"Looking for his coming"

By Phynnodderee

One of the hard things about losing my Christadelphian faith was realising that I had no good reason any more to think that Jesus was coming back. It was a hope that left a painful gap when it was gone. Coming to terms with this meant learning to see the world in a different light.


I had always been taught to believe the return of Christ would be the climax of human history, a sure hope we could look forward to no matter what uncertainties life might bring. I had always lived with the reassuring picture of a good and kind Judge who would put an end to evil and make every wrong right. The sum total of my religion was that everything would be all right in the end.

I was never very interested in prophecy, and I didn’t see the point of trying to prove the imminence of the event, but I believed in its truth and I believed it was the only real hope we had of true peace and justice. I was genuinely moved by the words of the hymn:


When every conflict ended,
And every sorrow past,
A cry goes up triumphant,
The Lord has come at last.

It was irresistible to believe that one day every tyrant and oppressor, every torturer and slave trader, every abuser and exploiter, would have to give account of themselves before a Judge who would dispense perfect justice and that their victims would be vindicated and recompensed. After I quit the meeting I used to visit this website occasionally, looking for reassurance that I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t alone, and the thing that bothered me most was an article title that used to feature in the left side bar: “Jesus is not coming back”. Even after I had more or less lost my religious beliefs, for a while I still clung on to the idea of Jesus returning to set all to rights. After all, I had always been told there was no other hope for humanity.

I now see this as one of the big problems with Christadelphianism. It teaches people to despair of humanity, it discourages efforts to improve the world, and it encourages people to invest all their hopes in a future event that may never happen. The community may have learned to be wary of making specific predictions, but there is still a general feeling that Christ is ‘at the door’.

For Christadelphians who become nonbelievers, do you ever find a replacement for the comforting belief in Christ’s return? Not exactly – not in the sense of a promised future event that will sort everything out. But you do find that people generally are a lot kinder than you thought, that there is more reason for optimism than you thought, that we have really made extraordinary progress in reducing suffering and improving quality of life. Maybe this is even better than placing all your hopes in a future event, because it reflects something we all have within us – human potential, which Christadelphians are guilty of downplaying. Even if you do think Jesus is going to return to be our final salvation, there are still countless good reasons to try and make the world a better place now. Some Christadelphians recognise this, but far too many have seen themselves as absolved of responsibility, placing that burden on Christ’s shoulders instead.

So although I don’t “look for his coming” any more, I do look around me and see hope. Not a hope that is vulnerable to being weakened as each year fails to bring an anticipated event, but a hope born of the realisation that humans can achieve tremendous and worthwhile things when they put their minds to it, especially when they work together. We’re not a lost cause – not yet. Maybe if Jesus does come back, he’ll be able to look around at our achievements and say approvingly: “Nice work, guys.”

30 comments:

  1. If he doesnt come back...they have got away with it.. the people as you describe..thats something humans wont fix... or put right.. time to except that also.

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    1. Paul, you're right, it's pretty intolerable to think that people like Hitler evaded justice after causing misery to millions. That's partly why it was so hard for me to give up this comforting idea.

      But it's also encouraging to think that we've made a lot of progress on ethics and human rights over the centuries, especially in the last few decades, and it's harder to get away with these things than it once was. There was a time when people couldn't even be prosecuted for genocide or war crimes. Hitler may have got away with it, but a lot of his fellow Nazis didn't.

      If you conclude (as I did) that we're probably on our own and human justice is probably the only kind of justice there is, there's a greater imperative to make that justice even more effective and consistent.

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  2. Time will be the ultimate referee...

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    1. Paul,
      Are you aware that your comment is one of the most common ways in which a party losing an argument, attempts to make that argument unfalsifiable, by moving it further into the future?
      As is partly discussed in the article, the author was not as a Christadelphian, interested in the imminence of Christ's return, whereas many (a majority?) are. Christadelphians, or at least those who make the "we stand at the very cusp of the Kingdom age" statements will never sya what they actually mean in terms of timescale, as thus make their case unfalsifiable, as you have. It's nothing new for Christians and has been going on for the best part of two thousand years.

