among many brethren if indeed his experience is the very reverse of theirs?
The 6th Claim -- The Personality of Satan and Demons
6th Claim Part (A)
That Christadelphians have a faulty argument when they reason that "satanas" and "diabolos" in a consistent translation, should not be rendered as "proper nouns".
This Claim Examined:
1. It is evident from the use of "diabolos" and "satanas" in scripture, that no argument is valid which makes the object of reference a fallen angel devil. To attempt to do so would make the personal devil notion ridiculous, for the women in 1 Tim. 3:11, God's holy angel in Num. 22:22, men in 2 Tim. 3:3, aged women in Titus 2:3, Hadad the Edomite in 1 Kings 11:14 would all become fallen angels!
2. The following passages show the way the Bible writers apply "Satan" to adversaries and "Devil" to false accusers. In this usage "diabolos" and "satanas" are nouns. The following passages show the way "Satan" can be applied to God, angels or men, and "Devil" to various manifestation of sin.
Num. 22:22 An angel is a "satan"
2 Sam. 24:1 God is a "satan" Compare with 1 Chron. 21:1
Matt. 16:23 - Peter is a "satan"
John 6:70 - Judas is a "devil"
Rev. 20:2 - The serpent is a "devil"
If adversary is substituted for "Satan" and slanderer for "Devil"., then these passages are easily understood, but if fallen angel is substituted, they are absurd, for it would make God, Peter, Judas and the serpent all fallen angels.
3. Bible writers never considered "Satan the Devil" to be a fallen angel, and should your traditional references in Is. 14, Ez. 28 or Rev. 12 be considered as evidence., Christadelphians would consider it a pleasure to discuss these in detail.
4. Some questions:
If "Satan the Devil" is a real individual, then how do you explain the following:
a. In 1 Tim. 1:20, Paul wrote of two heretics, "I have handed them over to Satan that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme." Was Paul in league with this Satan? If Satan is what you claim, then he was just the one to teach them how to blaspheme!
b. In Rev. 2:10,, John wrote, "The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison." Does the fallen angel really operate this kind of prison business? Did Satan live in Pergamum (vs. 13)? Did he have the charge of a religious meeting in Smyrna (vs. 8)?
6th Claim Part (B)
Since Christadelphians deny a personal maligning Devil, "then how are we to understand James' words: 'The demons believe and shudder'? (James 2:19)
1. The passage seems to be a clear allusion to the demons cast out by Christ and the disciples. James says, "the demons believe and shudder," and a perusal of the Gospels shows the same characteristic. (Mt. 8:29; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:4). Their "prostrations" and "crying out" indicate that they also "shuddered" (Mark 3:11; Luke 4:34).
2. In verse 18 of his third chapter, James is concerned with the relation of faith and works. The demoniacs had sufficient mentality to believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but this faith was not shown in acceptable works, In the case of the two Gadarene demoniacs, they were "unusually fierce so that nobody had the courage to pass by on the road." (Mt. 8:28). The point that James makes is that unless the believers had faith shown in acceptable works, their faith was no better than the factual affirmation of these demoniacs.
3. Today the symptoms of the Gadarene demoniacs would be diagnosed as mental illness, perhaps schizophrenia. The symptoms of demon possession in the New Testament were frequently those of bodily diseases. For example, blindness (Mt. 12:22), epilepsy (Mark 9:17-27), dumbness (Mt. 9:32), and insanity (Mt. 8:28; Mark 5:1-5). To have demons is used in connection with, and apparently equivalent to "being mad" eg. John 8:48, 10:20.
6th Claim Part (C)
That Christadelphians make "God a seducer" because one of our writers stated that the "serpent was endowed with the gift of speech (no doubt, specially with a view to the part it had to perform in putting our first parents to the test)."
This Claim Examined:
1. There is abundant scriptural evidence (acknowledged by your writer) that God does "try" his creatures. Christadelphians see no more breach of the morality of God in suggesting that the trial of Adam and Eve was divinely arranged by means of a talking, reasoning serpent than God's trial of Abraham in commanding him to offer his only son, Isaac.
2. God said to the serpent, "You have done this thing." And Paul states that it was by the serpent's cunning that Eve was seduced (2 Cor. 11:3). But if as you say, the Devil was using the serpent for his own ends, then God punished the wrong party. The serpent, a beast of the field is cursed and made to eat dust while the supposed Devil gets off scot-free! "Are not the ways of you people the ones that are not adjusted right?" (Ez. 18:29)
3. An examination of Gen. 3 shows the precise process of sin, amply illustrated in both New and Old Testaments.
a. "The woman saw that the tree was good for food."
b. "That it was something to be longed for to the eyes."
c. and that "it was desirable to look upon."
