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STEVEPHS

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Reply with quote  #1 

The above book is causing chaos in certain parts of the world, just like Saved By His Life, by John Martin, did in the 1980's and 1990's.

 

Matthew Trowell's exposition contained therein is apostate, but to some extent, is worse than Saved By His Life because it is presented in a way where some of his quotes are from sound books such as Elpis Israel, Eureka etc which makes it look as though his views are the same as the pioneers.

 

On Sunday night, I received an email from a Central Christadelphian in the US claiming that these false ideas are taking over.   I respectfully pointed out to them that Temperance Hall's failure to take decisive action in 1923 against A D Strickler, and their great desire for unity as opposed to purity in the 1940's and 1950's led to compromise statements being written which allowed them to reach a re-union position without any of the errorists changing their minds - a Pseudo agreement therefore (Cooper-Carter Addendum being an example).   Error has to be withdrawn from - "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" the apostle tells us, and it has been unfortunately evident that as a result of compromise, and a failure to stand valiantly for the faith "contending earnestly", the truth has been lost in most parts of the world (or so we are told by some in the Central Community).

 

The brethren and sisters who come to our house every other friday are currently reading "Purifying of the Heavenly" with us.    How important to have these principles firmly in our minds.

 

The key issue with Saved By His Life and Understanding the Atonement is that they fail to grasp that there are two acceptations of sin in the Scriptures (1) constitutional sin (in sin did my mother conceive me, in my flesh dwelleth no good thing, I was shapen in iniquity, made sin who knew no sin etc etc and (2) actual personal transgression of God's law.    Matthew Trowell tries to make out that when bro Thomas used the word "principle" in relation to sin and evil in Elpis Israel, that bro Thomas was therefore not talking about anything physical.    Bro Thomas could not be clearer than the following on page 127 of Elpis Israel:

 

Quote:

"Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus
if it had not existed there... the purpose of God was to condemn sin in the
flesh; a thing that could not have been accomplished if there were no sin
there."

   

 

Notice that Trowell also fails to grasp metonymy, quoting extensively from John Carter as opposed to bro Thomas and bro Roberts.  Bro Growcott has a brilliant section on Metonymy in Purifying of the Heavenly.

 

Let us remember at all times that Shield in Australia in 1956 could not accept clause 5 in the BASF which refers to the physical defilement of our nature, and to achieve re-union, the Cooper-Carter Addendum was created to 'tweak' the wording of clauses 5 and 12, referring to a defiled conscience as opposed to a physically defiled nature, a tweak which fundamentally changes truth into error.    

 

Upon reviewing Matthew Trowell's book, one soon discovers that he quotes Elpis Israel and Eureka briefly, and John Carter extensively, and that once again his focus is on Christ's life of obedience as opposed to Christ's sacrifice.

 

Let us stick firmly to the exposition of brethren Thomas, Roberts and Smallwood on this vital subject and be prepared to stand up and voice our disapproval of apostate teaching which leads weaker brethren and sisters away from the Truth.

 

Bro Steve

 

STEVEPHS

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Reply with quote  #2 

From Elpis Israel, bro John Thomas, 1848

Quote:

The remote cause of these "motions" is that physical principle, or quality, of the flesh, styled indwelling sin, which returns the mortal body to the dust; and that which excites the latent disposition is the law of God forbidding to do thus and so; for, "I had not known sin, but by the law".

Now, while a righteous man feels this law involuntarily at work in his members, the law of sin, or of nature within him; he also perceives there a something which condemns "the motions of sins," and suppresses them; so that they shall not impel him to do what he ought not to do.

The best of men -- and I quote Paul as an illustration of the class -- are conscious of the co-existence of these hostile principles within them.

"I find," says he, "a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me" Yes; the principle of evil and the principle of good are the two laws which abide in the saints of God so long as they continue subject to mortality.

The reader is invited to re-peruse pages eighty-nine and ninety on the subject of these laws, as it will prevent repetition in this place.

The law of sin and death is hereditary, and derived from the federal sinner of the race; but the law of the mind is an intellectual and moral acquisition.

The law of sin pervades every particle of the flesh; but in the thinking flesh it reigns especially in the propensities.

Note that Matthew Trowell tries to make the argument in his book that the references to indwelling sin "sin that dwelleth in me" (Romans 7) relates to the mind, whereas bro Thomas' consistent teaching was that "the law of sin pervaded EVERY particle of the flesh".

The following is a quote from Bro Growcott in Purifying of the Heavenly worthy of consideration:

Quote:

The word 'sin' is used in two principle acceptations in the Scripture. It signifies in the first place 'the transgression of law'; and in the next it represents that physical principle of the animal nature which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust ... Inasmuch as this evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled 'sinful flesh,' that is, 'flesh full of sin'. . . Sin, I say, is a synonym* for human nature." - Elpis Israel, pages 126-127

[*Synonym: "One of two or more words having the same meaning."]

 

Illustrating brethren Thomas' and Roberts' robust and uncompromising use and exposition of terms scripturally applied to Christ that moderns, for "unity," shy away from or try to water down and explain away. These excerpts could be multiplied many-fold, and the quotation of a fuller context would make them even more powerful. (We suggest they all be looked up and studied). But surely these given here are sufficient to show without possibility of contradiction their consistent teaching: sound Christadelphian teaching from the beginning. A few by later writers are given to show that, in the early days at least, the same sound teaching was preserved and insisted on. It is deeply saddening that the present outlook is very different. All quotations from the Christadelphian through 1898 are by Brother Roberts personally, except where they are specifically attributed to brother Thomas

 

"Made Sin"-2 Cor. 5:21

 

"To be 'made sin' for others (2 Cor. 5:21) is to become flesh and blood."- Eureka 1:247

"Christ was 'made sin' in being born into a sin- constitution of things." Christadelphian, 1898:390

"Was Christ 'made sin'? Brother Roberts' answer: "Yes." - Resurrectional Responsibility Debate, No. 93

"Sin is a synonym for human nature ... God made him to be sin for us ... Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus if it had not existed there." - Elpis Israel, page 127

"Christ 'made sin,' though sinless, is the doctrine of God." - brother Thomas, Christadelphian, 1873: 362

"It is testified that he was 'made sin for us' (2 Cor. 5:21). As he was not of sinful character, this could only apply to his physical nature, drawn from the veins of Mary." - Christadelphian, 1869:83

"God sent forth Jesus in the nature of the condemned, that sin might be condemned in him. Hence, he was "made sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). - Christadelphian, 1873:402

"This perishing body is 'sin'...'Sin,' in its application to the body, stands for all its constituents and laws." - Eureka 1:248

"Was he not made sin in being made of a woman who was mortal because of sin, and could only impart her own sinful flesh to a son begotten of her?" - Christadelphian, 1873:463

"He (Jesus) did no sin, but he was physically 'made sin for us who knew no sin.' He was sent forth 'in the likeness of sinful flesh' that sin might be condemned in him." - Christadelphian, 1898:343


STEVEPHS

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Reply with quote  #3 

 

Quote:

Extract from the book "Understanding the Atonement"

So if our understanding of how the word ‘sin’ is used in Scripture is so important, how is it used in Scripture as it relates to the work of God through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?

