The Devil's Advocate

By John Bedson

Ex-Christadelphians are acting unwisely questioning the Christadelphian religion, because it brings comfort and hope to believers. The fact that this comfort and hope is not based in reality is not relevant. Ultimately, all that matters is that people achieve peace of mind. Our seeking to upset that state of tranquillity and reassurance is not helpful. It creates needless tension. Leave them be. Let us move on with our lives. They are Christadelphians, not axe murderers. Most other religions are far worse. Christadelphians don't fly planes into buildings or video beheadings of unbelievers. I no longer care if people are Christadelphians or if they believe that the Moon is made of cheese. It does not matter one jot.

Discuss.

28 comments:

  1. Three years ago, three different Christadelphian Sisters made a huge effort and great sacrifices to help me when my health and my life was in serious jeopardy. One of them flew from the UK to Australia to help me, and remained here for three months until I was recovered! They rescued me from certain death. They did this knowing that I was once an editor of this website. The majority of these Christadelphians are good people. We should respect them, even if we do not share their beliefs. We should show them the kindness that they would show us.

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    1. You have a softer side John. A few years agon on this site you just about murder comments like that.

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    2. I don't think it can be the same person, only 3 weeks ago, the usual John B posted "You never recover from a Christadelphian upbringing. It curses you to the grave." Now this John B says most religions are far worse, seemingly because some kind folks who happened to be CDs helped him, yet the events he describes above happened three years ago.

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    3. Like all of us, John's entitled to express his own opinion in his own way.

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    4. Yes Jon, but the purpose of this blog as recorded in the About section is to do two things the second of which is 'To share information relating to why we left the Christadelphians, including scientific evidence and a more critical examination of the Bible' so having a thread posted by an editor (if indeed it was) that starts with 'Ex-Christadelphians are acting unwisely questioning the Christadelphian religion' is entirely counter to the that stated aim, is it not? The only reason we are ex is because we did question it.

      So I guess he wants to close the site down for some reason, which he is not saying. Since as you say, no CD is going to be influenced by this site unless they visit it, he cant really be worried about upsetting people - certainly not given his recent posts.

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    5. I have managed the domain for a while, Hassan, though I've largely left it as it was before - a place permitting multiple contributors, a place for comments and some discussion. John's opinion is just that: His opinion. I have no intention of shutting the site down.

      I haven't changed the About Us page, and don't know who wrote it, but I would agree with it.

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  2. I agree, this site is much better now that it seems to have dropped its aim of de-converting all CDs and loudly insulting anyone who has a faith.

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  3. There are good people subscribing to all ideologies; although it is an extreme comparison, there were millions of good people who participated in or tacitly supported the massive bloodletting of the Communists and the Nazis. We can be kind without supporting blindly delusional or destructive religious ideologies. CDism often does harm, and that reality requires that we speak plainly and honestly. It is also important to note that many Christadelphians have not been kind to the people who have defected from their cult, or who have been expelled from it. Not remotely. If you were assisted by CDs, it was most likely because they had former associations with you, and/or believed it would be possible to pull you back into the fold. If they acted purely out of the kindness of their hearts, does that redeem them on some level? Yes and no. Love them. It doesn't mean you have to love their religious delusions.

    To sum up, it is true that most Christadelphians are good people. Many are not. And in the closed environment created by Christadelphianism, their destructiveness is pretty damnable. By pointing out the nonsense and illogic in some of their teachings, we are not trying to "deconvert" them. We are simply refusing to be silent about those things. Casting doubt on religious faith in general is also no sin -- evolution or God gave us brains with the intent that we engage them.

    Speak out. In CDism, there was no freedom of speech or thought. Here, and in other places of dissent, they must exist.

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    1. I think John is trying to curry favour with the CDs to secure a place in one of their care homes, mentally, he seems just about ready.

