The Sect everywhere spoken against
22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against.
There is no objection to a sect, provided it is a right one.
Christ's friends are necessarily a sect-all for him and against the evil. As for "dogmatic basis," it is inevitable. They would have no cohesive power but for the dogmatic authority of God in him. Any attempt to attenuate the force of this must lead to demoralizing compromise.
Till Christ come, the world must witness endless endeavours to realise an impossible ideal apart from his manifested presence.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1887. p23.
People use the term "sect" in a reproachful sense; those who know the truth will see that instead of being a reproach, it is a necessary expression of the position to which those are called who believe the truth. There can be no people of Christ without a sect.
The brethren of Christ created by the truth-are a sect of the most distinct and tenacious order, a peculiar people a sworn people, a warm and enthusiastic people, if you will, a narrow-minded people, in the sense that their minds are narrowed down to a distinct apprehension of and an uncompromising contention for the things that are true about Jesus Christ...
'...and though divided by a long distance of time, from the facts proclaimed by the apostles, yet with the intellectual means of grasping those facts as clearly and distinctly as those who listened to the personal ministrations of the apostles, we say to John and Paul, "Though dead, yet we hear your voice; we believe your testimony that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and that he was and is the resurrection and the life, and that he is the name of salvation given to men, by which they may be saved."
Bro Roberts - Exhort No 4
As to the reviewers [of Elpis Israel], the author presents his compliments to them, and respectfully invites them to examine this work impartially. While he has no wish to propitiate them, it would afford him great pleasure to turn them to what he believes to be "the truth as it is in Jesus," as opposed to the dogmas of their creeds. It is not to be expected that they can approve the work, seeing that, if the things exhibited be received, Sectarianism is dethroned, at least in the hearts of those who receive the principles inculcated.
By Sectarianism the author means everything professedly Christian, not according to "the law and the testimony" (Isa. 8:20). He therefore uses the word as representative of all state-religions, as well as of the forms opposed to them. Being the echo of no living sect, but the advocate only of what is written in the oracles of God, of the faith and practice of that "sect" which in Paul's time "was everywhere spoken against" (Acts 28:22), he has shown no favour to the Heresies which destroy it, and therefore he expects none.
The perils to which he is exposed, are only to be despised by those whose houses are founded upon the rock. The author is free to admit his weakness and inferiority in every respect that can be imagined. In one thing, however, he feels strong, and armed at all points for a conflict with the giants - he knows what is written in "the law and the testimony," and he understands the meaning of it.
If they undertake to review this work, they must put it through the evolutions of the Spirit; and if they enter into combat with it, he would advise them to throwaway their wooden swords, and encounter it with "the two-edged sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God;" for no other weapon can do more than raise the author's mirth. But, perhaps, prudence, which is sometimes the better part of valour, may dictate the expediency of saying nothing about it.
This might be very good policy if Elpis Israel were born from the press only to gasp and die. But editors must remember, that before a single copy reaches them, it will be in the hands of upwards of a thousand people. This is a fact not to be despised. Such a number of intelligent persons is calculated to make a troublesome impression upon the public mind; and if the press do not check it, there is no telling whereunto the evil may grow!
Let "the Ministry" be up and doing. It is not the "infidel" their influence hath to fear; but the Word of the Living God understood by the people. The author has some of them among his subscribers. He trusts that for their own sakes they will read this work with candour, impartiality, and tranquillity of mind. As individuals, he has no controversy with them. His opposition is to their systems, which he trusts they will abandon for the gospel of the kingdom.
If Elpis Israel convince them of error, then, like the apostle, may they esteem their worldly honours and profits as mere dross for the excellency of the truth. Let them leave the fat things of the apostasy to those who "mind earthly things;" and let them put on the whole armour of God, and go forth among the people with the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and do battle for the truth.
Elpis Israel Preface to 1st ed.
Christadelphians : Not a sect!
One or two minor features out of harmony with Divine proprieties will disappear if enlightenment prevail. There was a tendency to put forward "The Christadelphians" instead of the truth. This belongs to the first stage of zeal. It is natural to think of the brethren as competitors in the sectarian and ecclesiastical rivalries, of which the world is full. Riper knowledge of Divine ways will draw nearer to the position from which God regards all these things. The world is His enemy, whether in ecclesiastical or political uniform. It has no sympathy for His ways, nor submission for His commandments. To Him it is but a transient phantasmagoria which "passeth away."
As the friends of Christ, we are "not of the world." Therefore, we are not in competition with it. We are not in the category of its regards. We are not an item in its catalogue. Like Israel, we are "not reckoned with the nations." It is a moral impossibility we can ever run in harness with them if we are faithful to the truth. We should frankly accept the position, and not seek to pose as "one of the denominations." This is not our attitude at all.
There is only one Name of salvation under heaven, and only assumable in the one way prescrible by apostolic teaching, long since forgotten. If the religious bodies around us were in submission to this teaching, we should not be apart from them. Because they are not in submission we cannot be of them in any sense. Those claiming fellowship with us who do not see this are not of us, though holding some of our doctrines.
Ecclesiastical Christadelphians are a smoke in the nostrils. The name is merely a sign-board for the public: we are not a competing firm. When we undertake an effort for the truth, it is not "the Christadelphians" we should put forward, but the Bible. The Christadelphians are nobody but persons whom the Bible has reclaimed from the prevalent barbarism - if indeed it has done this in all cases.
In putting out invitations to the public to come and hear, it is not skilful to put the Christadelphians in the bill. That will help to keep the people away. The object of bills and advertisements is to draw the people to the hearing point. Therefore, expose the spirit's dainties in the bill of fare: over "the Christadelphians" draw the veil. They will come into view soon enough when the truth has created interest.
The Christadelphian, July 1896