Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Post-Christadelphians

I was recently asked about the difference between an ex-Christadelphian and a post-Christadelphian. I've actually never used the term "post-Christadelphian" on this blog before, although I have used it on the Truth Alive forum. I don't use the term often, but as some people have made a bit of a fuss about it this may be a good time to provide an explanation for those who may be wondering about it.

Back in early 2006 I posted a message on Truth Alive about a series of articles on this blog on the history of Christadelphians and the kind of community people set out to create when they began the Believers Movement and then later the Christadelphian denomination. I noted that there had been a process of transition as people moved from one denomination or movement to another, and as the Christadelphian community itself then went through its own transition as it changed direction.

This got me thinking about the transitions many of us have made in our individual lives, perhaps from one denomination to another, from one fellowship to another, or from one "kind" of Christadelphian to another.

I had recently read a biographical work by Scottish novelist Ian Rankin (Rebus's Scotland). At one point he noted that he'd lived large chunks of his life outside Scotland, but thought of himself no less as a Scot. He used the term "Scot by formation" to describe how the influences at work in his early life had made him a Scot no matter where he lived or for how long he'd lived there.

This got me to thinking about how I am a Christadelphian "by formation". I attended Sunday School from when I was a week old. Went to at least 3 meetings every week well into adulthood. I've lost count of the number of Bible Schools I attended. I read Christendom Astray when I was 12, Eureka when I was about 17, and Elpis Israel somewhere in between. We did our Bible readings together as a family regularly. All of that had a strong influence on me and played a huge part in my "formation". I was raised in the Logos fellowship and left to join a Central ecclesia when I was in my early twenties. Years later my wife pointed out to me that I was still thinking like a Logos-Christadelphian. I wondered if people who are ex-Christadelphians still think like Christadelphians. If some people are Christadelphians by formation then the way they analyse and critique things, even what it means to be an ex-Christadelphian, is undoubtedly done by using thought processes they learned as Christadelphians.

From my recollection the term 'post-Christadelphian' arose during a conversation about some of the changes, developments and 'transitions' that are occurring in the Christadelphian community (and I think someone else in that conversation should actually get the credit for coming up with the term). We were discussing how that for some Christadelphians their spiritual journey may take them into another denomination, yet they may still hold on to core values and teachings and may 'think' like Christadelphians. By the same token, others may follow a similar spiritual path and remain within the Christadelphian community. The two 'groups' actually have a lot in common. We coined the term 'post-Christadelphian' to describe a person who has chosen to hold on to all that they regard as good in Christadelphianism while jettisoning the baggage which is holding back their spiritual growth, regardless of whether they maintain their membership of a Christadelphian ecclesia or not.

Several Christadelphians who are actively involved in the Christadelphian community and who maintain their membership of ecclesias welcomed the term and said it described how they thought of themselves.

The term post-Christadelphian suggests that for some people their involvement in the Christadelphian community has entered a new phase: they continue to be Christadelphians, maintain their commitment to the community, and hold on to the core teachings and values. For others, life beyond or after involvement in the Christadelphian denomination does not erase everything that went before. They endeavour to build on some of the foundations which they learned in their earlier Christadelphian lives, to distil from Christadelphianism some principles, practices and attitudes which are good and useful, and to grow in grace and knowledge without discarding everything from the past.

I personally think this is a useful term to describe what these different types of people have in common: a desire to grow while holding onto everything that is good and letting go of things that are obstacles to growth. It reflects the fact that an individual has made a conscious decision to grow rather than to lose their identity as part of a homogeneous 'group'.

Since then a Christadelphian in Sydney used an internet forum to spread the word that I had "withdrawn fellowship" from Christadelphians. This was completely untrue and even though I made my position clear to her I understand that she is still circulating this story (together with a lot of other material which is pure fabrication). Just for the record, I am actively involved in the Christadelphian community, I speak at Christadelphian meetings, I am the chairman of a Christadelphian committee, and I give quite a bit of time to a Christadelphian preaching organisation. 'Post' and 'ex' are not the same things.

4 comments:

Geoff said...

Hi Steve

Let me leave my 1st message on your blog. You will see by the date that I am adding a message to an now quite old post from you. Having recently found this blog I am getting up to speed on a whole lot of stuff that you have written.

I agree that Post is not the same as "ex"and it is a pity that people who are unable to understand the difference are using your comments for very unchristian ends.

Keep up the good work & be encouraged by so many of us within the Christadelphian community who are "post" the dogma and the tradition, but are thankful for the upbringing which has allowed them to find a personal relationship with Jesus which transcends names, denominations and petty gossip and most of all fear.

with love
Geoff

Anonymous said...

I have recently found your post on POST CHRISTADELPHIAN,it describes
my understanding of how we all should
embrace God in our lives and at the same time allowing spiritual growth in Jesus.Great to know that i am not alone in my understanding of what it means to be POST.God bless and thank you for sharing this inspiring post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve, not sure that you received my previous comment.It is so good to know that i am not alone in my understanding of what it means to be Post Christadelphian. Loved the article,well written and very inspiring.God Bless.

Liz said...

In the poem "Anyway",in Mother Teresa's Children's home,Calcutta, the author leaves us with a powerful and non-judgemental message of hope "In the final analysis, it is between You and God"
God Bless
Liz