Video: Christadelphian History and Current Issues

This video from Carelinks has some interesting Christadelphian history in it, including the many divisions in the community's history and how it became increasingly dogmatic and authoritarian.


  1. So he says it not tenable to think that God had no true witness for 1900 years, his conclusion - there obviously were people who believed the 'Truth' even though there is no evidence and he accepts that Alan Eyres books are bad history, they were debunked years ago but are still for sale.

    He can't see the obvious logic. According to him if there is a God he would not leave himself no witness for 1900 years after giving his son and according to him there is no evidence of any people believing the 'Truth' as CDs see it hence either CDs are wrong or there is no God.

    1. Having read one of his books, I must say logic is not his strong point.

      I don't understand how he can tell the story of how the CDs came into being (not to mention the petty infighting that's still going on today) and still think they're somehow special. Why can't he see that they're just one random outgrowth of many from the Restorationists? What are the odds that they alone would end up with the truth, at the end of a convoluted process driven by power politics and personalities? Why would God allow the truth to be hidden from nearly everyone for 1800 years (if we generously allow that an unrecorded few had CD beliefs during that time) and then choose two opinionated Victorians to enlighten the world again?

      The speaker may have broader cultural horizons than other CD preachers, but unfortunately he's just as trapped in the belief system.

    2. "Why can't he see that they're just one random outgrowth of many from the Restorationists?"

      Exactly. And they're one of the least successful. It raises some questions for sure.

    3. Thom, while I agree now, from inside I remember it was just an instance of "narrow is the way and few will find it". It wasn't because we had it wrong, but because following the Truth was too hard and only truly spiritual people (like us) could get it right.

      Which is really a case of having it both ways: If the denomination were to rapidly double in numbers they would surely view it as a blessing from God, but if they stay the same or decline in numbers they will think how lucky they are to be part of the chosen remnant.

    4. Indeed, the argument that there will be a small remnant in the last times can be used to justify why so few 'true' believers exist today. But it cant be used to explain why there were no 'true' believers from 2 century on. This has always been a problem for CDs which is why Alan Eyre wrote his dodgy books claiming there were such believers.

      The seems to be dead now. So according to that particular branch of CDs there are now no remaining true believers.

    5. Jon, I thought the same when I was a CD as well. Being in a group that perceived itself to be "God's chosen few" was very meaningful and provided a lot of significance and purpose to my life. We were the faithful remnant holding fast "till he comes", and I wonder if that aspect is perhaps not as strong in some of the larger religions (i.e. Catholic). Certainly JWs could still feel the same as they are still only a tiny fraction of the world's population, despite numbering well into the millions. It's a very attractive belief, given the significance and elevated self-importance it confers to the believer.

      However, the point I really wanted to emphasise in my earlier comment is that if God really was calling out a founder in the 19th century to start a movement and bring people to him, then evidently he chose the wrong guy(s) (and it's anyone's guess what he was doing for the 1800 years prior). Had he correctly informed the founders of the JWs instead, or the churches of Christ, there would be far more "true" believers today, by several orders of magnitude.

      I don't think there's anything intrinsic to the actual doctrines themselves that would cause other religions to be more popular or CDs to be less popular. It is surely almost entirely down to marketing and environment etc.

      I suspect this kind of reasoning is only going to be interesting to those of us no longer in the religion, so I don't intend to make a big deal of it. It's just an amusing take on it all.

    6. Come to think of it maybe there were aspects of the various religions that made them more or less susceptible to growth. It's an interesting thought experiment.

    7. And when you consider that both Mormonism and Scientology have way more members than Christadelphians, the tiny number of Christadelphians absolutely requires justification.

      It's not enough to say that people are not entirely rational or that childhood indoctrination heavily influences belief (both of which I'd agree with), because if this is the case then on what grounds can any of us be held accountable for what we believe? Why was belief the criteria for salvation if the majority of humanity are clearly so poor at determining what is true? Either the criteria was poorly chosen or we are poorly equipped for it - and in both cases the blame points back to the creator (if such a being exists, which I strongly doubt).

