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Reply with quote  #46 

Having ended discussion on the debate, Matthew Trowell (MT) is clearly struggling with why bro. Roberts did not deal with the atonement errors of bro. Andrew, in the BASF. All the changes to the BASF pertained only to the subject of Resurrectional Responsibility. There is no mention whatsoever of making anything related to the atonement a first principle. He is completely baffled by this. But instead of simply remaining baffled (to some degree, like the rest of us) he argues that he did intend fellowship action over the matter.

MT writes next:

About 1894, recognising the potentially damaging effect that Bro. Andrew’s new teachings could have upon the brotherhood, and their inconsistency with the doctrines of truth set forth in Scripture, ecclesias in the UK started withdrawing from Bro. Andrew’s ecclesia. Understanding the Atonement, pg 105

MT really struggles with his history. I don’t know if he is wanting to use some sort of historical shorthand, or what he is doing, but he just doesn’t have the simple facts correct, here and in the following material.

Up till 1894, the brotherhood was very reluctant to make any of this a test of fellowship. The impetuous to do so, in and following 1894, was entirely bro. Andrew’s. He was the one who tried elevating the matter to a test of fellowship, and condemning those who held the foundation position.

That knowledge brought responsibility was regarded as a part of the truth from the beginning. But just how to deal with those who simply couldn’t see the matter clearly, or who held certain reservations, was always a question. In the introduction to his booklet "Resurrection to Condemnation," bro. Roberts published a letter he had received from bro. Lake, a member of bro. Andrew’s ecclesia, which stated that they would have preferred even then, to let the matter rest. It was bro. Andrew would who would not agree to do so.


"About three years ago, however, brother Andrew suddenly adopted his present views. We had known for years of some who held similar views, but the question was thought to be an out-of- the-way one, having little bearing upon any vital matter, and there was a tacit agreement not to strive about it. This attitude is maintained by many, including myself, to be the right one, even now."

"Brother Andrew would not, after his change of opinion, accept this position. He commenced to introduce the matter into lectures and addresses, with much denunciation of the doctrine in the basis as "error, &c. This was the beginning of strife. He subsequently gave notice of a proposition involving his new principle, which created much controversy, and the sense of the meeting being strongly against it, was ultimately withdrawn."

"But although knowing that these views were opposed to our basis and to the minds of the brethren, brother Andrew still pressed them upon every possible occasion —converting all our meetings into a scene of contradiction and dissension; and of late saying that those who taught that resurrection was possible by the power of God only and outside of the blood of Christ, were 'blasphemers, 'held a fatal error,' and were "liars. This made action necessary...." Bro. Lake. Resurrection to Condemnation, Preface.


In consequent of bro. Andrew’s action, the ecclesias were now considering taking a stronger position than in the past on the question of Resurrectional Responsibility. It was one thing when brethren held a doubtful view on the question. It was altogether a different position when the truth was being called error.

But regardless of what was taking place with "the tip of the ice berg" or Resurrectional Responsibility, there was nothing being stated in regards to fellowship, pertaining the change in things concerning the atonement. The great change was in regards to the concept of "sin in the flesh." This never becomes an issue of inter ecclesial fellowship.

Bro. Roberts was very open about the change he made in his fellowship position, which comes in 1898. In 1894, as ecclesias began to consider withdrawing from those who denied that light brought responsibility, bro. Thomas Williams wrote an article in the Advocate Magazine in the United States, which asked the question, "What is going on over there?" It was a complaint against the fellowship actions that were beginning. Bro. Roberts answer to it in the Christadelphian correctly defines the problem for us.

The question he propounds, "What is the matter?" requires and admits of specific answer. Brother Williams may gather it from the remarks preceding those of brother Jannaway. If the question of the fate of the enlightened rejector of the truth has not been allowed to "remain where it was for thirty years," it is because a public denial has been made of what has for thirty years been accepted as part and parcel of the professed system of the truth on the question of what constitutes the ground of the human responsibility to God. Such a question is naturally an integral portion of the truth. We have for forty years been believing and preaching that the light of knowledge is the ground on which God holds man accountable for their actions in the great day of judgment. As it is written, "The entrance of thy word giveth light," and "This is the condemnation that light is come." This has now been publicly repudiated and denounced as "the thinking of the flesh."

This is what changed in the minds of the brethren. This is what the division was about. Bro. Andrew’s aggressive posture on the matter, made it impossible to ignore this principle any longer. Bro. Williams himself, eventually (1904) experienced this, as, even though he was of the same mind as bro. Andrew, bro. Andrew would not fellowship him because bro. Williams did not make this belief a test of fellowship.

Bro. Roberts viewed this trial as "Divine" causing us to take seriously a principle which had been winked at in the past. In affirming that this had not been elevated to a matter of fellowship in the past, bro. Roberts gives us an example:

We were invited ten years ago to unite in the attitude now being taken by the London brethren, on the occasion of an Australian ecclesia having withdrawn from some on this very subject. Our answer, which appears in the Christadelphian for April, 1884, page 190, was as follows:—"It seems a pity to make the fate of the rejected a cause of rupture where first principles are not compromised. It is the glad tidings of salvation . . . . that is the basis of union in Christ, and not the details as to how the disobedient are to be dealt with, so long as it is recognised that death is the upshot of disobedience. Granted that responsibility should be preached, but it is a point on which there should be patience with those who do not see the full extent of the responsibility. No one can say where, among the rejectors of the word, responsibility exists. We can only recognise the general and reasonable principle that light, when seen, makes responsible."

This, bro. Roberts says, was his attitude in 1884. Now it has changed. Why? He gives us the answer two paragraphs later.

The question has now been raised in a way that defies accommodation. We kept back brother Andrew’s name till he himself published it to the world. Having done all we could to keep the controversy at bay, we can but sorrowfully accept the situation created, believing at the same time that the hand of God may be in it in compelling the assertion and proclamation of the whole truth—concerning the day of His anger as well as the day of His favour.—Editor.

This shows the issue. The issue was Resurrectional Responsibility. This shows the history of the question. The history is that it was recognized that some struggled to see the point clearly, and patience and enduring was the action of that day. It shows why the change. The change had come because bro. Andrew now forced the question on the brotherhood, calling the truth, error. And finally, it shows bro. Roberts confidence in the change. His confidence in making this change to our fellowship position was because he thought the trial was divine in origin.

MT goes on:

It should be noted that Bro. Roberts was quite resistant to making Resurrectional Responsibility a question of fellowship, but when it was recognised how closely related Bro. Andrew’s new teachings were to "the things concerning the name of Jesus Christ", withdrawal was inevitable.

There is absolutely no proof anywhere, that this statement is correct. MT advances none, because as far as I can tell, there is none. "The things concerning the name of Jesus Christ" are never brought into the fellowship discussion in the old Christadelphians. Bro. Roberts reservation to make the matter a test of fellowship was because the question (who appears at the judgment seat of Christ) did not seem to have a direct bearing on any subject, and was thought an "out of the way" question. What changed was bro. Andrew now calling the true position, error. This comes out over and over again in the pages of the Christadelphian Magazine.

The new principles pertaining ot the atonement are condemned at times. Principles, I might add, that MT has failed to acknowledge. Examine the following response to an article by bro. Andrew claiming that his concept of inherited guilt or the sin of Adam, was taught by bro. Thomas:



We now come to the third point. Did Dr. Thomas or other brethren teach that the Adamic condemnation involved legal or federal guilt? or is there a moral aspect to the condemnation which could be removed in the case of infants by a ceremony designed for that object?

The following words are from Elpis Israel page 115, immediately following a quotation given in the pamphlet under review: "There is much foolishness spoken and written about ‘original sin.’ Infants are made the subjects of a religious ceremony, to regenerate them because of original sin. . . . . . If original sin, which is in fact sin in the flesh, were neutralized, then all baptismally regenerated babes ought to live for ever, as Adam would had he eaten of the tree of life after he had sinned. But they die, which is a proof that the regeneration does not cure their souls, and is therefore mere theological quackery."

This is conclusive on the point at issue. If the condemnation were individual, involving legal guilt, then the idea of a religious ceremony to remove it from infants, such as brother Andrew teaches, would be eminently reasonable. But the Doctor ridicules the idea, and thereby shows that he regarded the Adamic condemnation purely as a racial, federal matter, not as a condemnation which required to be individually postponed or warded off in the case of infants. P.R. Christadelphian Magazine, 1895, pg. 262


So here is bro. Andrew’s doctrine of inherited legal or moral guilt, being a constituent of the physical nature condemned. But there is no mention of its implication on fellowship. The fact that bro. Roberts was reluctant to deal with matter at all, followed by the fact that when he did deal with the subject, it was limited to Resurrectional Responsibility shows that MT is demonstrably wrong. What proof MT eventually offers for this is all localized, and well after the death of bro. Roberts. And MT twists that proof, blurring the difference between the foundation Christadelphian’s position, and the new teachings of bro. Andrew, as we shall see.

It is a curious question, as to why the foundation Christadelphian brethren did not raise this point to a test of fellowship. Did they believe that trying to attach a moral or legal guilt to the physical nature of Christ, was simply not a legitimate enough argument to concern themselves with? It is referred to as "jargon" in the Christadelphian magazine. "Jargon" can mean "technical terminology or characteristics of a special activity or group." If this be the meaning bro. Roberts intended, then we can see him supposing that the language employed by bro. Andrew inevitably leads one to the conclusion that baptism is essential to resurrection. Renounce the conclusion, and the "jargon" must necessarily go with it.

If this was bro. Roberts’ reasoning, it was certainly historically justified. We pointed out in the debate, how bro. Roberts objected to the technical use of things like "blood." It appeared that bro. Andrew gave "blood" a power of its own, apart from God working out our salvation based upon the principles exhibited in the blood. We saw that bro. Andrew denied it during the debate, but the fact remained that he believed that the Jews who rejected Jesus, Jews of whom Jesus said "I never knew you," were nevertheless justified from "Adam’s sin" by the blood of Jesus–through their circumcision, and the offering of sacrifices under the Mosaic law. This conclusion is logically absurd. Who could ever suggest that the murderers of Jesus were somehow justified by his blood? But it was a conclusion bro. Andrew was forced into, due to the mechanics in bro. Andrew’s terminology to which bro. Roberts so strongly objected.

This sort of argument is a consequential conclusion, forced upon one who already believes that the unbaptized cannot be resurrected. No one would logically come up with this concept by himself simply by reading the Scriptures. The same can be said for moral guilt being a physical attribute, or any of the other arguments which form the basis of bro. Andrew’s teaching. It all appears to be derived backwards, from the conclusion. First we conclude that the unbaptized will not be raised. Then we find highly technical reasons, jargon, if you will, to justify the conclusion. So if you take the conclusion away, don’t you necessarily take out all the mechanical arguments which spring up around it?

Bro. Andrew’s reasoning has a close parallel with why the Church "baptizes" infants. The Church believes that we all inherit Adam’s sin, and we are born morally guilty of it. We need to be "baptized" to be rid of it. But is that the real story? The obvious historical answer is no. The real historical reason for infant baptism, was that it was a ceremony by which a child from its infancy was incorporated into the Church. That was the goal. It was to incorporated the child into the Church before the child could reason. To accomplish this goal, the fear of inheriting Adam’s sin, dying with it, and burning in hell for ever was invented, and instilled in the parents, so they would incorporate their child into the Church. And Jewish circumcision was pointed to as a justification for this action.

