A Restatement of The Always-Held Berean Position
ON CURRENT PROBLEMS AMONG THOSE USING THE NAME "CHRISTADELPHIAN"
Agreed upon by the Berean Fellowship in 1960, and printed in the July 1960 issue of "The Berean Christadelphian Magazine."
In the late 1950's, because of compromise and degenerating conditions in other groups, it became desirable that the Berean Fellowship restate its original and always-held position on several matters of truth being called in question elsewhere. This was taken very slowly, over a period of years, so all would have ample time to study and comment on the material. With two very minor and secondary exceptions (see notes on Nos. 4 and 6), the Berean Restatement was unanimously adopted as expressing the mind of the whole Body. We invite the fellowship of any who are wholly of one mind with us. The 1960 Restatement follows:
This is not a new basis of fellowship; nor is it an addition to, or an alteration of, our Basis of Fellowship. It is simply a reiteration of the position the Berean Fellowship has held on these matters from the beginning. It is a call back to the old, established position of sound Christadelphianism. Our desire and endeavour is to give as strong and clear a presentation as possible on the basis of the established Berean position of nearly 40 years (written in 1960: it’s now 60 years), without making any change or innovation. We are most comfortable in our minds when we are firmly within the sound framework laid down by sincere and able brethren of one, two, and three generations ago.
The long delay (it was between two and three years) in issuing this Restatement, since it was first proposed, has been used to imply that we are not united. We believe it is desirable to clarify this point. From the very beginning, the overwhelming majority fully accepted the original draft of this Restatement. The normal course would have been to publish on this established basis of a preponderant majority. From the beginning, the total of those who have desired any change has been numerically very small.
But we have aimed for the ideal of unanimous and enthusiastic approval in every detail. Therefore we have believed it best to move, very, very slowly whenever there was the slightest objection or reluctance of any kind.
We believe the greatest value of the Restatement is in the promotion, through mutual patience and understanding, of a deeper spirit of unity and fellowship and—above all—love among ourselves. Its value in relation to those outside our fellowship, though great, is secondary to this.
We have been extremely reluctant to make decisions on the final wording if even one brother objects. We have hoped and worked and prayed for complete unanimity, not wishing to offend any, or to override the wishes of a single one.
We believe it is possible, however, that in trying to fully satisfy every wish of every individual we have perhaps not given full weight to the desires of the many who were satisfied from the beginning, and who have repeatedly expressed the strong desire that it be carried forward.
Circumstances now appear to make further delay undesirable. We are just two minor points short of perfect unanimity: 1) A small group have expressed dissatisfaction with the wording on Conferences, not disagreeing, but fearing misinterpretation: see note there; and 2) A small group, not disagreeing with the item, desired further wording on Divorce: see note there.
The Restatement As Approved In 1960
As the trends in the Reunion movement become clearer, and many who have joined in that movement are now seriously reconsidering their position, a restatement of the Berean position on various problems that have confronted the Brotherhood, has become desirable.
This article has been many months in preparation. It has been submitted to all Berean ecclesias and brethren and sisters, and has received their approval. Two drafts were submitted, the third (this present form) incorporating as far as possible all suggestions received as a result of the circulation of the first two. While it is not to be taken as a formal, official, all inclusive document, nor in any way as an addition to the Statement of Faith, it does represent the considered, united viewpoint of the Berean Fellowship in regard to the principal issues that have arisen. It is not necessarily meant to be final and exhaustive: other problems can be considered later as circumstances require.
At the outset, let it be clearly understood there is no desire to criticize others. Our purpose is simply to present our own position, with particular relation to the present circumstances. Reference to others will be kept to the minimum required to make our position and its reasons clear.
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OUR IDENTITY AND OUR NAME
First and foremost, we have been increasingly impressed with the great value and importance of a clear distinction and identity in fellowship. The Berean Fellowship has maintained a clear, separated position since 1923, since it was first necessary to stand aside from loose fellowship and toleration of error.
We desire to continue the benefit and advantage of this long identity and stability. We firmly believe that the stand taken in 1923 was right and necessary for the preservation of the Truth. We freely recognize and confess mistakes in methods and attitudes due to the inherent weakness of the flesh and the natural limited perception of the human mind. But the general foundation and course of our fellowship from the first, we believe, in God's mercy and guidance, to have been sound.