We must remember that it was sin or disobedience which was the cause of suffering and death coming in to the world. As a consequence of Adam’s sinning, we are now dying creatures — subject to death and prone to sin. Christ first came to deal with the root of the problem which is ‘sin’. When he returns to the Earth he will deal with its symptoms — suffering and death. 

Please let the readers of this post note that bro Thomas' consistent exposition on this subject, never included the term "prone to sin" in relation to the physical nature, or the quality of the nature.   He referred to it as "sin in the flesh" or "flesh full of sin".   "Prone to sin" has only become popular amongst Christadelphians since the 1950's to accommodate error, especially amongst those in the Shield community in Australia.   It is the same apostate exposition as that advanced by John Martin, in "Saved by his Life".

Note the words of bro Thomas in Elpis Israel below:

Quote:

This enemy within the human nature is the mind of the flesh, which is enmity against God; it is not subject to His law, neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:7).  The commandment of God, which is "holy, just and good," being so restrictive of the propensities, which in purely animal men display themselves with uncontrolled violence, makes them appear in their true colors. These turbulent propensities the apostle styles "sin in the flesh," of which it is full; hence, he also terms it "sinful flesh." This is human nature; and the evil in it, made so apparent by the law of God, he personifies as "pre-eminently A SINNER," (Rom. 7:12-13)

 Bro Thomas could not be clearer - his understanding was that the flesh was "full of sin".

Quote:

from "Understanding the Atonement..."

It is “our iniquities” or our sins that separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2). In Colossians 1:21 Paul says that we are “alienated and enemies in our minds by wicked works”. Again, in Ephesians 4:18 Paul says that we are “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance.” It is our sinful way of thinking, or “carnal mind which is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). We possess flesh and
blood natures with an inherent tendency towards sinning. Sometimes we find that our flesh and blood natures are referred to as ‘sin’, not because flesh and blood is a ‘form’ of sin or it contains something called ‘sin’, but by the principle of metonymy where “the flesh” and “sin” are related as cause and effect.



Mr Trowell says that it is sometimes called sin, not because flesh and blood is a form of sin or it contains something called sin...".     We ask the question, how could sin have been condemned in the body of Jesus if sin had not existed in his flesh?


Quote:

From Understanding the Atonement

There are many occurrences in the New Testament where this principle of metonymy is found and where the word ‘sin’ is put for the flesh. Here are some of those examples:

Example Number 1:

The first example is Romans 8:3 where Paul says: “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Mg: ‘sin’s flesh), and for (RSV: ‘by a sacrifice for sin), condemned sin in the flesh…”

The margin in the KJV says Christ came in the likeness of ‘sin’s flesh’. In other words, the flesh and blood nature that we have now, with its tendency towards sinning, came about as a result of sin. It is the product of sin. The phrase ‘sinful flesh’ or ‘sin’s flesh’, therefore, is not referring to a literal physical substance within us called sin or the propensities within us (styled ‘sin-in-the-flesh'). It is a figure of metonymy whereby the cause of us disobeying God (our flesh) is related to its effect (our sinning).



In response to Mr Trowell's exposition, we ask the reader to note the following from the pen of Bro Roberts:

Quote:

BY BROTHER ROBERTS "Questions and Questions" Oct., 1873, pages 460-468):


9. Why was Jesus "put to death in the flesh" of Adam? Paul says it was that "through death he might destroy that having the power of death." If "that having the power of death"* was not IN HIS BODY, how could he "through death" destroy it? On the other hand, how could he be a body of the flesh of Adam without also having in himself that which was "the power of death" in it.

10. You say that the body of Christ was not sinful flesh, but a "likeness" of it. In what did the likeness flesh consist, if it was not of the same sort? It is testified that he was made in the "likeness of men" (Phil. 2:8). Would you therefore say he was "not a man but a likeness of one"?


If not — if you say he was a man though Paul says he was made in the likeness — why not say he was sinful flesh, though Paul says he was sent in the likeness of it?


11. Paul says that God, sending forth His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, "condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). How could this have been done IF THERE BE NO SUCH THING AS "SIN IN THE FLESH," and if Christ was not SINFUL FLESH, but a likeness of it?


12. Moses says that Adam begat a son "in his own likeness" (Gen. 5:3). Does this mean that the son so begotten was, in any sense, of a dissimilar nature to his father? If you say No, as you are bound to, why do you contend that a "likeness of sinful flesh" is dissimilar to sinful flesh itself?

 

STEVEPHS

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Reply with quote  #4 

Extract from Purifying of the Heavenly, by bro GV Growcott.    We whole heartedly agree with him and find his thinking in complete harmony with bro Thomas and bro Roberts.

Quote:

"METONYMY" is not an alternate to reality. It does not mean mere shadow and type. It is simply the extension of one term to include a related aspect of the same entity. To say something is called something "by metonymy" doesn't brush it away as a fact. The dictionary definition of "metonymy" is:

"The use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute, or with which it is associated."

Sin, literally and primarily, is transgression of God's law. That is the root meaning, from which others flow. The term "sin" is scripturally extended by the process called "metonymy" (extending a name to include a related thing) to include the evil, corrupt, death-bringing principle in every cell and particle of human flesh - the diabolos - that causes all diseases and death and disharmony with God: and which normally (unless there is direct Divine interference, as in the unique case of Christ) will inevitably bring forth its fruits of actual transgression.

This evil principle in the flesh is both the result of sin, and the cause of sin, and therefore the Scriptures go to the root of the matter, and give the name "sin" to it (just as they call hate, "murder"; and lust, "adultery") - and they deal with all sin as an inseparable totality.

Actual transgression, and the evil principle that Paul calls "the Law of Sin in the members," (or "Sin in the flesh," or the diabolos) - are inseparable parts of the total sin constitution that Christ came to destroy and abolish. Therefore the Scriptures, which deal with roots and realities, and not mere superficial appearances, gives the same name to all: SIN.

"Metonymy" is not a magic word to change a Yes to a No, or a fact into not a fact. It is simply a description of a process, illustrated in this case by the Scriptures grouping together everything to do with sin under the name Sin.

When you see "metonymy," just remember "another name" - that's what it means - and in this case, a scriptural, God-given name.

To say it is "metonymy," doesn't change the fact that God (the Supreme and All-Wise Authority) gave the name "SIN" to the evil principle in all human flesh.

[metonymy--the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for that of the thing meant, for example suit for business executive, or the track for horse racing.

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek metōnumia, literally ‘change of name.’]