So, if you take away the practice of infant baptism, one would easily see that you were doing away with the concept of being guilty of Adam’s individual sin. This would have been clear to all foundation Christadelphians. That is, till bro. Andrew brought up this new twist to the subject. Bro. Andrew applied the moral characteristic of sin, to the physical nature, and thereby reintroduced a subset to infant baptism. And so, perhaps bro. Roberts thought it should be able to be handled the same way. Deny the premise that baptism is essential for resurrection, and the rest of the jargon accompanying it, should go away as well. Whether any of this was on bro. Roberts mind or not, who can say?

But the one thing we can clearly say is that the changes to the doctrine of the Atonement suggested by bro. Andrew were clearly rejected by the foundation brethren, but never became matters of fellowship.


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Reply with quote  #47 

Matthew Trowell (MT) then brings us to the conclusion of the amendment to the statement of faith saying:

In 1898, the Birmingham Central ecclesia amended Clauses 24 and 29 of their Statement of Faith, thereby, removing any ambiguity regarding the false teaching that responsibility to judgment is tied to covenant relationship.

Again, he gives no evidence that there was any consideration of a tie between the covenant relationship, and the doctrine of Resurrectional Responsibility. He will make a similar statement at the conclusion of this section, with again, no proof whatsoever offered.

And here he introduces a really strange statement.

Subsequently, many other ecclesias in the UK and North America did the same and became known as ‘Central’ (after the name of Birmingham Central ecclesia) or ‘Amended’ Christadelphians, and the Statement of Faith became known as the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF).

I suppose that is true, as long as "subsequently" is understood to mean "34 years later." From 1898 till October, 1932 there was no such thing as a "Central" fellowship. The brethren who accepted the BASF, or similarly acceptable statements of faith were regarded as being in fellowship with "Temperance Hall, Birmingham." In 1931-1932 the Temperance Hall in Birmingham was sold. The brethren from that ecclesia then took up residence in the Midland Institute, on Paradise Street. It was at that time called Birmingham Central, Or perhaps more accurately, Birmingham (Central) due to its location. The Berean withdrawal in 1923 was from the ecclesias in fellowship with Temperance Hall, not from Birmingham (Central,) as that did not exist.

Next, MT shows us a correspondence to the Christadelphian Magazine made four years after the formation of the BASF, and four years after the death of bro. Roberts. It is the form of a circular in Canada, agreed to among some local ecclesias that intended to share speaking brethren. And following that he goes into a rather lengthy discussion of the beliefs and works of bro. Thomas Williams, who represented a similar position in North America, to bro. J. J. Andrew in Britain. And one can easily understand the association between the Canadian document at the teachings of bro. Williams, as bro. Williams was located in Chicago.

The document is really well done, as might be expected, since one of the signers, and the one who claimed to actually have written the document, is bro. William Smallwood, author of "The Bible Teaching Regarding Sin and Sacrifice." It was bro. Smallwood who first recognized the error in the teachings of A. D. Strickler, at a Sunday School Picnic in 1911, which set the stage for the withdrawal from the Strickler error and those at Temperance Hall, Birmingham which tolerated it, in 1923. The booklet mentioned by bro. Smallwood may be the best work ever written on the problems A. D. Strickler introduced.

Of the false doctrines listed in this document, we note that number one focuses our attention squarely on Resurrectional Responsibility. But we call attention to number two. It reads as follows (with MT’s emphasis)

2nd.—That the penalty or sentence against Adam for his sin in Eden was a violent death; that the sentence was suspended in Adam’s case by Edenic sacrifices, and afterwards (4,000 years afterwards) was carried out in his descendant Jesus; that this sentence of a violent death rests upon Adam’s race by virtue of having his sin and guilt federally or racially imputed to it.

Note how bro. Smallwood had no trouble identifying the real problem. MT is trying to convince us that the problem was the teaching that sin nature, a physical condition, was the sin condemned in the death of Christ. But note that this is not a doctrine bro. Smallwood even mentions. The problem to bro. Smallwood was the teaching that we inherit Adam’s sin and guilt. Of this teaching, MT says nothing, at least to this point in his book. This shows that bro. Smallwood is referring back to the teachings of bro. Andrew, and his teaching that we inherit the legal or moral sin of Adam and the guilt along with it. He is not referring to one of the foundation principles, that sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there.

Before moving on, we might consider a few writings from bro. Smallwood. These show that bro. Smallwood believed exactly what MT says is error. Writing of the teachings of A. D. Strickler, bro. Smallwood wrote:

Although confused and contradictory, there are certain well-defined errors running through it and the other papers he has written in the form of letters to brethren. In antagonizing the "Andrew-Williams" theory, he has gone to the other extreme and persuaded himself that no sin-offering is required by God for sin in any other sense than that of transgression, and that in consequence Jesus Christ did not come under the redemptive scope of his own offering.

After quoting Elpis Israel, pg 115-116, bro. Smallwood concludes:

According to the revealed principles of divine wisdom sin defiles both morally and physically, and a sin offering is, therefore, necessary for the purification of those defiled thereby, both in its moral and physical aspects. This fact was continuously and insistently proclaimed in the divine ordinances of the Mosaic ritual, and all who desire to become "wise unto salvation" will do well to give earnest heed thereto. Under that system, everything defiled by contact with sin had to be ceremonially purified by the blood of a sin offering for atonement. Sin and Sacrifice, pg. 13.

Note that bro. Smallwood says that both the moral and the physical aspects of sin had to be purified by the blood of the sin offering for atonement. So, why would MT quote bro. Smallwood, seeing that he completely disagrees with his understanding of atonement on account of sin nature? In a chapter entitled "The Sin Bearer of the Abrahamic Covenant" bro. Smallwood starts by criticizing the specific teaching of A. D. Strickler which MT shares with him.


BROTHER Strickler's teaching embodies the orthodox idea in modified form as to the manner in which sin was borne away by Christ He says, "The only kind of sin that is spoken of in connection with the 'offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all' in Heb. 9th and 10th chapters, is sin that has earned the wages of death; that is, sin of wicked thoughts and works; and the only purging and cleansing is that of the conscience, in that it rests in peace, from the fact that sins have been remitted." (The Atonement, sheet No 13)

Again "by what rule in grammar or logic has anyone the right to interpret the words of Paul in Heb. 9:26, to mean that the sin put away was sin's flesh, or sin in the flesh? The following are the words of the apostle, 'But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (The Atonement, sheet No 12) Sin And Sacrifice pg. 35.


After having pointed to these teachings as the error behind the teachings of A. D. Strickler, bro. Smallwood notes:

In referring to the death of Jesus the apostle teaches that God thereby "condemned (or gave judgment against) sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3), a declaration without meaning if there was no sin there to be condemned. The condemnation in this instance is, evidently, not moral but physical; the cause of sin in others is condemned and destroyed by God in the nature of His righteous Son Jesus. It was not necessary for Jesus to appear and to die to enable God to condemn sin in the moral sense: He had done that many times since the introduction of sin into the world. But He had not condemned it in the physical sense prior to the crucifixion of His Son. He had "given judgment against" and inflicted death on members of the race, but as they were transgressors their condemnation resulted in their destruction. In the wisdom of God it was needful that sin should be condemned in the flesh of a righteous bearer of the condemned nature, in order that after suffering the condemnation he might be raised from the dead. In the person of Jesus Christ only, "through the eternal spirit" has this requirement been fulfilled. Only of him can it be said that sin, or that which has the power of death, has been "put away" or destroyed. By its removal the portals of the tomb have been unlocked, that his brethren may escape from the prison house of death. "For if we have been united with him by the likeness of his death, we shall be also by the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed" (Rom. 6:5- 6). The "old man" that was crucified with Christ is none other than sin's flesh; which is synonymous with the "body of sin." The one is said to have been "crucified," the other "destroyed," different ways of describing the same thing, namely, the condemnation and destruction of sin in the flesh. If Jesus had not been made of "our old man" nature, or had not possessed the "body of sin," it would have been impossible for the one to have been "destroyed" or the other "crucified;" and without this there would have been no hope of resurrection through him. "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" (ICor. 15:21).

Note that bro. Smallwood, in the first point of emphasis above, is making the same point as bro. Thomas, when he said "sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there." Bro. Smallwood said "The declaration that God condemned sin in the flesh, is a declaration without meaning, if there was no sin there."  And note that he says that the sin which was there was not moral, but physical.

One of the more notable chapters, at least as relevant to our discussion concerning MT’s book, is bro. Smallwood’s defense of a prior booklet he wrote called, "The Truth Defended." "The Truth Defended" was a defense against the ideas advanced first by bro. J. J. Andrew, and later by bro. Thomas Williams. It was essentially a defense of the Canadian Circular that MT has reproduced here. A. D. Strickler considers this to be at odds with bro. Smallwood’s current position towards his "clean flesh" teachings, and charges bro. Smallwood with "changing" his opinion on atonement. Note this is the same error that MT embraces throughout his booklet. He fails to correctly identify the teaching of bre. Andrew and Williams, and so distorts the entire discussion, so that the real problem is ignored, and the truth becomes condemned. And certainly MT is not alone. John Martin did the same thing in his book, and John Carter, in dealing with objections from the sympathizers with the Antipas class who were left in the Central assemblies in the 1940s - 1950s , did a similar thing. But note bro. Smallwood’s objection, for it is the same objection I have made to MT’s writings.


THE writer is constrained to say a few words in defence of his pamphlet entitled The Truth Defended. Bro. Strickler is reported to have said, more than once, that since it was written the writer thereof has changed his mind on the subject of the atonement. That he should think so must be due to his inability to distinguish between things that differ in connection with this particular subject. The error opposed in this booklet is one thing; that combatted in The Truth Defended quite another; apart altogether from the question of the grounds of resurrectional responsibility dealt with therein. Bro. Strickler evidently believes that because the writer does not approve of his present teaching on the atonement, he must have gone to the other extreme, and embraced the error of J.J. Andrew, and the Advocate. He fails to perceive that the truth of the matter lies between these two extremes.

In The Truth Defended the writer was opposing a modified form of what Bro. Roberts has called "the vulgar priestly dogma of original sin." The following citations from that pamphlet of teaching opposed therein should make this apparent:. Sin and Sacrifice pg 87.


Like bro. Strickler, MT also fails to perceive that the truth of the matter lies between the two extremes of "original sin" taught by bre. Andrew and Williams, and "clean flesh" as taught by a host of Central folks, such as Edward Turney, Harold Fry, John Bell, A. D. Strickler, Herb Twine, Richard Stone, John Hensley, John Martin and now Matthew Trowell. Bro. Smallwood gives us a lengthy list of the differences between the truth, and the teachings of bre. Andrew and Williams.  As I pointed out before, these two extremes are based on opposite conclusions to the same error.  The error is that sin can only be moral.  MT and other "clean flesh" folks reason that if sin can only be moral, then Christ could have had no sin whatsoever.  Bre. Andrew and Williams reasoned that sin can only be moral, but they conclude that sin in the flesh must therefore be a moral relationship associated with the physical body, and it must be forgiven at baptism, since all sin is forgiven at baptism.  The truth lies in the middle.  Defilement from sin is both moral and physical.  We are guilty of our moral actions.  We are not guilty of our physical defilement, but we needed purification from it, which God provided for us, through the sacrificial and atoning death of His son.  The following is a list of errors the Advocate embraced, as stated by bro. Smallwood in his defense against the claim of A. D. Strickler that he had changed.

"We are said (in Rom. 5:12, see marg.), to have sinned in Adam. Does this need forgiveness?" Answer: Yes, to remit that which placed us in a condition needing reconciliation is to forgive the sin" — Advocate, vol. 9, pg. 233. 

