The following will be a history of the Christadelphians as it pertains to the Berean fellowship. It is not my intention to ridicule or denigrate, in any way, the other Christadelphian groups. Neither do I seek to label everyone in certain groups to have some specific belief. I know there are Christadelphians in all the different groups who still hold the Foundation Truths themselves, while fellowshipping the error in their respective group. I hope no one will consider any of the things I say to be mean-spirited, for that is not my intent. My intent is only to explain the reasons why I am a Berean Christadelphian, and why I believe those who are earnestly striving to obey the Commands of Christ our Lord should make the same choice I have made.
I will not go into the personality conflicts involved in the divisions, or the dealings between brethren which were not always altogether brotherly. Like everyone else, Christadelphians are of human nature, and human nature is a terrible thing. No doubt, some men made fellowship decisions in the past based upon the personalities involved, and based on the conduct of certain brethren. I know this occurred. I believe this to be wrong. The Truth is the Truth, regardless of who is presenting it. For this brief history, I will stick only to the factual material.
The doctrine that sets Christadelphians apart from all the churches of Christendom is the nature of man, and the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ. There are churches that have discovered some of the Bible's Truth. Some know that the Bible does not teach the soul is immortal. Some know that the Bible does not teach the kingdom will be established in heaven, but rather on the earth. Still others know that the Bible does not teach anything about people burning for eternity in a fiery-burning hell. But there are no churches in Christendom that have correctly understood the most important subject of all Bible subjects; the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ. Not surprisingly then, this subject has been the greatest cause of division among Christadelphians.
These paragraphs are both obvious and profound. The closer a person comes to understanding this, the closer they come to understanding the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on behalf of all mankind.
Edward Turney reasoned that since Christ had only a human mother, his nature could not be the same identical nature as ours, since we have both human father and mother. He argued that since his nature was not the same as ours, Jesus did not have a sinful nature, and therefore did not offer for himself for the cleansing of that nature.
Edward Turney reintroduced to Christadelphians the idea that sin can only be moral. He agreed that man had sinful flesh, but he saw this as a moral transgression, just like the churches doctrine of original sin. He reasoned that if Christ had been born with this original sin, or sinful flesh, he would be condemned by it, and therefore not be in position to free us from sin.
Since he plainly, and boldly, renounced Christadelphian thought, he found it difficult to get a following among Christadelphians. Christadelphians called his teaching "clean flesh", because he taught the flesh of Christ was clean, while all the rest of mankind had sinful flesh. As a movement, he was so insignificant we would not bother with mentioning him, except that he introduced a thought that was the cause of much sorrow and division in the following years.
Many sound men rose up to show Edward Turney that his new ideas were unsound: that it was he who had returned to the doctrine of Catholicism (the Catholic doctrine of an immaculate Christ) not Christadelphians. Among these was a very polished man named J. J. Andrew of London, England.
As we mentioned, fundamental to Turney's teaching was the argument that "sin" was a moral relationship, only . He argued that sin could have no physical existence. Christadelphians taught that sin was both moral and physical. We are guilty of the things we do (the moral aspect of sin) but we suffer the consequences of the sin bodies we physically and literally bare, (sorrow, weakness, and death). The moral aspect of sin is a crime. The physical aspect is a misfortune, not a crime, but it is a reality none the less. Jesus came into the world bearing the physical sin in his body that through his sacrifice he might destroy sin at its very root, removing all sin, physical and moral, that the world might be purified from sin.The physical sin body is the root of all moral transgression. "Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." (James. 1:14) By destroying sin in his body, Christ destroyed all sin at its very root and source.
As the two debated the subject, J. J. Andrew himself departed from sound Christadelphian teachings. He had correctly understood the force of Paul's argument that sin had to exist in the body of Jesus, or, as John Thomas said, it could not have been condemned there. But Turney's arguments that sin can be only moral and cannot be physical, confused J. J. Andrew and led him to consider the possession of sinful flesh to be a moral (he liked the term legal) sin, not much different than the churches doctrine of "Original Sin" which Edward Turney had re-introduced.