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  4. I've been on both sides of this discussion, and some here would know that this site played a part in my deconversion. But I think the way it did it was important. It didn't lure me down a dark alley, destroy my comfort and hope, and put me through hell while claiming it was for the greater good. I already had doubts and was in pain before I came across the site. What it did was brought me in contact with some inconvenient truths I hadn't come across before, and needed to reckon with. And, though I didn't often do this, it gave me a place where I could safely express those doubts, in a way that wouldn't have been welcome in Christadelphia. So it had an influence, sure, but it wasn't the only such influence, and the doubts started with me. I think it likely I would have deconverted sooner or later whether or not I'd come across this site.

    One other important thing it did was it gave me a realisation that I wasn't alone, that others had gone through similar processes that yes, were painful - but they ended up better off on the other side. That hope was important, because standard Christadelphian indoctrination had been that nothing could be worse than leaving The Truth, and that life would be meaningless afterwards (spoiler: It isn't).

    And so, if I thought the main goal here was deconverting Christadelphians, I would partly agree with John. Ultimately, people heading in that direction have to deconvert themselves, on their own timetable, and people not heading in that direction may be best off remaining Christadelphian. But I don't think that is the main goal. Certainly not from me. I sometimes choose to write about things I learned while in the process of deconversion or after I left. It helps me process it all and move on, and may be helpful to others who are in the position I was. But I never ask Christadelphians to read it, or expect it to change them if they do. Whether people choose to come here, whether they choose to read my writings or my comments, and what they choose to do with them, is totally up to them.

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  5. Perhaps, you might think, that the clue explaining what John is trying to do, is in the title, "The Devil`s Advocate". He, surely, is putting forward the other point of view, to engender responses which put into focus what the worst side of Christadelphianism is, and what is of help to those who find it so. If this is not so, I can`t think what can have come over him.

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    1. Mancott, from the comments it looks as though only you and me have this figured out properly. John himself must have thought his original post was not quite clear enough, so added a comment that pretty much spells out the purpose. If people cannot decode that comment then I do wonder not just about their past involvement but also how sceptically they are currently able to think. I kind of miss the old John.

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    2. I would have thought that most people would understand the meaning of "Devil`s Advocate". Most definitions go something like this -- "A person who expresses contentious opinions to provoke debate and to test the strength of opposing arguments". Yes, I too kind of miss the old John. John, you came out with some pretty strong words, but interspersed with some "fun" times.

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  6. He's being the Devil's Advocate so we can examine every facet of the dilemma being presented. Is it better for some people to remain in CDism? Maybe. Is it more toxic than most organized religion? Perhaps not. I left CDism, and entered mainstream Protestant denominations. I found them to be more benign, but basically full of the same misbehavior, pettiness, corruption and misery. Now I don't waste my time on any organized religion.

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  7. I know some people had relatively benign experiences sojourning in CDism. Perhaps that sojourn and other delusions can and should be their cup of tea. No skin off my nose. It becomes skin off my nose when my friends and relatives are drawn into some of the groups wherein dysfunction and tyranny and dogmatism reign supreme. In two CD groups to which I belonged, there were vicious and toxic patriarchs and matriarchs who wrought terrible damage on other members. Even now, so many years later, I will be humming along in life and suddenly something triggers me back to some memory and I find myself momentarily catching my breath and thinking, "How absolutely vicious they were. The horror. The horror."

    In more than one CD household, in one group, I was aware of domestic violence. In another group, the firebrand leader would "raid" the homes of members, showing up unannounced to confront them over real or imagined wrongdoing. As if the thug had any such authority. If other members defied him, he would shout them into submission. His word was supreme, and if he decided to withhold communion temporarily or excommunicate someone, the others dutifully obeyed him to place his orders into effect. They were afraid of him, even the members more highly educated than him and physically larger than him.

    In the second group that I've already mentioned, there was a matriarch who filled a similar role within her extended family. On the surface, everything was saccharine and attractive -- in the hopes of bringing in converts -- and behind the scenery she used her talons, fists, feet, and high pitched shrieks of rage when necessary to maintain what she believed was a necessary order and discipline and subservience. She did incredible damage to everyone around her.