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  3. Yeah.. i think in any prediction on any event , time is always the referee is it not??? Governments promises etc a good example..

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  4. Christadelphians have been pushing the return of Jesus further into the future for decades. Again and again, world events have been interpreted as an imminent sign, nothing has come of it, it's quietly brushed under the carpet and the next event is focussed on instead.
    The only predictable thing is that the CDs will continue this farce, until they eventually come to their senses and accept the Bible for what it is, an interesting collection of ancient myths and legends.

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  5. I joined the CDs because I was dysfunctional, codependent (and yes conditioned by my upbringing) enough to want, to join them. Like is attracted is attracted to like and for a while I fitted in quite well.

    So while I do think that the CD culture is controlling, abusive and much of what has been said on this website, I am no longer in victim mode. I acknowledge that I was (and am) controlling, abusive etc and I can't recover from this abuse by having a go at the CDs all day long while not looking at my part in all this. I am taking responsibility and recovering through a wonderful counsellor and lots of other help.

    I have no contact with two family members - one of which is a CD and this feels very empowering. I do not need, to believe in the return of Christ anymore because I am mentally more together and no longer need to believe in nonsense.

    It would be helpful to swap notes of how others are recovering from this terrible CD culture.

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    1. Well done on taking responsibility for your future and walking the road to better health and a new you. That's fantastic stuff.

      I think recovery tends to progress in stages. At first I needed to unpack everything and sort out all the pieces. That process took years and it's why I started my ecvor blog, which has been very helpful. But more recently I've increasingly felt that it's time to start exploring what's next. New projects, new adventures, that kind of thing.

      I remember at first I struggled a lot with identity. All my life I had been a Christadelphian, different, separate from the world, a member of an ecclesia, etc. But who was I now? What would I do? What do I enjoy? What will the rest of my life consist of?

      If I could offer one piece of advice to my former self (and those who find themselves in that space) it would be to relax and stop worrying about that, because it was too early for me to decide all of that back then. Those things will sort themselves out in time, and they mostly have done, as I have slowly reconnected with hobbies and interests from my past, and a few new interests as well. The most important message is almost the opposite of what the Christadelphians teach: relax and take your time to enjoy the moment, because time is something you now have a lot of. There's no urgency to get your life in order before some cosmic hero returns to judge you. You can take as long as you want to enjoy where you are in life. And as you go about your life, take notice of how you feel at each point, what you enjoy, what you don't enjoy. This is how you learn who you are. Then embrace it, as best you can.

      I also created The Christian Dolphin blog. Although it seems like I just wanted to laugh at Christadelphians, that is not really the point of the blog. I was a Christadelphian for 30 years of my life - and some of that has traumatised me, not to mention the process of leaving. Finding ways to laugh about my past is exactly what it was and is about. Looking at my religious upbringing and seeing the funny side has been extremely therapeutic. It's harder to do when it's still fresh, but after a while I highly recommend it. Make peace with your past - it shaped who you are today. You're not a reject with a messed-up history, you're a survivor who took control and demanded a better life and a better connection with reality. But try not to take it too seriously. Sometimes it's good to look back and have a laugh (or cry) and then get back to focusing on what's next for your unique story.

      At this point I'm starting to think more positively about the future, and thinking about what holidays I'd like to go on, that kind of thing. I'm learning new stuff, and that's pretty cool too. Life isn't all roses, but it's mine. I'm still a bit scared of dying, but what has changed is that I'm becoming less scared of living. :)

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  6. This group only sound a few notches more extreme than the CDs when you look at them:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-45492913

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  7. Thanks - that stuff is helpful.

    To take my argument a little further, if I stay dysfunctional but leave the Cds, I will only be drawn to another abusive organisation, religious movement or bunch of people. The saying goes "its not where you are ... it's where you are at that counts". In other words if I don't change it will not help if I leave or stay in the CDs.

    One of the things that is helping me enormously is 48 hour fasts (no food - only water). Ir not only helps with weight loss but really picks my mood up. Alongside that I am on a plant based diet (50 years of research showing it has all kinds of benefits - e.g. Dr Gregger "How Not To Die"), gave up caffeine 4 weeks ago and exercise. I am feeling much better than in years.