In our approach to the problems and opportunities arising from the present developments, this determination to maintain the value of our clear, separate position will be, God willing, our guiding principle. We earnestly desire, yea, need, the strength and support of all earnest brethren and sisters. We know that all who are at one with us in heart will agree with the reasonableness of our request that they seek our fellowship on the basis of a recognition of the soundness and correctness of the long established stand of the Berean Fellowship. In this way they will contribute to the strength of the continuity of our position, and share its advantages with us. All who are truly on one mind with us will readily agree to restrict their fellowship to those who are identified with the Berean position. To consent to a union of fellowship on any other basis would be to sacrifice the strength and stability that our consistent stand since 1923 has built up.
Some have objected to the name "Berean" on the ground that it implies a claim to certain characteristics, and denies them to others. We would like to point out that it does not imply presumption any more than the name "Christadelphian"—Christ's Brother—can be said to. It is not meant to imply any claim or presumption, but rather a dedication and allegiance and aim toward certain scriptural characteristics.
But (it is asked), is not the name Christadelphian sufficient? Sadly, we believe all must agree upon consideration that it is not. A name is simply to identify and distinguish. Therefore when any name is used by more than one separate group, some further identification is necessary.
Our determination to decline to consider merging with other groups and adopting any other name is not that we consider there is any special virtue or importance in the name itself, but because it represents a continuous position and outlook established over many years. We derive comfort and strength and stability from this consistent, continuous identity, especially in view of the many changes in principles, fellowship, and outlook throughout the Christadelphian world in recent years.
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The second major point we desire to make clear is that we have no intention of imposing any new, official, basic requirement of fellowship. If some, in reading this article, find that certain matters they would like defined are not treated of, or to their mind are insufficiently treated of, we would ask that they receive the following as the explanation.
Our purpose is consolidation, not innovation. We desire to remove any occasion for the charge that we are setting up new requirement. Furthermore, we have been more and more impressed with the conviction that the real solution to many problems lies not so much in restrictive legislation, but in laboring to build and develop a higher and more spiritual plane of thought and action throughout the Brotherhood by the transforming power of the love of Christ.
This is our great aim and fervent desire, and we frankly say that it is to such as are wholeheartedly in harmony with this aim that we appeal. Those who are satisfied with anything less than striving toward the beauty of the perfection of the holiness and goodness and godliness manifested in Christ will not find the Berean Fellowship to be what they desire.
Where this desire exists and flourishes in united zeal, worldly and fleshly things will be cast away freely without the need of legislation, and many problems of conduct that have saddened and divided the brotherhood will be undreamed of. We believe, too, that God will protect and deliver such a body from many of the problems that have been allowed to trouble the disobedient and worldly.
On the other hand (though not desiring to impose any new requirements), we are equally anxious and determined upon a firm defence and preservation of the original truths and principles upon which the Berean Fellowship has always stood. The following are the principal issues upon which we believe it wise at this time to reiterate our position.
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1. THE NATURE AND SACRIFICE OF CHRIST
It was the determined agreement of the former Bereans who took part in the Jersey City Conference to insist upon an acceptance of the Ten Point Statement on the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ as a minimum safeguard against the erroneous theories long current in the Central group. Under pressure, this determination was not maintained.
We firmly believe that any who do not WILLINGLY AND READILY express their approval of the Ten Point Statement designed to defend Truth and guard against error, are not of one mind with us, and consequently a union in fellowship with such would not be mutually beneficial. The Ten point Statement (formulated by the Los Angeles ecclesia, and accepted by Central in 1940 as a sound basis for reunion on the question) is as follows:
FOUR ERRORS TO BE REJECTED
1. That the nature of Christ was not exactly like ours.
2. That the offering of Christ was not for himself, and that Christ never made any offering for himself.
3. That Christ's offering was for personal sins or moral impurity only. That our sins laid on Christ made him unclean and accursed of God, and that it was from this curse and this uncleanness that Christ needed cleansing.
4. That Christ died as a substitute; that is, that he was punished for the transgression of others, and that he became a bearer of sin by suffering the punishment due for sins.