    In these situations, the other members of the ecclesias tolerated this behavior, because it had become normalized in their minds and perceptions. I believe this normalization is commonplace, in many institutions and contexts.

    Years after leaving the CDs, I encountered the aforementioned patriarch/firebrand in the parking lot of a local shopping center. He had a history of using temporary manifestations of charm to lure defectors back into the cult. He approached me with a large grin and his hand extended "in fellowship," no doubt. While he was a safe distance away from me, so as to credibly defend any possible complaint of assault, I spat toward him and then walked in the opposite direction. I had regrets only in the immediate moment for doing so.

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  8. Glad to see you back posting again John

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  9. Two comments/discussions from me on this, please ensure you read them both, and then attack what I am saying in any way that you please.

    John requests that we leave the Christadelphians alone, on the basis that they do not use axes to murder people and that "other religions are far worse".

    Christadelphianism was, and still is, primarily based on attacking, sneering at, and denying the underlying Christian religion. It was the basis of both John Thomas' and Robert Roberts "conversions" and subsequent writings and behaviour. It works it's way into many so called "Bible talks", and was never far from the lips of the AB's at the Ecclesia I attended, despite my having multiple family members that were members of the more traditional faith groups. No special case was ever made to avoid any possible offence to myself. Bible in the news has recently attacked the Catholic church ( in an article that was nothing to do with the church at all).

    If Christadelphians wish to avoid being questioned by others, then a good idea might be for them to STFU with criticising other groups in the first place, but they seem to be incapable of doing so, probably because the basis of their little cult is little more than doing that.

    Be aware too, that both on YouTube and at the Christadelphian office, they have made considerable efforts to convert people from one of the other middle eastern religions Perhaps they should leave them in peace too, especially in light of what happened in Liverpool recently.

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    1. So was it the attacking of the other religions that made you leave?

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    2. From the days of Dr John Thomas going forward there have been acrimonious divisions following varying degrees of discussion nastiness, from Millerites, from Alexander Campbell, from early CD groups, down to our day with the Dawn, Old Paths, amended, unamended, Hatless, Hatted, Unleavened bread, leavened bread, et al. E.M.Forster`s short story "Mr Andrews" is an interesting take on divisions of belief.

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    3. Paul, no it wasn't. not directly. It was just one of a large number of things that convinced me that it was a very bad group of people to be associating with and taking orders from. Time proved me to be correct in what I thought. Given time, my tormentors/critics turned out to be a group of adulterers, alcoholics, and fraudsters who even when exposed kept on with their nonsense and claimed it to be "the truth".

      Good reference Mancott, an enjoyable short story.

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    4. So you are in another Church now?? or involved in another reigion.??

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  10. Comment two:

    John's story in his comment brought a smile at least. Three sisters (Father, Son and Holy spirit), residing in the UK (heaven), sent one of their number (Jesus) who made a great personal "sacrifice" (The crucifixion) by travelling to Australia (Earth) and dwelt amongst them for a season (3 months, like the 3 years of Jesus ministry on Earth). She then saved John (Mankind) from certain death, knowing that he was a former editor of ex-Christadelphians (A fallen man, a sinner). As a result of this entirely concocted tale, which happened a long time ago, is entirely unverifiable, (just like the Christian myth) we should thank and respect the Christadelphians who are mostly good people (Just like the Christians who fought each other, bought and sold slaves, hanged those whose doctrine they didn't like, mostly good people my arse).

    I do however show the Christadelphians exactly the kindness they showed me. A big fat zero.

    Nice joke John, I greatly enjoyed it, please bring us more!

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  11. Comment three:

    Some context for those who may not be fully familiar with the website. John, a former editor, left the Christadelphians and his family in 1985, went on to become very wealthy, and (to paraphrase his words), retired early, a wealthy man, to the sun, with a trophy (younger) wife, and for many years provided us with many thought provoking and entertainingly controversial article which cut too close to the bone for some people.