 

 

JonDavies

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Steve, I would recommend contacting brother Matt directly with your comments, I'm sure he'd appreciate discussing these things in the spirit of Prov 24:9.
STEVEPHS

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Reply with quote  #6 
Hi Jon

I did send an email to a contact listed on the main site of where his book is advertised but I never got a reply.

I would recommend that everyone in the Christadelphian brotherhood re-reads Eureka, Elpis Israel, Law of Moses, Sin and Sacrifice by William Smallwood [booklet against the A D Strickler error of the 1910's and 1920's] and Purifying of the Heavenly by bro Growcott.

How many in Central today believe anti-clean flesh and anti-partial atonement views?     According to several people who have written to us from Central or we know from Central are saying to us that partial atonement is now the mainstream view - do you think that is true?

When brethren publish books 'publicly' their error needs to be renounced publicly.   I do intend posting more in this section in the months ahead pointing out where Matthew Trowell has gone astray.     The point which angered me the most reading the first part of his book is how he misconstrues bro Thomas' writings on this vital subject leading readers to believe he is pro-pioneer in his approach and exposition, whereas his writings couldn't be further away from them.

Jon, this is Yahweh's truth we are dealing with.   The apostle says that a ittle leaven leaventh the whole lump - it is so sad to see how this heresy has spread in the last 20-30 years especially.     If brethren stuck fast to the writings of the Pioneers they wouldn't go astray!

Bro Steve
JimPhillips

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I've been asked many times by Central folks, since its introduction in 2011, to comment on Matthew Trowell's book, "Understanding the Atonement."  The task seemed boring, as without having read it, I'm was pretty sure that it was a rehash of apostates from the past, such as "A Defense" by A. D. Strickler, or "Echoes of Past Controversies" by H. Fry.  And frankly, these older men were much better read in the pioneers, therefore more interesting and challenging in their arguments, than modern apostates I have run into.

Nevertheless, I have some time, so will see how far I can go, till more pressing matters surface. 

JimPhillips

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First, in the book, I looked at the posting of reader’s remarks at the start. I note our friend Richard Morgan, who spent some time on this web site years ago, representing the "Clean Flesh" folk's point of view writes to approve. Some of you will remember "Rich" who urged us to accept the position of some authorities from the Central body, because they were "expert." Never mind other "experts" that said he was dead wrong!

And a prominent Central speaker, Jim Cowie, who readily admits to have changed his position on the atonement also writes to approve of Matthew Trowell’s book. This is interesting in view of Jim Cowie’s letter to Stephen Genusa. Jim Cowie admits that beginning in 1978, he began what he called a "metamorphosis" away from the things he had been taught to the teachings which at that time (1978) were being made prominent by John Hensley and Richard Stone. Jim Cowie contends that this new teaching is not what Christadelphians have called "clean flesh" but as bro. Genusa shows him, his contentions are simply impossible. Of course it is "clean flesh." And bro. H. P. Mansfield plainly labeled the teachings by Richard Stone to be "Clean Flesh." Quoting from bro. Mansfield’s Diary"

Quote:
"Bro. Stone had taken the day off in order to have a chat. He tackled me upon the sacrifice of Christ. He takes the stand adopted by the late Bro. Fry that Christ died only for himself in the sense that the sins of his fellows were imputed to him. I told him, as is a fact, that his teaching would be looked upon as clean-flesh in Australia. He was shocked at this. I assured him that it was so, and then proceeded to question him as to why the altar had to be cleansed by blood before it could be used, why the tabernacle, and holy vessels, had so to be cleansed" (H.P. Mansfield, Logos, June 2001, p. 352).

But this brings us to my first observation about the Trowell work. He has included an introduction by Rich Morgan who writes:

Quote:
"When it comes to ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’, it is a matter of life and death. Literally. Connected with the sacrifice of our Lord are exhortations regarding the very practical nature of our walk in Christ; the need to mortify the deeds of the flesh, the need to take up our cross and follow Christ, the need to walk in newness of life having buried the old man in baptism. These things are at the very centre of our religion, so if we misunderstand the reason why Christ died and how it should affect us, it can make a profound difference on what our religion consists of.

Here I find that my first comment on this work, is that I am in complete, and 100% agreement with it. The principles related to Jesus Christ and him crucified, are absolutely the most fundamental principles of the Scriptures. I had written the same thing to Richard Stone years ago, now (March 28, 1981):

 

Quote:

"I do believe, however, that your views are not the teachings of the pioneer brethren (if by that expression we mean bre. Roberts and Thomas). I do believe that your views are error. And, since there appears to be a need for clarification, I do believe that your views are unscriptural, and cannot be defended in the Bible.

"I was surprised, somewhat, by your calling by understanding error. Error is a strong term and generally reserved for the challenge of a first principle subject. Previously you have called by teaching an area in which the Bible is silent. If my views are error, have you stopped fellowshipping those views? I am very interested in the answer to that question.

"I can certainly see where you would want to stop fellowshipping that idea, in view of your beliefs. If your ideas are correct, and there was no sin in Christ for which he offered, then those who suggest so approach God with a blemished offering. By your thinking, our lamb for a sin offering is not white. Malachi 1 is a stern warning to all such who would approach the Father with a blemished offering. I can certainly see how you would not want to be a "partaker" of that deed.

"Conversely, if the "Berean teaching" as you call it, is correct, then your sacrifice is just another symbol in a long line of symbols which could not take away sins. From such a teaching I am obligated to stand aside."

 

Richard Stone never answered whether or not he had quit fellowshipping those views, which of course he had not. He didn’t stopped fellowshipping those views, any more than the current Central body has. We wish they would, and force those still holding the sound, foundation principles on the nature of Christ to move away from Central. But apparently, such is not God’s will. His will seems to be to make each individual decide to take obedient action on their own, as regards this most vital subject. He appears to want to find out how many of the called out ones will take to heart His word’s to Saul:

Quote:
1Sa 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

But it is curious that Jim Cowie can say he agrees with this work, speaking of it as "the most wonderful of all themes in the Scriptures" when to bro. Genusa, who he is in fellowship with, he was evasive on its importance. Jim Cowie wrote:

Quote:
"The point I wanted to make has been made and I am happy to leave the rest to the Judge who will unravel all these issues unerringly when he appears once more among his servants. He will determine the truth of the issue and whether it is of sufficient moment to deny access to the Kingdom to those found mistaken."

So apparently Jim Cowie can determine that this is the most wonderful of all Scriptural themes, but can’t determine if it is a matter of fellowship. Perhaps we can help him with that:

Quote:
2 John 1:9-11 "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

JimPhillips

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Next Matthew Trowell includes remarks by Rich, where he says:

Quote:
These things are at the very centre of our religion, so if we misunderstand the reason why Christ died and how it should affect us, it can make a profound difference on what our religion consists of. History attests to this fact. Misunderstanding the nature and sacrifice of Christ led the Catholic Church, for instance, into the realm of ascetic monks basing their religion on self-flagellation, thinking that the physical flesh itself was in need of chastening.

