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Berean Christadelphians


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Berean Christadelphians
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Four More Questions from bro. Genusa

Bro. Genusa appears fascinated by asking us questions, but then walking away when the answers are provided him. Typically, when one asks a question such as bro. Genusa has done, one usually looks forward to the answer, expecting to be able to show the flaws in the answer, and thereby defend the point the question was intended to reveal. The last time it was 12 questions. One time he started asking questions for a proposed debate, and when the questions were answered, he again walked away. So if he wasn’t going to respond to the answers I saw no reason to continue to answer them.

Now he has placed four more questions on his web site which he claims Bereans cannot answer. Why, I don’t know. The answers all seem pretty simple and obvious to me. But as he has not chosen to respond to any of the other answers we have given him, I doubt he responds to these. Nevertheless, we will answer his questions.


His questions below are written in Christadelphian Magazine red. My answers will be in the standard black type. Quotes from the pioneer writings will be in blue.

Four Questions Bereans Can’t Answer

1) A single quote from the pioneer writings which indicates the pioneer brethren advocated and practiced Fellowship unions of mortal ecclesias. For those unclear, the question asks for a single proof that the pioneer brethren advocated and practiced fellowship with an exclusive worldwide union of ecclesias as exemplified by the modern Berean Fellowship doctrine and practice.

Just as Berean Christadelphians do today, the pioneer brethren obeyed and practiced the apostolic principles of fellowship. I’ve never heard a Berean brother, or a pioneer brother describe these apostolic principles as a "worldwide union of mortal ecclesias," and I’ve never used that term to describe them. In fact, I’m not completely clear on what that term is intended to mean. I presume the intent of the question is to determine whether we can prove that the fellowship practices of the pioneer brethren, are the same practices as exemplified by the Berean ecclesias, today. If bro. Genusa wishes to describe the apostolic principles of fellowship as a world wide union of mortal ecclesias, so be it. Let him explain what he means with those strange words..

The pioneer brethren referred to themselves as Christadelphian ecclesias. These ecclesias were autonomous bodies, all in fellowship, one with another. Proof of this is easy enough to obtain, and easily seen in the title page of the Ecclesial Guide. Bro. Roberts wrote:

A Guide

To the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias

In the characteristic circumstances of an age when the truth as apostolically delivered has been revived in the ways of divine providence, without the co-operation and living guidance of the holy spirit as enjoyed in the apostolic age


Robert Roberts



The fellowship practices of the Christadelphian ecclesias are clearly stated in the Ecclesial Guide itself. They are as follows:

1. That we are a Christadelphian ecclesia.

2. That we accept and profess the doctrines and precepts of Christ, as taught in the apostolic writings, and defined in the annexed Statement of Faith and Epitome of the Commandments of Christ.

3. That we recognise as brethren, and welcome to our fellowship, all who have been immersed (by whomsoever) after their acceptance of the same doctrines and precepts.

Now, that the Christadelphian ecclesias were in unity, one with another, and that they did not knowingly fellowship with error, or with otherwise sound brethren who disobediently fellowshipped with error, is evident from bro. Roberts’ article, written in the heat of the 1885 Partial Inspiration division: Fellowship: Its Nature and Conditions in the Truth.

5. —That the first condition of association is the belief of the truth, apart from the perception and reception of which, there is no basis of fellowship.

 6. —That the truth forming this basis is made up of a number of items or elements, that are each essential to its integrity as a whole.

 7. —That it is a matter of duty to require the recognition of these at the hands of those claiming association with us in the truth.

 8. —That we are not at liberty to receive any one who denies or refuses to believe any of them, because the receiving of such would open the way for the currency of their principles among us, with the tendency of leavening the whole community. The elements of the truth are so mutually related that the displacement of one undermines the foundation of the whole.

 9. —A man himself believing the truth, but willing to wink at its denial among those in fellowship in any of its essential elements, becomes, by this willingness, an offender against the law of Christ, which requires the faithful maintenance of the whole. Faithful servants of Christ cannot unite with such, on the ground that though he hold the truth himself, such a man is responsible for the error of those whom he would admit, and therefore becomes the channel of a similar responsibility to those who may endorse him in fellowship:—"He that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (Christadelphian, September 1885)

These quotes show that the Pioneer brethren believed that the Christadelphian ecclesias were all in fellowship together, abiding by the same fundamental principles as generally outlined in the Statement of Faith.

This would appear to be quite obvious, and one wonders why bro. Genusa would even raise the question.

