A Call for Calm…

The letter below was sent to the sent to the editors of the Christadelphian, Lampstand, Tidings, and Testimony magazines in 2014.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

07.09.14

Dear Brethren,

This letter has been motivated by the biblical principles of unity with those who hold the same understanding of the gospel and atonement as we do, and forbearance of those who differ on biblical details which can legitimately be identified as matters of conscience.

The undersigned are not all committed to the theory of evolution, but we are genuinely concerned for the unity of our brotherhood and believe the current treatment of the issue of evolution in our community is divisive and destructive.

Faithful brothers and sisters are being charged falsely with beliefs they do not hold, and unilateral disfellowship is being encouraged as a way of responding to those who accept evolution and those who are willing to accommodate them.

As an alternative we advocate calm discussion in a Christlike spirit with the aim of restoring mutual respect and understanding. Rather than setting up roadblocks our community should seek a way forward for the benefit of all.

It would be greatly to our community’s advantage if we applied the following advice of Bro. Roberts concerning the human creation, to the issue of evolution.

‘GENERAL PRINCIPLE.

That God made man of the dust of the ground.

Uncertain Detail.

But as to whether it was a direct action of the Father’s formative energy, after the manner in which sound creates geometric figures in sand scattered loosely upon a tightly extended vibrating surface? or by the expert manipulation of angelic hands, we cannot be sure.

There are grounds for a strong opinion in favour of the latter, but it would be unwarrantable to insist on the reception of that opinion as a condition of fellowship. It is sufficient if the brother or sister believe that God made man of the dust of the ground.’[1]

In relation to this matter we therefore advise:

  • the ‘general principle’ identified by Bro. Roberts provides sufficient common ground to accommodate varying interpretations of the creation week
  • the finer details of a brother or sister’s views should be assessed fairly and objectively on a case by case basis, in accordance with the ethos of Matthew 18:15-17, I Corinthians 1:10, II Corinthians 13:11, and II Timothy 2:22-26

This letter has been read and endorsed by the 57 signatories below, and by an additional 70 brothers and sisters who prefer to remain anonymous at present.

With love in the Master’s service,

<<Signatories redacted>>

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[1] Roberts, ‘True Principles & Uncertain Details’, The Christadelphian (35.407.183), 1898; although brother Roberts did not accept evolution and certainly did not write this to encourage fellowship of anyone who did (though it is remarkable that evolution was never identified as a doctrine to be rejected), the advice he gives here is Biblically sound and most appropriate to the issue currently facing our community.