SIX TRUTHS TO BE ACCEPTED
1. That death came into the world extraneously to the nature bestowed upon Adam in Eden, and was not inherent in him before sentence.
2. That the sentence defiled him (Adam) and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.
3. That the word “sin" is used in two principal acceptations in the Scriptures. It signifies in the first place "the transgression of law," and in the next it represents that physical principle of the animal nature which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution to dust.
4. That Jesus possessed our nature, which was a defiled, condemned nature.
5. That it was therefore necessary that Jesus should offer for himself for the purging of his own nature, first from the uncleanness of death, that, having by his own blood obtained eternal redemption for himself, he might be able afterward to save to the uttermost those that come to God by him.
6. That the doctrine of substitution (that is, that a righteous man can, by suffering the penalty due to the sinner, free the sinner from the penalty of his sins) is foreign to Scripture and is a dogma of heathen mythology.
We earnestly desire a fellowship on the basis of a wholehearted oneness of mind, but we believe recent events have shown the fallacy of attempting to build fellowship on any basis involving compromise or insufficient investigation. We believe the principle of uniting first and "straightening things out" later is neither scripturally sound nor practically workable.
There must be a willingness to face the facts of the past that have brought about the problems of the present. Essential truths have been assailed. Friends of the Truth will GLADLY make clear their position: yea, we be ANXIOUS to make it clear.
2. RESURRECTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
On this question, we stand firmly and wholeheartedly upon Article 24 of the Statement of Faith that has been accepted among us since the days of bro. Roberts.
“That at the appearing of Christ prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, the responsible (namely, THOSE WHO KNOW THE REVEALED WILL OF GOD, and have been called upon to submit to it), dead and living—obedient and disobedient—will be summoned before his judgment seat ‘to be judged according to their works,’ and ‘receive in body according to what they have done, whether it be good or bad’ (2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Rom. 2:5-6, 16; 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 4:5; Rev. 11:18).
This truth is expressed equally clearly in the Instructor by which we have taught our children for the same length of time (the sound, original Instructor)—
132: Q: What will Christ do first when he returns?
A: He will assemble all those who are responsible to judgment, living or dead.
133: Q: Who are responsible to judgment?
A: All who know the Truth, whether they submit to it or refuse.
Bro. Thomas (in 1855) defined the same basic principle in his "system of divine truth" entitled "The Revealed Mystery," Article 46—
"...those who have come to an understanding of the Gospel, but have rejected it...come forth from the grave again to encounter the burning indignation of Christ, the Judge of the living and the dead, at his appearing and kingdom..."
We believe that LIGHT is the ground of resurrectional responsibility (John 3:19; James 4:17), and the clear scriptural picture is that the responsible—just and unjust—will be called forth together for judgment at the last day, "at his appearing and his Kingdom" (John 12:48; 2 Tim. 4:1).
This issue was fought through in the past by the pioneers of the Truth. Faithful brethren found that compromise on this basic principle is unsound and impractical. We believe our only faithful course is to maintain a clear and uncompromising position on this as to fellowship, so that we may be of one mind, and may be free to teach our children in a clear trumpet sound without having other brethren whom we support in fellowship undermining our efforts and teaching them otherwise. The Truth cannot proper under such confused conditions.
This is a serious issue, and goes far deeper than many realize. The prevalent incorrect and hazy conceptions about resurrectional responsibility undermine the one great solemn fact of all existence: the eternal MAJESTY AND AUTHORITY of God over all His Creation. We see it very clearly illustrated in the very beginning: authority, command, responsibility, and a calling to account. Adam was not asked if he desired to make a covenant.
This error engenders an entirely false and unwholesome conception of man's position before his Creator. The issues of life and death depend upon the reality and vividness with which we keep these basic principles before our minds. We believe, therefore, that it would be a disastrous casting away of all the value of the past struggle if we were to unite with any who do not robustly discern, believe, and actively support this basic truth
There are various shades of error on this question, mutually tolerated within other groups. To open our arms to such on a compromise basis would be to insert the thin end of the wedge.
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We have been increasingly impressed with the necessity of a strong stand upon the original Christadelphian beliefs regarding Creation.