"I believe that federally and racially we are held guilty of original sin" — T.W.

"The entire race is guilty before God. The grounds of guilt are first Adamic sin" — T W

"In the legal sense Adam's sin is imputed to his descendants" — J J A

"If Adam's sin was not in some sense imputed, why did Christ have to make an offering for it in relation to himself7" — T W

"It is Adam's sin that placed us in alienation, it must be removed, or pardoned before reconciliation to God can be accomplished" — T W

This was not an exhaustive list, but focused only on the point obscured by MT, which was the moral attribution of sin and guilt to the physical nature.

Moving on to the things affirmed in the 1902 list assembled by bro. Smallwood, we see again, that number one and two and three are directly involved in the principle issue, Resurrectional Responsibility.

Starting with number four, along with MT’s influence we read:

4th. — That when men and women who have attained to an affectionate understanding and belief of the Gospel submit to its demands in baptism, God forgives their past sins; they are justified, as Abraham was, by having their obedient faith counted to them for righteousness. There is no intimation in the Word that believers are forgiven "Adamic sin" at baptism."

Note the term "forgiven ‘Adamic sin.’" Again this shows that bro. Smallwood was completely aware of the nature of bro. Andrew’s teaching, and that MT is not. The physical nature requires no forgiveness. Forgiveness is a moral relationship. As bro. Roberts said in the debate. "Sin in the flesh is a physical attribute. Forgiveness is a moral relation. Do not confound the two things."

Curiously, MT found nothing to highlight in number five.

5th.—That "our inheritance from Adam is a matter of blood relationship only; that we are ‘in Adam’ by fleshly descent, and therefore die; that the one flesh of men is sinful flesh (flesh full of sin), and always regarded as unclean in the sight of God."

Obviously, "flesh full of sin" being always regarded as "unclean in the sight of God" would have been purged from the sin in the flesh, and the inherited uncleanness through the work of Jesus’ own great sacrifice.

MT now wants to take us through the maze that is bro. Thomas Williams. I have no desire to go there. It looks like MT wants to continue to ignore the root of the Advocate teaching, change it to the truth, and then condemn the Truth. This is only relevant to the Central and Unamended Assemblies, and not to the Bereans. And that is all rather silly. Both assemblies already fellowship the errors elsewhere in the body, which they pretend to object to in North America.


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Reply with quote  #48 

At the conclusion of this section, Matthew Trowell (MT) gives us several charts which are intended to define the various beliefs. The charts are not well done. The greatest problem is that they are intended to show a "Central ‘Amended’ Teaching." There is no such thing. There are all the views described in all the columns of the chart, plus more including Trinity, in the assemblies named Central.

In fact just a few years ago, (but time gets away, could be 10 years or so) a former Berean brother, now long a member of Central, justified his position in Central by commenting that only 10 - 15% of the Central body believed the things advanced by MT as the Central position. The rest still held to the foundation principles. When I quoted him on a Central message board, that figure was widely ridiculed, probably appropriately. I feel certain the number is much higher. Certainly the Logos faction of Central still holds closely to the truth. And the Advocates in Britain were brought into fellowship in 1956 on the basis of a majority vote, John Carter acknowledging that not all had changed their position. So with that unsound minority came the true teachings of bro. Andrew.

So to suggest there is a "Central teaching" is simply false. As I noted earlier, perhaps MT thinks its time to form one, and wrote this book for that purpose. I wish him luck, but I don’t think it will happen. I would love for the Balaam and Jezebel class from the Central assemblies cast out the remaining Antipas, who, for whatever reason, sees fit to dwell among them, subjecting themselves and their families to its inevitable corruption, but I doubt it will happen. The command was to come out from among them, and be ye separate. Nowhere does it appear that adversarial assemblies cast out the Antipas. Only when an assembly reaches the point where they reject, and will not even read the inspired apostles, are the Antipas locked out by a Diotrophes class, which corresponds to the Church and her Daughters.

The second problem with MT’s charts, is the bre. Andrew/Williams teachigs. It is a blending of the foundation Christadelphian position with their position, and in consequence, fails to properly represent either.

I don’t know that I can adequately represent bro. Andrew’s position, to rewrite MT’s chart. I’m afraid that I am apt to miss some of the nuance required in such a work. But I will try.

Adam’s nature after sinning.



The truth is that it was the same nature inflamed by sin and now sentenced to death.

The Unamended position is that it was a nature worthy of a violent death, with Adam’s sin morally or legally imputed to it. This moral or legal sin is called "sin in the flesh."





I have no idea why he has two acceptations of sin, in his perspective of Central’s teaching. Certainly, some in Central do. MT doesn’t. He believes sin is only moral. He believes the physical symbolizes sin, not that it is sin.

The truth is that sin is both moral and physical. The relationship of the physical to the moral as "cause and effect" does not isolate the physical nature from being sin, but rather explains why the physical nature is sin.

Bro. Andrew’s position is that sin is moral. The physical has a moral or legal defilement as part of its inherent quality, making the physical, sin. The physical is termed sin, because of the imputation of the moral (legal) guilt of Adam to it.


Christ’s Nature:



The truth is that it is the same nature as Adam, after the sentence in the Garden.

I believe bro. Andrew would answer the question the same way. So refer to "Adam’s nature after sinning," above.


Christ’s Death


The truth is that in his death, Christ condemned sin in the flesh, a thing impossible if there was no sin there. The condemnation of sin in the flesh, was the declaration of God’s righteousness showing exactly how sin needed to be dealt with, in harmony with the righteousness of God. His body, which he voluntarily destroyed on the cross was only fit for destruction, because of sin. His sacrificial death was an atonement for sin in its entirety, physical and moral. Hence, by dying he abrogated the law of condemnation in himself.

Bro. Andrew believed that Christ’s death was a sacrificial, violent death, by which the Mosaic institutions were ratified. His atonement was for all sin, including the one he imagined, being the moral (legal) imputation of Adam’s sin to the physical body.


Christ’s Resurrection


The truth is that his resurrection was not a declaration of God’s righteousness. His death was. His resurrection was consequent on the declaration of God’s righteousness he made in his death, coupled with his perfectly obedient life, so that God would not allow that death could hold him.

I can’t see where bro. Andrew says his resurrection was incidental to his sacrifice. I think MT gets that, by misunderstanding bro. Andrew’s argument for mortal emergence. (Blood of the Covenant, pg. 25.) Bro. Andrew believe that Christ was raised mortal, without the imagined imputed Adamic sin, and then immortalized based upon his righteous life. Bro. Thomas also believed that Jesus was raised "as Adam, but before he sinned," and then immortalized. Of course, bro. Thomas had no such illusions of the inheritance of Adamic guilt or moral sin.




The truth is that we are baptized for the remission of our sins, and prospectively, for the removal of sin nature.

Bro. Andrew believed that we are baptized for the forgiveness of our moral sins, and for "forgiveness" of the moral (legal) sin of Adam inherent in our physical nature, which he called sin in the flesh.


Resurrection to Judgment


The truth is that all who have light will come forth to judgment. We cannot define "light" in any particular person, but God knows, and I believe the individual knows.

Bro. Andrew beleived that only those who have been baptized for the removal of the moral (legal) guilt of sin of Adam, can come forth to judgment. Thus establishing the impossible situation where obedience becomes the first condition of condemnation.


Finally, we come to a chart which mentions the Bereans. The chart is confusing at best. First, it is a grouping of the Bereans, with the Old Paths and the Dawn. This may be fair. I simply do not know. My only contact with the Old Paths have been quite favorable. The best man at my wedding was an Old Paths brother. I’ve had very little contact with the Dawn, though at the time I left Central, I had a lot of contact with one particular Dawn brother in Houston, who was sound enough on the atonement. The Dawn came out of the Berean, and so at one point we were quite close. How the Dawn has evolved since then, I can’t say. The Old Paths makes the claim to be "Central before 1956." Obviously, we felt that Central was astray in 1923, so we have no desire to be linked with a body which denies our foundation. So I make no pretense to speak for either Dawn or Old Paths.

But as to the chart itself, it is simply a fabrication. And a confusing one at that. The chart begins with a box called Condemnation to Death, which I assume means the sentence on Adam in the garden, after he had sinned. This has a line to a circle, above which is labeled Physical Sin, and in the middle of that circle are the words "Inherited Sin" under which is the term sin-in-the-flesh. As long as we are not confusing this with the ideas advanced by bro. Andrew, of moral or legal sin or guilt of Adam, and the concept behind "sin-in-the-flesh" is purely physical, a misfortune, but not a crime-- this would be acceptable.

Now next to the circle labeled "Physical Sin," is another circle labeled "Moral Sin, and within that circle is the term "wicked works." By this I suppose MT is trying to show that the Bereans believe that there are two acceptations of sin, one moral and one physical. The physical we inherit as descendants of Adam as a result of the condemnation in the Garden. The moral are the sins we commit.

There is an arrow drawn between the two circles with points on both ends. I could understand this if the arrow went from the physical to the moral, as that is what we believe. Our physical nature is the cause of our moral transgressions. But why the arrow goes back to the physical, I have no idea. Perhaps it is intended to show that our bodies are dead for two reasons, first due to our inheritance of sin nature from Adam, and secondly as a consequent of our own sins. We do believe that. But that is a very awkward and incorrect way of expressing that.

Below both of these bubbles there is a rectangle, labeled "Baptism." There is an arrow with its point going from the Moral Sin bubble, to the Baptism rectangle. That is true. Our past sins are forgiven at baptism. Then coming out of the Baptism rectangle, there is a broken line pointing to the words "Moral sins forgiven, cleansed, reconciled, atoned for & covered." I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the Bereans. After baptism, moral sins are forgiven through prayer to Christ, by Christ, and in consequent of our recognition of and identification with his atoning sacrifice.

Now the "Physical Sin" bubble also has a line going down towards the "Baptism" bubble, but the line goes through it, without an arrow. And the line coming out the other side is unbroken, pointing towards the words "Physical or Inherited Sin, or ‘sin-in-the-flesh’ ceremonially cleansed, forgiven, reconciled, atoned for & covered by Christ’s shed blood." Again, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean, but certainly a significant part, and perhaps all of this is libelous.

First and foremost, Berean Christadelphians do not, and never had argued that our bodies need forgiveness from sin in the flesh, or that physical human nature needs forgiveness. This would be to give the physical nature a moral quality which Berean Christadelphians do not do, and have not done.

Secondly, Berean Christadelphians believe it is the physical body which ultimately is cleansed by Christ’s shed blood, from the sin which defiled it, inherited in the Garden. "Sin in the flesh" is not cleansed, reconciled, atoned for, or covered by Christ’s blood. Our bodies are cleansed, reconciled, atoned for, or covered by Christ’s blood, from the sin-in-the-flesh which defiled them.

Thirdly, we do not believe, and never have believed, that there is any cleansing of the physical nature at baptism, as his lines seem to indicate. The purification of the nature from sin in the flesh, doesn’t occur till death, and some believe till immortalization, but it is based upon the prospective cleansing begun at baptism.

It is impossible to understand what he means by the term "ceremonial" cleansings, based on what he has given us so far. A ceremony can be real, or emblematic, often both. In the ceremony of the crucifixion/Sin Offering, Christ really did die, and quite literally destroyed the sin God made him to be. At the same time it spoke emblematically of the condemnation of sin, universally, in the pouring out of his blood to the death, and also prophetically of the removal of all sin, from the Multitudinous Christ-man based on that one great offering. Baptism is a ceremony for cleansing from sin. It is quite real as to moral sins, and our incorporation into the Multitudinous Christ-man will be based upon that ceremony. But it is only prospective, as regards human nature, as we have it as much after baptism, as before.