      End of rant. I'll get off my hobby horse now ;P

    8. Jacobus, I agree that the long time gap is difficult to explain. So are the divisions in the body once that "truth" has been discovered. And that group you pointed to sounds like they view Central Christadelphians like we viewed mainstream Christianity.

      There's a bit of self-serving description in it:
      "Thus, divisions came to be (1864, 1873, 1884, 1894, 1923, 1926, 1933, and 1954) each one signifying on the one hand a departure from Christ's teachings, and on the other hand, a Remnant who would determinedly hold these principles."
      My understanding is that in many of these divisions both sides felt they were following Christ's teachings. They just prioritised different ones.

      I was more liberal, but I think my attitude started in the same place: Everyone more liberal than me was a heretic, and everyone more conservative than me was a pedant (I'd accept them - but they might not accept me). Fortunately I had got the balance right...

    9. Yes that group claimed (as CDs in general do) that they were the only true remnant, their small size was OK to them as scripture says there will only be a remnant, but now I think there is none left, so they were not the remnant after all. CDs will go the same way but it will take years. I think that group formed in 54 and lasted about 60 years.

      CDs love to split as when you boil it down they fundamentally think that the detail of what you believe at baptism is what saves, so once error is detected a split is required. Dr Thomas was baptised several times for this reason. The final time he did it to himself ! So they say infant baptism is not found in scripture (I disagree) but neither is self-baptism, but that is OK for them.

      If he had lived longer he probably would have baptised himself again, once he changed his mind on some small thing

    10. Hello everyone.
      >Dr Thomas was baptised several times for this reason.

      Untrue he was baptised only twice, read his Biography or see Wikipedia.

      > The final time he did it to himself !

      Not so.

      > So they say infant baptism is not found in scripture (I disagree)

      Only believers where baptised in Apostolic times.

      "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"

      "What doth hinder me to be baptised? If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayst"

      Better to get make sure your facts are correct then to spread 'fake' information and persist in telling terminological inexactitudes.

    11. Wilbert,
      What do you make of the "Row" between CBM and Carelinks about whose baptisms are valid and whose are not? Have you noticed on the one hand how Carelinks accuses CBM of baptising illiterate Africans, but on the other hand issues videos of Carelinks baptising similarly illiterate (and potentially illegal, it is not clear) African migrants on the beach in Italy?

    12. Wilbert,

      It clear that St Paul converted heads of household then baptised the entire household. The bible is silent on how believers incorporated their offspring into faith, but the notion of being born neutral would be alien to Jews at the time. In apostolic times proxy baptisms were done (Corinthians 15:29). By the time the church wrote down in practise, infant baptism was well established, no debate is recorded, as it is with Gnosticism and dualism.

    13. I don't actually care about infant baptism one way or the other, but I think both comments raise questions:
      1. Wilbert, you appear to quote from Mark 16:16.
      a. Were you aware of the various reasons to question the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark?
      b. You left out the other half of the verse: "not believing" is condemned. This leaves a substantial gap for "believing and not being baptised". What do you think is meant here?
      c. It goes on to say that believers will cast out demons, speak in tongues, heal the sick, pick up snakes, and drink deadly poison without being hurt. I never saw any of these signs as a Christadelphian. Do you? What do you think these verses mean?

      2. Jacobus, I'm not sure how relevant it is that "the notion of being born neutral would be alien to Jews at the time". Christianity was no longer a Jewish religion, and Paul had explicitly waged war against the Jewish eternal covenant of circumcision that (as I understand it) was the explicit ceremony making the (male) infants part of the Jewish people. Maybe they then replaced it with infant baptism, but I see no evidence of that in the New Testament.

    14. To my mind it is not tenable that 2000 years ago children were expected to be educated before joining a religion.

    15. Wilburt, I am not convinced that Wikipedia is a good source of information but that page you referred me to does says that Dr Thomas baptised himself. 'Because Thomas eventually rebaptised himself and rejected his former beliefs and associations, he was formally disfellowshipped in 1837. Some people, nonetheless, associated with him and accepted his views.'