What can we say, except "no they didn’t." Many recent popes, including John Paul II practiced self flagellation, but clearly they all said it was to identify with the sufferings of Christ and to do penitence for past sins. A detailed work on the history of asceticism agrees with the recent popes. We read there:

Quote:
The Ascetic Self in Text and History, Pg 187-188 "What is significant here is that flagellation is not simply self-harm outside of any context but is performed as ritual, integrated into the daily practice of the monks on a voluntary basis, although presumably not in a perfunctory way. Through performing the practice while reciting the Psalter or part of the Psalter it becomes integrated into the liturgical day and part of the formation or shaping of the self in accordance with tradition. This conformity to tradition is the imitation of Christ; as Christ was scourged and suffered, so the ascetic scourges and suffers himself. In flagellation the self sits in judgment ‘in its inmost being’ on its past actions. In his heart, the monk appoints himself as a judge, in his body he appears as the defendant, and his hands play the role of executioner. The Lord rejoices at the sight of the penitent, and the demons flee while the angels rejoice at the conversion of the sinner. Through this act the human body is invisibly joined to that unique sacrifice which was offered on the altar of the cross. Flagellation or the discipline is thus a more extreme form of other practices offered by Damian to "clear the field of weeds" such as praying with outstretched arms in the form of a cross or making continuous genuflections while reciting the Psalter. All these self-imposed sufferings participate in the action of Christ, and through them the penitent participates in the cosmic work of redemption. It is clear in De laude flagellorum that this extreme asceticism is set within the cosmic context of the Christian narrative in overcoming the cunning of the demons and seeing the wounds of Christ which are imitated in intentional sufferings as our remedy. Through the discipline the monk recapitulates the early penitence of Christianity, participates in the mystery of the cross and clears the debt of past sin. It becomes the bodily performance of theology, articulating a relationship of the self to the divine and the cosmos."

So, why would Matthew Trowell include undocumented claims in writings that suggest such things as the monks flagellated themselves thinking to purify the physical flesh? I don’t know yet, but am fairly confident that I will know before this effort is retired.

JimPhillips

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We now come to the beginning of the book where again, Matthew Trowell affirms that the subject of the atonement is the most important and vital subject in the Scriptures. To this we heartily agree.

He goes on to talk about the simplicity of the doctrine, and how easy it is to understand.

Quote:
"In essence, the doctrine of the Atonement is one of the most easy doctrines in the Bible to understand. It is beautiful in its simplicity and profound in its implications. Yet, because of the kind of language that the Bible uses, and its many intricate details, it is a subject that, sometimes, seems complicated and rather overwhelming. For these reasons much confusion has arisen over the years, particularly among the Churches, who have embraced false ideas regarding the nature and sacrifice of Christ and, consequently, adopted systems of faith and worship which are quite opposed to the revealed Word of God."

So after affirming its simplicity, he goes on to speak about how the language the Bible uses is difficult, and the many intricate details makes the matter seem complicated, and overwhelming. He then points out, that the language and details have given rise to confusion, so much so that the churches (and I would add some Christadelphians) have adopted systems opposed to the Spirit’s intent.

Is this not contradictory? If the language is confusing, and the details are intricate and many; doesn’t that make this subject obscured, detailed, and difficult? Not, easy and simplistic. Doesn’t it rather place the matter among those things of which:

Quote:
Proverbs 25:2 "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter."

But I really don’t want to dwell on the inconsistency of his argument, because it does not seem to me to be an accurate representation of the problem. The language is clear, not by itself difficult. The details, while many and intricate, are very consistent, and often explained by the Scriptures itself.  So the problem is not in language, or detail.

The problem is that Matthew Trowell and those who embrace his line of thinking, cannot accept what is plainly written in the Scriptures, and so introduce conjecture against what is plainly written.

Let me give an example from the question that really started this problem. This is the wording that set this problem in motion. In developing the Christadelphian movement, bro. John Thomas laid down what I’m sure seemed to him to be a very simple and obvious concept. Paul had said:

Quote:
Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

In explaining this verse, bro. Thomas pointed out a simple, logical thought. He wrote:

Quote:
"Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there."

This logical thought, while so simple and so profound, offended the sensibilities of people who could not stand to have the concept of sin associated with Jesus in any way, and so the battle was engaged, and the "clean flesh" folks were developed. The "clean flesh" folks renounced the teaching that sin was in the body of Jesus, (hence the name, "clean flesh") where it was condemned on the cross, and turned the writings of Paul from a literal explanation, easily explained, as bro. Thomas had done, into a figurative expression, requiring complicated arguments about how the written words are to be figuratively understood, giving a meaning different than what was actually written.

The clean flesh folks argued that "sin" didn’t really mean "sin," but had to be understood as a "figure of speech," which was variously termed "metonymy" or "metaphor." Sin, they reasoned, wasn’t literally condemned in the flesh of Jesus, because it didn’t really reside there (though that is what Paul said.) But rather, it was only figuratively condemned in the flesh of Jesus, on the cross, even though Paul gave us no reason to suppose he was only speaking figuratively.

The Foundation Christadelphian folks insist upon reading what Paul wrote, literally, without presuming a figure of speech. The clean flesh folks insist that it is only a figure of speech. So the simplicity left the discussion, and we are left with many varied and complicated arguments from the clean flesh folks, to justify why they refuse to believe what is actually written.

Just how contradictory are the different teachings? We will find that when we compare the "clean flesh" teachings represented by Matthew Trowell, to the foundation Christadelphian position, we find that every verse, every prophetic type, and even the very meaning of nearly every word are explained differently by the two opposing thoughts. And in every case, the foundation Christadelphians are insisting on what is written, while the clean flesh folks are trying to explain why what is written, actually means something else.  And this results in two entirely different plans of salvation.

 

JimPhillips

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Key Number One

We now come to what Matthew Trowell (MT) calls "Keys" for understanding the Atonement. His first key is:

Quote:
"The first and most fundamental ‘key’ in understanding the ‘Atonement’ is, that it is NOT an event. It is a process. This is a most important principle to understand. Sometimes we may hear the doctrine of the Atonement being described is a singular event, namely, the death of Christ upon the cross. But the truth is, that the death of Christ upon the cross was but the climax or pinnacle of an entire life of sacrifice that glorified God."

When presented with propositions like this, regardless of the subject, my first question to myself is: "Are we being asked to believe something never stated in the Scriptures?" Because, if the author cannot find even a single Scriptural reference that he can somehow twist into his theory, how likely is it to be true? In this case, the sole proof offered by MT is that the word atonement only occurs once in the New Testament. There is no effort to show that:

Quote:
"The Atonement is not, therefore, about one singular event. It is about an entire process which began in Genesis and will finish in the book of Revelation, centred upon Christ, but involving us."

Well, what do the Scriptures tell us about atonement? Is it an act, or is it a process?

Quote:
Lev 17:11 "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."

