My Christadelphian experience

by Phynnodderee

Whenever I read blogs by other people who have left their religion, the thing I find most interesting is their personal stories. So I thought I would share my story here in case it resonates with anyone else.


Growing up
I was brought up as a Christadelphian in the UK. As a child I went to Sunday School every week, after which the whole family attended the meeting, which was held in a room in a community hall. The ecclesia my parents belonged to was fairly traditional, with a stiffly formal atmosphere, the sonorous sound of the King James Bible, and strict gender roles. Although I was exposed to normal ideas elsewhere in life, within Christadelphia I was immersed in a male-dominated atmosphere in which a woman’s place was to be silent.

On Sunday evenings there was the lecture, while on Wednesday evenings there was Bible Class, which was held at people’s houses. The Sunday evening lecture was nominally a public lecture, which was advertised in the local paper, but I don’t think the public was ever interested. Occasionally we went to fraternals and other events, and every so often my parents hosted the weekly Bible Class at our house, which always meant nice things to eat after the adults had finished the readings and discussion.

The only ones to understand the Bible?
Generally speaking I was quite happy in the Christadelphian community as a child. I wasn’t expected to pay attention to the exhortation on Sunday mornings, but was allowed to read a book instead. So it wasn’t too boring. It never occurred to me for a moment to doubt the veracity of what I was taught about the Bible, God and Jesus. I believed that I belonged to a uniquely enlightened community, the only ones to understand the Bible properly, the re-discoverers of truth after it had been lost by the mainstream churches.

I do however remember one occasion, when I was perhaps about 11, when I first read for myself Paul’s injunction to women in 1 Timothy 2: “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.” I instinctively balked; I knew, even at that age, that it was sexist and wrong, but it was in the Bible, so how could I argue against it? I didn’t realise it at the time, but cognitive dissonance had begun to set in.

As I got older, I began to experience hints of unease: sometimes certain things about the meeting struck me as silly or faintly ridiculous. But there was still no question in my mind that I could grow up to be anything other than a Christadelphian. I couldn’t understand how anyone of intelligence could fail to see how wise, reasonable and logical the Christadelphian faith was.

Broadening horizons
By the time I went to university, a number of my peers had been baptised. I had assumed I would naturally feel ready for baptism some day, but there were no signs of that happening. I felt intensely puzzled about where faith came from. I believed, but something held me back. Why did other people have such strong faith, when I didn’t? What was faith, and how did you acquire it if you didn’t have it?

After graduating I got a job in the city and started attending the local meeting, which was quite different from the ecclesia I grew up in. It was more broad-minded, lively and interesting, and I went there regularly for several years. During that time I slowly became aware of a different type of Christadelphian. I learned that there were people who didn’t think it was necessary for women to wear head-coverings. I heard open discussion and criticism of accepted ideas for the first time. When I realised that some of them even accepted the idea of evolution, I was shocked – surely believing in creation was an essential part of being a Christadelphian?

Meeting these liberal-minded Christadelphians was a breath of fresh air. I felt that, more than any other Christadelphians I had met, these were people I could get on with.

Like a strongly built wall
And yet there was still an underlying discontent and doubt. I believed that what I was doing, at this point, was deconstructing my faith, sorting the good bits from the bad, in order to retain the good and put them together again in a coherent whole. I felt that it was not only possible, but necessary to critically examine your own faith. Being afraid to do so was a sign that your faith was weak. If your faith was like a strongly built wall, you could shake it, subject it to blows, knock out individual stones and the whole would still stand. Thus, I could modify or eliminate this or that faulty idea and my faith as a whole would not be damaged. I felt I was progressing towards a more mature and compassionate faith, one that was compatible with enlightened, egalitarian and humanitarian ideas. Yet, to my puzzlement, I still didn’t feel any active desire to be baptised.

At the same time I had become aware of the appalling injustices that happen in the world, and – although I knew Christadelphians were not supposed to do things like this – I became involved in the human rights movement. I found myself doing a great deal of thinking about my religion, myself, and the strange creatures we call humans. One day, when I was browsing through an astronomy magazine, I saw an artist’s illustration of the Milky Way Galaxy, showing the location of our solar system in one of its minor spiral arms. It was mind-enlarging. I realised just how tiny and insignificant our place in the galaxy – and the universe – was.

Growing problems
Misogyny
I meandered along for another couple of years, still a regular attender at the meeting, but increasingly disenchanted with Christadelphia. Most of all, I was deeply troubled by the apparent sexism and misogyny in the Bible – which I still considered to be God’s revelation of himself – and the traditional gender roles that most of the Christadelphian community insisted on, which struck me as utterly illogical. But there were other, fundamental things about the religion that just didn’t make sense. I didn’t even see the point of the ritual of baptism – without which I could never be formally accepted into the community.

One day, I commented to one of my liberal Christadelphian friends on the fact that Christadelphians are convinced that they alone have ‘the Truth’. He replied: “The truth is that Christ died on the cross for our sins.” I liked the simplicity and directness of this confession; it was inclusive and uninflected by complicated doctrine. If you had asked me, around this time, what my religion was, I would have answered: “Love God and love your neighbour.” It seemed to me that that was the main thing that mattered, and everything else was mere detail. I began to consider myself a Christian rather than a Christadelphian.

Through my interest in human rights, I learned about more and more instances of appalling suffering caused by abuses in various parts of the world. Every time I read one of these stories, unanswerable questions clamoured in my head: How could a loving God allow such atrocities to happen? How could it possibly be part of a good and wise plan? I signed petitions, I donated to appeals, and I prayed. But I couldn’t help wondering what the point of my prayers was. Did they avail anything? Why did God require me to pray about these things in the first place, as if he didn’t know about them?

Shattered foundations
The final blow came on a beautiful spring day. It came in the form of a report describing the brutalities of the prison camps in a certain country.