When an ecclesia departed from the One Faith, or if they fellowshipped with ecclesias who had members who had departed from the One Faith, they ceased to be in fellowship with the Christadelphians. The Pioneer Brethren then ceased referring to them as Christadelphians. Rather they named them Dowieites, Renunciationists, Partial Inpirationists, New Street brethren, Exchange Room brethren, Jot and Title brethren, Masonic Hall brethren, No Willists, etc. We see this in Bro. Roberts answering some questions pertaining to the Partial Inspiration division, which references action in the ecclesia at Halifax, where the departed brethren who formed an ecclesia in alliance with the Partial Inspiration brethren at the Birmingham, Masonic Hall, are referred to as "countermanded" (revoked) Christadelphians.

"[As to which, we have to say that, personally, we know nothing of the matters in question, except in so far as they have been reported to us. The evidence goes to show a greater divergence than the foregoing letter would indicate. Burnt and countermanded Christadelphians would not indicate much sympathy with the battle on behalf of a wholly-inspired Bible; nor does the endeavour to gag its advocacy and to mix peace with corruption, show the zeal for God which God looks for at the hands of His children."–RR (Emboldening mine–JP)

Another example of this would be bro. Thomas’ (living in America) advice to bro. Roberts in Birmingham, to withdraw from the Dowieites in Scottland. The following is the testimony of this by bro. Roberts:

Chdn. 1891, pg. 308 "Why should he have the doctor’s remarks of that date 'written in letters of gold on every Christadelphian periodical'; and the doctor’s later utterances concealed away out of sight in common printer’s ink? If Dr. Thomas of 1837, is 'our justly esteemed Doctor,' what is Dr. Thomas of 1862 when he advised us to withdraw from the fellowship of Dowieism because of its ambiguous attitudes?" --RR (Emboldening mine–JP)

Withdrawing from the fellowship of the Dowieites meant withdrawing from all ecclesias who were in fellowship with George Dowie and his associates, along with ecclesias who tolerated their members meeting with Dowieites. There were a number of such ecclesias who continued these associations, and they were referred to as the Dowieite Fellowship, and not tolerated in fellowship by the Christadelphians.

(We note a very large paper on bro. Genusa’s site that claims to list all the ecclesial correspondence, and makes a big point that the withdrawn groups are not called "fellowships." We are not sure why the author thinks this is relevant. Unquestionably the separated groups fellowshipped among themselves, and not with the Christadelphians. So we don’t understand the point. Further, we are unclear why the author would differentiate between "fellowship with Renunciationists" and Renunciationsist fellowship. They are the same thing. And there are a multitude of examples of the errorist referred to as in fellowship with {various errorist bodies}. Yet even in its own work are examples of the pioneer brethren using the term Dowieite Fellowship, such as the following:

Euphemia Young (27), wife of brother James Young, was immersed on Saturday, May 17th. Formerly she was in Dowieite fellowship, but the truth has emancipated her from its deadening influence; also brother and sister McDonald (late of New Jersey, U.S.,) who met with the Dowieites, and have separated from them on a meeting having been now formed on a Christadelphian basis. .(Emboldening Mine--JP)

And the term is used by bro. Roberts:

J.P.R.C. and others.—Our obstacle in Aberdeen was the Dowieite fellowship. This removed, reunion ensues as a matter of course, unless the existence of other scriptural barriers can be shown. Alleged torpidity of spiritual life would not be a reason. We are not judges. If the truth is recognised and Christ’s commandments upheld, fellow believers are bound to unite, even if practical coldness may be felt to exist. Such a state would be an evil, but we know of no New Testament warrant for making it a reason of separation.(Emboldening Mine--JP)

2) A single quote which gives us the name of the mortal Fellowship union which brother Thomas and brother Roberts established and broke bread with.

Again, I am unfamiliar with the term "mortal fellowship," but if he is asking what name the brethren in fellowship together used to identify their ecclesias, it was "Christadelphian" as shown in the quotes for question number 1.

Occasionally, it was necessary to clarify themselves further, by stating they were in fellowship with the brethren at Temperance Hall, bro. Roberts’ ecclesia. Examples are as follows:

Leamington.—Brother Peters reports that there have been added to the brethren, by immersion, Thos. Groom (65), gardener, and George Groom (63), labourer, both formerly neutral. They put on the sin-covering name in the appointed way on January 9th, 1886. Also, sister Brown, of Manchester, is meeting with us. This ecclesia wish it to be known that they are in fellowship with the Temperance Hall, Birmingham. (Chdn vol. 23).(Emboldening Mine--JP)

Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada "..But I am happy to say that arrangements were soon made and the meetings were re-commenced, at the house of brother Howell, on Division Street, but now at the house of brother Pengley, Bay Street, where we shall be pleased to have the fellowship of any who come this way, who are in fellowship with the Temperance Hall, Birmingham, Ecclesia. (Chdn Vol 25).(Emboldening Mine--JP)

Where necessary, the reference to "in fellowship with the brethren at Temperance Hall" was a necessary distinction to those in fellowship with the Partial Inspirationists, who were progressively called "New Street Brethren," "Exchange Room brethren," "Masonic Hall, Birminhgham brethren," and ultimately "Suffolk Street brethren."