    16. Jon, I agree there is no direct account of infant baptism, but there also no direct account of self-baptism in the NT, which CDs still encourage (carelinks has a video on how to do it, they dont even use the Trinitarian formula from Matthew 28:19).

      It was only after the protestant reformation and the Lutheran idea that one must read the scriptures for oneself that universal education became an aim. Indeed in the world today there are still many illiterates. My most hated statement in the BASF is the double negative one that 'idiots and young children can not be saved'. Really ? So for 1700 years only the political elite (who were educated) had any chance ! So of the two options as I see it, infant baptism or universal education, I go with infant baptism in any case the tradition goes back to way before the NT was created.

    17. Jacobus, as I remember the story of John Thomas's final (?) baptism, he got someone to baptise him and gave him specific words to say, but that person didn't share his beliefs. Which does make it his choice and his choice alone that he needed re-baptism. Clearly the Great Commission was intended to have faith spread from person to person, and so did not really have room for the faith completely dying out and then being revived hundreds of years later.

      For the rest, I'm not trying to argue one way or the other which is "true", just share some of my personal experiences:
      Carelinks were generally frowned upon in the ecclesias I belonged to. I never really understood why - closest I could gather was that their baptismal standards were not considered strict enough.

      I think most baptisms around me used the Trinitarian formula. Some people argued against it, usually on the grounds that it was never used in Acts. And probably following that some baptisms were just in the name of Jesus, but I didn't keep close track of it.

      The "idiots and young children" statement was condemned in a number of talks I heard. I think few if any in my ecclesia liked it being there. While they probably would have agreed unbaptised children couldn't be saved directly, many expected that they would be taken care of by God in some other way (perhaps being raised mortal in the kingdom and getting a second chance). And the other thing I noticed was that the closer people were to child tragedies the more likely they were to hold some of these views. Which is also something I've noticed generally with harsher religions: It is much easier to proclaim or condemn abstract concepts than real people you know.

      On a related note, my great grandfather spent long periods of time on missionary work in India. He also had an annotated copy of Robert Roberts' Blood of Christ, in which (among other things) he commented on the fact that RR had singled out Indians as less capable than Europeans... There is plenty in the history of the religion that is unacceptable, and I think most people in less conservative ecclesias (including mine) dealt with that by completely ignoring the works of "The Pioneers" and going back to the Bible (as they saw it...)

      Finally, I think you would find that many (most?) children of Christadelphians would be viewed as "Christadelphian children" and expected to be baptised eventually. They were still considered part of the community. Do you need infant baptism to make them part of the community? (though I take your point about education, and there's also access. Christadelphians relied on complete access to the Bible for the masses to chapter and verse their way through, and even for the literate I think there have been long periods of history when that access was difficult and/or expensive. Including, ironically, the time when different parts of the NT were being written...)

    18. "1. Wilbert, you appear to quote from Mark 16:16.
      a. Were you aware of the various reasons to question the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark?"

      I believe what is written has been approved of by God.

      "b. You left out the other half of the verse: "not believing" is condemned. This leaves a substantial gap for "believing and not being baptised". What do you think is meant here?"

      If one believes will they not be baptized as Christ has plainly instructed?

      If they refuse they can't really believe what Christ has taught, for after belief in him, baptism is the first instruction of obedience to the faithful.

    19. Hi Wilbert,

      Are you able say how God gave his approval for what is written- I assume you mean what got included in the New Testament?

    20. Jon,

      Infant baptism is not needed, but given that Paul says they baptised people on behalf of the dead and infant mortality was high - I think it likely. If you believe that idiots and children can be saved then of course it is pointless.

      I eventually unshackled myself from my CD past and did have my children baptised after initially having a thanksgiving only.

  2. Interesting and the attitudes outlined in the history are horribly familiar (but then, how can you give any credence to a speaker who is not wearing a coat and tie????)

  3. One of many presentations by Duncan Heaster to be found online, an interesting person, who "reaches out", and apparently not too much liked by certain sections of the CD community. This presentation was from early 2016.


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