A temptation is only a temptation when it appeals to something within. It is the hungry man that steals to satisfy hunger, not the man that is full. Temptation, James says, comes from within; "But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin." (James 1:14, 15).
4. Note the progression of "passing the buck".
a. The man blames the woman for the sin.
b. The woman blames the serpent.
c. But the serpent blames no one, not even your fallen angel devil, and the reasonable solution is that he blamed no fallen angel, because there was no fallen angel to be blamed.
5. God deals with THREE parties in the Genesis account of the fall, and three only. A fallen angel devil hypothesis is an incorporation. This alleged fourth party isn't mentioned once.
The 7th Claim -- That Jesus Christ's death was substitutionary.
This Claim Examined:
1. The terms "commercial transaction" and "substitution" are neither scriptural words nor scriptural ideas.
2. If all the nations are as something nonexistent in front of him (GOD) Is. 40:17, even as "dust" (vs. 15), then is He not wiser than men, than to engage in a "comnercial transaction" in which an "only begotten son" is bartered for "dust" valued at less than nothing?
3. If by virtue of the ransom paid to justice a transfer of man's account has been made to the Lord Jesus, then by reason of the purchase, Jesus, not God is the owner of the race.
4. If, as you understand, the sacrifice of Christ was a substitute, a payment, then how can there be real forgiveness with God. A creditor who releases his debtor because someone not his debtor pays the latter's debt, surely cannot claim to have forgiven the debt! If the debt is paid, then there is no longer need for forgiveness.
5. Your substitutionary theory demands the presentation of evidence that Christ himself had a free or unforfeited life by nature of which he would not have died, had he not willingly given his life for others. Such evidence could never come from scripture, for there is "one flesh of man" (1 Cor. 15:39) and Christ was "a man" (1 Tim. 2:5). He was identical with "the flesh and blood nature of his brethren" (Heb. 2:14). Because the life is contained in the blood (Lev. 17:11- 19) the same process of "dying thou shalt die," would have produced death in Christ just the same as it does in his brethren.
6. If Christ. died as "a corresponding ransom," a "substitute" or "instead" of us, paying the penalty naturally due to us - death, then he ought not to have risen, (which he did) for his life was what he gave as the redemption price. (John 10:15-18). On a "commercial basis" how can one pay a debt and then get his money back? For Jesus paid his with life, and then received it back (John 10:18).
7. And further, if his death was a part of a commercial transaction, then the redeeming power lay in the death and not in the resurrection, but Paul declares "If Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless; you are yet in your sins," (1 Cor.15:28).
8. If Jesus died as a substitute for me, paying my penalty, then why should I die? Why is it that for all visible appearances mankind seem to die the same today as they did before this supposed substitute took place? If I am sentenced to jail and a substitute takes my place instead of me, I do not then go to jail with,him!
9. On the basis of the sacrifice of Christ, God forgives sins; (Eph. 4:32). The scriptural language is that Christ died "for us", "tasted death for every man" (Heb. 2:9) and that "if we died together (with him, K.J.), we shall also live together" . (2 Tim. 2:11). This is the language of representation exhibited throughout the types of the Law of Moses;
it is not the language of substitution understood as a "commercial transaction". God does not present himself in scripture as One who punishes the innocent instead of the guilty, but rather the wickedness of man will rest "upon his own self" (Ez. 18:20).
The 8th Claim
1. That Christ will reign "over", not "on" the earth.
2. That Christadelphians deny the spiritual nature of God's Kingdom and of "the heavenly reward of the saints."
This Claim Examined:
1. The Christadelphians' position does not rest on one or two texts which have the possibility of more than one construction. There is an accumulative body of passages to show that Christ and the saints will reign on the earth.
a. Daniel considered the rulership of the "holy ones" to be under all the heavens (Dan. 7:27).
b. Christ will sit on David's throne, for it is written, "Jehovah God will give him the throne of David, his father, and he will rule as King over the house of Jacob forever" (Luke 1:32, 33, also Ez. 21:26-27). Besides, again establishing the "natural Israel" characteristic of the Kingdom, it locates the throne. The throne of David is in Jerusalem "the stronghold of Zion." (I Chron. ll:4, 5). This is the "city of the great King" (Mt. 5:3.5; Ps. 48:2).
c. Zechariah is even more emphatic, "his feet will actually stand upon the mount of the olive trees, which is in front of Jerusalem." (Zech. 14:4). Should a spiritualizing attempt be made here, note:
1) that the chapter has its application in the future. Jehovah is not "yet King over all the eartht" (vs. 9); Jerusalem is not now "inhabited in security" (vs. 11); nor is all the wealth of all the nations round about been gathered to Jerusalem (vs. 14).