The attempts to reinterpret the early chapters of Genesis to bring them into harmony with current speculations regarding "geological ages" and "evolutionary development," is a clear repetition in these last days of the fatal trend in the early centuries, when the "learned" and the philosophers took over the ecclesia and remoulded its doctrines to the then current worldly conceptions of "science" and "knowledge."
We reject as unscriptural all theories of this evolutionary nature, such as that Adam was not necessarily the first man, but just the first "real" man—meaning the first "man" whom God chose to endue with "capacity for worship," which is interpreted as "creating" man.
The Berean Fellowship stands strongly on the original Christadelphian belief that the first chapter of Genesis is a TRUE LITERAL RECORD of Creation, and not just a "vision" Moses saw, representing long ages of Evolution. We believe the simple truth as testified in Exodus 20:9-11:
"Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God...For IN SIX DAYS THE LORD MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."
Referring to this passage, Bro. Thomas said (Elpis Israel, pages 11-12):
"...The six days of Genesis were unquestionably six diurnal revolutions of the earth upon its axis. This is clear from the tenor of the Sabbath law...Would any Israelite or Gentile, UNSPOILED BY VAIN PHILOSOPHY, come to the conclusion of the geologists by reading the Sabbath law?...Six days of ordinary length were ample time for omnipotence."
We are well aware that the "wisdom of the world" considers this "foolishness," but we are convinced that if we are to be among the accepted, we must decide on which side we stand.
This divine truth is PROVIDENTIALLY provided anchor of our faith. As long as we hold it fast in godly simplicity, we are protected against the drift toward evolutionary speculation.
As to modern speculations and theories about the antiquity and development of the present condition of things on the earth, we feel no need to apologize for, or reinterpret, the simple scriptural record. In the divine purpose, "science" doubtless has been guided in these last days to discover many wonderful facts and truths in order to bring about the desired conditions of the earth. But when they presume to speculate about the past, and attempt to fix ages and periods and relationships and supposed evolutionary developments by methods based on their limited current observations of natural phenomena, they are leaving out of account the one great central fact of the universe that makes all their speculations meaningless: the continuous, ever-present, direct power and control of God in the working of His will. Of such, Jesus said, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the POWER OF GOD." (Matt. 22:29).
Apart from divine revelation, man is utterly incompetent to speculate about the remote past. We have no difficulty in dismissing all these idle theories with the words of Paul in the first chapter of First Corinthians, particularly verses 20, 27 and 29:
"Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?...God that chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise...that no flesh should glory in His presence."
This is why He confounds their wisdom, and why we KNOW that their supposed “wisdom” in anything to do with His Creation and Purpose is foolishness.
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Our convictions over many years, greatly strengthened by recent events, are that there is great wisdom in the words of Bro. Roberts to be found in the Ecclesial guide, Article 44:
FRATERNAL GATHERINGS FROM VARIOUS PLACES
"These are beneficial when restricted to purely SPIRITUAL objects (that is, let the brethren assemble anywhere from anywhere, and exhort, or worship, or have social intercourse together). But they become SOURCES OF EVIL if allowed to acquire a legislative character in the LEAST DEGREE.
"Ecclesial independence should be guarded with great jealousy (with the qualification indicated in the foregoing sections). To form 'unions' or 'societies' of ecclesias, in which delegates should frame laws for the individual ecclesias, would lay the foundation of a collective despotism which would interfere with the free growth and the true objects of ecclesial life.
"Such collective machineries create FICTITIOUS IMPORTANCES, which tend to suffocate the Truth. All ecclesiastical history illustrates this."
It is clear from ecclesiastical history that the practice of sending "representatives" to "conferences" was one of the major stepping stones to the Great Apostasy. We have a great fear of the consequences of any delegation of authority or power of "representation," especially when such "representation" is exercised at a distant place. This inevitably leads to centralization and a shrivelling of the individual determination in regard to ecclesial affairs.
We believe that, in the providence of God, the Truth was well established by our pioneer brethren. We believe that that system of Truth has had continuous existence among us, and is held by the Berean Fellowship today. We therefore see no need for potentially dangerous "conferences" with other groups. It is the essential nature of conferences to lead to compromise, and these compromises are often worked out by a few who are not truly representative of the Body, under the pressure of eloquence, emotion, and limited time.