It was the most shocking thing I had ever read. It made me tremble with revulsion and horror. Even now, years later, I can hardly bear to think about it. The routine barbarism, killing, rape and starvation. The child dragged out of bed to watch his mother being shot. The woman forced to drown her newborn baby in a bucket. I could not believe that such appalling cruelty could go on in the world. How could human beings be so evil? How could God look on as his creatures were tortured and tormented beyond belief, and do nothing?

Suddenly the world was different. I was different.

That night I slept, but it was a strange kind of sleep; the night seemed very short and when I woke in the morning, it was as if hardly any time had passed. For two days I felt no desire to eat, and it took nearly a week before my state of mind felt ‘normal’ again.

It was not the first time that I had been shocked by human cruelty – I knew something about the horrors of the Holocaust, for example – but for some reason this particular report made a greater impression on me than anything ever had before. I don’t think I had ever fully grasped the sheer depths of vile, gratuitous, organised cruelty that humans can sink to. For the first time, the ‘problem of evil’ produced intolerable cognitive dissonance. The strongly built wall of faith I had been so proud of had been struck at its very foundations, and it was toppling.

I kept going to the meeting for several more months, although my attendance became somewhat irregular. I don’t really know what I believed at this point in my life. Questions continued to plague me, and I certainly didn’t feel uplifted by my attendance at the meeting. I simply sat through it, feeling unmoved and faintly bored, and usually left promptly at the end. It was a matter of routine; it was simply what I did on Sunday mornings. I felt increasingly detached from Christadelphia, yet I felt that I couldn’t ever belong to the ‘real world’ either.

For years I had wondered why other people seemed to have such strong faith when I didn’t, even though I so much wanted it and prayed for it. I remember one occasion when I prayed on my knees for God to reveal himself to me, allow me to feel his presence, give me some sign to strengthen my faith.

But nothing happened.

The problem of evil
That September I watched a documentary about humanitarian aid efforts in a country affected by civil war. I was deeply distressed by the civilian suffering and moved by the courage of the aid workers. Once again I wondered how God could allow such suffering to happen. There were volunteers risking their lives to relieve the misery, but God appeared to do nothing. It crystallised the dreadful feeling that I had more faith in the goodness of people than in the goodness of God. I felt fearful for having this thought, as I feared it was a kind of blasphemy.

It must have been some time during that summer or autumn that I first consciously thought: “Maybe there isn’t a God after all.” It is hard to convey how shattering this possibility was, what an extraordinary thing it was for me to consider. I was confronted for the first time with the possibility that everything I had been taught was false and empty.

The months that followed were spent in a state of confusion, doubt, anxiety and loneliness. As a doubting Christadelphian it's extremely difficult to find anyone to talk to - either within the community, where doubts are not generally welcome, or outside it, where no one has even heard of the religion.

I went to the meeting for the last time just before Christmas. I remember sitting there, surrounded by others yet feeling so apart and so lonely. I knew that I no longer shared the worldview of the other people in that room. I decided then that it would be the last time.

A new beginning
This has only been a summary of my experiences in the Christadelphians and I have not discussed in detail any of the specific issues that troubled me, because those would be articles in their own right. The way I have told my story here perhaps makes it sound as if my deconversion was inevitable; but the evaporation of my faith, when it happened, came as a complete shock to me. My life was to a large extent built on my faith; I could not imagine being anything other than a Christadelphian. It provided my worldview, my comfort, my frame of reference, my identity. I had a massive process of adjustment ahead.

Now, years later, I can truthfully say I have never been happier. Leaving the Christadelphians was the best decision I ever made. In leaving them behind I have reclaimed my identity, my mind and my conscience. While I was in the grip of the Christadelphian religion, I was in agony; now I am filled with calm and peace.

Thanks for reading.


58 comments:

  1. "I had more faith in the goodness of people than the goodness of god". YES! Just look around to see the truth of this. There is no visible goodness of god in famine, or disease, or pestilence, or tempest, or earthquake, or flood, or . . .so much more. But look how the goodness of people is manifest in seeking to alleviate suffering from these things which come upon their fellow human beings.

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    1. For me this was a profoundly disturbing realisation. But in the end it was comforting, because it meant that we humans have a great capacity for good, which is always downplayed by Christadelphians, who emphasise the evil. I realised I had been underestimating human beings all my life and not giving them enough credit.

      There was also no need to agonise any more over why God didn't act to prevent or mitigate suffering (in spite of believers' fervent prayers) - the fact is that these things just happen, for various natural reasons, and our job is to try and relieve suffering and prevent it where we can. Many courageous and kind-hearted people work hard every day to do exactly that. My Christadelphian upbringing had blinded me to human kindness and potential. I'm so glad I was able to throw off that warped perspective.

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  2. Thanks for that, Phynnodderee. Much to identify with, and yet each story is different.

    "I remember one occasion when I prayed on my knees for God to reveal himself to me, allow me to feel his presence, give me some sign to strengthen my faith.

    But nothing happened."

    I find this a fascinating one. I can't prove it, but anecdotally I suspect that most serious Christians who quit have done this. I certainly did, and have read many other accounts of people who did. Losing the certainty can be incredibly painful - why wouldn't we beg and pray and wish for that pain to go away and that certainty to return?

    And yet I also find many Christians present it as the one, sure-fire solution to all our problems. As if, unaccountably, we might never have thought of it. I guess it goes along with narratives like "You just quit because you wanted to sin" (and yes, I can remember believing that too).

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    1. On the one hand I can understand why believers wouldn't want to believe that a heartfelt prayer didn't work. But on the other hand the typical accusation is that you didn't pray hard enough, or with enough humility, or something. Whatever the reason for the prayer not being answered, it's the petitioner's fault, not God's. This can heap even more confusion and guilt on a person's head when they are already suffering the torment of doubt.

