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“High Church” Christadelphians

The following article was published in a Christadelphian Magazine,The Fraternal Visitor in May 1894 and followed “the Inspiration Controversy” when a new magazine (The Exegetist) published a consideration of how the Bible was inspired. This eventually led to a Foundation Statement being added to the statement of faith and separating from all congregations who would not add it to theirs. The article shows contemporary concerns by many Christadelphians to the increasing requirement to give express agreement to defined creedal positions. The objections were about a change in the values expressed by the movement initially, rather than wide ranging variances of belief. They wanted the movement to continue to allow greater liberality of thought in line with the initial foundational beliefs promoted. They saw in this creedal approach the development of church authority which had been condemned initially as restrictive to the principle of independence of thought.

A sense of unease had also grown since previous creedal movements and a sense of how dissent had been handled. Many disliked the new position towards “heretics” as the movement had been a rebellious movement anyway in promoting a free-thinking outlook. The new authoritarianism which they saw as being led by a “one-man leadership” did not sit well with them. This referred to Robert Roberts, who was eventually to take the majority of the movement with him. His position was described in Sects and Society by Bryan R. Wilson as “primus inter pares” or “first amongst equals.” In other words, technically everyone was equal as brothers, in practice he was the leader. After his death nobody has had the position or ability to coordinate a change in the statements of faith other than to form another minority grouping, and probably no-one can now do so.






Christadelphian Quotes

You lay a great stress upon facts throughout your letters, and are incessant in your demand that I should attend to them. This is good; but facts have to be rightly put together, and then you must have all the facts. I do not think you put the facts rightly together, and you leave out some, I am sure.

(Robert Roberts, a Christadelphian Pioneer, quoted

by Ruth McHaffie in Brethren Indeed)

The Spirit of liberty, based upon the law of faith, is the Spirit of Christ; and this spirit all the Sons of God are privileged to possess, and having it, to breathe. I claim the right of exercising this privilege, as well as my contemporaries; and I require of them that they should do to me as once they loudly required others to do to them…

(written by John Thomas, the founder of the Christadelphians, when he was against creeds in 

The Apostolic Advocate magazine, August 1836)

(John Thomas, from Apostacy Unveiled, p. 137,

quoted in The Christadelphian Magazine, January 1906)

Must a man never progress? If he discovers an error in his premises, must he for ever hold to it for the sake of consistency? May such a calamity never befall me! Rather let me change every day, till I get right at last.

(from a letter written by John Thomas in 1848, quoted by Robert Roberts, in Dr. Thomas: His Life and Work)

Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth; teach it without compromise, and all lovers of the Truth will approve you. For all others you need not care a rush!

(from a letter written by John Thomas to Robert Roberts and published in The Christadelphian magazine, February 1866)