Now between the two downward lines from the sin bubbles, and above baptism, he has the words "Two Forms of Sin— Moral & Physical; Both require atonement." I have never noticed Berean Christadelphians using the expression "two forms of sin." It is not necessarily wrong, I suppose, properly defined, but it is not how we speak. A quick reference of my website, which has a number of writings dealing with the atonement, does not reveal it was ever used by Bereans, but my web site is by no means exhaustive, even of my own writings. Of articles I have collected, it was used by John Martin before he went astray. It was used critically by John Martin after he went astray. And bro. Stephen Genusa quoted John Martin once who was using that term. Those are the only times I can find it.

We use the term "two acceptations to the word sin" which means two general meanings to the word sin, one moral, the other physical. We use the term "two aspects" of sin, one moral and one physical, which means there are two different ways to look at sin.

MT then concludes his chart with the comment that there is "No legal change, but both "forms" of sin require an atonement or covering." Since we reject any moral quality attached to the physical, legal change would be no part of our understanding. I don’t know why he mentions it. He puts the term "form" in quotes, indicating that he is quoting something relevant to us. I certainly do not know what it is, and he has not told us to date what that would be. And as regards his final thought, I have shown many times, the foundation brethren did believe that the body required atonement from both the moral and the physical acceptations of sin. I have even showed it from what MT has quoted from bro. Roberts in the debate.

Q 711. JJA: Is it not clear that Christ, as a necessity, must offer up for himself for the purging of his own sin nature? RR: As a son of Adam, a son of Abraham, and a son of David, yes.


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What is Sin – 38

We now come to a subject of which I thought we already covered, "What is Sin?" But looking back, I actually complained as we went through the Nature of Man, that this subject was not covered. It wasn’t covered where it should have been, and where bro. Thomas covered it in his discussions. We presumed the constant denial of the physical aspect of sin, meant that MT believes what all "clean flesh" folks believe, that sin can only refer to transgression. And it appears from what follows here, that we were correct. But it is nice that we finally come, 130 pages into his book, to a point where Matthew Trowell (MT) is willing to explain his thoughts on sin, limited though it is. MT wrote:

"When we take a closer look at the extreme teachings considered in Part Two, it becomes evident that these false teachings were predicated upon a misunderstanding of how the word ‘sin’ is used in Scripture. It was this misunderstanding which led to erroneous beliefs concerning the nature of man, the nature of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ and Resurrectional Responsibility." Understanding the Atonement, pg. 129.

This is the truest statement MT has made to this point in his book. It is the understanding of the word "sin" which is the source, or at least the excuse for all the divergence of opinion on this subject. The "clean flesh" folks starting with Edward Turney, and including MT believe that "sin" means only moral transgression. This leads them to be repulsed at the idea of Christ being "made sin," and causes them to look for ways to symbolize or otherwise obscure such Scriptural statements as "made him to be sin for us...". The "Advocate" folks believe that our physical natures have a moral quality of guilt in being "made sin," and so come up with all sorts of language and arguments relevant to the elimination of that guilt. They believe the actual sin or guilt of Adam can be inherited. The most practical implication to their thoughts is that one must be baptized to be forgiven Adam’s guilt, so that you can come out of the grave. But at the root of all the misunderstanding, is the understanding of the word sin.

The understanding of the word sin effects the greatest declaration in the Bible, the declaration of the Righteousness and Justness of God. And this declaration is the only basis under heaven by which our sins can be forgiven. This is why this is such a fundamentally important point.

Our hopes for a clear explanation of sin, it seems, will not be fulfilled here. MT entitles this chapter, "What is Sin," but immediately goes away from that title, choosing instead to describe "How Sin is Used in the Bible." That should have been the title for this section. If we look at the lead sentence in each of his three sections we see:



(i) Moral transgression: First of all, the Bible uses the word ‘sin’ to describe our moral transgressions — acts of disobedience which are in opposition to the will of God...

(ii) Personification: Another way in which the word ‘sin’ is used is in Scripture is by way of personification —a grammatical term or expression used to make an often difficult concept tangible so that it can be more easily understood...

(iii) Metonymy: A third way in which the word ‘sin’ is used in Scripture is by another grammatical form called ‘metonymy’. Bro. CC. Walker explains: "Metonymy (meta, change, and onoma, a name, or in grammar, a noun) is ‘a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation.’...



If we look at the three sections he has defined we see that we have one definition, (sin is moral transgression,) followed by two grammatical explanations of why the word "sin" is used in certain circumstances (pesonification and metonymy). So while we thought we were going to finally get an explanation of what is sin, we must again, wait to see what might be coming later in his book.

But lets look at the one definition he offers, for it is strange indeed.

First of all, the Bible uses the word ‘sin’ to describe our moral transgressions — acts of disobedience which are in opposition to the will of God. For instance, John says: "sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). He also says that "All unrighteousness is sin." (1 John 5:17). And James says that, "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17). Paul says that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).

Without agreeing that 1 John 3:4 actually teaches what MT claims, or without agreeing to the limits he places on Rom. 14:23 and 1 John 5:7; we can all agree generally with the idea that sin is primarily a disorderly moral behavior of some sort. He goes on:

The word ‘sin’ literally means ‘to miss the mark’ which we all do in one way or another, for "all have sinned," says Paul, "and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Sin, therefore, in its primary sense, is the manifestation of a will which is in opposition to the will of God whether in thought, in word or in deed.

I would say, this is absolutely not true. I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed anyone expressing moral sin this way before. If this were true, Christ was a sinner in a moral sense. For he clearly expressed to us that he had a will which was in opposition to the will of God.


John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.


This acknowledgment of a will in opposition to the will of God, is the expression of sin in the physical sense. The apostle Paul describes it thus:

Rom 7:18-20 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

The manifestation of a will is not sin in a moral sense. Christ had this will, and manifested it at times to us. He was morally perfect. He never allowed himself to act on it, always submitting his will, to the will of the Father. This is the great victory of which Trinitarians rob him. He was victorious over his will, a will that tried him far more intensely than any of us can ever be tried. This will is called "sin that dwelleth in me."

So as I say, MT’s discussion of ‘moral transgression" is very strange at best. So now we move on to his discussion of grammatical terms. I’d say that there is no place in these discussions where folks can get over their heads so fast, as in the grammatical explanations they offer. I think we can safely blame our public schools systems for this.

Personification is not defined by MT, but he rather chooses to give some examples We will add the definition of personification here:

the attribution of personal qualities; especially representation of a thing or abstraction as a person or by the human form–Merriam-Webster.

MT then takes us to the Gen. 4:17 where he tells us that when God tells Cain that if he fails to do well, "sin lieth at the door." He points out that the term "lieth" refers to an animal crouching down. I probably would have carried the imagery farther, as the word really does indicate that it is crouched down, ready to pounce. So the warning to Cain is one of impending doom, if he disobeys the divine precepts. MT tells us this is personification. I’m not sure about the people he hangs out with, that he perceives this "pouncing" as a human characteristic, but OK. It sounds to me more like the behavior of my cats when stalking prey, which would be "zoomorphism," not personification, but let us not quibble.

So this explains to us the reason for the usage. Sin is said to be crouched like a lion, ready to pounce on us, and destroy us. That is all true, all well and good. But then MT draws his conclusions:

Sin is intangible; it cannot crouch or lie down like an animal. However, by personification the Scripture describes sin as being like a wild animal crouching down, ready to spring and devour us." Understanding the Atonement pg 130.

How does he know any of this? He hasn’t defined sin, yet. All he had given us is one meaning of sin, "that it is the transgression of the law." If this one definition is the end of the story, then yes, sin would be intangible. But no one, not dictionaries, not grammars, certainly not foundation Christadelphians think this is the limit to the definition of sin. The only ones who do are those Christadelphians who have embraced "clean flesh." In introducing us to sin as transgression, MT told us that "first of all the Bible uses sin to describe our transgressions." Wouldn’t his use of the term "first of all" imply that there are other descriptions of sin? What are they? And in his diagrams about "clean flesh," (Understanding the Atonement, pg. 122) didn’t he complain that the "clean flesh" folks view sin as "moral sins only?" But now he is "assuming" that the only description of sin is the intangible meaning that sins are moral behavior. And that all other uses (the personification here, and the metonymy we are about to consider) are simply figurative expressions derived from the moral sin, with no other possible meaning. Note that his conclusion is stated, without being proved.

But back to personification, as I have pointed out, personification is not a definition of sin, but rather an explanation of why sin is used with human characteristics, in literature. It is a description of a figure of speech by which a noun may become a metaphor or metonym in a sentence. But because of us all being made sin, almost any usage of sin in personification will be a metonym. We will get into metonym and metaphor in the next section.

In my reference to Paul’s writings in Rom. 7, sin is used as living in us. "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." This is personification. Sin is made to appear as a person living within us. But what does this tell us about sin? Does it tell us sin lives in us, because sin is our physical nature, and we always have it with us, constantly tempting us? Or is it a metaphorical description of our intangible moral sins, somehow described as living in us, since we sin continually? Personification doesn’t tell us that. We must first settle the question as to what sin is, before we can apply some understanding of it from the use of personification.

I would argue that the "law in my members" and the "sin that dwelleth in me" and the "body of death" or the "in my flesh dwelleth no good thing" are all descriptive of the physical nature, which God called "sin." I’m sure MT would argue that sin can only be moral, so the use of sin in this chapter is metaphorical, a symbolical representation, figurative speech, and not an actual acknowledgment that the physical nature is sin. But neither of us can prove our point simply by pointing out that the Scripture uses sin here, in the figure of speech called personification.


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Next we come to the term Metonymy. "Clean flesh" folks use the term metonymy as if it is some magical way to deny the obvious. Metonymy is just another grammatical term which, like personification, explains why a specific word might be used in a certain way. Like personification, it is not a definition of a word, but an explanation of why a word is used. I can’t emphasize this enough. Grammatical terms explain why words are used. They do not give definitions to words. Matthew Trowell (MT) begins by quoting bro. Walker for a definition of metonymy:

"Metonymy (meta, change, and onoma, a name, or in grammar, a noun) is ‘a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation.’ There is metonymy of cause, of effect, of subject, and of adjunct. Thus ‘sin’ and its synonyms are put for the effects or punishments of sin." (C.C. Walker ‘Atonement: Salvation Through the Blood of Christ’). Understanding the Atonement pg. 131

It is true that metonym is derived from two Greek words "meta" which should be understood here, as "another," and "nym" meaning name. Metonym then, simply means "another name." In our discussion, "sin" is another name for "human nature."

But this is where the simplicity ends, and where bro. Walker’s definition, and indeed all definitions from the Christadelphian Magazine come up short, and in consequent, allow for confusion. Metonymy is a highly complex and divergent term, with many explanations as to why specific words are used. It does not simply mean, a cause for the effect.

Bro. Thomas, bro. Walker, and bro. Roberts all used essentially the next statement by bro. Walker to define their understanding of metonymy, that metonymy is putting the cause for the effect, or the effect for the cause, or the whole (subject) for a part (adjunct) or a part for the whole. But if we were to ask grammarians whether or not putting the cause for the effect, or a part for the whole was "metonymy," we would find about half would say "yes, this is metonymy;" but about half would answer "no, it is synecdoche." And of the first half that said it was metonymy, they would clarify it to be a special form of metonymy, called synecdoche.