      On a related note, someone on an ex-Christian forum once said "I suspect those of us who quit are the only ones who took it seriously." No one could have pleaded more sincerely with God than I did. No one could have felt more desolate when the answer was silence.

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  3. Hey Everyone - I can relate to so much that has been said.

    At first, I loved being a baptised Christadelphian and I felt like I would convert the World.

    Although I still have psychological baggage to deal with, I am mostly, through the being angry bit - why was I exposed to this toxic religion as a young child etc. Now, I wonder why it was even a question as to whether women should be treated equally.

    My wife and I used to attend this liberal meeting when one day, my wife decided not to wear her hat at the Sunday morning meeting. Wow you should have seen the reaction and judgmentalism from this so called, liberal meeting. The irony in all this is that it had already been voted on that if women did not want to wear a hat it was ok. Suddenly, our friends ran for the hills and it might as well have been that we had committed murder!

    This was one of the occasions that speeded up our leaving the Christadelphians. And you know what - the misogyny was as much from the women as the men!

    Now, I look back on this with amusement more than anger and regard this like a scene from The Life of Brian. You know the scene where they were stoning someone and all the women were disguised as men by wearing beards? What so many strait Christians and Christadelphians miss about The Life of Brian is that it shows how stupid people get when they stop thinking. And more than that what a brilliantly funny film it is.

    I am so happy that I do not put up with this nonsense any more.

    Good stuff.

    Mad Max

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    1. Yes, sometimes women were the most vociferous advocates of the gender roles! I guess it's a case of people liking what they're used to, even when it's not good for them.

      I really must get round to watching The Life of Brian :)

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    2. You haven't seen Life of Brian? It's a must!
      I promise you won't regret it!

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  4. What’s also interesting is that anger you describe Max, about being exposed to religious rubbish at a young age, can hit at any time.

    I left the Christadelphians at a young age, and was lucky enough to have never been baptised and get fully immersed in the cult. Most of my family remained however and it wasn’t until some 30yrs or so later that I got angry. Even though I had completely ignored religion for that time and had no doctrine remaining. I don’t even really know why, I guess it’s because of ignorance, mine and everybody else’s, the answers are there if you have a desire to know. It’s not a mystery.

    I came across a documentary called “Zeitgeist” (you can watch free online) and the first 20min or so explained religion as an “Astro-theological - Literary Hybrid”, which struck a chord with me and made sense, so I started researching religion again down those lines and the whole dog and pony show that is religion fell apart for me.

    Religion is an ancient cosmic story, told in many allegorical forms and Christianity is the latest Western form. Which could be explored more on this site.

    One mind bending book, I recommend every person on the planet reads, is called “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by respected Masonic historian Manly P. Hall. Impeccably researched and by no means an easy read at 700 odd pages…You can find it free online, (if you can stand to read PDF’s on a PC). It will change your understanding, period… I could not put it down the first time and have just started reading it again, which prompted my comment.

    A couple of quotes from Chapter 9 ‘The Sun, A Universal Deity’:

    Pg. 135: “The origin of the Trinity is obvious to anyone who will observe the daily manifestations of the sun. This orb, being the symbol of all Light, has three distinct phases: rising, midday, and setting. The philosophers therefore divided the life of all things into three distinct parts: growth, maturity, and decay.

    Pg. 137: “One expression of the solar energy is Solomon, whose name SOL-OM-ON is the name for the supreme light in three different languages."

    Pg. 138: “Among other Allegories borrowed by Christianity from pagan antiquity is the story of the beautiful blue-eyed Sun God, with his golden hair falling upon his shoulders, robed from head to foot in spotless white carrying the Lamb of God, symbolic of the vernal equinox. This handsome youth is a composite of APPOLLO, OSIRIS, ORPHEUS, MITHRAS, and BACCHUS, for he has certain characteristics in common with each of these pagan deities.”

    Good luck on your journey…

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    1. Like you Brett I found it was important to learn about the origins of religion because that knocked religion off its sacred pedestal and reduced it to just a sociological phenomenon that could be dispassionately studied.

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    2. Yeah agree Phynnodderee. It was critical in helping me remove the last of the remaining guilt, fear and indoctrination

      If you understand religion at its roots, it then reduces most traditional thoughts and discussion’s about it to moot points in my opinion.

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    3. I developed a keen interest in how the Bible came to be written and translated, etc. while I was still a believer, long before I started questioning my core beliefs. Even then I was met with questions from some others about why I wanted to look into it - as if even reading about this stuff was taboo! I eventually did manage to buy a book about it from the ecclesial library, but it was so light on details as to be fairly useless.

      Years later I did discover more about the Bible's early origins, and it was a shock. Very few Christadelphians take an interest in this stuff, and even fewer look into it critically. I guess we know what happens to those who do. Even if they retain their belief in the Bible, they cannot remain fundamentalist and thus will risk disfellowship unless they keep their mouths shut, or move to a more liberal ecclesia.

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    4. Your right Thom, it is a shock, it was a shock to me as well even though I had been removed for a long time. As though some small part of me was still holding on to an element that it may still all be true. But now I find researching the subject enlightening and therapeutic. I can easily see the impact it would have on someone who held strong beliefs.

      The symbology that comes out of the Catholic institution blatantly tells the story of Pagan influence, Sun worship and plagiarism, for those with eyes open. Christadelphians think that a difference in doctrine, ceremony and ritual separates them from Catholicism and Christianity as a whole, but they have the same god, believe in Jesus and everything else in between. So, not very different at all, just another branch within the Christianity tree, same roots.

      It’s a shame they can’t see that, it’s pretty easy to spot

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  5. Thanks for sharing your story, Phynnodderee!

    Like you I am also very interested in reading people's stories of why they left. I'm probably also interested in stories of why people joined the religion as well, but those seem far less common.

