Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Lord's table (3)

John Thomas is usually attributed with being the founder of Christadelphianism, as it was he who coined the name in 1864. Many of the churches in the United States and Britain which adopted the name had been in existence since around 1848 or 1850 and had held the same principle beliefs during that time. During this period they were known by various names, including simply "Believers" and "Baptised Believers". Some of the churches in this association or movement joined other groups such as the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith, the Christian Connexion, the Advent Christian Church, and the Churches/Disciples of Christ from which John Thomas had come, rather than the group which adopted the name "Christadelphian". To this day people in all these denominations share many of the same doctrinal distinctives which characterise Christadelphianism.

In 1854 John Thomas was a member of a church in New York known as the Royal Association of Believers. In that year he published the Constitution of the Association in his magazine, The Herald of the Kingdom and the Age to Come.

The Constitution included these clauses on membership and "the Lord's table":


"The wisdom from above being first pure, and then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" - we cordially invite all immersed believers of the gospel preached to Abraham, Israel, and the Gentiles, by the Angel of Jehovah, Moses, Jesus, and the apostles, who are disposed to illustrate this "wisdom from above" in word and deed, to unite with the undersigned for the purposes set forth in No. 3.


Being the Lord's table, and not the table of the Association, all of good report within the city or without it, who, believing the gospel of the kingdom, have been immersed, are cordially invited to worship with us; the only privileges withheld being a participation in the direction of our affairs, and speech without previous invitation.

We should first note the distinction that is made between membership of the association, and fellowship at the Lord's table. Any association has the prerogative to make rules about its own membership, but John Thomas and his fellow-elders in the Association of Believers rightly recognised that they did not have a prerogative to exclude good Christian men and women from the Lord's table.

In this respect the earliest Christadelphian practices were in line with our Lord's teachings and His table-fellowship practice of inclusiveness.

No comments: