STRENGTHS - the Christadelphian view of the Holy Spirit is that it is the power of God, and not the third person of the trinity. One Christadelphian publication describes the Holy Spirit this way: "by His Holy Spirit, the expression of His power, He [God] controls the affairs of the world according to His ultimate purpose with mankind" and goes on to say "It [the Holy Spirit] is the power by which God achieves His ends, both physical and spiritual" (Fred Pearce, Who are the Christadelphians? Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association Ltd).
Christadelphianism has correctly taught that the trinitarian understanding of the Holy Spirit as a 'person' in the Godhead has no basis in the New Testament or the beliefs of the earliest Christians. Christadelphian theology understands the Holy Spirit to be one with God, and not as a distinct person within the Godhead (The Holy Spirit is "His invisible power or energy breathed forth from His presence, and of like nature with His Glorious Person ... God and His Spirit cannot be separated. They are both one. The sun and the light that comes from the sun are both one. So God, and the Spirit that comes from God, are both one. God is the centre and glorious substantial form of the Spirit that fills heaven and earth." The Christadelphian Instructor questions 17 and 18).
WEAKNESSES - While Christadelphians generally explain the relationship between the Father and Son quite well, Christadelphian teaching about the role and purpose of the Holy Spirit seems to be rather inadequate. Christadelphian literature rarely explains how God "achieves His ends" through the Holy Spirit (especially not His "spiritual" ends), and sometimes restricts the activities of the Holy Spirit to "power concentrated through an individual or angel for the purpose of a specific miraculous event or activity" (The Testimony: The Distinctive Beliefs of the Christadelphians, Vol. 58, No. 691, July 1988, page 254).
This rather limited view and emphasis on the miraculous does not adequately explain how we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:16; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2) or how God can "strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (Eph 3:16-19). It does not come to terms with the numerous New Testament references to the continuous activity of the Holy Spirit, such as these:
- "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5:5)
- God and Christ "live" in by the Holy Spirit (e.g. 1 Cor 6:19-21; Eph 2:22; 1 John 4:13; John 14:16-18, 23).
- The Holy Spirit brings about our rebirth and renewal (Titus 3:5)
- By the Holy Spirit we receive hope (Rom 15:13) and joy (Rom 14:17; 1 Thess 1:6)
OPPORTUNITIES - the Christadelphian understanding of God is definitely on the right track. It correctly understands God to be One, and Jesus as the Son of God who was begotten in the womb of Mary and not before creation. Christadelphian theology could benefit enormously by taking into account how the work of God and Christ in bringing believers to maturity is accomplished through the Holy Spirit.
THREATS - there are definite signs that Christadelphians are losing members to churches and denominations which have a greater emphasis on the operation of the Holy Spirit in the Christian life. Perhaps this is because of a void in Christadelphian teaching and practice. It has been said that as a body without breath is dead, so a church without the Spirit of God is spiritually dead. This maxim would explain why those who leave Christadelphianism often complain of the lifelessness, the stifling rigidity, the dullness and morbid legalism of parts of the Christadelphian community. If this threat is not addressed Christadelphians are likely to continue losing members.