    Your story shares some common threads with mine but also some differences. For example I also experienced a shift from never daring to question to starting to think more independently for myself. I can also relate to the journey of rewriting one's faith over time, believing it was all leading to a more resilient faith and a more realistic one, only to eventually find myself completely unsure whether a god even existed.

    Meanwhile I never really questioned gender roles until much later in my deconversion than you. These roles were taught as if they were some kind of divine law ever since I was a child, and questioning them was taboo. So I just accepted it uncritically and even defended it at times, much to my embarrassment and shame now.

    Ironically I hated the fact that I was so pressured into performing several public roles within the ecclesia and I felt that being a good Christadelphian was much easier for women than men. About one Sunday a month or more I was rostered on to do readings or steward duties, both of which I dreaded. And every year when the rosters were drawn up I was pressured by several other baptised men to sign up for even more duties, which I refused (feeling guilt as if I was somehow letting God down even though the mere thought of doing these duties stressed me out considerably). Eventually I resorted to attending other meetings for the 3-4 weeks while the rosters were being done, because the pestering (actually more like bullying) was just too much.

    As far as Christadelphians' (and the Bible's) treatment of women was concerned, I was quite blinded by the idea that if the Bible said it then it must be good and right, and any opposition to that was opposition to God and must be condemned. It really wasn't until I allowed myself to question the Bible as a collection of ancient human-written books that the blindfold was removed and I began to see the injustice of it all. If it was divinely inspired, there should be evidence of it, and so there was nothing to be lost by "trying the spirits to see whether they were of God".

    I think once someone makes that transition to thinking for themselves and allowing themselves to hold viewpoints that might not agree with the Bible, the rest of the Bible tends to crumble. It seems to be held up by a tangled web of immutable beliefs inherited through childhood indoctrination, and when those become mutable, and a person starts to use their intellect to weigh things up for themselves, the whole foundation disappears.

    Sometimes all it takes is to grant oneself the permission to disagree with the Bible. When you speak with Christadelphians, often they will quote the Bible rather than offering their own opinion. The question, "I know that's what the Bible says, but what do you think?", tends to confuse them, because many of them have simply never permitted themselves to entertain an opinion that differs from the Bible, and weigh up the relative arguments for themselves. The pressure to have their beliefs conform with someone else's is so strong that many never manage to break through it, either for fear of ostracism/exclusion, or fear of divine punishment.

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    1. What you say about dreading Sunday morning duties is interesting, Thom. Forcing women into a given role is unfair, but forcing men into a given role isn't fair either. In my case I think the awakening happened the other way round - the injustice of the Bible's attitude to women was clear to me even when I still believed it's was God's word, and I struggled massively to reconcile that in my head. When I came to the realisation it really was just a collection of human writings, it was such a relief not to have to struggle like that any more.

      "I know that's what the Bible says, but what do you think?" - great question to ask!

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  6. Thom Jonas,the reason why people joined the Christadelphians in my day is probably three-fold. This was in the 50`s (I might be old, but not too crumbly yet!): 1. Those who were sons or daughters of Christadelphians almost automatically became baptised members, due to the saturation of indoctrination absorbed, without question. 2. Young friends of Cd`s kids coming under the same influence by close association, before they were older and having more mature judgement. 3. Older people, because of influence from their Christadelphian employers, and, sad to say, when they saw a material advantage in doing so. This did happen.
    What is surprising to me is that in these days, when young people have so much more that they can access for balanced information, they still get immersed. I suppose most of them because they are children of Cd`s, and the indoctrination still plays a large part in their (non) thinking.

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    1. In my experience, childhood indoctrination is the major factor and is incredibly difficult to overcome. That said, I think the global trends show that religion is on the decline, at least in the West, and some experts think it will continue that way.

      https://youtu.be/YtAR_OGzlcg

      Christadelphians are a fringe minority religion and it's only a matter of time before the young people figure that out and decide to find out more about the wider (real) world for themselves.

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  7. Hi Everyone - I just wanted to go back to The Life of Brian, because is so, relevant. John Cleese was being interviewed about how the LIfe of Brian was written. He said that Monty Python looked at the characteristics of ultra, ultra right wing political parties, and ultra, ultra left wing political parties and the same for the equivalents in religion. What they all had in common, was that they were right & everyone else was wrong & the fewer the members - the more strange the thinking becomes.

    In The Life of Brian there were two political parties: "Popular Front of Judea" and the "Judeans Popular Front" - they did not speak to each other and the one Partie had a membership of one!

    A Christadelphian told me that there are the Christadelphian equivalents of the above two nutty & extreme groups. And, yes you have guessed it - they both have a membership of one and they don't talk to each other as each think they are the only one, who will be saved!

    When people say to me that The Life of Brian should not be shown - "blasphemous". I say that you are the very people who should watch the Film to see how stupid it can get when you stop thinking. Part of the reason this film is so funny, it because it is a wonderful observation of
    human nature gone fanatical & nutty.

    Must see Life of Brian again, to remind my self how damn funny that film is!

    Mad Max

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  8. So if you have left Christadelphia, and it is all so much rubbish, why are you spending time talking about them.

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    1. I can think of several reasons:
      * To warn others that they are being misled
      * To expose errors and injustices
      * To heal and process things we experienced. Leaving such a controlling religion can be difficult
      * To connect with and share experiences with others who have left

      Meanwhile, what brings you here? How can we help?

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    2. I agree with 'thinking'. In my opinion Ex-Christadelphians would be better to move on with their lives and give no further thought to their past involvement with the religion. It was all a horrible mistake and re-living it like this can do no good.


      If I had my life again I would never have written on this website, never accepted the job as editor and never made any comments. I feel much happier now that I have put all this Christadelphian and Ex-Christadelphians stuff behind me and my mind is filled with other, more productive matters.

      I recommend that Ex-Christadelphians do the same. Those Christadelphians have the Devil in them and mixing with them in any capacity, even trying to deconvert them, is like touching a plague victim or a leper. Their madness and paranoia is going to rub off onto you, as it did to me, and you are going to be pulled back into their dysfunctional way of thinking and behaving.

      In my opinion all faith based religions are a form of personality disorder and the more extreme, fundamentalist, intolerant and literalist they become, the worse they mess with your mind.

      Christadelphianism is at the extreme, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientologists, Exclusive Brethren type end of the madness spectrum and should be avoided by all right minded people.

      Don't mix with, speak to, discuss with, or even have eye contact with those lunatics because they can be harmful to your mental stability.

      It's hard enough staying sane in this life as it is. Getting yourself involved with crackpots is the last thing that you need if you want to make a success of your life and serve your family well.



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    3. John, so good to hear from you again. Despite the fact that your stable of wild horses (remember the fun we had with them?) is still in your orbit, and your latest post seems to indicate that you are still riding on one of the wild ones. Whatever turns you on.
      The "madness and paranoia" of Christadelphians, if this is a true assessment of their make-up, hasn`t affected me in the way you describe, quite the opposite, and I guess other ex-CDs who contribute to this site feel the same. We are helped here.
      I think you were quite right to cease from being editor and contributing, because it became evident, to me, that it was having a seriously detrimental effect upon you.
      However, I have to say that I will always be grateful for your comments, both in general, and when they were directed to me personally.
      I don`t think that currently the blog is primarily aimed at deconverting Christadelphians. If what they read here causes them to revise their understanding of Christadelphian faith (unlikely), then all to the good. But this blog has a more wider purpose and appeal now, to both ex-Christadelphians, Christadelphians, and and any others who drop by.
      My best wishes and love to you.

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    4. My take on this: https://www.jonmorgan.info/religion/2017/11/19/faq-why-cant-you-just-move-on.html

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    5. Dear John Bedson: Yes and no. I like your comments very much, but you should acknowledge that after passing through the vale of Christadelphianism, it takes different lengths of time for people to process the experience and to heal and move forward. For many, they shed Christadelphianism like a set of old clothes and move on quickly. For others, it takes years or even decades to move along. This is especially true if you were born into this dark and authoritarian sect, with its vengeful God.

      I was born into a splinter group of the Christadelphians, one that, as hard as it may be to believe, devolved into great dysfunction and violence and madness. In leaving I lost everything I had in life, my family, my financial security, and undoubtedly a piece of my sanity. I am still a relatively young man, but my physical health, as a result, was greatly injured. Such is often the end result of trauma: the reactive part of the human brain, if constantly in a state of alarm and alert, often wears down both the body and the mind, leading to premature illness and even death. Or so some medical experts say.


      Christadelphianism is also very often the gift that keeps on giving, making disengagement problematic. My former relatives and colleagues resurface to communicate with me, to involve themselves in my life, etc. Escapes are often not clean and easy. So, yes, by all means, we should move on as quickly as possible, to the extent we're able. But you should acknowledge that the pace of departure is different for different people, and for many escapees it takes a lot of time.

      Logically, at some point we should each walk away from this group with some healthy finality. After several years, or even decades, you should question yourself if this has not occurred. But I write this with a full understanding that some religious journeys or crosses (for lack of a better word) are carried to one extent or another for a lifetime. If you can, at some point, leave it all beside the wayside with no more thought than a discarded bowel movement, all the better. This is the best case scenario, indeed, and should be our goal. If this does not happen, or does not happen easily, we should examine why it hasn't, and make a harder effort, perhaps. But no failure should automatically be conferred or inferred in such instances.

      This is intended as a kindly response. I understand completely what you are trying to say: "Try to move on."

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    6. Dorothy, My perspective is somewhat different. I have enough friends and family members involved with the denomination that I don't think I will ever be completely free of contact with it, and I'm OK with that. I make the choices which enable me to stay on good terms with those people while retaining my own integrity. To me, the important thing is whether the dogma and the teachings have any power over me - and I don't think they do. Hearing more about the Bible or about Christadelphian teachings just serves to remind me why I quit and how much better off I am choosing my own life course.

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  9. Thinking, If you trawl through this blog you will find a vast store of stories of how sharing feelings and past experiences has helped many of us ex-Christadelphians.

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  10. There is no right or wrong here. I'm happiest not getting involved any more, but if others find this sort of work profitable, then I'm sure that they are doing a good work.

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  11. It's been a while since I said anything, but yes there is fundamentalism in Christadelphia, some members are arrogant to say only their truth is to be believed, but all others are wrong, preaching like, " CD's will be taken to Mt. Sinai and be judged by Christ " and given eternal life to rule with Jesus from Jerusalem, is just brainwashing. The problem with this religion is, radicalism, control of members by unrelenting bible study and lectures. Also prophesies they come up with about Christ's return with Middle East problems. Russia is singled out as Gog, and this is always portrayed and attached to today's activities in the Middle East. Prophesies made by individual's at lectures come to nothing with more failings but nothing is learned and they continue preaching the same, because they regard themselves as Kings who only can interpret the Bible correctly. CD's see themselves as " privileged to hold the key of knowledge to unlock the hidden secret's of the Bible" as one preaching brother claimed, just brain washing tactic. Sad bunch of people who see themselves above all.

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    1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/27/cults-definition-religion

      "Some groups that were once seen as "cults" have historically evolved to become generally regarded as religions. Power devolved from a single leader to a broader church government and such groups ceased to be seen as simply personality-driven and defined by a single individual. For example the Seventh-day Adventists, once led by Ellen White, or the Mormons church founded by Joseph Smith."

      We could add the Christadelphians, founded by John Thomas (and to some degree Robert Roberts). These (and others) are now referred to as "The Pioneers" or "the Pioneer Brethren" and they are still revered by many Christadelphians today.