Putting the cause for the effect, or a part for the whole (or vice versa) can be considered metonymy, but a specific form of metonymy called synecdoche. This limitation makes the statements by bre. Roberts, Thomas, and Walker true. But if we use the term "metonymy" outside of the specific form of metonymy as defined by bre. Thomas, Roberts, and Walker, then it is not true. Hence the problem with the "clean flesh" folks.

Synecdoche is from two Greek words, syn meaning same, and ekdoche, meaning "sense" "meaning" or "interpretation." So a synecdoche are two nouns, from which we would take the "same interpretation." Sin then, is by synecdoche, used for human nature, because sin as the cause of mortality is placed for the effects of mortality; therefore sin has the same meaning or interpretation as human nature. This explains why the foundation brethren told us that by metonymy, human nature is called sin, and vice versa. But it doesn’t answer our question as to whether or not sin nature is sin.

Human nature is not moral transgression, and there is no moral guilt attached to it. That is true. But is sin a physical law in our members? Certainly the physical law in our members is called sin, in the Scriptures. It is given that name because human nature is the cause of all transgression. But does that make it, itself, sin? If we understand metonymy, in the same sense as the foundation Christadelphians did, then the answer is clearly yes. Both words must have the same interpretation. And this is why there is no contradiction between bro. Roberts saying that sin is a metonym (synecdoche) for human nature, and the statement from bro. Thomas in Elpis Israel which so troubles the "clean flesh" folks, that sin is a synonym (two words with the same meaning) for human nature. It is why Bro. Roberts quoted the following from bro. Thomas, with no hint of it altering his understanding at all. The following is a quote Roberts from Elpis Israel and published in the Christadelphian Magazine, in 1873, right in the middle of the first "clean flesh" controversy:


In Elpis Israel, page 114, the following sentences occur:—"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 woman?’—(Job 25:4.) ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.’—(Job 14:4.) ‘What is man that he should be clean? And 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?’ (Job 15:14–16.) This view of sin in the flesh is enlightening in the things concerning Jesus. The apostle says, ‘God made him sin for us, who knew no sin’ (2 Cor. 5:21); 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(Rom. 8:3) in the offering of this body once.—(Heb. 10:10, 12, 14.) 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 he died for; 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.’—(John 3:6.)

According to the physical law, the seed of the unclean woman was born into the world. The nature of Mary was as unclean as that of other women, and therefore could give only to ‘a body’ like her own, though especially ‘prepared of God.’—(Heb. 10:10, 12, 14) 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.


To say that sin is a "synonym" for "human nature," and to say that sin is a "metonym/synecdoche" (two words with the same interpretation) for human nature is to say the same thing.

So why the confusion? It is because metonymy is a very wide term, and in normal grammar, cannot be limited to just synecdoche. If we simply say, "by metonymy" human nature can be called sin, then there is no end to the different ideas which can be developed, as Christadelphian history has shown. There is a form of "metonymy" called metalepsis, which is in all practicallity, a metaphor. It is a blending of metonyms to the point where the actual association of things doesn’t exist, but rather is found through other metonyms. For instance, we might say a person has a lead foot, meaning they drive fast. This is metonymy, but lead is not a cause of driving fast, nor is it a part of a foot.

There is a form of "metonymy" called "irony" by which a name is developed from something it clearly is not, such as when we name a fat person, "Skinny," or a redhaired person, "Blue."

Metonymy can occur in so many different ways, that it is all but impossible to place any limits on it. Once we say "human nature, by metonymy, is called sin, it could mean anything from synecdoche, where the cause is simply a part of the whole sin constitution, to an entirely symbolic representation with no actual relationship to sin at all. This is why the word is so popular with the "clean flesh" folks. It justifies their use of sin, which is essentially metaphorical (symbolical), and not metonymical at all.

So it is important to recognize that the foundation Christadelphians used no other meaning of "metonymy" than "cause to effect" or "synecdoche." A grammatical term whereby two words have the same understanding, or interpretation. And this is why bro. Roberts’ use of "metonymy" does not, nor was it intended to, contradict bro. Thomas’s use of "synonym."

MT then gives us examples which he feels proves his point, which point is not clearly defined by him, but becomes clear through his examples:

There are examples throughout Scripture of metonymy. For example, the angels told Lot, his wife and his daughters to hurry out of Sodom, "lest thou be consumed in the iniquity (Marg. ‘punishment’) of the city" (Genesis. 19:15; cp. Psalm 7:16; Jeremiah 14:16). ‘Iniquity’ was the cause of punishment. In Zechariah 14:19 "This shall be the punishment (marg., sin) of Egypt." Understanding the Atonement, pg. 131.

In saying this, MT is trying to force a separation between the punishment for the sins of the city, and the sins themselves. This is a root to our disagreement. The "clean flesh" folks want to suggest that these "cause and effect" relationships are separate entities, not a part of each other at all, and therefore must, or at least can be considered as isolated from each other. They reason "sin" is not literally the "punishment." That is true. But the separation is artificial. There would be no punishment apart from the sin. They are so intimately related, that they cannot reasonably be separated. Each one, the sin, and the punishment, are simply parts of the greater whole, called iniquity. The "clean flesh" fellow says this is not true. The punishment must be understood separate from the sin.

First, the grammatical argument. If the cause does not encompass the effect, then it is not metonymy/synecdoche. That is simply a fact. Metonymy/synechdoche only exists where both nouns are intended to have the same interpretation. If the two nouns are intended to have separate meanings or interpretations, then the two words are simply nouns, or subjects. They are not metonyms. The instant you say that one noun is not intended to have the same interpretation as the other, you break the metonymy/synecdoche.

Lets say I hear you bought a new car. I call you up and say "Why don’t you bring your new wheels by, so I can see them?" I am using "wheels" as a metonym/synecdoche for your whole car. But, I want you to bring the whole car. But suppose you go out, jack up your car, removed the wheels and bring them to me. You did not understand "wheels" to be a metonym for car, but rather a subject to itself. To you, "wheels" was not a metonym/synecdoche for car, but a subject all its own.

Lets now move this back to our discussion. Paul says God made Jesus to be "sin" for us. Sin is a metonym/synecdoche for human nature. They are two words in that sentence, intended to have the same interpretation. But the instant you say that sin is only transgression, you break the metonymy, and sin is no longer a metonym, but a subject distinct from the subject of human nature. And you make it a false statement to boot, as God did not make Jesus a transgressor in any sense, but rather, a physical member of the sin constitution.  In order to say it is metonymy, you cannot break the words into separate subjects, but must maintain the same interpretation for the two words.

Lets move on to MT’s second example.

Again, in Deuteronomy. 9:21 Moses says, "I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust; and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount." In Exodus 32:20 we read that God "strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it." Sin cannot be stamped on, ground very small, strawed upon the water and eaten. However, the cause of Israel’s sin — the golden calf — could be stamped on, ground up and strawed upon the water and eaten. Clearly, the words ‘sin’ and ‘calf’ are related as cause and effect as a figure of speech. The golden calf was the cause of their sin. Understanding the Atonement pg. 131

As MT correctly points out, the calf, which is the consequence of Israel’s sin, is by metonymy/synecdoche, called "sin." But the instant MT says "sin cannot be stomped on" he breaks the metonymy, and his interpretation is no longer metonymical. It is two separate subjects, sin as transgression, and the calf, are two separate and distinct subjects. Yes, in the text, the words "sin" and "calf" are related as cause and effect, and are metonymical so long as the cause and effect is maintained. But if that association is broken, then the metonymy is broken. If the association is broken, they are no longer drinking their sin, but drinking gold powder.

This is what MT, and indeed all the "clean flesh" folks do. They break the metonymy into separate subjects, but then after having done so, they pretend the metonymy still exists. It doesn’t. And having destroyed the metonymy, they then tell us this is what bro. Roberts meant when he used the term metonymy. It is nonsense.

We come next to see how the "clean flesh" folks take us away from cause and effect, or putting a part for the whole, that is, from synecdoche; to a completely different form of metonymy. In his next example we are give a metonymy where "Christ" is another name for "Rock."

In Exodus 17:6 "the brook" which flowed from the smitten rock, "was Christ" (cp. 1 Corinthians 10:4). Did Christ literally flow out of the rock? Of course not! In John 7:37 the Lord says, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink". The water flowing out of the rock represented life to the children of Israel who were thirsty, just as Christ represents the giving of life to the sinner — the one stands related to the other.

His entire exegesis is off base. The "brook" was not Christ, but rather, the Rock was Christ. But note how he says that rock "represented" life, just as Christ represents giving life to the sinner. "Representation" as he has used it here, is not metonymy. Representation as he has used it, is a metaphor. And metaphor is pure symbolism with no reality attached to it. But I don’t think he has any of this correct. The Rock is another name for Christ, and therefore a metonym for Christ, not a metaphor. But this is not established by cause and effect, or by putting a part for the whole. That is, this is not established through synecdoche. This is established through several metonymical relationships. Thus it is a form of metonym called "metalepsis" which is for all intents and purposes, a metaphor.

"Rock," in the Hebrew, is "Tzur," and is among the titles which Deity has taken to Himself. The Rock is a metonym for Deity, who is the firm foundation upon which our faith is based, and the unchangeableness and steadiness of that great plan. Jesus told Peter, upon this rock, ("Petra" the Greek word which corresponds to the Hebrew for Tzur) he would build his ecclesia. That Rock was Peter’s statement that Jesus was the Christ. Jesus, then, being God manifested in flesh, is as God’s Christ, entitled to all the titles of Deity, and Scripturally, they are all used of him. So by several extensions or metonyms, Rock, becomes a metonym through metalepsis for Christ.

But the point to take away in this, is how the "clean flesh" folks can twist "metonymy" into definitions which, while accurate enough, are definitions never used by the foundation Christadelphians.

Then MT uses another metonym similar to the calf and sin that Aaron participated in, and the answer is the same. You can’t break the metonymy by turning the calf and sin into subjects, and then continue to tell us that it is still metonymy. Metonymy (synecdoche) only works when the two nouns have the same interpretation.

Next we come to one of my favorite examples from the "clean flesh" folks. The example of "death in the pot."

Take as another example the word ‘death’. Primarily, death means the state to which a living man is reduced when his life ceases. But in 2 Kings 4:38-41 one of the sons of the prophets is recorded as saying, "there is death in the pot". Does this mean there was literally a dead body in the pot? No, of course, not! But there was poison in the pot which would lead to death. In this case, the effect of the poison (death) is put for the cause of death (poison) by way of metonymy. To say that ‘death’ was in the pot, literally meant that there was something in the pot which would lead to death.

Again, MT does an entirely questionable job with his exegesis. Death does not primarily mean the state a living man is reduced when his life ceases. It is a far more encompassing term applied literally to any living thing whose life has stopped. But anyway, one of the sons of the prophets says "there is death in the pot" which is metonymical. Now, here is the test of what is a metonym. Is it symbolical, and death is not really death, or is it to be understood as the same interpretation as death, and it quite literally means death?

Now, here is the test I have suggested. I will make some soup. I will put in it a large dose of old style rat poison, made out of a heavy metal called arsenic, which , in large doses kills fairly quickly. Then our "clean flesh" fellow can eat the soup, to prove to us that the term death is only symbolic, and not real. For some reason, at this point the "clean flesh" fellows get a much clearer view of metonymy, and have never taken me up on my offer. At this point "death in the pot" has real meaning to them, and is not just an empty symbolical "figure of speech."