J. J. Andrew began to teach that we are "guilty" of Adam's sin, that Christ (since he too, had this moral "sin in the flesh") was therefore born guilty of Adam's sin, and a "child of wrath".
As he went on to develop and expand his thoughts, he eventually concluded that since we are all born guilty of Adam's sin, no one can come out of the grave to judgment who has not been cleansed from Adam's sin by baptism. (This happens to be the same reason that the churches baptize babies. Many churches of Christendom also believe that we are born "guilty" of Adam's sin, and that a baby must be baptized to be "forgiven" it.)
The established Christadelphian position was that it was "light" which made a person responsible to come out of the grave to judgment, not baptism. "Light" is not defined by Christadelphians. It is a metaphor for knowledge and understanding. Only God knows when a person has sufficient understanding of His plan to be responsible for his actions at the judgment seat of Christ. Refusing baptism will not hinder a man (who had "light") coming forth from the grave.
In the above, one can see the conflict between Christadelphian teaching and the new teaching of J. J. Andrew. To Andrew "sin in the flesh" was actual, or imputed guilt. It was moral, or legal. To Robert Roberts, it was a physical attribute, not needing forgiveness, but simply needing cleansing.
Turney and Andrew had started from the same erroneous point, and reached opposite conclusions. Turney said all sin is moral, and there is no such thing as physical sin; therefore, there is no such thing as "sin in the flesh." Andrew agreed with him that all sin was moral, but reached an opposite conclusion: possessing "sin in the flesh" was a moral crime.
The men who followed J. J. Andrew took the name "Advocates," and in some areas were called "Suffolk Street". This group of Christadelphians exists today, mostly in the USA, but are normally referred to as "Unamended Christadelphians". The reasons for these various names will be explained later.
During the J. J. Andrew discussions, it was clear there were (again) groups of individuals who were going to miss the center ground of Christadelphian belief. These men had argued so hard against J. J. Andrew that they took an opposite extreme from J. J. Andrew, back to the teachings of Edward Turney, only not going as far as Turney. And further, instead of the problems being confined to England, this new problem had now expanded to all continents where there were Christadelphians.
These new teachers were quickly labeled as teaching "clean flesh", like Turney, but the label was confusing. Turney taught that Jesus had a different nature from the rest of human kind. To him, mankind had a defiled, sinful nature, (being guilty of Adam's sin) but Jesus' nature was "clean", or undefiled. This new group of men taught that Jesus' nature and mankind's nature were identical, but neither was sinful. They embraced the foundation principle of both Turney and Andrew, arguing that sin is moral, not physical. They concluded, therefore, that sinful flesh really cannot be considered sinful in any real sense.
To this new group of men, the term "sinful flesh" was not a literal description of the physical condition of human nature as taught by the pioneer Christadelphians, nor was it guilt inherited from Adam as taught by Turney and Andrew, but rather only a symbolical expression. To them the flesh was not sin, but only symbolized sin. To them, Jesus did not destroy sin literally on the cross (as Christadelphians had taught), but symbolically destroyed sin through a symbolical sacrifice.
The problem first broke out in England in 1898, in the teachings of Harold Fry. It was quickly resolved by his meeting, and it had little effect. Shortly after the resolution of this problem, editor Robert Roberts died. It next broke out in 1902 in the teachings of John Bell in Australia. A division ensued and a new group of Christadelphians was formed, calling themselves the "Shield".
Like those before him, A. D. Strickler believed that sin can only be moral, and that atonement is only for moral transgression. He could not consider the physical principle, sin in the flesh, to be actually sinful, for as he said, that would be considering "sin in the flesh" as a moral thing.
This inevitably created another division within the body, but a different one than any before. Overwhelmingly, the United States brethren withdrew fellowship from A. D. Strickler and his followers. "The Christadelphian Magazine", and many brethren in England refused to acknowledge this withdrawal. Unwilling to fellowship either this idea or fellowship those brethren who would, a major division took place in the body. Those who fellowshipped A. D. Strickler came to be known as Central. Those who refused to fellowship him came to be known as the Bereans.