2) The geographic descriptions of the chapter are names of literal places.
d. The "Yahweh" of Zech. 14 is the King "installed" of Ps. 2:6, This presents no problem once the scriptural teaching on God manifestation is understood. It is clear scripturally, that the "world to come has been subjected to Christ until he has brought to nothing all authority and power." (1 Cor. 15:24). Christ will bear the name of the "Mighty God" as Yahweh's accredited representative when the conquest commences as described in Zech. 14.
e. A further proof that Christ will reign on the earth may be deduced from Ps. 2. When the nations shall have "massed together as one" (vs. 2), the prophetic utterance of Jehovah is that "I, even I, have installed my King upon my holy mountain" (Note the similarity with Zech. 14:4, his feet will actually stand on the mountain.) The holy mountain is on the earth not in heaven.
f. In Ex. 21:29, the Lord exclaimed through the prophet, "remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same...it will certainly become no one's until he comes who has the legal right." Christ has the legal right,and the throne of Israel is in Jerusalem. Jesus will reign on the earth, he has not yet come into his kingdom, nor is he reigning "over the earth in inner chambers" (Mt. 14:26).
g. "The Jerusalem which is above" of Gal. 4:24, is part of an allegory ("symbolic drama"), obviously not literal for a literal city is not a literal "mother". It is an admission of weakness when a passage of this kind must be used to disprove the plain testimonies of at least four inspired writers who teach a heavenly Jerusalem on the earth.
2. It is false to say that Christadelphians deny the heavenly nature of God's Kingdom and heavenly reward of the saints. It is a standard Christadelphian exposition that the Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of heaven and that the clothing of immortality (2 Cor. 5:1, 2) is the "Incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance...reserved in the heavens." (1 Pet. 1:4), to be brought with Christ when he literally and visibly returns the second time (Acts 1:11; Mt. 16:27; Rom. 22:12). For a complete refutation of the "parousia. doctrine" see "Juggling With Words", Herald of the Coming Age, p, 41, Vol. 13, October 1962, and "Why I left the Jehovah Witnesses" - 'Presence' or 'Coming'?, Glad Tidings magazine, June 1960, p. 63.
It is true, however, to say that Christadelphians deny the "spiritual nature" of the Kingdom when it is understood that by "spiritual nature" your writers mean a king who has "returned" invisibly to reign in the "inner chambers" Mt. 24:26 (in contradiction to the angel's statement that he would come back visibly, Acts 1:11), a 144,000 associate kings in heaven (the 'seed' organization) of an "entirely heavenly" kingdom "with no earthly counterpart, established in full power since A.D. 1914." (Make Sure of All Things, section "Kingdom", pages 226-237).
The Kingdom of God in Outline Form -- a scriptural summary.
a. It has the essential parts of a kingdom.
1) A King -- Jesus Christ (Luke 1:35).
2) A Capital City -- Jerusalem in Palestine. (Is. 24:23; Ps. 48:2; Mt. 5:35).
3) Rulers -- These are the resurrected, immortal saints (Jn. 6:41; Luke 20:35, 36; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:26, 27; 1 Cor. 6:2).
4) Subjects -- The mortal nations which survive the breaking in pieces of the kingdoms of men (Dan. 2:44; Ps. 2:6-9; also Zech. 14:16).
5) Laws -- Ps. 72; Is. 11:3, 4.
6) Land -- The nucleus in Palestine, but extending over the whole earth (Micah 4:8; Dan. 7:14).
b. Features of the Kingdom
1) It will have a distinctive Jewish basis --
a) It will be the "Kingdom of Israel restored" (Acts 1:6, 7).
b) The capital will be Jerusalem, the throne of the great King
c) The center of the Kingdom will be in Palestine (Micah 4:8; Ps. 72:8), but the reign of the King will extend over the whole earth (Dan. 7:14; see also Mt. 6:10; Nu. 14:21; Hab. 2:14).
d) The Jew will be in a favoured position (Zech, 8:23).
2) Under the rulership of Christ and the saints, it will last 1000 years (Rev. 20:4, 6; see also 1 Cor. 15:24-28).
3) It will be a period of great peace (Is. 11:9; Micah 4:3, 4).
4) The mortal nations will be blessed with:
a) greater land fertility (Amos 9:13).
b) extension of the lifespan (Is. 65:20; see also IS. 33:24).
c) one religious language (Zeph. 3:9).