In addition to the general dangers of conferences, there are various specific unsound aspects (all manifested at the Jersey City Conference) upon which we believe it is necessary in the circumstances to make our position clear. The following we believe to be misguided and unsound:
1. Any agreement to limit the investigation and consideration of any aspect of an issue which has affected fellowship in the past.
It is very difficult to maintain soundness of fellowship even when every possible care and precaution is employed. It is impossible when there is an agreement to ignore the facts of the past which have created the conditions of the present.
2. Any agreement to rule out discussion of any other issues than the "original cause" of the separation.
When one group has had to separate from another because of toleration of error, all reason, Scripture and experience teach that—especially after a prolonged separation—great care and thorough, detailed investigation of ALL doubtful points would be required to discover if there is any true basis for considering re-association.
3. Putting any such proceedings under the control of any who are not of our fellowship.
(It is surely absurd to put the erring side in charge of the proceedings.)
NOTE: A few (who agreed with the principle) feared: 1) this item might be taken to rule out discussion with any who wish to join us; and 2) it might discourage others from seeking our fellowship. Nothing could be further from its intention. The principle at issue is GIVING AUTHORITY TO REPRESENTATIVES to assemble at a distance and make decisions, with the subsequent inevitable losing touch and control by the membership. It is a real and serious danger, as history has repeatedly taught. Bre. Thomas and Roberts vehemently warned against this danger.
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5. SUING AT LAW
We believe, and have always believed, that the Scriptures forbid going to law AGAINST another for any cause whatsoever. The command is plain. The addition of the phrase "for any cause whatsoever," does not add anything to the command. It means the same without. But it is added to indicate that we accept the command in its fullness; and to guard against a merely nominal acceptance which nullifies it by "exceptions."
This command regarding going to law against another is part of the basic framework of the principles of the Law of Christ, which forbids violence, coercion, resistance to and retaliation for evil. We are not to use the law, or the powers of the law AGAINST anyone in any way. To do so in ANY way is to violate the WHOLE spirit.
This command is not simply a technicality which can be scripturally circumvented by subterfuge, threats, and the creating of false impression of intentions to use the law. A threat to use the law—whether stated or merely implied with a view to intimidating or coercing—not only violates the command, but adds to it the evil of deception.
This command is an INTEGRAL AND ESSENTIAL part of the beautiful way of life in Christ; and a clear perception of this way, and a clear distinguishing of it from the evil, deceptive, self-assertive way of the flesh, will enlarge our hearts and free us from the misconception that compliance with the LETTER of the law is sufficient, and a TECHNICAL obedience is all that God requires. The basic issue is our own character under trial and development, in the inner battle with the evil of the flesh.
The undermining of this principle of non-retaliation and non-resistance was one of the principal causes of the Berean stand of separation in 1923. This principle was blurred and assailed during the first World War and in the "Constabulary" issue that followed.
We wish to keep this principle clearly distinct from what is termed the “Divorce” question. The issue of suing at law is far deeper and broader than just that. A clear stand on this issue is one of the necessary bulwarks of the true spirit of the Truth in these days.
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6. DIVORCE—in relation to the brethren and sisters of Christ.
We believe divorce is contrary to the commands of Christ. We believe that remarriage after divorce is contrary to the commands of Christ.
"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord; Let not the wife depart from (korizo: put asunder, Matt. 19:6) her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." (1 Cor. 7:10-11).
We believe further that these two evils are not only contrary to divine command, but are in direct violation of the deep principles of the mind of Christ. They will be eschewed as unthinkable by all true brethren and sisters of Christ.
(This is a statement of basic principles only. It goes without saying it was not intended to contravene the teachings of brethren Thomas and Roberts.)
NOTE: One small group, while not disagreeing with anything contained here, strongly desired further wording on this subject. But it must be kept in mind that this is a RE-statement of the Berean position on current problems—not an attempt to formulate any new position, or to go beyond what former brethren have in wisdom and experience established. Bro. Roberts—while at least as earnest and well-grounded as any now living, and at least as anxious to maintain purity and to combat corruption—was very reluctant to attempt sweeping and hypothetical legislation on this.
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There are many who have thought the Berean Fellowship too "narrow" and "extreme" on the issue of holiness and separation from the world. We are thankful we have such a reputation, and we shall increasingly do our best to justify it. The sad events in the Brotherhood during the past few years have greatly strengthened our conviction that looseness and worldliness have been the major source of all ecclesial problems, and of the purging trials that have been brought upon us, and that the only solution is an ever greater striving toward godliness.