Here was a clear admission from the editor of Central's magazine that the Berean brethren had made the correct choice in 1923. In 1940 John Carter printed a "10 Point Statement" that had been drawn up by an American Central ecclesia as the basis for a reunion between Central and the Bereans, and which concerned the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ under the title, "A Time to Heal."
In 1944 the 10 Point Statement was circulated among Berean and Central ecclesias in the United States to receive approval. It was quickly accepted by all Berean ecclesias. Among the Central ecclesias, it was accepted by 10, rejected by 1 (Philadelphia), and two ecclesias (including A. D. Strickler's former ecclesia, Buffalo) refused to respond.
Those who had accepted the new teachings could not accept that any sacrifice was necessary for the cleansing of the physical sin. Sin, they argued, is only moral. Therefore, only the moral needs cleansed. Jesus was not morally defiled, and therefore he required no sacrifice for himself. Though Central could not agree with the original basis for Re-union, the momentum for reunion was very strong in both camps. In 1952 a large number of Bereans dropped their desire to have the 10 Point Statement affirmed, and went to Central based on a simple declaration that all Central ecclesias accepted the Statement of Faith without reservation.
Having unified the largest division in the Christadelphian body, John Carter turned his attention to the other two principle divisions, the Advocate and the Shield groups. In a document called the "Final Statement", the Advocate brethren in Britain were taken into fellowship on a majority vote, acknowledging that some still believed as J. J. Andrew had believed.
In Australia, an addendum to the Statement of Faith was drawn up called the Cooper-Carter Addendum. This Addendum removed the words "defiled his nature" in Clause 5, and "sin in the flesh" in Clause 12, from the Statement of Faith, making the Statement of Faith acceptable to those in the Shield group. So while in 1952, Central had agreed to the Statement of Faith enforced in fellowship, only five years later they had made two separate compromises to it.
The bringing in of these two groups caused further division to Central. Brethren who believed the truth as laid down by the pioneers of the Christadelphian movement separated from Central. Some of these joined the Bereans. Some, for reasons best explained by them, formed a new group called the Old Paths.
In the above, I have briefly outlined the main principle upon which Christadelphians have divided over our 150 year history. There was another theme running side by side all of this, which is the principle of "legalism".
As its name implies, Legalism is the elevation of law (legalities) over all else. The principle of "legalism" is best exhibited in American Law. A law enforcement officer may witness a murder, but if he fails to follow the law when arresting the murderer, (in reading him his rights,) the murderer is set free. Law is thereby elevated over principle.
In recent years, the Central group has come to change the meaning of "legalism". In a recent article an author wrote: "Legalism describes a fundamental approach to life and religion." This definition is linguistically wrong. "Fundamentalism" describes a fundamental approach to life and religion. "Legalism is a legalistic or "governed by law" approach to life and religion. It would appear that the Central group has now so far departed from the fundamental principles upon which the Christadelphian movement was born, that words need to be redefined to justify its continued course.
In 1886, a group of men began teaching that the Bible was not the wholly inspired word of God. They taught that the writers of the Bible were given the events by God, and they chose to write down what seemed best to them. This actually was a very popular doctrine in the Churches at that time as well.
When the arguments were made against it (from 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:20) many men argued that it didn't matter anyway, as the Christadelphian Statement of Faith did not deal with this subject. This is "legalism" at its finest. It said that the principle was not significant, the laws (in this case the Christadelphian Statement of Faith) were all important.
"The Christadelphian Magazine" editor, Robert Roberts, wrote the preamble to the Statement of Faith, eliminating any views that the Bible is not the wholly inspired word of God. A division ensued and the new group took on the name Suffolk Street.
When the J. J. Andrew Division referred to above came about, "Legalism" came back into play. Some men, while not agreeing with J. J. Andrew, argued that the matter should be left alone, as the subject of who comes out of the grave to judgment was not in the "Christadelphian Statement of Faith". In 1898 an Amendment was made to the "Statement of Faith" to clarify a point accepted by all Christadelphians from the beginning of the movement.