And we finish up (finally) with some New Testament examples of where death is put for our mortal condition which leads to death. Again, our own experience shows us the proper understanding of metonymy. Our death, and the death of our loved ones encompassed with this same nature is not figurative speech, but is a sad, painful, inevitable reality. Giving it another name does not change the reality of death, anymore than naming sin to be human nature, changes its potency. It all has the same understanding to all of us, and the divisions between the subjects suggested by the "clean flesh" fellows, are simply artificial.

So to try and put this as simply as possible, metonymy means "another name." The only type of metonymy used by the foundation Christadelphians is the form of metonymy called synecdoche. Synecdoche means "same interpretation." If you deny the same interpretation of two words (such as sin and human nature) you have two separate subjects, and therefore you have no metonymy. When bro. Roberts says human nature, by metonymy is called sin, he is saying that sin and human nature have the same interpretation. (Just as bro. Thomas said sin and human nature are synonyms.) If you break that association between sin and human nature (by defining the two terms differently) then you no longer have metonymy. You can’t give us two different interpretations for sin and human nature, and then tell us that you are in harmony with bro. Roberts’ statement, and in fact the belief of all foundation Christadelphians, that by metonymy, human nature is called sin.


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40 – Metonymy

We now continue on with Matthew Trowell’s (MT) discussion of metonymy, and he will give us certain example from the New Testament. In all these cases, you will see that he breaks the metonymy of the subject, choosing different interpretations of the verses, and then telling us that he is maintaining the metonymy of the subject. And even in this, his discussion appears to me to be very undisciplined, often confusing or blurring concepts and verses trying to explain one tenet, by an unrelated one.

His first example comes from Rom. 8:3.

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). Understanding the Atonement pg. 135.

One of the principle errors of both the followers of Edward Turney, and bro. J. J. Andrew, was that they imagined "sin" to be an addition to the body. This is why there are so many quotes by the pioneers, clarifying that sin is not an addition to the body, but rather is the natural condition of the body, after the fall. MT, as we have already seen during our discussion of the nature of man, is not immune from this. He too believes "sin" to have been added to the body at the transgression in the garden. This is further apparent by a statement he will make in two more paragraphs, where he says: "As a consequence of Adam’s sinning, a physiological change took place that affected his mental and emotional state."

As we have already shown, both bre. Thomas and Roberts argued that there was no physiological change in the man in the garden, when he sinned. The change was in his relationship to God. He was created, an earthy man on probation to life. After the fall, he was still an earthy man, only now destined to die. As bro. Roberts pointed out (and to which we previously alluded) during his discussions concerning this principle as explained by Edward Turney, this concept of an added physiological change is a step towards the immortality of the soul. It is essentially, an addition of a characteristic which is somehow distinct from the body, as the Churches believe the soul is distinct from the body. As bro. Roberts said, in regards to Edward Turney’s treatment of sin, "I could understand an immortal-soulist talking like this; but how you can understand a man talking in this way who recognises that the flesh thinks, and that character is but the outward manifestations of that thinking flesh, is difficult to say."

The "law of sin and death" is not an addition to the earthy body. After the fall, it is the divine sentence on the earthy body. The propensities, intellect, and sentiments of the created body, which had been guided in a Godly direction before the fall, were now unleashed to their own discretions, which were evil continuously. This is why the body is called sin’s flesh. We have gone over all this in the sections dealing with the Nature of Man.

MT, in the above paragraph says "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’)." MT’s term "therefore" should indicate that he has now proved that sin’s flesh is not sin. Where has he done this? He thinks he has done it by stating that the word is metonymical. But is this proof? No! Saying it is used grammatically as a metonym explains why the word is used, but it does nothing to explain the meaning. If anything, as I have already shown, the type of metonym used here (synecdoche) shows that the metonymical term "sin’s flesh" must be understood to have the same interpretation as sin, or human nature. So the weight of what little evidence MT has provided, argues against his conclusion.

What would be proof that human nature is not sin? Well, it could be a verse which clearly states that human nature is not sin. It could be a verse which clearly states that sin can only be understood as transgression. It could be a parable where the explanation is how human nature is not sin. It could be a prophesy, perhaps from the law or elsewhere, that exhibited that human nature is not sin. It could, I suppose, even be a verse which explained how sin was condemned in human nature, without it existing there. It could be a verse which explains how God’s righteousness was exhibited in putting to death a completely sinless man. It could be a verse which states that flesh owned, or possessed by sin (sin’s flesh) somehow is not owned or possessed by sin. It could be done any number of ways, all of which MT has ignored. What is not a proof, is an isolated and unproved statement by MT or any other of the "clean flesh" folks, that sin nature is not sin. What is not a proof is a grammatical explanation of why certain words are used.

For support of his unproved statement, MT takes us to a writing by L. G. Sargent. This quote is very telling as to how much support MT can find for his position, in the writings of the foundation Christadelphians. First, it is important to note that this is from 1965. So it took over 100 years for MT to be able to find some semblance of support for his position. That by itself, is pretty telling.

Secondly, the quote has nothing to do with Rom. 8:3. It is a comment on Heb. 2:14. Now, I’m sure he is trying to make a comment about the word "sin," and how, according to L. G. Sargent, "sin" does not mean "human nature." But which of the Protestant Christadelphian groups is going to think of L. G. Sargent as any kind of an expert or pioneer brother? The notion borders on laughable. This makes it appear that MT really is just writing to and for modern "clean flesh" folks, only. That MT would think quoting L. G. Sargent is even reasonable, shows he has a complete disconnect with the rest of the Christadelphian world outside of Central "clean flesh" folks. So lets look at the L. G. Sargent quote:

It is abundantly established in our literature (Christendom Astray, for instance) that the Devil is sin. That is a different proposition from saying that the Devil is "human nature", and still further from identifying human nature with the "blood"… and from this equation arguing that in the pouring out of the blood there was a destruction of "human nature" = "sin-in-the-flesh" = "the Devil". Human nature is prone to sin; it is not "sin."

Lets begin with his reference to Christendom Astray. The first thing we might note, is that it is "abundantly established" that the expression "the Devil is sin" never occurs in Christendom Astray. That makes it difficult to understand exactly what L. G. Sargent is discussion. But it is not difficult to find out who bro. Roberts named as the Devil in Christendom Astray? Observe the following:

Christ, through death, destroyed, or took out of the way, "the sin of the world". In this, he destroyed the Bible devil. He certainly did not destroy the popular devil in his death, for that devil is supposed to be still at large, but in his own person, as a representative man, he extinguished the power of sin by surrendering to its full consequences, and then escaping by resurrection, through the power of his own holiness, to live for evermore. This is described as "God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). Sin in the flesh, then, is the devil destroyed by Jesus in his death. This is the devil having the power of death, for it is sin, and nothing else but sin that causes death to men. Christendom Astray, pg. 195

Is it not incredible that MT and L. G. Sargent can state the exact opposite of what bro. Roberts stated, and pretend to be quoting him as authoritative? This quote by bro. Roberts is quite relevant to this discussion, not only because it shows who is the devil in Heb. 2:14 (not "sin" as MT claims, but "sin in the flesh") but because it also clarifies the foundation Christadelphian position relevant to death. If you have been following this closely, you will have noticed how MT has wanted to carefully isolate sin, from death. He has wanted to argue that men can die, simply because they are mortal, and not because they are constituted sinners. He has to do this, or he would violate a "clean flesh" tenet that Christ did not physically bear sin in his own body. But observe what bro. Roberts emphasizes here. It is sin that has the power of death, and nothing but sin causes death to men. Now, if this is true, why did Christ die? Or for that matter, why do babies die? Certainly, neither Christ nor babies are transgressors in any sense. But if it is sin, and nothing else but sin that causes death, why did Christ die? "Clean flesh" folks cannot answer this.

We commented on this in discussing the differences in the earlier "clean flesh" folks who followed Edward Turney, and the modern "clean flesh" folks. The earlier folks were more consistent. They recognized the relationship of death to sin, and reasoned that apart from being killed, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die, as he had no sin, moral or physical. Modern "clean flesh" folks end up in the impossible position of Jesus having to die, and not being subject to sin. So they contradict bro. Roberts, who says that it is sin and nothing but sin that causes death in man.

Now, though the expression L. G. Sargent used ("the Devil is sin") never occurs in Christendom Astray as he suggested, the expression does occur twice among the foundation Christadelphians writings. It is first used in 1867. This was during the time that the Dowieites, led by George Dowie, determined that beliefs concerning the Devil were unclear and optional. They reasoned that while the hoofed, and pitchforked Devil might be an exaggeration, still some evil angel hostile to God might exist. This led to the foundation Christadelphians separating from the Dowieites of Edinburgh and all other bodies who fellowshipped them. We read there an article by bro. R. C. Bingley, which defends those pioneer Christadelphians who separated from the Dowieites.

"Others of the "household of faith" repudiate such teachings (the Dowieite teachings) as but "old wives’ fables," and declare that the Scriptural devil is Sin in the flesh, and regard the doctrine of the devil as one of the most essential elements of the truth necessary to be understood prior to immersion."

Wow! Wasn’t this the position L. G. Sargent told us was a false position? I guess it’s a shame that the pioneer brethren didn’t have MT and L. G. Sargent around to explain to them that the devil is not sin in the flesh. But bro. Bingley’s article is direct to the point raised by both MT and L. G. Sargent. Looking at his article, he gives us a line by line comparison of Rom. 8:3 with Heb. 2:14. He introduces a chart with this observation, which is relevant to MT’s book, but before he does, look at the emphasis he places on the subject. Note how he says that if you don’t understand who the devil is, you can’t understand the sacrifice of Christ, which he came to destroy:

Paul states that, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also, himself likewise, took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil" Heb. 2:14; this clearly shows that the mission of Christ is intimately connected with the devil of the Bible. The doctrine of the one bears upon the doctrine of the other. Hence, not to scripturally comprehend the doctrine of the devil is not clearly to understand the doctrine of the Christ, who came to destroy the devil and his works.

This is a true and powerful argument. If you don’t know who the devil is, as MT and L. G. Sargent demonstrated that they do not, how can you possibly understand the work of Christ, which was to destroy the Devil?

Bro. Bingley’s chart goes on to show that the Devil or Diabolos, is sin in the flesh.



Heb. 2:14.—Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.

Romans 8:3.—God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.


Bro. Bingley is comparing sinful flesh of Rom. 8:3 to what Paul calls our "flesh and blood," and makes it clear from both verses that Jesus partook of our same nature. He continues:



That through death

And for sin, (in the margin. And by a sacrifice for sin)


Bro. Bingley is making it clear that his death was not merely dying, but a sacrificial death. He continues:



he might destroy him

condemn sin in the flesh, put away sin.—(Heb. 4.


Here bro. Bingley gives a conclusion fatal to the teaching of MT and L. G. Sargent. The Devil is the "him" here destroyed, and bro. Bingley shows us that this corresponds to the condemnation of sin in the flesh. Bro. Bingley’s conclusion then, as he had previously stated, is that the Devil is "sin in the flesh." But he will make this point, yet again. Going on now"



that had the power of death

Sin hath reigned unto death.—(Rom. 5:21.) Sin bringeth forth death.—(Jas 1:15.) The sting of death is sin —(1 Cor. 15:56.) Death by sin.—(Rom. 6:12.) The wages of sin is death.—(Rom. 6:23.)


Here bro. Bingley makes it clear that the power of death which is possessed by the Devil, or sin in the flesh, is sin. And finally:



that is the Devil (diabolos accuser)

The carnal mind is enmity against God, it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.—(Rom. 8:7.)


So the Devil is the carnal mind. Could the foundation brethren have been any clearer that the conclusions they had reached were not the conclusions of L. G. Sargent or MT?

