By Anthony Burgess
My first contact with Christadelphians was in the late 1970s, when world events seemed to confirm what they had been saying for many years. There was an Islamic Revolution in Iran and the USSR invaded Afghanistan. Then Mrs. Thatcher came to power in the UK, followed by Ronald Reagan in the USA.
These were both so opposed to the communist system in the USSR that they were identified by CDs as being the leaders who would oppose Gog when he came against Israel, "art thou come to take a spoil..."
I was convinced that the CDs had the truth, because of their understanding of prophecy and I was convinced that we were living in the very last days.
In my early years, I was in a small fellowship, who had extreme views. We would not have TV or radios etc. I found this very controlling and very negative, in continually trying to prove that they are better than the other CD groups.
The group consisted almost entirely with people whose parents had been in that group.
In the time I was with them, nobody joined the group from outside.
Eventually I could take no more and left and joined the Central CDs. My time in the Central Fellowship was a much happier time, and my own meeting was quite a moderate one.
It was over a period of time that I came to reject the inspiration of the bible. I was no longer convinced by prophecy, I had come across a number of predictions that we are in the last days, going back to the days of Dr Thomas.
In particular I rejected the idea that the four gospel writers were just emphasising different events, but were still consistent. It became clear that writers were correcting the mistakes in the gospel of Mark, as they believed.
For example, Mark records that Jesus was baptised by John, Matthew tells us that John protested "I have need to be baptised of thee". Luke does not tell us who baptised Jesus, and John does not record Jesus' baptism, but creates a problem by saying that he did not know who the messiah was until the spirit descended upon Jesus. That contradicts Matthew's account of John not wanting to baptise Jesus before the descent of the spirit.
There are plenty of examples of these "corrections" to Mark's account and inconsistencies between the four gospels that prove that they were not recording the life of somebody they had known.
Another thing is what one writer includes and another one rejects. The obvious example is the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. Only John records this, which suggests the other gospel writers did not know about that event, which has to be the greatest event of Jesus' life if it were true.
I also questioned the Old Testament, wondering how much of it is historical. Genesis has obvious examples of questionable events, but even Kings and Chronicles record events which probably never happened.
The most difficult part of this for me was to consider the possibility that the CDs might not have the truth. Ever since my instruction back in the 70s I was certain that they had the truth.
When I could not remain in that group I was previously a member of, I could not reject cds. It is hard to explain this now, but I suspect the vast majority of CDs today have the same problem. They are so certain that they have the truth, that it is very difficult for them to question their beliefs.
In the ten years since my resignation, I have never doubted that I took the right decision. My regret is that I took me so long to question things.
I still have negative thoughts of the extreme group I was in, and will probably never overcome that. But I still do see some Central CDs now and again and get on very well with them.
Editor's Note: "Anthony Burgess" is a pseudonym to protect the identity of the writer.