The Advocates (those leaving in the J. J. Andrew division) were immediately received by the Suffolk Street group; hence the reason of two names for the same group. Still others who divided at this time preferred to call themselves "Unamended," indicating they refused the amendment to the "Christadelphian Statement of Faith."
In 1923, A. D. Strickler followed a slightly different course toward "legalism." He interpreted the "Statement of Faith" in such a way that he could say he agreed with it, while at the same time changing its very meaning. By changing the literal meaning of clauses into symbolical meanings (much like the churches of Christendom symbolize all the Old Testament promises concerning the nation of Israel) he could say he agreed with clauses directly intended to exclude his views.
When John Carter failed to convince these men that their interpretations were wrong, and when he discarded the 10 Point Statement as a basis for reunion, he gave "legalism" its official place in Central. The message was that if you can find some way to agree with what is written, no matter how bazaar or distorted, you will be welcomed.
Then, in 1956, when the Advocates were brought back into Central through the document called "The Final Statement" as mentioned above, the Suffolk Street group was included as well. "The Final Statement" had the exact clause, word for word, concerning the inspiration of the Scriptures that had been rejected by Robert Roberts and the pioneer brethren in 1888.
What the above writers do not understand is that the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ is the hub of the wheel, from which all other doctrines proceed like spokes. When it was compromised in 1923, 1956, and 1957, the leavening began and will continue. Corruption on all other points of Scriptural truth was both unavoidable and inevitable. It is simply not possible that the Word of God can be wrong. Paul prophesied it. That settles it.
It is for these reasons that I am a Berean Christadelphian, and that I recommend this to all others.
After the formation of the Berean Fellowship in 1923, the constant push to corrupt our foundation principles left the Berean body. We really haven't been troubled in any significant way by ones corrupting divine principals. What few problems have come up in those areas, have all been resolved by the local ecclesia involved. Usually, those who wish to corrupt the foundation principles leave us for Central long before the proper fellowship procedures (described in Matt. 18) run their course.
However, an equally dangerous tendency took its place regarding walk and conduct issues. Certain men decided they needed to push their particular views, especially relating to divorce and remarriage, on to the brotherhood as a whole, and demanded agreement upon points of view which differed from the pioneer brethren.
From the foundation of the Christadelphian movement, ecclesias were free to order themselves on walk and conduct matters without interference from others. There was no clergy to which to appeal, and no central office that would make decisions. Providing the divine principles were acknowledged and believed, how ecclesias resolved their difficult and sad cases were left to the individual ecclesia. A wide variety of views pertaining to divorce and remarriage were accepted, and it was thought best to allow every ecclesia to handle its own difficulties the best it could.
Other Christadelphians, notably John Thomas, also believed that Paul also permitted divorce and remarriage if an unbelieving spouse departed from the marriage.
In the 1920's, a move away from the clear teachings of Matt. 5:37 and 19:9 occurred in the Christadelphian movement generally, and the Berean Fellowship was not immune. It was not easy to do this among the Berean Brotherhood. We do not regard the writings of bre. Thomas and Roberts as inspired, but we do regard them as wonderful Bible students with excellent judgment and understanding. To challenge their understanding on a matter of fellowship would have been very difficult. Recognizing this, some men began arguing that by "divorce," all the pioneer brethren meant was "separation," and not what they began to call "legal divorce". These argued that Matt. 5:37 and 19:9 permitted couples to separate for fornication, but not to "legally divorce" or remarry.
According to John Thomas, Paul allowed divorce "for the sake of peace to the Christian party." Paul said, "if the unbelieving depart, let him depart." But the nations at that time would not recognize divorce for the reason of religious differences. To presume yourself divorced and marry again based only on Paul's permission, and apart from a legal divorce would make one legally a polygamist, and a criminal at the bar of Gentile justice.
But by using the term as G. V. Growcott used the term, it would never be possible to revise the writings of the pioneers brethren. Therefore, new definitions were brought to the fore. "Scriptural divorce" was said to mean separation, while "legal divorce" was said to be obtaining any divorce through Gentile law, which would allow for remarriage.