So here is a clear verse that the blood upon the altar makes atonement for our lives. Where is the clear verse which states this process, which MT discusses?

The Scriptures are universally clear that atonement itself is an act. God’s plan for atonement is a process. This is what confuses MT. It is the plan for the atonement which is prophesied about Christ from Genesis through Revelation. It is the plan of atonement (we would more normally say the plan of salvation, but the apostle Paul called it the "plan (logos) of atonement," or the "ministry of atonement") which was committed to the apostles to teach. And while there is a plan pertaining to the atonement, the atonement itself is a specific act, that of course being the pouring out of the blood of Christ upon the cross. This is in complete harmony with Lev. 17:11.

As MT points out atonement and reconciliation are the same thing. The Greek word for atonement is katallaso, or katallage, and apokatallaso. These are almost always translated as some variant of "reconciliation." When we look at how these are used in the New Testament we find this:

Quote:
Col 1:20-22 "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile (make atonement for) all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (atoned) in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

It is easy to see here, that just as under the Mosaic Law, (we could say, just as the Mosaic Law prophesied in Lev. 17:11) the "peace" and "reconciliation" are made–that is, the atonement is made through the blood of his cross and through the body of his flesh through death.

Again we read:

Quote:
Eph 2:13-14 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile (atone) both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby (marg: in himself):

Here we have another reference to the atonement, and note the wording. We are brought night by the blood of Christ. He abolished in his flesh the enmity. He reconciled, or atoned for us to God "by the cross" having slain the enmity in himself. It is impossible to seriously consider these verses, and not see that what Paul is describing as the point of the atonement was Jesus’ sacrificial death.

Next we consider Rom 5

Quote:
Rom 5:8-11 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled (atoned) to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled (atoned), we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Note again Paul’s emphasis on the atonement. "Christ died for us." "Justified by his blood." "Reconciled...by the death of his Son." How, in the face of all this evidence, could MT make the argument that atonement is meant to imply a process, when it is so clear from Scripture that atonement focuses on the sacrificial death of Christ.

Note also Paul’s continuing thought, that having been reconciled to God by his death, we are now saved by his life. Paul draws a distinction between the atonement, and the life he is here referencing. Atonement is in the past tense. It has happened. Our salvation is in the present tense. It is happening. Because Christ lives, we live also. As Jesus said:

Quote:
John 14:19 "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also."

Finally, MT tells us that if we can grasp that the atonement is not an act but a process, then we are "streets" ahead.

Quote:
"It is about an entire process which began in Genesis and will finish in the book of Revelation, centred upon Christ, but involving us. If we can grasp this concept then we are already streets ahead in our understanding of the doctrine of the Atonement."

I guess what he means is that if you willing to accept his concepts, with no Scriptural justification whatsoever, that atonement is a process; and reject the many clear scriptural statements, along with the consistent types from the Mosaic Law, that atonement is the blood shedding death of Christ: then you are well on your way to accepting "Clean Flesh."

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Second Key

Matthew Trowell’s (MT) second Key is that there is only one method of reconciliation, not many. I couldn’t agree more with him. My question to him, though, is Matthew: Do you believe it? MT writes:

Quote:
"There have been many true and faithful men and women throughout all ages, separated by geography and fellowship groups, who will, one day, constitute the "body" of Christ when he is sent back to "judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31). God alone knows who they are. Our job as kings and priests a is to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12), first, by separating truth from error, and secondly, by faithfully upholding those truths in our daily lives."

Again, I couldn’t agree more. But it is rare to see a Central fellow speak like this. Usually, we get "you won’t fellowship us because you think we are not in the way of salvation!" Or "You think you are holier than us!" It’s a preposterous statement, but my experience has been that it is almost impossible to get Central folks away from that concept, and the hurt feelings derived from it.

Fellowship groups do not stand aside from each other, because they think the others have forfeited salvation. They stand aside from each other because they are not willing to bid "Godspeed" to people who believe, or practice certain things. We make no statement whatsoever as to what Christ will think about these things at his return. And I think generally, we comfort ourselves with bro. Roberts’ thoughts on this matter:

Quote:
"There are men with almost agonizing sincerity of purpose who cannot see through the fogs that envelop the truth in an age when there is no living voice of authoritative guidance, and when the power of correctly interpreting the written Word is the only rule of conviction. It is natural to wish to think that in such a situation of divine truth on the earth, the same consideration will at the last be shown towards those who earnestly do their best in the dimness, that was shewn, on the intercession of Hezekiah, towards the multitude in Israel who "had not cleansed themselves, and yet did eat the Passover otherwise than it was written" (2 Chron. 30:18.) It may be so: God is not unrighteous or unreasonable. At the same time, in such a situation, when the truth can with difficulty be kept alive at all, it is not for those who know the truth to work by a may be. We must be governed by what is revealed, leaving the Lord to revoke the present rule of probation, or make His own allowances in its application."

But again we ask of MT, do you believe what you wrote? And if you do, have you "first separated truth from error" in your group? I know you haven’t, because I can still find Central folk who believe as I do, (which MT would clearly label as error) and who with a straight face contend that people who believe like MT do not even exist in Central! There are not many, but you still find a few.

I have not read this entire book. I am writing as I read. So I don’t know where all this leads. But to me, it is beginning to appear that in this book, MT and others are setting up the argument to remove the foundation Christadelphian belief from the Central assemblies. We know, if Christ doesn’t return soon, that this is inevitable. It is the path of error. First they beg for tolerance, to be allowed in the assembly. Secondly, their error spreads like leaven through the body. Third, after Balaam and Jezebel reach the ascendency in the assemblies, they cast out the remnant that still holds the truth, intolerant of their witness against them.

This process is prophesied through the writings of 3 John, and the action of Diotrephes. Central is always comparing us to Diotrephes, claiming we refuse the brethren. The notion is silly. Diotrephes was not condemned for failing to fellowship errant and disobedient brethren.  He was scolded for not receiving the faithful brethren. We do not refuse the brethren who come to us with the beliefs of John and his brethren. We refuse those John told us to refuse--those who bring not the doctrine of Christ, or who bid Godspeed to those who bring not the doctrine of Christ.

But we hear rumors that those with John’s beliefs, that is, those with the foundation Christadelphian beliefs, are being refused here and there in Central assemblies. Of course we have no way of knowing if those rumors are true. Readers of this site will remember a poster who called himself "benzion888" who made such a claim. He now has a web site, which appears to defend the theory of evolution, so perhaps there is more to the story than he let on.

But back to MT’s book. Perhaps that is what this book by MT is about. To finally give Diotrephes the rule in the Central assemblies, and provide him a justification to eliminate the truth from their midst. Because the doctrine of fellowship as he lays it out, is quite powerful. I especially liked his comments about David, and his unquestioned sincerity. So often we hear it expressed that though such and such a brother is in error, he is so sincere that surely we would continue to include him in fellowship.