    I am so, so glad not to be in the land of doublethink and instead becoming authentic and real.

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    1. Be careful. Plenty of diet scammers out there:

      https://www.humanewatch.org/hsus_doc_exposed_as_schlock/

      ...and this guy looks a bit dubious.

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  8. There certainly are plenty of diet scammers out there and I was suspicious at first.

    However the book by Dr Gregger is pure, evidenced based - his refrain is "follow the science". His book has 15 chapters on How not to die from heart disease, Parkinson's etc. When I say evidenced based I am talking about in part peer reviewed and meta studies. How Not To Die by Dr Gregger is the real deal. I am degree educated and come from a scientific family - I can evaluate evidence.

    On a personal note, 2 years ago I had high blood pressure and (probably) high cholesterol levels. Recently my GP took my blood pressure and did some blood tests - she said that my cholesterol was 4.3, my blood pressure was "textbook" and my blood results were excellent. My psoriasis & arthritis has much improved. My GP is so impressed with the improvement in my health that she is now reading Dr Gregger's book - she said to me that drs no nothing about diet because its only very minimally part of their training - so true.

    There is proper research and lots of it going back 50 years on this subject. I am so grateful to have the Internet and to be able to "follow the science."

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    1. Rubbish Mad Max, and you should know it. If you followed just a few references or dared to search for negative takes on this sham doctor's writing, you would quickly see that. looks like you has swapped one crackpot group for another.
      Doctors do know little about diet and it does not NEED to form much of their training for the simple reason that their is not much they need to know.

      https://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/11/14/the-skeptoid-diet/

      My blood pressure is "textbook" too, mainly because I took my Doctor's advice 25 years ago and treated my hereditary condition with suitable, proven drugs, and my cholesterol is good too, maybe because I'm lucky, or maybe because I eat the same varied diet that most normal folk do.
      If your GP is reading diet scammer's books, you might be well advised to seek out a new GP.

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  9. Hello Piledriver - I suggest that you read the book and examine the (research) evidence than make up your mind. Until you examine the evidence ...When you say "a few references" - every, youtube video he does cites proper research evidence and he does a lot of youtube videos. How Not to Die is loaded with research evidence. Facts is facts - there is, 50 years of research on this subject and there is a lot of it ... peer reviewed and meta-studies. Dr Gregger is a practising MD who prescribes drugs, but observes (based upon the research evidence) that his patients can reduce their use of drugs or stop them altogether. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/user/NutritionFactsOrg

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  10. I'm not sure we're going to settle the diet wars here.
    Max - glad you feel in better health.

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    1. More vegie's and fresh produce (organic if poss) and less processed rubbish = GOOD.

      There, settled. ;)

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    2. Janine, "settled" - maybe. The problem is, when you are not in the possession of undisputed facts, speculation is both endless and pointless. However, what you suggest as "GOOD", probably is - for some, but may not be the definitive answer for all.

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    3. "More Veggies"-You don't know how many I have so can't possibly know if I need more.
      "Fresh Produce"-Frozen vegetables are either nutritionally equal to, or better than fresh, due to not having deteriorated in transit/storage.
      "Organic if possible"-No nutritional advantage to organic, massive cost increase.
      "less processed rubbish"- Can mean whatever you like. Processing often means that less desirable cuts of meat get used, so efficient and reduces waste and cost. All forms of food preparation are to some degree a form of processing.

      So, not "good", and not "settled", and also not relevant on a site dealing with the ins and the outs of Christadelphianism. However, religion as practiced by Christadelphians is indeed a load of processed rubbish, so yes, settled.

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    4. Much of Christadelphian processing is of young people`s minds before they are able to think for themselves. In my opinion this is very wrong.