To defend this new view (new to the 1920's) that divorce is not the subject of Matt. 5:32 and Matt. 19:9, merely separation; there needed to be some way to avoid the force of the exception clause given in those verses. A reason had to be developed to justify saying that "put away" and "divorce" do not really mean "divorce." To do that the following argument was introduced.
They reasoned that Jesus would not have stated the divine Edenic Law of marriage, only to have "contradicted" it three verses later in allowing a putting away of a spouse for fornication. Therefore, they reasoned, if you merely separated from an adulterous spouse, you would not be "putting asunder" the marriage bond.
It was pointed out to these men that an exception is not a contradiction. The exception proves the rule, not contradicts it. Further, it was pointed out that we have no authority to determine that Jesus could not make an exception to the Edenic Law. It is clearly written that he did. We only have the authority to accept what is plainly written, as the pioneer brethren did.
As to the issue itself, why couldn't there be an exception to the Edenic Law in the law of Christ? Certainly God, through Moses, made many exceptions to the Edenic Law when giving the Law of Moses. Finally, it was pointed out that Jesus made other exceptions to what he spoke. He spoke concerning his generation: "...there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas". No one argues that "the sign of the prophet Jonas" contradicts his statement that "no sign shall be given to it."
But to those in the 1920's who had become obsessed with the divorce/remarriage issue, this fell on deaf ears. New and different ways to interpret Matt. 19:9 were brought forward: all of them unknown to the pioneer brethren.
In opposition to the new idea of the 1920's, there arose a class of men who knew this new idea was wrong. They knew that Jesus had permitted divorce and remarriage, and they began to argue in defense of what Jesus had spoken. But, like so many on this issue, they too became obsessed with the matter, and soon were drawn into a false position in relation to it.
So our established position was that we could not bring charges against another at the court of the world, nor could we submit a matter to them for their decision.
Nevertheless, some men, in their zeal to maintain the clear permission Christ granted in Matt. 5:37 and Matt 19:9 against the new ideas restricting divorce to only mean separation, ignored the Apostle Paul's restriction. They said that Jesus would not have granted us the permission to divorce for adultery on one hand, and then have the Apostle Paul take it away with his commands concerning not going to law, on the other.
I don't believe that this argument can appeal to anyone not already obsessed with the overall Divorce/Remarriage issue. Paul didn't take away the ability to divorce for adultery. The Roman Catholic Church did, when she made marriage a "Holy Sacrament" and forbade divorce. Ultimately, she succeeded in having her laws incorporated into the national laws of the nations, and the brethren suffered the consequences of this, no less than they have suffered in other, more severe ways during the two thousand years history of the Catholic Church.
A little reflection on the matter proves this. When the brethren lived under Catholic domination, divorce was unthinkable because it was illegal according to the laws of the land. Such is still the case in modern Catholic states such as Ireland. Would those men who counsel breaking the divine law in going to law against another (bring charges of adultery into court) to exercise Christ's permission, counsel committing polygamy to exercise Christ's permission if brethren lived during the Catholic dominated ages? Certainly not! Again to the point, in the very early 1800's it was not possible to obtain a divorce in England, unless you were a member of the Church of England. Would these brethren also counsel joining the Church of England to take advantage of Christ's permission? Why then would anyone justify making charges and submitting to the judgment of worldly judges to take advantage of Christ's permission, now? It doesn't make sense now, and it didn't then.
Those men who maintained that a brother or sister could be correct in bringing charges and submitting to the judgment of a Gentile court found it necessary to separate and formed a group called "Family Journal."
With the most ardent, if misled, defenders of Jesus' precepts pertaining to marriage and divorce out of the way, this set the stage for those who had been agitating that there is no exception to the Edenic law to begin to force that position. In the very late 20s, an ecclesia in California experienced a situation where a brother whose wife had committed adultery and left him, remarried, and applied for membership. The ecclesia ultimately voted not to receive him back into fellowship. Some members of that ecclesia voted that they should, and other ecclesias had voiced concerns that the ecclesia had made a poor decision, but as from our foundation we allowed ecclesias to govern themselves on this matter, the ecclesias were satisfied not to intervene in another ecclesia's affairs.