And, especially relevant and powerful to this discussion is his reference to Cain and Abel. Abel offered the animal from his flock, pouring out the blood of the animal in sacrifice. Cain offered of the fruit of the field. With no blood shedding, there was no atonement. As Paul said, when speaking directly about the Jesus-holy things, almost all things are purged with blood. Jesus was purged from the law of sin and death through the blood of his own sacrifice. If you reject this teaching, you are offering Cain’s sacrifice, and how well did that work out?

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We come to the third key. The third key is that God is supreme and must be honored.

It is good to see a clean flesh fellow lie Matthe Trowell (MT) place a principle like this so high. Our greatest complaint against the clean flesh teaching is that it ignores the role of God is salvation, and sets up a theology by which it is impossible to see God honored as righteous and just, the only basis given in the Scriptures for the remission of sins.

[QUOTE]"When it comes to the doctrine of the Atonement, we must be clear in our minds of the rudimentary position we occupy in the overall scheme of things: (i) that God is supreme, and (ii) we belong to Him. These principles lie at the very heart of the doctrine of the Atonement because the Atonement is not merely about ‘forgiveness’ and how we can be saved; it is about God being honoured, and the upholding of His supremacy." Pg 19-20[/QUOTE]

These are, in fact, key points to the understanding of the atonement. MT says the Atonement is not "merely" about forgiveness of sins. One can reasonably argue that it is not at all about the forgiveness of sins. It is about exhibiting the righteousness and justness of God. And based on our recognition of the exhibition of these principles accomplished in the atonement, God is willing to forgive us our sins.

But like all clean flesh folks, MT misses the first and most important aspect of God’s role in the atonement. That is, to quote bro. Roberts, that God is the instigator, the initiator, the operator of the entire process. The following quote is from the "Slain Lamb." The "Slain Lamb" was a lecture, delivered by bro. Roberts directly against the teachings of Edward Turney, the first divisive "clean flesh" teacher in the Christadelphian movement.

For explanation of diagram, see Lecture, "Slain Lamb," beginning page 434.

 [image]

 

[QUOTE]

"I will begin with that part of the diagram setting forth the truth. I call attention especially and prominently, to the central sun at the top of the diagram. That sun, as I daresay you will be aware, is intended to represent the Father—God, of whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things; and, this matter more particularly, for this is the contrivance of His wisdom, and not to be judged by carnal rules, such as the mind of the flesh may devise. I seek more particularly to impress God upon the mind to begin with, as the centre and focus and essence of the matter, for God is too much left out of modern theorisations and definitions of the plan of salvation. We want to get back to the apostolic method of expressing these things, and you will find that, through the whole of the epistles, and in all the discourses of Christ, the Father is brought forward as the great initiator and operator in the case. Paul speaks (Eph, 1:5) of the Father "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ TO HIMSELF, according to the good pleasure of His will." Again he says (Rom. 3:23), "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." And again, in the 11th chapter of the same epistle, at the 32nd verse: "God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." Again, in his second letter to the Corinthians (5:18, 19), he tells us that God hath reconciled us unto Himself by Jesus Christ; and that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. And, again, in his letter to Titus (3:4): "The kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, he saved us." And in chap. 2:11: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."

You also know that Jesus never disconnected himself from the Father in all his discourses. He always set forth the Father as the instigator and operator in all his proceedings. This is his style of language: "I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me."—(John 6:38.) "I am not come of myself."—(John 7:28.) "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.—(John 14:10.) "I am come in my Father’s name."—(John 5:43.) "I can of mine own self do nothing."—(John 5:30.) "He that sent me is with me."—(John 8:29.) "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. How sayest thou, then, Shew us the Father."—(John 14:9.)

And, therefore, the first idea which I seek, in those words of the Spirit, to impress upon your minds is, that the source, origin, and mover in this whole matter of the appearance, life, and sacrifice of Christ is to be found in that which is represented by the central figure at the top of the diagram, and that we have simply to ask What has been his way and object in the devising of it, and finding it out—to believe it."

[/QUOTE]

 

That is the first and greatest "Key" to the doctrine of atonement. That Yahweh is "God our Savior" as Mary and Paul termed Him.

Now the points MT brings forward as regard our position before God, are valid and important. This is what is demonstrated in the death of Christ. The death of Christ exhibited the great contrast between the righteousness of God, and the sinfulness of man. Bro. Roberts wrote:
[QUOTE]"The crucifixion of Christ as a "declaration of the righteousness of God" and a "condemnation of sin in the flesh," must exhibit to us the righteous treatment of sin. It was as though it was proclaimed to all the world, when the body was nailed to the cross. ‘This is how condemned human nature should be treated according to the righteousness of God; it is fit only for destruction.’" [/QUOTE]

It is curious that MT wants to go to this concept, because this is the point which most clearly demonstrates that his theology is flawed, and can’t work. That is why most clean flesh teachers want to avoid such discussions. If Christ’s flesh was "clean" that is, if there was no "sin" in it, from which he was redeemed through the blood of his own sacrifice, then how was God exhibited as righteous and just in requiring its destruction? How could it demonstrate the righteous treatment of sin, if there was nothing called sin there?

1. God is clear that the wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)

2. He is equally clear that the crucifixion of Christ was at His command, carried out through His instruments, the Jews and Romans. (John 10:18; Acts 4:27-28)

The only way that these facts can be harmonized and for God to be exhibited as Righteous and Just, is if there had to be "sin" in Christ which had to be destroyed through the blood of his great sacrifice. Any and every other explanation exhibits God as wrong, requiring the death of the sinless, against His stated principles.

Efforts to spiritualize the sacrifice, turning the "sin" in Christ into a figure of speech or symbolical representation makes Christ symbolically defiled but actually sinless, and therefore it would have been impossible for sin to have been actually condemned in the flesh of Christ. Bro. Thomas recognized this, which is why he pointed out, as I quoted earlier, "sin could not have been condemned in the flesh of Jesus, had it not existed there."

Such a symbolical condemnation of sin would have been no different than what was accomplised through the animals under the law, which were but types and shadows. Paul wrote:
[QUOTE]Heb 10:1 "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."[/QUOTE]

The symbols and figures of speech were shadows. Christ was the very image of the thing. In Christ we see sin actually destroyed on the cross, in the destruction of his sinful flesh, inherited from Adam.

 

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The Purpose of God pg 23

Matthew Trowell takes us to a new section where apparently he will now explain his views on the atonement. He begins again, telling us how simple this subject is. We might ask, if the subject is so simple, why does he need 200 plus pages to explain it?

