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When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he wrote a coherent, holistic message and never intended for someone to rip verses out of their context later and wield them any way they so chose! When we quote verses of Scripture we do not have a right to ignore the context, or to make them say what the language cannot say. Perhaps you are familiar with the (probably apocryphal!) street-preachers reply to the atheist in the crowd who claimed "the Bible says 'there is no god'" (a partial quote from Psalm 14 and 53) by playing the same game and shouting back 'Judas hanged himself' (an amalgamation of the gospel accounts and Matthew 27v5) - "Go and do likewise"! (culled with total disregard to context from Luke 10v37). We must seek the context of the utterance and ask what the author of the sentence intended - in the examples above it is obvious that these principles were ignored. We cannot miss the meaning of the text by being too casual about it, for Paul instructed Timothy (2 Timothy 2v15): 'Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly (accurately!) dividing the word of truth.'
Scripture twisting can be the result of simple dishonesty and Peter reminds us that Paul wrote things that are hard to understand, which the unstable and wicked twist to their own destruction (2 Peter 3v15-16). But, since you seem to have missed much that we have written, you should heed our warnings concerning such as Rick Warren (who masquerades as an orthodox, evangelical, leader in many Christian circles) and the approach to Scripture that represents the attitude of far too many today: "Can I find some verses to fit my idea(s)' - rather than following the conviction: 'Is it true'? If you read this material, and elsewhere, you will also see that we are not just 'picking on' Christadelphians as you infer later! It is one thing to teach error out of ignorance, but clearly very, very dangerous for anyone to know that they are in error and teach it any way! To cross that ethical line has certain consequences. James wrote (James 3v1): "Not many of you ought to become teachers, since you will incur a greater judgment"'
We have the responsibility to be good stewards of the Word. Our attitude should be the same as the Bereans who, when they heard the gospel that Paul preached, 'were more noble-minded than the Thessalonians' because they received the things that Paul said with joy, but also searched the Scriptures daily to check him out (Acts 17v11)! We should listen to the Word being taught with a critical ear and a smile on our face.
Often at weddings, a verse out of the book of Ruth is quoted: 'Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God' (Ruth 1v16, NRSV). The words are spoken by the wife to her husband. It's a great sentiment, and one that every husband would be happy for his wife to utter. But Ruth didn't say these words to Boaz. She said them to Naomi, her mother-in-law! To read these verses at a wedding is to wrench them from their context. To do so may be for a good cause, expressing a romantic sentiment, but it is Scripture twisting nonetheless.
Prophecy of the Scripture that is 'private interpretation' comes when a 'natural man' forms opinions himself, by the mere force of 'natural wisdom' without the assistance of the Spirit of God, and without comparing spiritual things with spiritual and without remaining consistent with all Scripture and with analogy of the faith and mind of Christ - as Paul makes clear (1 Corinthians 2v10-16):
10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
The 'spiritual man' makes judgments based on Scripture: reading, searching, examining, and judging, and interpreting the Scriptures himself, by virtue of the unction which teaches all things; and who, as a spiritual man, judges all things. The 'natural man' who pursues his interpretations to the point where he is peddling 'doctrines of demons' (1 Timothy 4v1) - and particularly those who proceed to gather their own followers in the manner of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2v6, 15) or Simon Magus (Acts 8 - look into the 'History of the Church' to see his demise) - can be found to be faulty in his interpretations by comparing his doctrines with those of the majority of the body of Christ whose interpretations are found to be orthodox ('right, straight, true') by their consistency with the whole Canon and Spirit of Scripture. A simple test for any Christadelphian seeking to prove us wrong would be for them to read our dismantling of the Jehovah's Witnesses' doctrinal stance on 'Who is Jesus Christ - Son of God?' (which also dismantles much of Christadelphian teaching on Christ) and show us that Scripture does not prove that Christ claimed equality with God and is Eternal as God the Father is Eternal etc. We know that this cannot be done without foolishly attempting to 'wrest the Scriptures' (2 Peter 3v15-16) and attempts to play games with the Greek and Hebrew! In the near future we will up-load other replies to Christadelphian attempts to defend Palmer who has never seriously attempted to reply to such Scriptural exegesis and, after the meeting which you comment on, merely replied 'No!' to one exposition and: 'You don't really believe that to be literally true' when I briefly showed him that Christ did indeed claim equality with the Father!