But the criticism ruffled those pushing the new concept that the exception clause does not allow for "legal divorce." Following the events of the late ė20s, those brethren who insisted there could be no "legal divorce," and no remarriage after divorce, began to insist that their belief be accepted by all in the Berean fellowship. In the early 1940s, they constructed a four-point statement to which they demanded all agree. This stated there could be no remarriage after divorce while the spouse was still alive, regardless of the circumstances. This statement was a contradiction to Matt. 5:37, 19:9, and to the writings of the pioneer Christadelphians. It was rejected by the Bereans, and there was a division. The new body was called the "Dawn Fellowship."
Throughout the 1940s there was a very strong "back to Central movement" as discussed above, culminating in the division of 1952.
Following this, the Berean Fellowship attempted to be ready to receive those who were leaving Central due to their dissatisfaction with the unions of the Suffolk Street/Advocates (in 1956), and the Shield group (in 1957). To guard against the errors of the Central group, the Berean body formed a Berean Restatement, which stated the way all Berean Ecclesias understood the "Christadelphian Statement of Faith" relevant to areas of disagreement between themselves and the Central body that these men were now leaving.
Fairly soon into the process, however, it appeared that those coming out of Central desired to go their own way. They formed the Old Paths group. This left the Bereans predominantly in the USA and Canada, while the Old Paths occupied a similar position in Britain and Australia. If there were differences between the Old Paths and the Bereans at that time, it would have been in the arena of divorce and remarriage. Both groups have suffered division on this issue since that time, and the exact differences are difficult to say.
These brethren ultimately issued a Four-Point Statement that forbids remarriage while the first spouse was still alive. It was a little more extreme than the Dawn position in the details, but essentially the same thing. Its roots were the same. It argues that Christ would not have restated the Divine Edenic Law, only to have contradicted it three verses later. (This erroneous statement appears to be the common thread of all those who attack the foundation Christadelphian position, regardless of how the details play out later.)
The difference between the Dawn and the new group which chose no name, but which has been referred to as "Four Points" by others, is simply this: the Dawn believe that if a person comes to the knowledge of the truth divorced but not remarried, they are free to remarry. The Four Point believes that such a person would not be free to remarry.
Finally, in 1997, these old issues combined with the changes in the worlds divorce laws to again divide the body. The change from the divorce laws which required making and proving charges in open court, and the submitting of evidence to a Gentile judge for a decision had ended in some nations, and had been greatly modified in others. The old Catholic inspired laws called, "For Fault" law, had been replaced with various forms of "No fault" law, or the even less litigious "Dissolution" law.
The change in national laws brought out questions concerning which of the new laws were truly "going to law against another" which is forbidden by Paul, and which laws were "going to law, but not "going to law against another." Most were satisfied to leave this question up to the local ecclesia involved. Some were not.
A small group of brethren decided that all others must agree with them that a specific Texas No Fault law was, in every instance, going to law against another because of the legal language involved. Others pointed out to them that while they agreed that the legal language was aggressive, still, there were no charges of sin, no presentation of evidence, and no decision to be made by a judge (beyond verifying that the paperwork was correctly filled out). These felt it was dangerous to take such a technical approach to the matter, to call this "going to law against another." But, for the sake of peace, the latter agreed to submit to the sensitivities of the former so unity could continue.
This was not satisfactory to those wanting complete agreement that this matter was definitely "going to law against another." This argument, which began about which law is or isn't "going to law against another," soon aroused those who still held aspects of the Dawn/Four Point position on the subject.
To those who held the old arguments pertaining to "legal divorce," the type of law didn't matter. Rather than accept the simple clear meaning that "legal divorce is a divorce not illegal in the land," the arguments of the Dawn division were brought back that "legal divorce" is "any mans-law-related divorce." It was argued that if everywhere the pioneer brethren wrote "divorce," you understand that as "separation" and never "legal divorce," then their ideas could be supported by the pioneer brethren. This is probably true. And if everywhere that the pioneer brethren wrote "defiled" and ėsin in the flesh" we understand this as a symbol, instead of a physical principle, A. D. Strickler's views would harmonize with the pioneers.