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  11. keep smiling, Max, you sound bright and cheerful. If you made a list of all the different diets which are supposed to be good for you, it would run to many pages. In a similar exercise, a chap named Hugh Davies maintains a list, taken from just one British daily newspaper, over a shortish period of time, of all the things which are supposed to cure cancer. It runs to over thirty substances, actions or actions to be avoided. He keeps a similar list of items published by the same newspaper, items which they claim will cure, and on other days the very same items are listed to be avoided, both for cancer. This is the same newspaper which has forecasted on occasion, dire snowfall (didn`t happen), blistering heat (didn`t happen), fearsome flooding (didn`t happen). There are always publishers willing to make money out of gullible readers. Common sense is a rare commodity, but it should be looked after in oneself and nurtured like a tender plant.

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    1. Do you have a link Mancott?, could not find this online at all. The Express is forecasting the worst winter in 10 years BTW. You might want to get a new scarf and snow shoes. Might it be a "sign" of the imminent second coming? Will Angels be involved? Is it what "keen Bible students" have been expecting? All of the above I sigh...

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    2. Joseph, this was mentioned in a book "Why Did the Policeman Cross the Road" by Stevyn Colgan, published by Unbound, and the newspaper mentioned was the Daily Mail. The author states that you can see the list in full (with links to the original newspaper articles) by searching Facebook for The Daily Mail List of Things That give You Cancer. And he comments "Only if you are prepared for Facebook giving you cancer.
      As for the winter to come being the worst - most certainly it will be seen as a sign, and someone will find a verse in one of the prophets to support this.

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  12. I think its time and chance , yes certain foods and the likes of smoking might not help. But had an aunty that smoke and drank gin like a fish.. lived to a ripe old age.Then knew another lady that ate all the right stuff according to science .. this website will love that word.. lol!! and she got cancer etc.. passed away.

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    1. Chance is but one factor among many. I'm sure you are aware that anecdotes are not data. There is no doubt a good deal of selection bias (also see "availability heuristic") going on with your chosen examples.

      Dietary science is quite messy and difficult to sort out, although some long term trends do seem apparent. The problem is that gut bacteria differs significantly from person to person, and that is to a large degree what determines one's health, and how foods interact with their body (including triggering immune response etc). As always it's a combination of genes and environment, so while there is no way to 100% guarantee long life or good health, there are definitive ways to increase or decrease your probability of health or illness. Natural foods are generally preferred over processed ones, for example. And high intake of red/processed meat is correlated with a slightly higher risk of chronic illness. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/179/3/282/103471. Note again that we are talking about probabilities and averages.

      Your smoking example shows a common misunderstanding. Science doesn't claim that smoking WILL cause lung cancer, but rather that it significantly increases your RISK of getting lung cancer. And in those individuals who both smoke and get lung cancer, it is very likely the smoking was a direct cause, but not necessarily the only cause.

      Alas some nuance (and usually a lot more) often gets lost in the transmission of information from scientific studies out to the general public. Try to stick with Google Scholar if you can, and follow the long term trends rather than the "headlines".

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  13. So that explains 100% why people can eat and drink smoke, breath in toxic fumes , eg not wearing a mask and live to a ripe old age?? eat red meat till it running out of them...still dont think you really know.Yes long term trends are what they are but as you say its not 100%

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  14. I sell smokes..according to the info,80% of lung cancers are caused by them.

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  15. Paul, isn`t it prudent common sense to take note of the results of many year`s research about what causes certain diseases? If it is an established fact that 80% of people get blown off a certain cliff path during strong winds, isn`t it the wise man or woman who stays away from the edge?

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    1. Yes of course.. in my opinion common sense is missing now days in alot of cases.
      What im trying to say is with all the research etc there is still people out there that eat all the wrong tucker.. smoke and drink like a fish and live to a ripe old age.Where by all accounts ,research they should be in the box.

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    2. We`re off topic here, Paul, so all I would conclude by saying here is, that the weight of evidence from medical research so far ought to warn people that smoking, drinking like fishes, and eating the wrong tucker, is seriously unwise, and that the many who ignored the advice arising from the evidence, who haven`t survived into old age, outweigh the few "lucky" ones who have, and should be proof enough that staying away from the cliff is the wise course.

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  16. Yes i agree.. im just trying to say there is always the exception to the rule.Yes i will try to stay away from the cliff.Still going to have the odd beer now and again and burger king.Everything in moderation!

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