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Reading the Bible

A good way to gain an ability to better understand many Christadelphian arguments is to gain some understanding of the Bible and how it is structured. I would not suggest adopting this method as a search to find salvation, because not everyone is equipped to become a Biblical scholar and I don’t believe this is God’s method anyway. Not everyone is able to become a theologian no matter what Christadelphians may suggest. My own grounding was as a child reading the Bible in turns as a family, not always with a desire to do so it has to be admitted. As a result like many former Christadelphians I have read it multiple times.

An excellent way to gain a good overview of how the Bible is structured and learn how to be a Bible scholar is to actually attend a Christadelphian course on Reading the Bible Effectively. The materials produced to accompany it are excellent, although they do contain denominational bias and it is designed to persuade to Christadelphian views. There is usually a commitment to not preach at attendees, but nevertheless there is a desire to find a way to get folk to attend other organised events. The emphasis is to teach a disciplined form of systematic theology and study and in that sense it may set out a very daunting analysis of how to understand the Bible involving finding the right translation, how to use concordances, Bible dictionaries and so forth. It can take up to 12 weeks on such a course to learn “how” to read the Bible before starting.

For a simpler overview most Christian bookshops have an excellent array of books and materials, although they will present more conventional explanations of what the Bible says and many standard bookshops do too, often supplying materials with relevant historical and cultural information and pictures. They may also be purchased from online companies such as Amazon.

An obvious thought is to read the Bible for yourself, although most folk who start from the beginning intending to read to the end never complete the task. This is for a number of reasons. The first is that it has a lot of information. It is in fact two libraries of books, the New Testament and the Old Testament. Some books are fairly easy to read, others involve detailed descriptions of laws and rites. There are lists of genealogies, straightforward narratives, prophecies, poetry as well as metaphoric and complex to understand sections. A straightforward reading is a hard struggle, particularly if (as many suggest) it is read in a translation using archaic forms of wording such as the King James Bible. For this reason there are many Bible reading plans. One that many Christadelphians use (called the Bible Companion) is based upon reading three sections of the Bible a day, two readings from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. In a year this enables the Old Testament to be read once and the New Testament twice.

The weakness of rote reading is that it can end up being a chore and as a result a fruitless habit, just as in fact rote attendance of a church can lead to the same affect too. Whilst the value of discipline is acknowledged, the root reason for many Christadelphians is that they believe spirituality is connected to how much the Bible is read. In this view everyone has a responsibility to become a Bible scholar, even though quite clearly not everyone has the ability to do so for many reasons.

The best advice is to find a method which works for you and from which benefit and understanding is gained. Reading the New Testament first in some ways is quite a good method. It is generally more interesting, more closely related to the Christian emphasis, but it does draw on the Old Testament significantly and refer to it. Whichever method you choose, it is probably best to try and gain an overview rather than adopt a comprehensive approach that will end up with discouragement. Another good method is to listen to audio tapes of the Bible.






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)