But these men had defined these terms. There is no reason that we should give their words a meaning they never did. It would only make sense to use their own definitions to define their words. As G. V. Growcott wrote, "Legal Divorce" is one that does not contravene the laws of the land. Never had the pioneer brethren wrote that divorce only means "separation." .
Nevertheless, these men forced their definition that all of man's-law-related divorce was going to law against another. They argued that any divorce which goes through the law is forbidden, and they demanded agreement by all others on this point. This set the stage for a further division.
These two arguments from the past combined in such a way to say that if anyone believed that Matt. 5:37 & 19:9 permitted ones to initiate a legal divorce for adultery, even if there is no "going to law against another", that such an one is not fit for fellowship.
"My own private thought would be that if they sought strength from God in constant prayer, they would be given the ability to endure any condition they found themselves in. This would be my private inner view, but in the light of what Paul says, and not being able to judge how others are constituted, I could not force this view upon them as a matter of First Principle, and therefore of fellowship. I would leave the judgment to God. God has made a provision. I believe (with Paul) that they would be 'happier' if they did not feel they had to use it, but it is very easy to get 'holier' than God in our regulations upon our fellow servants.
So here was the clear and consistent Christadelphian teaching on the matter. If someone said they must put their spouse away and remarry, providing they did not go to law against them as forbidden by the apostle Paul, that this should not be forced as a First Principle or a matter of fellowship. In spite of this clear example, those agitating that there can be no "legal divorce" ran roughshod over these principles and demanded agreement.
The above statement would seem to have excluded those who originally began the debate on the matter. They originally appeared to be concerned with which law could or could not be used, but this states that no mans-related-law could be used. In any case, they agreed to the above, and the division went forward.
As the established Berean position was that each ecclesia should work out its own sad problems within the framework of the teachings of Christ and the apostles, these new demands were not readily accepted by the body, and a division took place. This new group, a minority of brethren, have taken the unusual step of leaving the body but not dropping the name. They allow themselves to continue to be identified with us as Bereans. While this is most unusual, there is nothing that can be done about it.
When the Bereans were formed in 1923, the Berean brotherhood was quite anxious to disassociate itself from the Central group and the errors of A. D. Strickler. Apparently, the new group does not feel the same need to disassociate themselves from those it feels are in error, as did the faithful brethren of old.
From the standpoint of the divorce issue itself, the Bereans have no problem in identifying with the new group, as we take no fellowship stand on these things, one way or the other. We allow each ecclesia to resolve its own sad problems. The Bereans do have a problem with their behavior pertaining to the doctrine of fellowship. If they wish to continue to be "Bereans", they should then fellowship "Bereans" and not refuse the fellowship of those with whom they share a name. If they do not wish to associate with us, they should choose a new name and move on.
In any case, while it is embarrassing, it is not within our power to do anything about it. As John Thomas said, "What cannot be cured must be endured."
There have been other men with other issues who walked with us for a time, but who came to believe they had some new point of truth and insisted on all others excepting their position, and moving away from the guidance and council of the Christadelphian movement. These too have separated from us, but never created the divisions that the divorce question has. You can even find one such article on the Web entitled "A matter of Fellowship." All of the reasons given by this brother (whom I personally have a great deal of admiration for) are reasons upon which we have never legislated in the past, and refused to legislate now. One article on his site even has a direct attack on the fellowship position of an early editor, Robert Roberts, pertaining to head coverings.
Those who wish to add to our original foundation, and those who wish to take from our original foundation will not find the Bereans a satisfactory movement. We believe we are too close to the return of Christ to go changing our movement at this late date. The foundations laid 150 years ago have served us well to this point, and I doubt any see any need to change now.
It has been through much effort and many tears that the original position of those who rediscovered the Truth from the superstitions of Christendom has been maintained. Some have wished to take away from it. Some have tried to add to it. To the best of our ability, we have tried to maintain the narrow and confined path that leads to life.
We encourage all who are like minded to come and walk with us.