Now the true mystery, for those who think bro. Genusa's explanation of the history of fellowship is correct, is why Suffolk Street required a reunion in 1956, if they were never really out of fellowship with Temperance Hall, Birmingham from 1885, in the first place.

3) A single quote that gives us the name of the basis of fellowship, the Statement of Faith that their union of mortal ecclesias used as their basis of fellowship. Do not worry about providing a list of doctrines that joined the supposed worldwide fellowship union together. Let's make it even easier: Just provide the name of the Statement of Faith they used

Again, we are unfamiliar with the term "union of mortal ecclesias" but if you mean the pioneer ecclesias, they mostly used the Statement of Faith from the Birmingham Constitution, along with the epitome of the Commandments of Christ, though some ecclesias formed their own upon similar lines, to the satisfaction of the ecclesias in the fellowship with Christadelphian ecclesias.

This is again shown in the Ecclesial Guide above. The Guide itself, had the Statement of Fath in it, with the Epitome of the Commandments of Christ.

The ecclesias in fellowship with Bereans meet on the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith, as did the Pioneer ecclesias who continued in fellowship with bro. Roberts. Bro. Genusa takes this to mean that if an ecclesia forms its own Statement of Faith, the Berean ecclesias would not recognize them. This is no more true today, than in the Pioneer days. If ecclesias have their own basis of fellowship, (and some Berean ecclesias do) and if this basis includes the principles established in the Statement of Faith, then no one would object today, as no one would have objected in the days of the Pioneers. If ecclesias formed their own basis without including the principles of the Statement of Faith, or if they had principles contradicting the Statement of Faith, then they would not be included in the fellowship of Berean ecclesias, just as they would not have been included in fellowship among the Christadelphian ecclesias in the days of the Pioneer brethren.

4) Any series of quotes that demonstrates the pioneer brethren made all the Clauses of the Berean Restatement a matter of fellowship.

The Berean Restatement is merely an affirmation of several principles in the Birmingham Statement of Faith and the Epitome of the Commandments of Christ as defined in the Ecclesial Guide above. Various controversies have brought specific aspects of the Statement of Faith into question, and errorists have developed complex and convoluted ways of claiming they agree with the Statement of Faith, while teaching the very principles it was intended to exclude. The Berean Restatement is intended to affirm and clarify those points (not that clarification was legitimately necessary) in the Statement of Faith. For instance, Clause Three on Evolution, is merely an affirmation that the theory of Evolution contradicts Genesis 1, and therefore "The Foundation" to the Statement of Faith.

The Berean Restatement adds nothing new to the Statement of Faith. We believe anyone who thinks it does, fails to grasp the application and true meaning of the Statement of Faith and the Epitome of the Commandments of Christ. The Restatement then, is useful in highlighting potential differences which could exist with brethren coming to us from other bodies. As I said, some brethren have found unique and twisted ways to claim to agree with the BASF, while teaching principles contrary to it. The Restatement helps us to identify this.

That the Pioneer brethren insisted on the complete and accurate understanding of the Statement of Faith, enforced in fellowship is obvious from the 1885 article called The Nature and Conditions of Fellowship in the Truth" quoted in answer to Question 1.


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...and from June 2009:

Berean fellowship thread 2009


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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Christadelphos,

You are correct that bro. Genusa has created a caricature depicting who the Bereans are in his mind, which has absolutely nothing to do with who we really are.  I have always looked at this as proof that his appeal has never been to Bereans.  You can't reasonably appeal to a body by telling them they have to repent from behavior they are not involved in, in the first place.  So obviously, all the discussion about Bereans is not an appeal to Bereans, but a scare tactic to be used against the Amended and Unamended brethren who  have become dissatisfied in their various groups.

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Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks, bro Jim. In case anyone is still interested, the Straw man recently turned 5 years old.

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Reply with quote  #5 
Well, we missed it.  The Straw man turned 6 years old, 8 days ago.

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