5) At the end of the IO00 years, sin and death will be destroyed, and all Godfs earth will be filled with his glory (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Nu. 14:21). The glorious immortal saints will then be manifestations of the Eternal God in fulfilment of the prophetic declaration of his name, Yahweh elohim (He will be mighty ones).
The 9th Claim
1. That Christadelphians "pin great hopes on the Jews' returning to Palestine, overlooking the fact that all these are gathering in unbelief merely for selfish considerations."
2. That what counts is not being a Jew according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. (Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:28)
These Claims Examined:
1. Claim one is false. Its gross misrepresentation shows either wilful perversion or ignorance on the part of the Watchtower writer. Christadelphians do not overlook the fact that the Jews are gathering in unbelief merely for selfish consideration. This is clear from our writings. John Thomas wrote in 1848:
the pre-adventual colonization of Palestine will be on purely political principles; and the Jewish colonists will return in unbelief of the Messiahship of Jesus, and of the truth as it is in him.
Elpis Israel (Hope of Israel), 1848, p. 441, 1958 edition.
In The Way Leaflet, No. 6, "Do You Love Them or Hate Them?" (used extensively by Christadelphians in campaign work) it is affirmed:
Christadelphians pin great hopes on the Jews for good scriptural reasons, because:
a. The kingdom of God will be the Kingdom of Israel restored (Acts 1:6, 7). Kingdom of Israel has become a ruin in fuIfilment Ez. 21:27, but this is only "until he comes who has the legal right." Besides indicating the premature character of your idea of the 1914 return of Christ (Israel was not a state until 1948!), this verse indicates the Jewish nature of the kingdom and the literal return of the Jewish king to reign on David's throne (see Luke 1:35).
b. The Jew will be privileged as subjects of the Kingdom when the twelve apostles will Itsit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Mt. 19:28).
c. The Jew is only temporarily blinded because "a dulling of sensibilities has happened in part to Israel until the full number of the people of the nations has come in." (Rom. 11:25). To the Jews, Christ impaled is a "cause for stumbling" (1 Cor. 1:23).
But this condition will change when Christ, "the deliverer... will take their sins away" (Rom. 11:27) and conclude with "the house of Judah" a "new covenant." This will be accomplished by God "cleaning out the revolters and the transgressors", by passing Israel "under the rod" (Ez. 20:33-40). Then the scripture will be fulfilled, "I will put my laws in their mind, and I will become their God." (Heb. 8:8-11).
2. The flesh constitutes a Jew a subject of the Kingdom, but confers on him no right to sit and rule upon the thrones of the House of David. All Jews and Gentiles who become "Jews inwardly" (Rom. 9:6) will reign as Kings. (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10). This group constitutes the "Israel" of which not all natural Israel will attain. Because these are elevated to immortality (Luke 20:35, 36), their lot is far superior to that of natural Israel. It must be remembered though that among the mortal nations constituting the subjects of the Kingdom, the Jews of natural Israel will be in a favoured position. It is written; "It will be in those days that the men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will actually take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew, saying: 'We will go with you people, for we heard that God is with you!" (Zech 8:23).
1. it is your claim that "preaching in harmony with God's revealed word" is that which proves you to be a minster (Let God Be True, p. 224). Who then do we take to be the minister, your earlier writers or those of Let God Be True?
2. Two of your once prominent Witnesses declared that Natural Israel would be regathered in fulfilment of Bible prophecy, but from whence comes this "more light" for you, the third witness, to declare that the regathering is only a "political humanitarian gesture not of God's provision according to prophecy" (Let God Be True, pp. 207-208)?
3. How can one "true witness" prove wrong the clear indications postulated by another "true witness", and yet both remain "faithful and true witnesses"?
A VINDICATION OF THE REAL "JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES"
1. If the real witnesses of Isaiah are Jews, then you are false witnesses not rightly dividing the word, and whatever zeal that you may have is "not according to accurate knowledge". To play loose and fast with these Old Testament passages by arbitrarily "spiritualizing" is wresting scripture to one's own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16). Surely the only workable basis for interpreting biblical prophecy is to take the passage literally the way it reads unless internal inconsistencies or contradictions result which pit scripture against scripture.
2. A prize example of your scripture wrestings on the question of the Jews return to Palestine can be found on page 211 of Make Sure of All Things. Here your anonymous writer quotes Ez. 21:30-32, " ... thou shalt be no more remembered ... " as applying to Israel while the context of vs. 28 is, "this is what the Lord Jehovah has said concerning the sons of Amon.
