Current concerns of the Christadelphians (1)

"This is my (gluten-free?) body"

By Joseph Strong

Never mind falling numbers, closing Ecclesias and being increasingly seen as out of touch cranks, as the letters page of this month's "Christadelphian" shows, there are far greater problems that need column inches:

Gluten-free bread

Could I please make a plea, and I am sure that I am not alone here, that ecclesias consider using glutenfree bread instead of normal bread for the emblems at the memorial service. For those who suffer from a coeliac condition (and more seem to be succumbing to the problem), taking a morsel of normal bread can make you quite ill. When visiting other ecclesias you are left wondering if you can take the bread, if you have not had opportunity to ascertain its nature beforehand. If you partake you can end up becoming quite ill, and if you don’t you might cause offence.
Your brother in Christ,

As a service to the community that we left, we feel able to help you with this clearly pressing problem. Myself and the children have put our minds to it, and offer the following advice:

  1. Take a small slice of your own bread from home and ask the president to put it on the plate before the service starts, and explain your reasoning. That way you can take a morsel without fear when the time comes, and if anybody else has a bit, it won't do them any harm. Many thanks to Jessica (11) for this practical solution for this major difficulty. It took her nearly five seconds to come up with this solution.
  2. Try to remember that there is nothing special about the bread. It is, as you say, an "emblem". It does not get turned into the body of Jesus.
  3. You should not risk your own health because of the small risk that someone may be offended. If unsure, just don't take the bread. Your relationship with God must be stronger than that. It is he that gave you coeliac disease, and is aware of your limitations. He will not hold it against you at the judgment seat. If a Brother or Sister is offended, simply explain the situation to them. In doing so, you will heap coals upon their head.
Other denominations, that yourself and your Brethren would refer to as "The Apostate Church" have successfully dealt with this problem by the introduction of  extremely low gluten communion wafers that satisfy both the needs of scripture, and the needs of coeliacs.

If you have any other problems of this nature, we, as caring Ex-Christadelphians will be more than happy to help the community.


  1. Sounds like they want to go back to the Law do not touch to not eat ect. Where is the faith?

    1. Anon,
      I doubt it. I was genuinely shocked to read this letter, mainly because of it's show of banality and low intelligence. But as ever, it reads on more than one level.
      The writer lacks the wits to come up with a simple practical solution, and also lacks the wits to discuss it with is brethren and come up with a simple solution.He could even have discussed it with his (secular)GP to come up with a solution, but no, he needed to write to a magazine, which still failed to give him the answer!
      The writer's second paragraph tells us as much as we need to know of his supposed "relationship" with God. Has he taken the matter to God in Prayer? Did he ask him if it was OK to forgo this emblem because of his condition? (which god knows about and caused to be). What answers did he get?
      Finally, and perhaps most tellingly, he fears offending the brethren and sisters, when a simple explanation of his condition can completely prevent that possibility. This tells us plenty about his relationship with them. It is is not the loving brother/sister thing that we are to expect. It is one of fear, and one of consequences, and is VERY TYPICAL of the relationships found within high control religious groups. It is one of needing to conform with the group thinking-even when it is very bad for him to do so.
      Since leaving the Christadelphians, and leaving religion in general, there have been a few time when I have been to church with my family, sometimes the church has been aware of my situation, sometimes not. Invariable I am asked if I wish to partake of the elements, and told that if I don't feel comfortable with that BUT would like a blessing, then that is OK too.
      Perhaps what this brother needs to do is not to write to the magazine, but to stand back and take another look at what type of religion, and type of people he has got himself involved with, and what his real relationship with God is.

  2. I have heard of your practical solution (bringing bread from home) happening here. It seems to work.

    However, there are deeper theological issues. Yes, it is a symbol, not the literal body of Jesus. However, Jesus makes it clear that partaking of both emblems is necessary in order to "have life". And Paul makes it clear that the "one bread" represents the "one body" - the unity of believers. In that symbology, bringing along your own separate bread is essentially schismatic. How is that different from breaking the symbology of baptism by using sprinkling rather than full immersion? The breaking of that one bread is also important as representing Christ's body broken for believers (and *not* as representing denominational fragmentation and disunity, naturally).

    And yes, I am aware that some ecclesias start off with multiple pieces of bread, which is also breaking this symbology.

    This is why many Christadelphians want to tie fellowship boundaries very close to who can take the bread and wine - because otherwise you might be judging someone as "having life" when in fact you know they don't.

    As for ecclesias considering using gluten free bread, unless 100% adopt it, you still won't know whether it's gluten free or not without asking. So having more ecclesias using it doesn't actually help much until it gets to a critical mass (then you can pressure the rest to step into line).

  3. I think the more important point with the whole issue is that it is an apparently unchanging scriptural standard maintained in the face of a continually changing social standard.

    As I understand it, in the time of Jesus bread and wine were standard, ordinary food. It wasn't meant to be an elaborate ceremony, just an ordinary time of sharing common food and letting that common food remind you of your Lord, master, and saviour.

    Oh, and one final postscript to consider: If the "Last Supper" was a Passover meal, would the bread have been free of leaven? And if so, should believers follow suit? I'm sure wars have been fought over this issue, but it is interesting to consider that leaven is often associated with sin. In that context, going for something that represents a sinless body could be a really good idea - but only if it is done for the right reasons.

  4. As my nearest fellowship believer lives 120 miles away, I use an unleavened Rye vita for the occasion.

    1. Most ecclesias in Adelaide actually use white, leavened bread. Heretics.


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