    I am not criticising him in any way here, however his story is just that, a story to provoke discussion. John has the wealth and contacts to provide care should he need it without involving his former religion. Three years ago, when the story is set, Australia was still a civilised democracy with healthcare, etc, it had yet to decline into it's present state of a penal colony ruled over by a vicious police force bent on keeping them "safe" at all costs........Sorry Jon :)

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  12. What a strange world this is. I was sitting yesterday at our Thanksgiving dinner, with my guests, and we were politely talking about cultural and political topics. In regard to one issue, a guest said, "We needn't worry about it, since Jesus is coming soon." Suddenly it dawned on me, that everyone at my table had some connection of some kind to the Christadelphians, the cult I've spent my life fleeing and trying to shut out of my life. And here they all were: one a defector, a second person who had migrated into the Dawn Christadelphian fellowship, a third who was still a member of the Unamended branch of Christadelphianism, a fourth who had been expelled from his meeting for misbehavior, a relative who had simply stopped going to meetings, a nonChristadelphian parent of a Christadelphian....but every single one of them a person with some connection to the cult.

    And it took that one comment, "Yes, but we don't need to worry about it, since Jesus is coming," to illuminate the reality that what I'd fled I'd drawn back into my presence.

    Not a happy feeling. I must reevaluate what I am doing with my life.

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  13. I think it is a quote from "Brideshead Revisited" that came to my mind in that moment during my Thanksgiving dinner: "There are very few permanent good-byes in life -- except for the ones that involve death."

    And I must admit my epiphany involved a small element of sudden horror.

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  14. What I am always left with are memories of relative normalcy in terms of surface appearances, and terrible, hideous, distressing things behind that mask of mundaneness. The petty and vitriolic rivalries, the adultery, the abuse of innocents, the posturing, the emphasis on making a pretty appearance for the outside world, the violence, the sexism, the homophobia, the insular nature of it all. " Only WE have 'The Truth.' " My brother coming to an afternoon lecture after having had a beer at a restaurant next to the church, and having the elders explode in rage and hysteria, because they smelled the beer on his breath. My sister being asked not to wear inappropriate attire (she came in rags because she was poor; it never occurred to them that that might be the case). Having the self-appointed "head" of our church pursue us into the church parking lot, because we left a service early -- and he decided chastising us was appropriate (we had to pick someone up at the train station). Having board members, irritated about one thing or another, showing up at our houses without advance notice, to scold us about things they didn't like. The use of bombast and dogmatism, to scare off members that most of the membership didn't like. The pretense of caring, when most people in the meetings didn't really give a hoot about anyone except themselves. Having the head of our church instruct my father to leave me without a ride at the local college library -- where I was studying for graduate exams -- because my father's attendance at an interminable afternoon lecture was more important.
    (To his credit, my father refused to obey the edict.) And, worst of all, being in true distress and jeopardy, and having the ecclesia decide that the proper course of action was not to help me at all.

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  15. We come into the world full of joy and hope and optimism. I remember those things. I remember the excitement of just looking at the beauty of the world, and seeing it with the new eyes of a child. And then the drones and bible docents gather around you, to force their religious and political delusions on you. Higher powers, in the clouds, and sky fairies and eternal fire for those who rub their own genitalia. And pieces of you start to become trapped, cynical, jaded, suspicious, brainwashed. It becomes easiest to survive by submission to what some inner core of your soul knows with certainty is delusions. In this process, you learn of the world's ugliness, through these translators of reality, because they, themselves, are part of the ugliness, all the while presenting themselves as having "The Truth," as having a moral calling, as being morally above the rest of the herd. They teach you to paint yourself into corners, traps, where you will remain the rest of your life if you don't wrestle your way back into freedom. Would that there was a Hell, for these knaves and flunkeys and fools and little tin soldiers, all demonstrating with their "understanding" and fake compassion that in reality they have no real understanding or compassion at all.

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