3. A further example may be cited. Your Columbus, Ohio convention interpreted the witnesses of Isaiah to validly apply to the "new name" of your organization. That you have arbitrarily decided to spiritualize is established by reading the whole chapter, and noting the following points:
a. Isaiah 43 is concerned with unwilling witnesses - the Jews., The caption "witnesst" cannot be assumed by you from this passage, because your witnesses must be willing. One who is not a willing witness is "not with the organization" (Let God Be True p. 237).
b. In Isaiah 62 the "new name" which you took to yourselves on the basis of this passage has nothing to do with your organization. Hephzibah (vs. 4), not "Jehovah's Witnesses", is the new name, and the context shows that it is applied to a city not to an organization!
c. Should you seriously contend that you are the "Spiritual Israel" of Isaiah 43, then the following needs explaining:
1) You claim to be ransomed by the flesh of Christ, but the witnesses of this chapter are ransomed by the "price of Egypt" (vs. 3).
2) Of the witnesses in this chapter, it is said, -- "But you have not called even me, 0 Jacob, because you have grown weary of me, 0 Israel" (vs. 3). Are you spiritual Jacob as well as spiritual Israel?
-- "You have made me weary with your errors" (vs. 24). If you are the "Spiritual Israel", then at what stage of your development did you merit this description?
--"With the fat of your sacrifice you have not saturated me" (vs. 24). When did your organization offer animal sacrifices?
4. The same chapter analysis shows the witnesses of Jer. 30-33; Ez. 36, 37 to be natural Jews. For exanple in Ez. 36, it is written:
-- "Say to the house of Israel, 'This is what Jehovah has said, Not for your sakes am I doing it 0 house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have come in'." (vs. 22). If you claim the Israel of this passage is your organization in modern times, then you have profaned God's name and stand self-condemned.
-- "And I will take you out of the nations and collect you together out of all the lands, and bring you upon your own soil." (vs. 29) From which nations has your organization come? And to what "soil" can you, the "pilgrims and temporary residents in the land" claim (Heb. 11:13)?
5. Christ has not uttered an "irrevocable divorce decree" to natural Israel. To begin with both the idea and the phrase are unscriptural. The claim that Mt. 23:37-39 justifies the "application of the prophecies of restoration" in "a spiritual sense" is false. The passage is not an irrevocable divorce decree, it is a conditional statement which should be clear from the last verse. The condition of reconciliation is that Israel must say "Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah's name." (vs. 39). God gave Israel a bill of divorcement in Jer. 3:8., "I sent her away and proceeded to give the certificate of full divorce to her," but God offers mercy to her, "I shall not stay resentful for time indefinite, only take note of your error, for it is against Jehovah your God that you have transgressed. I will take you... I will bring you to Zion ... they will feed you with knowledge and insight." (vs. 12-15). God has not cast away his people (Rom. 11:1). He will put his laws in their mind...and he will become their God, and they will become his people (Heb. 8:10, 11). The house of Israel will say "Blessed is he that cometh in Jehovah's name!"
6. "Produce and tell to us the things that are to happen. Tell the things that are to come afterward, that we may know that you are gods" (Is. 41:22, 23). This is the supreme challenge of God to the false prophets and gods. The fact that ancient Babylon has been swept with "the broom of annihilation" (Is. 14:23), Tyre, "a drying yard for dragnets" (Ez. 26:14) provides evidence that "the Most High is ruler in the kingdoms of mankind" (Dan. 4:7) and that He can tell "new things" and cause people to hear them "before they begin,to spring up" (Is. 41:21, 22; 42:9). The same, kind of evidence is manifest today. GOD HAS NOT "LEFT THE WHOLE WORLD WITHOUT WITNESS."The "immortal Jew", for those with "eyes to see", has testified that the keeper of Israel is neither "slumbering nor sleeping". The regathering and colonization of Palestine, in unbelief has made them the witness. Bible students were able on the basis of the prophecies of Jer. 3-33; Ez. 36-37; Is 43-45 to foretell this restoration. John Thomas, a Christadelphian, in 1848 wrote:
This was written 100 years before the establishment of the State of Israel! Even Russell and Rutherford understood that the restoration would fulfil Bible prophecy although today contradicted by your modern witnesses.
Christadelphians consider it a gross presumption on the part of your writers to apply the prophecies concerning natural Israel to your organization. Such scripture whittling spiritualizations usurp the unique position of the real witnesses.
To the "good and honest hearts"
This reply opened with an appeal to "the law and the testimony". It now closes with a warning from the same:
We welcome discussion
R. W. Abel