Bro. Thomas also said similar things. In Elpis Israel, we read this:

Quote:

The elementary doctrinal principles of religion are few and simple; and no other reason can be given for them than that God wills them. They may be thus stated:—

a. No sinner can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him, that he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.

b. Sin cannot be covered, or remitted, without the shedding of blood.

c. The blood of animals cannot take away sin.

d. Sin must be condemned in sinful flesh innocent of transgression.

e. Sins must be covered by a garment derived from the purification-sacrifice made living by a resurrection. (Elpis Israel, pg 167)

 

I think it is very safe to presume that MT would not consider these principles accurate, or simple, but I do. Bro. Thomas said that is was simple, that sin must be condemned IN sinful flesh, innocent of transgresssion. We noted previously how he had said that sin could not have been condemned in the flesh of Jesus, had it not existed there. Yet, I’m guessing, that MT is going to take us on a long, 200 plus page explanation of why these simple principles by bro. Thomas, are not at all accurate or simple.

Islyp Collier, in his book "Principles and Proverbs," once quoted (sort of) the first sentence from bro. Thomas here, "Bro. Thomas said the principles of redemption are few and simple and no other reason exists except that God wills them." Then he went on to state his own "simple" principles, which had nothing to do with the principles listed by bro. Thomas.

My point is that everyone views their view as simple, and if you will just blindly accept it, it is. But the instant someone feels the need to change what is written, it instantly becomes difficult. The texts are simple.

Quote:
2Co 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

I read this and say, OK, its simple. I got it. Then a "clean flesh" fellow comes by and says, "well, wait a minute. You see "sin" there, doesn’t really mean "sin." You have to understand....." and now the simplicity is out the window. Now we have to read Old Testament Hebrew, and compare it to Greek translations of Old Testament Hebrew, and consider what Jewish individuals living in a Greek society in Egypt were thinking, or trying to explain to their Greek/Egyptian neighbors. And then there are different lines of arguments, depending on which version of "Clean Flesh" we are dealing with, which says that the whole verse is some sort of figurative expression, and must therefore be "spiritualized" (my word, not theirs) to understand it.

So what to me seemed so simple, that God made Jesus to be sin, because sin had to exist in the flesh of Jesus to be condemned there, is suddenly attacked by all sorts of speculation, and the simplicity of the Word is lost.

In this section, MT boils the purpose of God down to three points.

 

Quote:

1. "First of all, we learn that ‘God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain: he formed it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18)."

2. "Secondly, we are told that the Earth ‘will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD’ (Habakkuk 2:14)."

3. "A third and most important statement that the Bible makes regarding God’s purpose, is that His purpose is eternal. Psalm 72:19 says, ‘Blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole Earth be filled with his glory.’"

 

This to me seems a reasonable explanation of the purpose of God in the foundation of the Earth. MT then goes on to make the true foundation point in the purpose of God, quoting from bro. Thomas:

Quote:
"Men were not ushered into being for the purpose of being saved or lost. God manifestation, not human salvation, was the great purpose of the eternal spirit. The salvation of a multitude is... incidental to the subject of God manifestation. It was not the end proposed. The eternal spirit intended to enthrone Himself upon the Earth and in so doing to develop a Divine family from among men… large enough to fill the Earth when completed."

This, in fact, is the over riding purpose of God. And it is quite unusual to see a "clean flesh" fellow quote this. I said at the outset, that I had received several requests for my opinion on this book from Central folks. Some of these requests were from some "clean flesh" e-pals (electronic pen pals) of mine. They actually thought that MT had gone too far. And maybe he has, I don’t know, and couldn’t possibly reach any conclusion yet. But this constant reference to God’s role in His plan and purpose, is a refreshing change from typical "clean flesh" jargon. Now I’m beginning to wonder if what some of my e-pals actually meant, is that he had gone too far back towards the Christadelphian foundation position, yielding too many of our points.

MT does make a good start as regards the general plan and purpose of Deity. But if his intent here was to demonstrate the plan and purpose of God in the plan of redemption, it falls woefully short. But, he does tell us that he is going to lead us on a little journey from the Purpose of God, to the Nature of Man, to the Nature of Christ, to the Work of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So maybe God’s plan of redemption is saved for that fourth section. We shall see. But to state simply the purpose of God as regards redemption, it is best explained by bro. Roberts this way.

Quote:
"‘By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men for that all have sinned.’ Now, how was this state of things to be remedied? There were three ways of mending it. One way was to exterminate the whole human species. But this would have been a poor remedy. It would have been to confess failure;—that God had set a-going an arrangement on this planet for His glory and could not make it work. This was impossible. God has said that He has not made the earth in vain: that He formed it to be inhabited by the righteous; and that as truly as He lives, it will be wholly filled with His glory yet. The second way would have been what might be called the toleration-of-sin method—the universal and undiscriminating pity method, by which the wickedness of disobedience should have been ignored, and mankind allowed to occupy the earth immortally for their own pleasure. But this also was impossible. It would have meant God’s abdication, and the handing over of man to eternal misery. There was a third way—a middle way, and that is the way which has been adopted—namely, to enforce the law against sin, and at the same time leave the door open for mercy to repentant and obedient sinners. How such a method could be made consistent with itself has been exhibited to us in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ."

This third method of how God would accomplish His purpose, is not included in MT’s purpose of God, as no "clean flesh" fellow would agree to it. How was the law against sin enforced, in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ? If there was no sin in Christ, then the law against sin was not enforced, but rather violated. For the wages of sin is death, but if Jesus was completely sinless, that is, if he were not "made sin" by God, we then would see him suffering the consequences of sin, when there is no sin there justifying these consequences. Where is the righteousness and justness in God requiring that?

And this ties in with the simplicity arguments I began with. Every now and again, I have had the privilege of teaching young teen age folks the principles of redemption. The simplest, and most easy to understand method of explaining to them the declaration of God’s righteousness that I have found, is this way. I tell them to imagine that the State of Texas hates murder. And to demonstrate its hatred of murder, they put to death murderers. But to demonstrate the state’s hatred of murder, they want to take someone, and publicly execute them, demonstrating what is the right and just treatment of murderers. And they choose you to be publicly murdered. What would you say?

Everyone always answers some form of: "Why me? I didn’t murder anyone!" That is a good and obvious point. And isn’t that the great fallacy of "clean flesh?" Why crucify Jesus to condemn sin, if there was no sin in him?

But the plan of God in the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ, was to uphold and enforce His righteous law against sin, while leaving the door open to repentant sinners. And that could only be done if Jesus had been "made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

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Nature of Man

Matthew Trowell (MT) now endeavors to explain the nature of man. We now come to the clear and unmistakable error in his theories, and his departure from the foundation Christadelphian positions. It is in the nature of man, where the greatest, or we might say the root of the problem with "clean flesh" teaching arises.

The problem, simply stated is this. The original foundation Christadelphians recognized that when it came to the nature of man, sin brought death. The original "clean flesh" teachers taught the same thing. Sin brought death. Edward Turney, the first prominent "clean flesh" teacher wrote:

Quote:
The Sacrifice of Christ pg. 17: "Desire leads to sin, but desire is not sin, sin brings death, but death is not sin, death is an evil consequent upon sin. It is quite untrue to say we have sin ‘fixed in our flesh.’ We have plenty of it in our character, but it is a thing we can put away if we will, for we have many exhortations in the scriptures to this end. Rom 6–12, 1 Cor 9–27. We re expected not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies. Now, if you do let sin reign, what are you to do?"