We intend, God willing, to press increasingly for a closer walk, greater holiness, less worldliness. We are very strongly set against worldly habits, customs, fashions, amusements, entertainments, associations and affiliations. We cannot too often or too strongly remind ourselves and one another of the solemn words of John, James, and Paul:
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For ALL that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." (1 John 2:15-16)
"Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the ENEMY of God." (James 4:4).
"What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath Light with Darkness?...for ye are the Temple of the Living God;...Wherefore come out from among them, and BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord...and I will receive you" (2 Cor. 6:14-17).
Let us make these Spirit-words our banner and our ensign. Let us, in these closing, evil, Gentile days, show forth the Divine glory of the Beauty of Holiness.
We recognize the existence among us of things and ways that belong to the world. We are greatly troubled by them. WE BELIEVE THAT IT WAS A PREPONDERANCE OF WORLDLINESS THAT LED TO THE COLLAPSE OF A LARGE PART OF THE BEREAN FELLOWSHIP IN 1953. We desire to build more soundly upon the lessons of the past.
Recent events have taught us many things. Those of us that remain have been drawn much closer together in the bonds of love, and of the unity of the Spirit.
Reflection and experience have, we believe, taught us the cause of many of the weaknesses and failures of the past. To be in harmony with God, the underlying spirit of any fellowship must be joyfulness, patience, gentleness and love. These Divine attributes are essential parts of the doctrine of Christ. They must permeate and dominate the whole Body. Otherwise the whole fabric will gradually wither, and die spiritually, however it may prosper and grow externally. NONE are Christ's brethren who do not whole-heartedly subscribe to these principles, and actually apply them as the basis of their life.
We have been impressed more and more with the conviction that there can be no communion between looseness and holiness, no fellowship between worldliness and godliness, no oneness of mind and walking together between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit. True Divine fellowship can only exist between those who are mutually and heartily and joyously dedicated to the principle of pressing on toward PERFECTION.
We are not in sympathy with the overhastiness that has at times been manifested to apply the processes of withdrawal of fellowship. We believe the gentle and loving law of Christ provides and requires a course of humble, patient endeavour toward reconciliation and unity of mind.
Still, the true Body of Christ is a closely-knit unit—by command and by choice—and the spiritual health and welfare of one affects all. Infractions of the Divine law that are defended or persisted in cannot be overlooked or ignored or brushed aside as just some one's "private life" that is none of our responsibility or concern. Such an attitude completely fails to comprehend the glorious, joyful oneness, interdependence and communion of the true Body of Christ.
The great tragedy of compromise and looseness is that it is progressive, and its trend is ever downward. There is no standing still. We are either, by constant effort, drawing toward greater godliness, or we are drifting downward into the ways of the flesh. Paul “ceased not to warn night and day with tears," knowing the flesh and its inevitable tendencies.
We believe all that has happened (the collapse of a large part of the Body into another group) has had the Divine purpose of forcing this realization and conviction upon us. We must repeatedly be put through the purging and purifying process of Divine love. THE WAY OF LIFE AND GODLINESS IS A FAR GREATER AND MORE REVOLUTIONARY THING THAN MOST REALIZE—
“...if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away! behold, all things are become new!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
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8. MILITARY SERVICE
As we consider current problems arising in Christadelphia, we notice there is a definite trend away from the original position upheld by the brethren of some years ago in respect to military service. There is a present tendency to accept non-combatant service, and service in the Merchant Marines. Work under the supervision of the Military and in munition factories is also making it difficult for the brethren to secure exemption as religious conscientious objectors.
Our position in this respect should be clearly understood, and consistently maintained: not only as a doctrinal principle of our Faith, but also as a way of life to be upheld and exemplified by the purity and holiness of our walk before God, and by our strict adherence to the precept that calls for separateness from all institutions of the world.
In our endeavour to render acceptable obedience to God, we find it necessary to ask for exemption from both combatant and non-combatant service in any branch of the armed forces. And in order that our lives may be found consistent with our convictions in this respect, we should refrain from taking employment in any capacity under the supervision of the Military, or where the principal line of work is the manufacture or supply of arms, munitions, or military equipment to the armed forces.