      "Some groups may not fit the definition of a cult, but may pose potential risks for participants. Here are 10 warning signs of a potentially unsafe group or leader.

      * Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.

      * No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.

      * No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.

      * Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.

      * There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.

      * Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.

      * There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.

      * Followers feel they can never be "good enough".

      * The group/leader is always right.

      * The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing "truth" or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible."

      For any Christadelphian reading this, that list has got to ring a lot of alarm bells. The problem is that when you grow up in such an environment, you're tempted to see all of these points as "normal", and thus you might conclude that such a list is an overreaction or doesn't really apply to Christadelphians. You almost need to be outside the religion to fully recognise the harm. That's a real problem. But in case any Christadelphians are in doubt, just know that most of the rest of the world do not live in this kind of environment, and neither should you!

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    2. Yes. I saw many things on this list that I experienced while in CD Land. Some were more pronounced than others. But, yes, to read this list is to have alarm bells sound in your head. Even those within the fold, many are expected to be found unworthy at the "Judgement Seat." (Gee, you've invested your whole life in this bullshit religion, and your reward is six feet of dirt. Such a generous God.) There is never any legitimate reason to leave, and those who do leave are eternally damned. No authority figure is to be questioned. There was no tolerance for critical inquiry. When you got stomped on by church leaders, there was no meaningful accountability for those who did the stomping. The religion's view of the world is apocalyptic. Etc. Some say the religion is only "cult-like." Nonsense. It's close enough to the definition of a cult to be considered a cult.

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  12. " . . .no tolerance for critical inquiry." What a telling and so true description of Christadelphian discussion attitudes.

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  13. I remember once posing a question during a bible study. I knew posing the question was risky, because the subject matter was sensitive and controversial. But I'd just had a death in my immediate family, and figured the speaker would take that into consideration in responding to my question/comment; I expected the speaker to respond diplomatically and quietly. Instead, he screamed in my face and pounded his fist on the table.

    That was one of the seminal moments in which I began to reject this cult.

    In those years, we lived in a kind of genteel shabbiness, financially. The shabbiness was in part a result of our being members of the cult. Our wealthy CD relatives studiously avoided all contact with us; at Thanksgiving we sat and ate boiled chicken thighs, while our wealthy CD relatives had extravagant feasts in their mansions. My aunts and uncles in the ecclesia never invested an iota of their money or time in me or my siblings, despite the fact that misfortune had frowned upon us. I remember thinking: "What do they have to offer the world, if they can't even demonstrate love for their own blood kin?"

    And the answer to that question was: Nothing.

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  14. Well Cool Kid, the test as to how culty your chosen meeting is will be whether they will baptise you at all if you are honest with them about which parts of their doctrines you dont align with. As I said on other posts then wanted 100% from me. The difference between the amended and unamended in merely a doctrine on who, apart from baptised CDs, will be raised from the dead. You would think what one believed on this is insignificant, yet the two groups have been unable to re-unite despite some attempts.

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  15. Cool Kid, you never said a truer word . . . "May I encourage anyone questioning or seeking faith to do their own research". May I suggest to you that far from accepting what your Dad has said, or what you were brought up to believe by parents or other Cds, to do you own research. Very few Cds research the bible for its veracity because they are pre-convinced that it is the Word of God, and so can`t be wrong. A study of the bible from a historical point of view may give you pause for thought about many of the so-called biblical story facts. For example, "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, and the walls came tumbling down", goes the song, and so also goes the description in the book of Joshua. Did they? Did he? There is little evidence from excavations at Tell es-Sultan (the biblical Jericho), that such an event took place. And for that matter that Joshua undertook all those supposed victorious battles in Caanan. The book itself was written long long time after the events it portrays, and most likely as Jewish nationalistic propaganda around the time of the return from Babylonian exile in 538BCE. Why not start by reading verses 3-5 in Daniel ch1, and ask yourself what was taught to those favoured to undertake learning from what was written on those cuneiform tablets.

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  16. Cool Kid, CDs would have you believe the story that Mancott mentions as literal history. How does that sit with your belief in a God of mercy and love and grace? Firstly, the women and children of Jericho are murdered by the sword, then as Aachan took some stuff, his children are stoned to death. To CDs this is the judgement of a just God, the author of Bible in the News (21st August 2022) asked "Who today is God using to wield the sword to bring his judgments? We believe he is preparing Russia for this task, and beginning them." In other words the tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed or injured are, like Aachan's sons and daughters, justly receiving God's punishment. How does that sit with your belief in a God of mercy and love and grace? If you want to devote your life to service of a God of mercy and love and grace, don't join the CDs - go somewhere else.

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  17. Cool Kid, I wouldn`t want to make your life difficult, but should you feel that it would be wise to thoroughly check out Cd belief, Cd origins, biblical content veracity, before committing yourself to their ranks, it would be interesting, for you, and for us, to hear of their reactions to any delaying decision you might make known to them about baptism, should they ask.

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  18. Firstly, I am actually very surprised my comment got replies.

    Thank you for providing great advice and helping me better challenge and understand my beliefs. It has been interesting, emotionally challenging and thought provoking hearing your perspectives.

    Just so you know I will not be getting baptised any time soon - I am not disclosing my age but let’s just say it would be abnormal anyway to get baptised at my age anyways.

    Thanks again folks.

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  19. Don't know if my comment posted or not. Cool Kid -- who sounds like a teen -- note the bible (lower case "B") verses in which your loving and benevolent God instructs parents of rebellious teens/youths to take them out into a field and stone them to death. (Deuteronomy 21: 18 - 21) How about you find out your new wife humped someone ahead of you? Yep, stone her too. (Deuteronomy 22: 13 - 21) How about the wholesale genocide, of adults, children, infants, pets and cattle? (See the Book of Joshua). Yummy. Can't you feel the LOVE?