Now we said there were two places were the term "the Devil is sin..." occurred in the pioneer writings. The second time is in bro. Roberts correspondence, where a person has presented him with the idea that the Devil cannot be "sin in the flesh" since it does not make sense in every application of where the term "Devil" is used. Here is bro. Roberts response, and there are certain characteristics about it which are notable. This response is from 1898, four years after the Advocate division, and note bro. Roberts hyphenating the term sin-in-the-flesh. MT seems to think that the hyphenated phrase, sin-in-the-flesh is Andrewism. It is not, and never was unique to Andrewism. The expression "sin in the flesh" with or without the hyphens means exactly the same thing: sin’s flesh. But I bring it up just to show how poorly MT has grasped the true differences between Andrewism, which was the attribution of moral sin to the physical body, to the truth.

M. Q.—You do not test the devil question skilfully or truthfully in laying it down that "the devil is sin in the flesh," and then indiscriminately looking at every use of the word "devil" in the light of that definition. Sin-in-the-flesh is only the root principle that leads to the various forms of diabolism. All these forms are in harmony with the root; but things are affirmable of the forms sometimes that are not necessarily true of the root. Judas was a devil (Jno. 6:70), through the action of sin-in-the-flesh; he hanged himself: that form of sin-in-the-flesh was gone; but sin-in-the-flesh survived in all the world. The devil that imprisoned the Smyrnean brethren (Rev. 2:10) was a form of sin-in-the-flesh. That form has long since passed away, but generic sin-in-the-flesh continues in all the world. So when it is said that the devil is bound for a thousand years, it is that form of sin-in-the-flesh which exists in the organised governments of the world that is bound; but sin-in-the-flesh remains an ingredient in human nature during all the thousand years, until flesh and blood ceases to exist on earth.

Now, I’m not big on quoting the Christadelphian Magazine past the death of bro. Roberts, but perhaps an exception is justified here. Because this is such a telling statment, direct to the point raised by MT and L. G. Sartent. In 1910, one of the "Sunday Morning at the Christadelphian Ecclesia" exhortations makes a point, which shows how utterly and completely wrong MT is, and L. G. Sargent as well:

The apostle then draws attention, item by item, to the details of the divine armour, and attaches to them lessons of the utmost significance. Before doing so, however, he alludes in a general way to the good that accrues from donning the whole armour, viz., ability to withstand the wiles of the devil. Who is the devil? That is a question which we can all answer. The devil is sin in the flesh. The devil was very active and very influential and cruel in Paul’s day. He manifested himself in magistrates and rulers, who oftentimes imprisoned and sometimes sent to death. The devil still lives, and still persecutes the followers of Christ, although not in exactly in the same way. If it were not so, we should be free from what those faithful to the precepts of Christ cannot escape—scoffs and jeers and various unkindnesses. ATJ. 1910 Chdn. pg. 17

As late as 1910, who the Devil was, was a question that could be answered by "all of us" as "sin in the flesh." Isn’t it incredible that a mere 55 years later, L. G. Sargent would dare to write in the Christadelphian magazine that this was not the case, and not be questioned?

Here are some quotes from bro. Thomas as to who is the devil:

It (the body of Jesus) was not angel flesh or nature, but that common to the seed of Abraham, styled by Paul "flesh of sin," "in which," he says, "dwells no good thing" ... His flesh was like our flesh in all its points - weak, emotional, and unclean ... Sin, whose wages is death, had to be condemned in the nature that had transgressed ... He took part of the same, that through death he might destroy that having the power of death, that is, the diabolos, or elements of corruption in our nature inciting it to transgression, and therefore called "Sin working death in us." -Eureka 1:106

The Spirit clothed Himself with weakness and corruption - in other words, "Sin's flesh's identity" - that He might destroy the "DIABOLOS." It is manifest from this the Diabolos: must be of the same nature as that which the Spirit assumed; for the supposition that He assumed human nature to destroy a being of angelic nature, or of some other more powerful, is palpably absurd. The Diabolos is something, then, pertaining to flesh and blood, and the Spirit or Logos became flesh and blood to destroy it. -Eureka 1:246



What is that which hath the power of death? It is the "exceedingly great sinner SIN," in the sense of the "Law of Sin and Death" within all the posterity of Adam, without exception. This, then, is Paul's Diabolos, which he says "has the power of death"; which "power" he also saith is "sin, the sting of death."

But why doth Paul style Sin, Diabolos? The answer will be found in the definition of the word. Diabolos is derived from diaballo which is compounded of dia, a preposition which signifies "across, over"; and of ballo, "to throw, cast," and intransitively, "to fall, tumble." Hence diaballo is "to throw over or across"; and intransitively, "to pass over, to cross, to pass." This being the signification of the parent verb, the noun diabolos is the name of that which "crosses, or causes to cross, or falls over." DIABOLOS is therefore a very fit and proper word by which to designate the law of sin and death, or Sin's Flesh. -Eureka 1:249


A letter from bro. Thomas to bro. Roberts:

Now, if you are courageous, faithful and valiant for the truth; if you are really a good and useful man in your day and generation, you may lay your account with being misrepresented, slandered and abused in various ways: but if you turn traitor in faith or practice, or in both, you will become popular, and obtain the applause of the ignorant and hypocrites. This is my experience, and it will certainly be yours. And how can it be otherwise? Human nature is the Devil; and, if ignorant and uncontrolled by the truth, will act devilishly. Nothing good is to be expected from it, for there is in it "no good thing." Now, you are not to suppose that in its devilish working, it will work undisguisedly. No, it will be as careful as possible to conceal the cloven foot; though for lack of wisdom, it is not always successful in so doing. The ordinary disguise assumed is scripturally styled "sheep’s clothing." It makes great profession of piety; pretends to be extraordinarily conscientious; it strains enormously at gnats; and has a great zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. It is not the naked wolf, or roaring lion, that comes out against the faithful to trample and rend them in these times. The devil undisguised thus would have but little chance of success; for pietism is the fashion of the day; and it is one of the devil’s proverbs, that "a man may as well be out of the world as out of the fashion." Piety being the fashion, then, the devil is prudent enough to conform to the fashion; and as he is sure to run into extremes, he is pious to excess.

Bro. Thomas with advice to an ecclesia:

Did you ever hear of a ship going to sea, and making a successful voyage without captain, pilot, mates, &c, in which all the crew were captains and pilots, and each one did what was right in his own eyes? Does not the New Testament reason, and the experience of society teach you, that to maintain decency and order in an assembly of man and woman, there must be an official staff, whose business it is to prevent confusion and evil works by the application of the rules and principles upon which the assembly is based? Human nature is the devil, the flesh of sin, in which dwells no good thing; and its propensities and lusts are always ready for mischief. It is against this common and universal enemy we all have to fight, and defend the New Man: the inner man, created by knowledge, fed by knowledge, caused to grow by knowledge; by the knowledge of the unadulterated milk of the word, assimilated to what he is, as milk to the nature of a babe.

MT has not been big on quoting the relevant Scriptures. Obviously, this post shows why. I have found, in my life time of battles with the "clean flesh" folks, that the fastest way to show them they are wrong, is not to argue the technicalities in the phrases they thrive on, through quoting the pioneer brethren without establishing context. Rather it is to go directly to the verses involved, and compare understandings. The example here, of Heb 2:14 is direct to the point. The "clean flesh" folks tell us that the Devil is sin, in the sense of transgression, and that the Devil is not human nature, or "sin in the flesh." Yet the pioneer Christadelphians all said it was "sin in the flesh." Is it not crystal clear that it is impossible that they could have correctly caught the teachings of the foundation Christadelphians while translating every verse relevant to this subject (like Heb. 2:14) contrary to them.


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41 – Metonymy

We come now to Matthew Trowell’s (MT) consideration of Rom. 8:3. He actually fails to tell us anything about its meaning, but rather gives us a quote from bro. Roberts 1869 article called: The Relationship of Jesus to His Death on the Cross. This particular quote has been referenced before, by MT, as we have already discussed. And as we said before, MT quoting this, by itself, shows that he has not grasped the teachings of the foundation brethren. The quote is:

The phrase "sin in the flesh" is metonymical. It is not expressive of a literal element or principle pervading the physical organization. Literally, sin is disobedience, or the act of rebellion. The impulses that lead to this, reside in the flesh, and therefore come to be called by the name of the act to which they give birth. In determining first principles, we must be accurate in our conceptions. The Christadelphian, Vol. 6, Page 85, 1869 – The Relationship of Jesus to the Law of Sin and Death – Bro. Robert Roberts


The problem with this statement, is that it was an over statement. It was correct to say there is no literal element in the flesh called sin. That was the argument bro. Roberts was specifically arguing against in 1869, which had been raised by a man who later became a brother, (but was not at the time) named David Handley. And it was the argument raised later by Edward Turney in 1873. And it was raised again in a different form by bro. J. J. Andrew in 1894. But to extend the argument as bro. Roberts did, and say there was no "principle" pervading the physical organization called sin in the flesh, was too general, and therefore, wrong. Even to say there was no element in the flesh called sin, which had been incited by sin, whose excitation was sentenced in the man, was contrary to what many of the foundation Christadelphians believed. Many viewed the sentence in the Garden, as an element added to the flesh.

Observe the following from bro. B. J. Dowling, of whom I was told was a Sunday School student of bro. Roberts. The folowing is from an 1889 Christadelphian:

"Sin in the flesh" when personified in Scripture is called "the devil," and it was a part of the mission of Christ to destroy this devil through death, which would have been impossible if sin, as a physical element, had had no existence in him. But having sin in him constitutionally, we can see how he put away sin by a sacrifice of himself. This diabolos, or devil, being in all the descendants of Adam, is styled "our old man," and "the old man." In mankind generally we see "the old man with his deeds" (Col. 3:9), but in Christ the "old man" existed without his deeds, that is, without evil-doing. In his death the "old man was crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed"—the enmity in himself was slain and abolished (Eph. 2:6). There was justice in his death, and justification in his resurrection. In his death there was a declaration of God’s righteousness, by showing man’s sinfulness even by nature, and in his resurrection an illustration of the fact that God would not suffer an holy one even in sin’s flesh to see corruption.

So even the term "element" was later used by several writers, and bro. Roberts published them both in controversial times, and in times of peace. But the words MT quoted were thrown back to bro. Roberts all his life, starting with Edward Turney in 1873, and he eventually clarified this following the first "clean flesh" controversy. In 1877, bro. Roberts wrote:


THE article in the Christadelphian for March, 1869 continues to represent our convictions on the subject of which it treats, namely, the relation of Jesus to the condemnation which we all inherit from Adam.

On some details, however, of that general subject, we should if we were writing it again express ourselves more explicitly, in view of the searching controversy which has arisen on the subject of sin in the flesh. We should guard ourselves against forms of expression which seem to favor the false ideas that have come to be advocated.

In asserting, for instance, that there was no change in the nature of Adam in the crisis of his condemnation, we should add that though his nature continued of the order expressed in the phrase "living soul," a change occurred in the CONDITION of that nature through the implantation of death, as recognized in the article in question (p. 83, col. 2, line 15) in the statement that death ran in the blood of Mary.

And on the subject of sin in the flesh, while retaining the declarations on page 83, as regards the operation of our moral powers, we should add that the effect of the curse was as defiling to Adam's nature as it was to the ground which thenceforth brought forth briars and thorns. And that therefore, after transgression, there was a bias in the wrong direction which he had not to contend with before transgression.

