Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Unity

The Christian church has been divided for centuries, almost from the start. Some denominations are more "splintered" than others and Christadelphians are certainly not alone when it comes to schism.

Yet there seems to be something in the Christadelphian psyche which inclines towards divisiveness and this can be incredibly frustrating for those Christadelphians who are working for unity within the brotherhood. The recent failure of the North American Statement of Understanding to bring about reconciliation between the two major N. American fellowships illustrates the point that the traditional Christadelphian way of trying to achieve unity by attempting to convince each other that their point of view is wrong simply doesn't work.

This is just a reflection of the "Christadelphian way". Generally speaking Christadelphians look for differences. In discussions with other Christians Christadelphians will quickly go to the differences. Ask a Christadelphian what they believe and the response will often be "well, we don't believe in the trinity, we don't believe in an immortal soul, we don't believe in a supernatural devil, we don't believe in heaven going, we don't believe in ..." Very often the response will be "well, what do you believe in?!"

I guess this tendency to highlight the differences becomes internalised and Christadelphians look for differences between each other. The result is a whole lot of "fellowships" which all claim to have "the Truth" and refuse to fellowship other Christadelphians, sometimes claiming that the rest are not "real Christadelphians".

I believe this is more than a symptom of a deeper problem. It is a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong with this divisive and negative mentality. The Christadelphian culture has become one of fault-finding and is neither wholesome nor holy in this regard.

Here are some things I'd encourage Christadelphians to do:

- make a conscious and deliberate effort to make friends with non-Christadelphians

- read widely, especially non-Christadelphian Christian books

- keep your mind open to new ideas - accept the possibility that others may be right and you may be wrong

- if you get the opportunity to worship with Christian friends or pray with them take it

- visit other churches - not with the view of criticising or convincing them that they are wrong, but with the view of learning something.

- pray for Christadelphians in other fellowships and Christians in other denominations - not that they will be convinced that they are wrong (and you are right!) but just thank God for what He has done with them and what they are doing for others.

I guarantee that your thinking will start to change, and, incredibly, you will begin to experience a greater degree of personal freedom in Christ.

1 comment:

bloggerboy11 said...

Set Free,
Maybe it depends on where you are from as to whether your psyche inclines towards divisiveness... its a natural response from those who hold Gods Word in high regard to protect it from what they see (rightly or wrongly) as watering it down, leading to a lot of the stubbornness certain areas of CD and other churches have.

You are right that CD's to tend to point out their differences before saying what they actually believe, some sort of defensive thing I suppose, I find that particularly fustrating and managed to stop myself doing it some years ago. I think you are also right about the fault finding culture - in some areas... sounds like you are from adelaide?? they have a reputation in this regard, unfortunately for them.

In response to your suggestions regarding worshipping/praying/associating etc with others of different faiths bear the following in mind...

Making friends with those of other faiths is important - my wife goes to AOG style churches, I have meet many there (including a few ex-christadelphians I might add...) and I go to various home groups associated with these Churches. There I get to discuss things in a non confrontational/defensive environment. Its a 2 way street and I'll be really blunt here speaking from a lot of experience doing this: Most AVERAGE CD's know their bibles teachings FAR more than the AVERAGE non-CD's, and most non-CD's although spoon fed a lot, rejoice in their Faith and try to make it a living, real part of their lives. I say the Average non CD carefully - as their are also many non CD's who know their bible as well or better than most CD's. It's not a competition here... its how we live what we learn that counts.
I read many non CD books - many are inspirational, many bring out great points of scripture I have not seen elsewhere, many I read in sorrow as i see error compounding error. Like they say - you eat the meat and spit out the bones.
We do need to meet with non CD's - as many view us as a cult - remember a cult can be defined as those who hold non traditional beliefs - ie non trinitarian views.
After frank, friendly discussion they at least know what we believe, and can see the things we hold in common.
Worshipping and Praying I find a little uncomfortable - we do hold radically different views about God, and having people pray to Jesus as God is something that I personally dont like... I do visit other Churches occasionally, but find the worship too hyped up (I'm talking Charismatic AOG style here) I am a firm believer that as CD's our worship is a little too stifled, but find the other extreme can be a little offputting. We do have fundamentally different beliefs remember... and when I see speaking in tongues etc I see the loud pounding music, heated atmosphere, group dynamic etc playing a part in that. Then when you have Female speakers (a CD no-no) followed by 80 percent of the references to Jesus addressing him as God, etc you find it harder as a CD to relate to this. For that reason I do go to home groups but not very often to churches that are not CD. One local church has a ex- CD who does talks occasionally, if he is on I will go along to listen :).
Definitely pray for non christadelphians - we should be fervently praying for other Christians as well as non christians.
Yes - my thinking has changed somewhat. I still go to a CD church (sorry ecclesia for those stricter CD's.. I think we should call them Churches everywhere - we have enough differences, why add to the list.. we ARE Christians and we do meet in CHURCHES.. dont confuse the issue.) I believe almost all the same doctrines as CD's,and think that you are supposed to fellowship with those of the same beliefs.. but get much out of associating with those who are non CD's as well. ie my wife... :)
My wife, although not attending CD meetings, holds many CD beliefs, non Trinity, non immortal soul etc. but being brought up in non CD atmosphere, feels spiritually dead when attending CD meetings. She has a living faith that would put most CD's I know to shame, she spends hours each day praying/reading bible and books cd/non CD. She likes nothing better than a good John Martin talk on tape, followed by a Womens group with the local Church Group down the road. I guess she too can eat the meat and spit out the bones... sorry this is a bit long winded... I suppose what I am trying to say is this:
"Friendship with the world is emnity with God" DOES NOT equate to "We have the TRUTH, so I wont associate with non CD's" - we are ALL Christians - in my view MOST are not following Christ as they should, we can't gloss over our differences but we CAN embrace similarities, and we can definitely learn from each other. Any CD's who are sitting comfortably in their own little world, thinking that other Christians are just wrong and can't have bothered reading their bibles need to go visit somewhere like www.carm.org, and read through the Christadelphian forums to change their minds quickly. There is lots we can learn from others. SO in closing - CD's put your faith into action - get out there, preach the word.. personally... help the sick and poor, get involved in charities, show your christanity through your actions to others, not just by attending meetings and bible classes.