He was writing this against the writings of bro. Thomas. Bro. Thomas had written this about the nature of man in Elpis Israel:

 

Quote:

Elpis Israel pg 126 Sin, I say, is a synonym for human nature. Hence, the flesh is invariably regarded as unclean. It is therefore written, "How can he be clean who is born of a woman?" "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." "What is man that he should be clean? And he which is born of a woman that he should be righteous? Behold, God putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight. How much more abominable and filthy is man, who drinketh iniquity like water?" This view of sin in the flesh is enlightening in the things concerning Jesus. The apostle says, "God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin"; and this he explains in another place by saying, that "He sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" in the offering of his body once. Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, if it had not existed there. His body was as unclean as the bodies of those for whom he died; for he was born of a woman, and "not one" can bring a clean body out of a defiled body; for "that", says Jesus himself, "which is born of the flesh is flesh".

According to this physical law, the Seed of the woman was born into the world. The nature of Mary was as unclean as that of other women; and therefore could give birth only to "a body" like her own, though especially "prepared of God". Had Mary's nature been immaculate, as her idolatrous worshippers contend, an immaculate body would have been born of her; which, therefore, would not have answered the purpose of God; which was to condemn sin in the flesh; a thing that could not have been accomplished, if there were no sin there.

 

Now this principle of "sin in the flesh" which bro. Thomas writes of, is a physical principle, or law, as he calls it. "Sin in the flesh is physical" said bro. Roberts in the debate he had with J. J. Andrew. (Question 269)

So it is easy to see that the original Christadelphian position from both groups, was that sin brought death. To bre. Thomas and Roberts, sin was physical, it was inherited from Adam, and it brought all who inherited it death. To Edward Turney and the original "clean flesh" teachers, sin was moral, and the guilt of this moral act in the garden was inherited from Adam. And that killed all of Adam’s descendants, even, they reasoned, should a person have lived a life as perfect as Jesus. But both explained the death of the race with some principle where sin results in death.

Modern "clean flesh" folks make their most significant change here in the nature of man, in separating sin from death. They do not believe with bre. Thomas and Roberts, that sin inherited from Adam is physical. Nor do they believe with their "clean flesh" progenitors, that they inherit the guilt from Adam’s sin. They believe that individuals can die, quite irrespective of their own relationship to sin. They acknowledge that Adam sinned, and for his sin he was condemned to death. They acknowledge that this law of condemnation was passed on to his descendants, including Christ. But they don’t believe that this law of condemnation is sin. Consequently, people (babies and Christ) can die without sin. In effect, they extend the concept of "clean flesh" from just Jesus, (as Edward Turney believed) to all of the human race. No one, they would argue, is born physically or morally defiled by sin. All the race becomes defiled by their own sins, but Jesus who never sinned, was not defiled by sin.

Clean flesh folks often claim that they are not teaching clean flesh, because what they are teaching is a departure (somewhat) from Edward Turney. Let me be clear on that, since the moderns claim to make a significant departure from the original "clean flesh" fellows.

Edward Turney taught that Adam and his descendants were all under condemnation due to the transgression of Adam in the garden. But Christ, he claimed, was not under condemnation. All others had their lives forfeited due to sin, but Christ, having only one Adamic progenitor, had a "free life." From Edward Turney’s

Quote:
The Sacrifice of Christ, pg. 8 "...The first point I wish to speak upon in that chapter is that mentioned by Paul in the 6th verse:–viz, ‘For when we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly.’ Now, brethren we ought to know what the apostle would have us understand by that clause, ‘When we were without strength.’ As to the expression ‘in due time,’ I think we are all probably agreed that it refers to the end or nearly the end of the ‘seventy weeks; spoken of by the Prophet Daniel; but what can be signified by the phrase ‘without strength?’ That is the question now for decision. My answer is with Paul thus–that we lost all our strength by the Adamic transgression. ‘In whom all sinned.’ By one man’s disobedience sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men ‘in whom , Adam, all sinned.’ The Greek word epho means ‘in whom.’ To express it as Milton does in his 3rd Book of ‘Paradise Lost’ at the 290th line. ‘His crime makes guilty all his sons.’ And in his Eleventh Book, line 317, he says ‘In me all posterity stands cursed.’ That is our position; we are prospectively dead men."

Edward Turney believed like MT, that there was no such thing as "physical sin." He recognized that in the English language, the word "sin" could be understood as moral or physical. He recognized that bro. Thomas also used two acceptations for the word "sin". Of course he had to. He was delivering his thoughts and lectures only a year after bro. Thomas had died. But he rejected both bro. Thomas’ explanation of "sin" along with the standard Dictionary. Edward Turney wrote:

Quote:
The Sacrifice of Christ by Edward Turney, pg. 22. "The second sense in which the word ‘sin’ is used by the Dr. is quite imaginary. It is what Webster [Noah Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language] calls the theological sence, that is to say, sin is supposed to mean the native depravity of the human heart. All this is supposition. I repeat that sin is an ‘act’ not a literal element existing in the flesh."

But as one can see, and which is quite different than modern "clean flesh" teachers, he believed that the guilt of Adam’s sin made all men of Adamic birth, guilty before God. To Edward Turney, we are all morally guilty before God. This is the sin for which we die. Moral guilt.

But Jesus was the exception. Having God for a father, he was born free from Adamic guilt, and therefore in a position to save us. Why then, did Jesus die? To Edward Turney, it was only to redeem the Jews who were under the law. Had he been a Gentile, and walked perfectly before God, he wouldn’t have had to die.

Quote:
The Sacrifice of Christ by Edward Turney, pg. 13 "If Jesus had been a Gentile there had been no necessity that I can see for Him to lay down His life upon a cross. But as Paul teaches, it was needful for Him to be obedient unto the death of the cross, to redeem the Jews from the curse of the Law; and this act was quite voluntary on His part. He was not a mere passive instrument in this matter. He was determined to do His Father’s will. He loved righteousness Heb. 1–9 and hated iniquity."

Now, the point I am making in quoting the above, is that the modern "clean flesh" teaching is not significantly different from that of Edward Turney, and the early "clean flesh" teachers, which is what is alleged by the modern folks like MT. The early "clean flesh" folks taught that there was no such thing as physical sin, therefore Jesus did not bear physical sin in his flesh. MT agrees. The early folks thought that there was such a thing as guilt passed down from Adam, but believed that Jesus was "free" from moral guilt. The moderns simply deny that there is any such thing as inherited moral guilt, and therefore Jesus had no moral guilt. So both end up in the same place. Both believe that Jesus bore no physical sin, and no moral guilt as a result of the transgression in the garden. Both believe that he required no sacrifice to redeem himself from sin, because there was no sin there. Thus, both believe he was already free from sin, or "clean."

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