    What I especially appreciate are the "pastors" who teach the reasons why these and other examples are exceptions to committing murder. It's a huge, heaping helping of Blah-Blah-Blah.

    And I wish I believed in a Hell where they'd spend eternity, prattling their nonsense at one another while a benign God fans the flames around them.

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  20. Amanda, let's hope that the cool kid has never made fun of bald people, we all know what the good lord has in store for youths like that!

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  21. How about a God who allows bears to maul and wound or kill 42 children, because they called the prophet Elisha "old baldy." 2 Kings 2: 23 -24 With gods like that, who needs a devil? I recall an old geezer who talked a lot of nonsense in a sermon about how "the sins and evilness of the parents had been visited on the children, and they paid for their parents' sins." What jib-jab prattle, to teach anyone. Convoluted madness.

    Anyone heard from Bedson's website lately? His website doesn't seem to have any traction.

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  22. I hope you guys do know I'm just a young person questioning the religion they were born into and a human who can actually affected by your comments.

    Most who people who replied to my original comment where helpful and I have previously expressed that I am grateful to them for sharing there knowledge with me and helping me grow and question the standards and religion I have been raised with.

    I am sorry if some do not have any tolerance for someone who is still exploring themselves, trying to find purpose, wondering about the community and religion they have been raised.

    I came into this site hoping to learn from other people and there experience.

    - Not to be criticised and bashed by others for beliefs, opinions and experiences.

    If anyone took offence from my comment, I'm so sorry - that was never the intention.

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    1. CHILL, sweety. No one's attacking you. Not for a second. We're just trying to point out to you the nonsensical nature of much of what you've been taught. You'll make your choices on your own. We're just trying to illuminate some of the dark corners of "The Truth."

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    2. Cool Kid, you have to understand the raw experiences some have had at the hands of the Cds. It stays with them. I think rather than being critical of you they are concerned about if you get dragged into this religion. I`ll respond further, but, "she who must be obeyed" says my dinner is on the table.

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    3. Yes, I think we get that. In life, you can expect to get a "bashing" for religious beliefs, because, for perhaps a majority of people, they are beliefs, that when closely examined, appear to be based on very little in the way of fact or evidence.
      What I found interesting, is that in your original comment, you mentioned that your siblings "walked away", now I'm assuming that they were brought up in the same household as you, by the same parents, and exposed to the same religious material as yourself. Which makes me wonder, what was it that caused them to walk away, and you to believe and stay?
      The reason I ask is that amongst my children and their four cousins, not one of them has stayed and accepted the religion.

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    4. Aside from a few fraternity perks, like the social contact derived from annual Sunday School picnics and phone calls when you're in the hospital, what does this cult have to offer -- especially when the perks get summarily revoked after they kick you out or you flee? All of the gorks who hugged you every Sunday, and told you how much they loved you, these champs immediately shun you once you're put outside the doors of "the right hand of fellowship." (LOL!) And please don't tell me what you get is "Salvation and the Truth." Go see the new movie version of "Nightmare Alley." You get a little flim-flam for your weekly donations, and nothing else excepted wasted Sundays and a waste of the life experiences you otherwise might have had and deserved to have.

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    5. Cool Kid, I think Jody and Joseph have posted what I would have gone on to say. I would urge you to do as you said in your earlier post. Research --- and plenty of it. I wish that at your age (? - I`m guessing), there had been a trigger to set me off on such a course before I had reached to age for baptism (for me), and there was extra pressure from parents as Military National Service was still required for all young men at age eighteen (in the UK). Being indoctrinated from birth I had pretty much got Cd Truth in my bones by the time I started school. I didn`t research. I was always ready to defend what I had been taught. Wrong. I never asked myself "Is this Cd Truth correct?" I should have done what I think you, Cool Kid, are prepared to do, and that is to check it out. Thoroughly.

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    6. Coming back to Cool Kid's view that CDism is not a cult, that is a view I shared until I went back for family funerals. Anyway Cool Kid could look at https://cult-escape.com/cult-test/ CDs would claim that they are not a cult because they have no central leader, so Questions 1 to 3 are a No, but for questions 4 to 8 are a yes for me. Q9 is a no. With Q10, the only thing listed that they have done to me is the one about funerals. So not the worst of cults but for me a cult non the less.

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    7. Hassan, one of the former editor's parting comments, was that we should not ever describe the Christadelphians a cult, because this would harm our ability to communicate effectively with potential departees from the group, and hinder the process. His rationale, as I recall, was that the Christadelphians KNOW that they are not a cult, and would thus reject out of hand the claims of those suggesting that they are.
      I have swung from one way of thinking to the other and back again over the years. Over the last three years, and from observing from afar, but with reliable sources, it now seems to me that many Ecclesias are operating so independently of central authority (by which I mean oversight and supervision), that they are in effect local cults, given the authority wielded by a very few long term "leaders". What say you?

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    8. I've probably said most of this before, but my take is that whether or not you want to call Christadelphians a "cult", they are a high control group, though some ecclesias (and families) will be so way more than others. Different check-lists include different items, and on some of them I've looked at only a few would apply to my former ecclesia, but the one Hassan linked I got pretty much the same yeses.

      But the other thing I've probably said a lot is that I don't think we deconvert people, or that that should be our mission. People deconvert themselves. We can possibly make them aware of inconvenient truths they weren't aware of, or show that others have asked the same questions they have asked, but if they get upset enough at Christadelphia being called a cult that they won't read any more, maybe that just shows they're not ready to leave. And to me that's fine: It's their choice and their life, and I'm not on a mission to reform or capture them.

