The following passage was originally accepted for publication by the main magazine, The Christadelphian, 1881 and
was written by
J. W. Thirtle (who later left the Christadelphians). It has been re-quoted
in the introduction to some editions of
Phanerosis, written by the founder of the Christadelphians, John Thomas. This book was written to explain his view of the nature of Christ, which he termed "god manifestation".
It is interesting for two reasons. Firstly it shows the unique position historically attributed to John Thomas in terms of ability to interpret scripture. Secondly, it illustrates the complexity of the topic being considered which is a frequent criticism of Trinitarian explanations and used to suggest they are therefore necessarily flawed. Here we can see alternative Christadelphian explanations can be equally complex. In fact in my experience many Christadelphians would struggle to explain some of the difficulties with “God manifestation”
Consideration on the Role of John Thomas
“Both in ‘Eureka’ and ‘Phanerosis’ Dr. Thomas wrote much about the name ‘Yahweh.’ To study the word aright, introduces us to the subject of God-manifestation, the Scripture teaching concerning which many have misunderstood. Some people, with nothing better than a vague notion as to what Dr. Thomas’s writings on this subject really amount to, have adjudged him in error on some points; and most frequently a little examination has shown that the points of difference have involved a difficult criticism or an investigation of matters beyond the compass of those who have not seen their way to be content with dealing with things which are within their reach. Others, however, convinced of the impregnability of Dr. Thomas’s position, have been thankful for the plainly expressed results of his labour and study, and grateful for the light he shed upon the doctrine of God-manifestation in its many revealed phases; and this, notwithstanding their individual inability to follow him in every stage of his reasoning, owing to their own lack of the qualifications necessary to support them in an adventure on the field of Biblical criticism . . . It will be patent to any reader of Dr. Thomas’s works that he did not find his problems ready worked out, neither were the difficulties he encountered already solved and only waiting to be ‘re-hashed up.’ It is also clear to anyone having only a slight acquaintance with current and recent literature on the subjects dealt with by the Doctor, that hard study and careful investigation were required before he could, in the lucid way he did, ‘open up the Scriptures’ to enquirers after the way of life. Bringing to bear upon the subject of God-manifestation, a knowledge of the revealed purpose of the Deity, he was well equipped for his task of examining both the Old and New Testaments.”