This is so because it is our sincere conviction that the laws of God, which transcend all human law, definitely and unmistakably forbid His children having any connection with the martial organizations of the country in which they live.
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9. THE FORMULA FOR FELLOWSHIP
There is at present  a movement for a realignment and a new form of reunion on the basis of an acceptance of the "B.A.S.F. without reservation, enforced in fellowship." This is all very well as far as it goes, but we believe that recent events in Christadelphia have clearly shown that just a bare affirmation to this effect is not a sufficient basis for a lasting unity.
Reason, Scripture and experience teach that in each case there must be sufficient investigation to give assurance of oneness of mind. More care will be required in some cases than others, and no simple password can be set down as the only requirement. Certainly MASS AMALGAMATION ON A MAJORITY VOTE is utterly inadequate to preserve the Truth, for the dissenting minority that comes along with the majority may bring every form of error. A majority vote is, as Clause 5 of the Constitution specifies, the brotherly way to determine "order and arrangement," but FELLOWSHIP is an INDIVIDUAL matter.
The only generalization that can be made is that in any consideration of a unity in fellowship, sufficient mutual investigation must be made in each individual case to maintain the Truth among us to the best of our ability.
To avoid any appearance of harshness, or the erection of any unnecessary barriers, we would like to make it clear that we desire it to be as easy and pleasant as possible—in faithfulness to the Truth—for any to join or to return to us, who have come to a full unity of mind with us on the problems confronting the Brotherhood.
We recognize that it would be the prerogative of each ecclesia to determine the amount of personal interviewing necessary in each particular case. We believe it is a basic principle that the Truth is an INDIVIDUAL matter. Each individual must be considered as an individual; but we are anxious that it be done as gently and unofficiously and briefly as is consistent with the Truth. We have no thought of interrogation just for interrogation's sake, but rather speedy and joyful reception as soon as UNITY OF MIND is established.
However, it is the mind of the Berean Fellowship—particularly in light of the insufficiently-considered mass movements in "fellowship" of the past few years—that this scriptural aspect of INDIVIDUAL consideration should be mutually accepted in any discussion of resumption of fellowship, and should be honoured in principle, though applied in humbleness, kindness, and wisdom.
The events of the past few years have deeply impressed us with the wisdom and truth of the words of bro. Roberts in 1896, speaking concerning fellowship problems near the end of a life of conflict and struggle for the Truth (Christadelphian, Nov. 1896, page 428):
"Our circulation would have been a large one, after 32 years' publication, if we had chosen to broaden out to the diluted forms of truth that are current in sundry quarters...We would rather walk with an afflicted few in the scriptural purity of the Hope of Israel (with all that involves), than run with a prosperous multitude in the loose and polluted ways of the natural man. The looseness may be convenient for the time being, but there hastens a time when it will be highly inconvenient.
"When God speaks again by Christ returned, the inconvenience of this adhesion to His holy, narrow ways will turn to felicitation, joy and gladness...
"Experience over a wide and constantly fermenting field shows that unless there is a resolute adhesion to the position of Divine wisdom, recovered with much difficulty during the last two generations, there is danger of easily losing it all: NOT ALL AT ONCE, BUT POINT BY POINT—ONE POINT AT A TIME TILL ALL IS GONE."
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In conclusion, we cannot too often or too strongly emphasize our deep conviction that there can be no true, sound, strong, spiritual fellowship on any basis other than eager, mutual yearning toward the Divine Beauty of Holiness. There is no other power that can truly unite us spiritually, and mark us out from the rest of the perishing world.
There can be but one True Bride of Christ, and she will be marked by an all-consuming love for her Lord, manifested in a constant striving toward the beautiful ideal of spiritual perfection described in the words of the Spirit through Paul (Eph. 5:27):
"...a glorious Ecclesia, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish."
Without the eager, mutual acceptance of dedication to this divine ideal, all else is meaningless and dead. This must be the heart and power of any true fellowship. The Berean Fellowship is deeply conscious of its many human weaknesses and imperfections, but it is lovingly united in a realization of, and strong desire toward, the great beauty of this pattern of the chosen Bride of Christ.