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    9. Christadelphians have been labelled a cult for a very long time. They know this and have published "A preaching aid pamphlet produced by The Christadelphian. Christadelphians are not infrequently labelled as a ‘cult’. ". The fact the Cool Kid mentioned it unsolicited that shows that he at least considered the possibility. For me - call it as you see it - the fact that lots (but not all by a long way) of exCDs call them a cult should give new joiners a pause for thought. My hope is that interested strangers will become a lot less interested when they google and come across a site like this. But yes I agree with Jo, the CDs have become a broad church, but they all share the same name and call themselves a community. I recently read ex-CD Voice of Reason blog describing how he was chucked out. That is very culty, poor bloke is having a crisis of faith and they basically turn on him, no pastoral support at all.

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    10. I think what Jon says about pointing out "inconvenient truths" is one of the most useful ways to cause a "doubter" to examine further the Christadelphian understanding of what they find in the Bible. I believe this is far more useful than parading the difficulties and abuses experienced by some, because others may not have come across anything of that nature. I think the more instances -- perhaps referring back to some of the previous articles published on the site -- that can be referred to, the better we serve the blog`s purpose.
      I also agree with Joseph that individual ecclesias have become just that, individual. Some that I know of have reached a point of what they will accept organisational-wise, which differs greatly from that which other ecclesias will accept. They are all, in effect, separate from one another. This is a far, far departure from the 50`s and 60`s "sameness" that I remember, when being in any ecclesia in the land felt like being in an organisation which held together as a whole.

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    11. Hassan, As I said, I've swung one way and the other over the years as to whether or not the Christadelphians are a cult. Abusive relationships creep up on you, a little liberty taken here and there, then some financial abuse, dressed up as people being so "busy" in the service of the truth that they "didn't notice", months turn to years, odd events turn into regular abuses, nepotism flourishes and abuse of religious principles also goes "unnoticed" as money changes hands and services are provided, and very wrongful things are tolerated for reasons of "Ecclesial and family unity". If 50%+ off the membership belong to just two or three families, and they all vote along agreed lines, before you know it, you have the same "leadership" for decades on end, lines of family succession, and abuses that so become the norm, that they go unquestioned. To an outsider, or a joiner from the outside, these things are perhaps more obvious, and result in what LOOKS like a cult, even it if it doesn't fit may what be usually identified as one. To those who grew up inside, and have had "respect" for these people drummed into them, it perhaps appears a little different.

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    12. Actually, to a new person joining an ecclesia, the problems are far less noticeable, because they don't know which members in an ecclesia are related to one another, or anything about the internal dynamics of a particular ecclesia. It can take years to learn these things and figure the dynamics out. So....on the surface, for a very long period, things look pretty much okay. And often they're not.

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    13. Donald, What you say is true, but only true of those coming in from "outside"...as Cds term it...and probably as an older person. Those born into a Cd family will have grown up indoctrinated from the cradle, frequently surrounded by uncle brethren and auntie sisters, and will from an early age right up until baptism be quite aware of those brethren who are dominant, those who don`t smile with the eyes, those who keep to themselves, they will have been aware of Chinese Whispers, and so on. Those children become very much a part of that ecclesia well before they join through baptism.

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    14. Mancott, you are entirely correct. They are "members," baptized or not.

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  23. Anyone who has come this far in their inquiries isn't going to need us to parse words out of caution over the decisions someone might make about remaining in or leaving Christadelphianism. During my half century sojourn in the religion, I belonged to several different ecclesias. Most were dull, vapid, mortuary-like, ordinary groups of people very similar to other groups of Protestants in the larger society. One group of CDs, however, which had its own attractive meeting hall, was clearly run on fear, a fear of the self-appointed prick who made all of the final decisions in the place. He was absolutely formidable, and could make grown men cry, and countless members sailed out the door on the end of his foot. A second CD group I had belonged to had very definitely devolved into a cult group; it was characterized by extreme domestic violence and bizarre beliefs that even the CD "mainstream" would never have accepted. It existed nonetheless, and caused terrible damage to the psyches, finances, and physical health of its members. I was so thoroughly traumatized by the latter group that I now refuse all contact with any of its current or former members.

    Christadelphianism, whether it can or can't be easily defined as a cult, can thus still be a terrible, horrifying trap. And we each have our salvation "epiphany" when we're ready to have it. One Sunday morning, listening to some octogenarian gassing for over an hour about the Book of Revelations, I found myself having a recurring thought.

    "There is no salvation in this place. There is simply a living death here."

    I got up quietly and went out to the parking lot. On my way out of the hall, I left my head covering wrapped around the church's mailbox. I turned on my car's ignition, and directed my car down the church's driveway to the street. A friend, puzzled by my departure, came out onto the church's portico to see why I had left the hall.

    I never waved, and never looked back.

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    1. Jody,
      You have posted in similar vein of your experiences several times previously, and one can understand your deep hatred (is "hatred" too strong?) of the Cds. But I can`t help thinking that your ecclesial experience was extreme in its venomous outpouring. I think many ex Cds who post here didn`t have anywhere close to what you experienced, not even on the fringe of such an experience. I believe ventilating these experiences might be cathartic for you, but I fail to understand how it will help any Cd doubter to come to understand how Christadelphia is in error belief-wise. Jody, during all of the years you went through this maelstrom of abuse was there a point at which you began to question what your fellow Cds believed? What kept you there for so long? You don`t have to answer this, of course, if it is a personal matter.

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  24. My contempt is for all delusion/religion, and my experience, if it has any value, is that it demonstrates the extremes to which delusion/religion can take us.

    I stayed in CDism because I wanted to believe and hoped to believe. My history was there, and my relatives and friends were there. The religion thus became a trap from which to escape. I am aware my experiences were not typical; they nonetheless happened. In that regard, the experiences were providential, in that they created the impetus for my departure.

    "Belief-wise," CDism offers nothing more unique or helpful than any other group of religious cranks.

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  25. And to be completely honest with myself, despite going through the motions of "believing," it is clear to me now that I never truly believed what they are peddling.

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