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Mental Illness, Psychological Difficulties, and the Christadelphians

Mental illness is an interesting consideration, because it creates incongruities with normal Christadelphian theology. In practice within the community there is a big difficulty with depression and many Christadelphians, (including well regarded speakers) are on various forms of medication.

This is at odds with their stated views of scripture. To put the Christadelphian position simply - there is one right way of thinking, which is found within the Bible and when understood correctly allows the mind of God to grow in us. We have the right thinking to the degree therefore that we have the knowledge of the Bible in us. Anything apart from that by contrast is the wrong thinking. The idea posited is that although we are all physical (with neither soul nor spirit), we are divided within that into a mind that has the power (with the Bible in us) to discipline the body. The “natural thinking” is called “the thinking of the flesh” and the “spiritual thinking” is called the “thinking of the spirit.”

Quite logically then to take psychological advice from psychologists is to take advice from those whose understanding is “that of the flesh.” If someone has the wrong thinking the solution would seem to be to get more of the Bible (or the right thinking) in them.

The truth therefore is that reading the Bible does not always provide the spiritual, mental or emotional help that is claimed and that at times is pragmatically acknowledged by Christadelphians not in their words, but in their actions.

In other areas of both secular and psychological thought, the “thinking of the world” is considered to be humanistic. This creates a situation where within the Christadelphian community they have and accept their Care Groups using the psychological approaches of “the world” but elsewhere such thinking is rejected.

The practical difficulty is an intellectual approach based upon the acquisition of Bible knowledge as the way to change doesn’t seem to be very effective in dealing with certain mental and emotional difficulties.






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)