Concerning the mind or reason, it must be subservient to the Word of God. It is not the mind that judges the Scriptures, but the Scriptures judge the thoughts of the mind. Concerning experience, the Bible is the final judge of experience, and experience cannot determine the truth of Scripture. Concerning cults, the answer of orthodoxy is that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is supreme and the 66 books of the Scriptures are all that has been inspired by God in written form. Any other writing, whether it clearly claims to be Scripture (e.g. the Book of Mormon), the writings of Popes (claimed to be infallible as Scripture), or 'Phanerosis' (treated by Christadelphian leaders - who teach you - as essential to understanding much of Scripture) is the writing of false prophets. Any who hold to the supremacy of the Bible believe that knowledge is subject to the Bible, and there is no inner light or essential co-writing that adds revelation or understanding beyond that imparted by the Bible,
To be sure, understanding God's revelation in the Bible involves using the rational processes of a redeemed mind (which those who deny the true nature of Christ and the Holy Spirit do not have!), a commitment of faith in matters not revealed or not understood, a dependence on the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit, and a conscience clear before God.
You write: 'These and other books are useful to us because we do not have the direct help of the apostles or Christ himself.'
TCE: The apostles are certainly all gone, but their words are not. They were content to depart knowing they had fulfilled their calling by being used of God to speak for Him through their inspired writings. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul emphasizes another side of Peter's words. Paul indicates the one who is stable is the one well-taught in the Scriptures. Both James and Peter make closely related statements and prove how we grow in the Word:
11 And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all [aspects] into Him, who is the head, [even] Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. 17 This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, (Ephesians 4v11-17).
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 [being] a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1v5-8).
8 For if these [qualities] are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these [qualities] is blind [or] short-sighted, having forgotten [his] purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1v8-11).
So the Bible tells us we have everything we need as Christians! Also think about this: until the early Church Fathers began to defend the Word, in their communications and apologetic writings to those who either tried to attack the Word or who sought the truth, there were no commentaries. Was the Word of God, as found only in the writings they had (which were compiled into the Scripture we have today), insufficient to lead men into 'all truth' (John 16v13) as Jesus stated clearly? Clearly not. Further, before the completion of the apostles' writings (when earnest seekers of the truth had heard the truth about Christ Jesus and His gospel mainly through their verbal testimonies and the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures), those seeking had only the Holy Spirit and the teaching of local elders/pastors anointed by this same Spirit. Apparently all of this - minus the writings of Dr Thomas or any other commentator - was sufficient to lead men into 'all truth' as Jesus had stated! Or do you really believe the words we have quoted from Christadelphians - on the page you quote from - concerning 'Thomas' views expressed in 'Eureka ' and 'Phanerosis'? It is noticeable that you - and every other Christadelphians writer who has responded to us - have avoided trying to refute our quotes from Christadelphian spokesmen regarding these passages!
Not all errors are alike. Some errors are more dangerous and even more culpable than others. Such are the errors of Dr Thomas and his successors. Some errors stem from ignorance when people speculate where they should simply acknowledge their ignorance (cf. Deuteronomy 29v29) and study the Word more carefully to determine the truth. Some errors are errors of personal opinion or belief. Christians may differ over the interpretation of a particular passage, especially a problematic passage, but every teaching that is vital to our salvation and practice as Christians is perfectly clear. But when we allow anyone to teach their opinion as absolute truth, we are venturing into dangerous waters. We need to distinguish between our convictions, which we should not impose on others, and the teaching of God's principles and commands which all are to accept and practice. Paul is very careful to indicate to his readers those matters which are his personal conviction and those which are not. We see this in 1 Corinthians 7. His conviction and practice is that he can better serve the Lord unmarried than married (1 Corinthians 7v8-9, 25-28). He does not, however, like some false teachers, condemn marriage altogether (cf. 1 Timothy 4v3). He simply points out that marriage can be a distraction and challenges us to consider the single life as an option. We should learn to recognize the difference between our own personal convictions, which we are told to keep to ourselves (cf. Romans 14v22), and those truths which all Christians must embrace to be orthodox. The Virgin Birth of our Lord, for example, should not be considered a personal conviction but a doctrinal fundamental of the faith. Those doctrinal truths which are an essential part of the gospel are crucial to the gospel. When these truths are twisted, incalculable damage can be done, not only to ourselves but to others.
Once we take on the role of teacher, we assume responsibility not only for ourselves, but for others, which is an awesome thing. No wonder James admonishes us that not many should become teachers (James 4v1). Those things we teach others as the command of Christ become matters of great importance and, if we err on this level, we err seriously, perhaps to our own shipwreck and that of any who follow us in our error. We should also beware of teaching in such a way us to set aside or undermine what God has given to His people as a clear command. We are told by our Lord to teach believers all that He has commanded us (Matthew 28v18-20), so let us see that the commands of Christ are the foundation of discipleship. To fail to teach these, or to teach error, is a very serious business. We err greatly in our interpretation and application of God's Word when we subordinate the revelation of God's truth to our own reason or 'truth', as Dr Thomas did.
Only God's truth - the truth God has revealed in His Word - is 'true truth', that which we can be assured is truth. Scientific truths continue to change. Biblical truth never changes. It is tragic when those calling themselves 'Christians' rush to reinterpret the Scriptures because of some personal revelation or view, or because 'modern science' has apparently exposed some 'new truth' which challenges God's truth as taught in his Word. The Bible is the only revelation of truth which is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. The Bible reveals every truth essential for life and godliness. It is not God's truth (as revealed in Scripture), plus other "truth," which we need to live godly lives; it is God's truth alone. Any truth not found in God's truth is subordinate to God's truth, and it is secondary to God's truth, if indeed it is true at all. Many, claiming to be Christian, seek the truth by spending more time reading uninspired commentaries and other books beside (and often in place of) the Bible - thinking they will find truth which is more necessary and important there. But if any book is of great value to the Christian, it will only be one which turns our attention and allegiance back to the Book (1 John 2v26-27):
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him'
You write: 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.
TCE: Like Palmer you are attempting to deflect our point through misunderstanding (perhaps not deliberate in your case!). We are well aware of the nature of Christadelphian people who are generally warm, friendly, polite, and knowledgeable about much of Scripture - which is why we object so strongly to Palmer's putting up a 'strawman' to try and prove Christadelphians are not like 'Wacky Waco' cults! But it is denying essential Bible doctrines by following the individual 'world view' of Thomas that makes Christadelphianism a cult! This is an altogether separate issue from Christadelphian groups 'try[ing] to steer away from all things worldly and humanist'. Incidentally, all of our conversations with Palmer were cordial and well-mannered - in case you think we indulge in personal attacks and slanging matches! And, yes, we have witnessed the belligerent performances of others (who would have claimed to be 'Protestants' representing Christ) at these Christadelphian meetings.
You write: 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.
TCE: we have already dealt with the utter inability of Christadelphians to prove historically that they keep to 'an exact teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, in every point' and Palmer's desperate attempt to claim Rawlins White as a Christadelphian to counteract this failing. The reason we make the point about baptism is to avoid the clear emphasis that Christadelphians, and other cults, make in turning the rite into an essential work necessary for salvation.
You write: "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'
TCE: circular reasoning will not defend Christadelphianism: your leaders' doctrines prove Christadelphianism to be a cult - the meeting was called by Christadelphians as a supposed answer to the tract - and the inability of Palmer to disprove this changed nothing, but actually reinforced the view. Christadelphians acknowledge many truths found in the Bible, but deny many very important truths, e.g.:
Christadelphians teach that Jesus had a sin nature (What They Believe, p. 74)
Christadelphians teach that Jesus needed to save himself, before he could save us. (Christadelphian Answers, p. 24)
Christadelphians believe in 'annihilation of the wicked'. (What They Believe, p. 187).
Christadelphians believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. (What They Believe , p. 71,72, 207-210)
Christadelphians deny the doctrine of the Trinity. (What They Believe, p. 84-87)
Christadelphians deny that Jesus is God in flesh. (Answers, p. 22)
Christadelphians deny that Jesus existed prior to his incarnation. (What They Believe , p. 85,86)
Christadelphians deny the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. (What They Believe , p. 115)
Christadelphians deny the substitutionary atonement of Christ. (Answers, p. 25; What They Believe, p. 71)
Christadelphians deny salvation by grace through faith alone. (What they Believe, p. 204)
Christadelphians deny immortality of the soul. (What They Believe , p. 17).
Christadelphians deny that a person exists after death. (What They Believe, p. 17)
Christadelphians deny the existence of hell and eternal punishment. (What They Believe, p. 188-189)
Christadelphians deny the existence of the fallen angel Lucifer as the devil. (Answers, p. 100)
(All quotes are from the 'The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach', by Harry Tennant, The Christadelphian, 404 Shaftmoor Lane, Birmingham B28 8SZ, England, 1986 or Christadelphian Answers, ed. by Frank G. Jannaway, The Herald Press, p. 25 - another Christadelphian book).
Thus we see that Christadelphians are a cult who teach a false gospel. Again, you fail to make your point!
(Continued on page 249)