Our mind has not changed on the general subject, but some of its details have been more clearly forced on our recognition by the movements and arguments of heresy. -Christadelphian, October, 1877


Note that. He continued to agree with the moral relationship to sin in the flesh, which was that sin in the flesh was not a moral term at all. There is no guilt or personal responsibility for Adam’s sin attached to the term sin in the flesh. But bro. Roberts wanted to clarify that it was a physical principle, defiling the nature.

So the one proof MT advances for proof of his position on Rom. 8:3, is the physical relationship of sin in the flesh from an 1869 article which bro. Roberts says he would have worded differently. Lets consider the import of what bro. Roberts has here said.

Look first, at what bro. Roberts says. The curse on the ground, was the same as the curse on the nature. The nature was as defiled by the curse, as the ground was. Is it not clear then, that this curse was a physical principle, sentencing death, sorrow, and pain to the nature? And it is not obvious that bro. Roberts never had any question about that. But in the controversy with David Handley, he had overstated his position. When Edward Turney used bro. Roberts own words, to prove that there was nothing in Jesus for which he would have required sacrifice, bro. Roberts, who always believed that Jesus was redeemed by his own sacrifice, had to walk back that statement. But note that it is the original statement that MT wants us to consider, and not the clarified one.

Obviously, if the nature was cursed through sin, then sacrifice was required to remove the curse, which came by sin. So yes, the term sin in the flesh, is metonymical. It is the cause (sin in the garden) put for the effect, (the curse on the nature of man.) Was the curse defiling? Obviously, yes. And was sacrifice required to remove the defilement? Just as in the case of the Mosaic Law, obviously, yes!

Now, I, personally, have not yet met the "clean flesh" fellow, who would argue with me that when Jesus voluntarily went up on the cross, coming under the curse of the Mosaic Law (cursed is he that hangeth on a tree,) that Jesus became liable to his sacrificial death at that point. I’m not saying that that "clean flesh" fellow is not out there, and that someday he might pop up, but so far, I’ve not found him. "Clean flesh" folks all seem to believe by going up on the cross, Christ brought the curse of the law on himself by the mode of his death. They all seem to belive that then, but not before, he needed to be cleansed from the curse of the law by his sacrifice. "Clean flesh" folks will say that after he went up on the cross he was liable to his sacrificial death, but not before.

But bro. Roberts words here show there were two curses that Jesus came under. The first, the curse in Eden cursed his nature, the same way that the earth itself was cursed. The second, the curse of the law came upon him in the mode of his death. And both curses were removed through his one great offering.

Bro. Thomas called the result of the curse in the garden, "leprous."

But flesh and blood, or Sin’s flesh, is radically bad. When Paul subjected the nature he possessed in common with all the race of men, to an enlightened scrutiny, he declared that "in his flesh dwelt no good thing". He felt that he bore about a loathsome, leprous, nature, which he styled "a vile body;" so that it caused him to exclaim, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom. 7:18, 24; Phil. 3:21). Such a nature is incurable. It is essentially turbulent, rebellious, and prone to evil; and can only be controlled by the power of Divine principles, or an iron despotism.

Now of course the man who is cleansed from the curse of Leprosy, needed to offer a sin offering to make atonement for himself. (Lev. 14:9) Inanimate objects such as houses, when the leprosy was cleansed, also required atonement through the sin offering.

Commenting on leprosy in the Law of Moses, and particularly the sacrifice involving the two birds, bro. Roberts wrote:


Turning from the confusion inseparable from a false view of the nature of man, and a false view of the divine dealing with sin, we find a key in the teaching of the apostles, which we have often had to look at in the course of these chapters, and need not now repeat beyond the brief definition, that the death of Christ was the representative condemnation of sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3), for the declaration of the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:25), in the person of a righteous man possessing the very nature of the race condemned in Eden, with which condemnation repentant sinners might identify themselves (Rom. 6:4–6), with a view to their obtaining the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 13:38), through the intercession of this very man raised, because of his righteousness, for the justification of all who should come unto God by him (Rom. 8:33–34; Heb. 7:25).

This indubitable and most important view of the matter contains the key to all the Mosaic parables. We have been able to use the key successfully hitherto. How does it apply to the mystery of the two birds? It points to both birds as referring to Christ (and only to sinners in so far as they afterwards come unto him). Both were clean birds. Cleanness as foreshadowing character could only apply to Christ. Both were the natural denizens of the air, which earth-cleaving man is not, but which might in a sense be affirmable of him who said, "I am from above. . . . I came down from heaven to do the will of Him that sent me." This heavenly bird of the air was killed in an earthen vessel—the very flesh and blood of the fallen human race: over running water—that is, in juxta-position with the Spirit of God, which inhabited him—which begat him, and fashioned him all his life long, as "righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption" for us of God. In the living bird, we have the same kind of bird, and therefore not the type of a sinner, but of the man represented by the first bird in the second phase of his redeeming work: resurrection, proclamation, and intercession. Why should the living bird be dipped in the blood of the dead bird on this view of matters? To represent the truth declared by Paul when he says that "by his own blood, he obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12), and that it was through the blood of the everlasting covenant—his own shed blood—that he was brought again from the dead. This is only a difficulty with those who do not realise the position occupied by Jesus while yet a mortal man. He was the Sin Bearer in every way in which such an expression can be understood—an expression which excludes by its very form all suggestion of his having been himself a sinner: a sinner could not be a sin-bearer in the sense of a taker-away of sin, for this required spotlessness—sinlessness—that resurrection might come after death had put the sin away. At the same time, it is an expression that involves this other idea, that there was something for him to be cleansed from. Three facts tell us what: he possessed our mortal nature, which is an heir of death because of sin: he came under the personal curse of the law in the mode of his death (Gal. 3:13). God had laid on him the iniquities of us all in the sense that he was going to deal with him as a representative of all, that he might forgive us for his sake, "that he might be just and the justifier" at the same time (Rom. 3:26).

That the second bird should be dipped in the blood of the first bird is, therefore, in harmony with what has since been revealed concerning Christ as the anti-typical sacrifice. He was cleansed by his own death from the stain of death to which he was subject in common with us, as a descendant of the first sinner, and as the appointed sufferer from it that he might take it away. When he rose, he was "the living bird let loose in the open field"—"made higher than the heavens," "set far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come" (Heb. 7:26; Eph. 1:21). /QUOTE]


Its hard to see how this point could be any clearer.


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42– Metonymy

We now come to Matthew Trowell’s (MT) second example, which are the last few verses of Romans. 7, and "sin that dwelleth in me." Again, he tells us that this example is an example of metonymy, which is of course correct. And again he is using the term in a way to suggest that since it is a metonym, it isn’t real. This is the part of his argument that he consistently fails to explain.

He begins with a quote he tells us is from bro. Roberts. It is not. It is from bro. C. Meakin. I actually have no problem with this. I do not believe that bro. Roberts intentionally placed anything in the magazine he thought was wrong. I think bro. Thomas acted similarly in the Heralds that he published. Now, they may have found out later that the brother/author placed an interpretation on his words, which he did not support. But the words, as simply printed, did represent the truth. So quoting bro. Meakin as supportive of what bro. Roberts believed, I believe, is an acceptable practice.

To me, the curious thing is, why this quote? There were certainly more precise quotes that say the same thing directly from bro. Roberts. But maybe those were too clear. This is from bro. Roberts lecture "The Slain Lamb" in direct response to Edward Turney’s argument that sin in the flesh is not expressive of a reality, but simply a figure of speech:

"Adam was driven out of Eden because of disobedience. He was therefore thrown back upon himself, so to speak, and he soon found in himself and his progeny how weak and evil a thing the flesh is, for his first son was a murderer. And because disobedience or sin, was the cause of his expulsion, and that sin was the result of the desires of the flesh, and because all the desires that are natural to the flesh organisation are because of native ignorance, in directions forbidden, there is no exaggeration, no high figure in talking of sin in the flesh. It is Paul’s figure. He speaks of "sin that dwelleth in me, " and as he defines me to be "my flesh, " sin that dwelleth in me is "sin in the flesh"—a metonym for those impulses which are native to the flesh, while knowledge of God and of duty is not native to the flesh. I cannot do better than read what Paul says in Rom. 7.: "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust except the law had said Thou shalt not covet! But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead."

To bro. Roberts, the term "sin in the flesh" was an expression. That is why he chose at times to quote the expression as sin-in-the-flesh. Sin in the flesh is an expression, a metonym for the impulses of sin that exist within us. And as bro. Roberts says, it is Paul’s figure, but it is no exaggeration, no high figure, that is, no hyperbole or metaphor, to describe the impulses as sin. Remember the words of bro. Roberts here, as MT will eventually want to take away the hyphens, and deny that "sin in the flesh" is an expression.

And as bro. Roberts shows, "sin in the flesh" means the same thing as "sin that dwelleth in me." This is all clear enough. Lets look at Christendom Astray, and again see bro. Roberts’ description of "sin that dwelleth in me." In discussing the principles God set forth in the crucifixion of Jesus, we read:

These principles have been divinely revealed. The first is, that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). Paul says, "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin" (Rom. 5:12). What this means, we have seen, Adam disobeyed a command given to him, and, in consequence of disobedience, was condemned to return to the ground from whence he came. Hence, "sin," which has become an obscure and unintelligible term, is simply disobedience. It is, in fact, so styled by Paul in the very chapter in which he describes Adam’s act as "sin." He says, "By one man’s disobedience many were made sinners" (Rom. 5:19). If it is used in any secondary sense (such as when Paul speaks of "sin that dwelleth in me") that secondary sense is covered by, or included in, the major sense of disobedience. Sin being disobedience or transgression (agreeable with John’s definition, "Sin is the transgression of the law"—I John 3:4), we are enabled to understand the relation of death to it.

Here again, we see bro. Roberts disagreeing with MT. MT uses the term "metonymy" to exclude sin that dwelleth in me, from sin as disobedience. Bro. Roberts says sin that dwelleth in me (sin in the secondary sense) is covered and included in the major sense of disobedience. This really is the heart of the matter. And it is the heart of the matter, as regards the term metonymy, when used in its form of synecdoche.

As we pointed out before, synecdoche is putting cause for the effect, or a part for the whole. We have discussed cause and effect. But what bro. Roberts is defining above, is the putting of a part for the whole. The whole is the giant subject of "sin as disobedience." But that whole, has many parts to it. Sin as impulses to disobedience is a part of the entire whole. In calling the impulses sin, or sin in the abstract, or sin in the secondary sense, or sin in the derived sense, or in any of these terms which the foundation Christadelphians used, there is no intended separation from sin as disobedience, but rather a complete inclusion of the impulses, transgression, and all consequences related to sin, in the overall kingdom of sin.

And it is the impulses, or sin in the flesh, which was specifically condemned in the crucifixion of Christ. And if these impulses were not included in "sin of disobedience," then "sin of disobedience" was never condemned in the flesh of Christ. This is our foundation objection to the teaching of the "clean flesh" folks. By carefully isolating the impulses to sin, from sin itself (through the use of grammatical terms not intended by the foundation Christadelphians ) they make it impossible for Christ to have condemned sin in the flesh.

Next, we can look to the "Burnt Offering" in the Law of Moses by bro. Roberts, to see whether or not this "sin that dwelleth in me" required atonement, as MT denies. I have referenced this before, but I will take a little time here, to expand on previous references. We come to the three mandatory offerings, the Burnt Offering, the Trespass Offering, and the Sin Offering. Now you will observe that there is immediately a difference between the foundation Christadelphians, and modern "clean flesh" folks, as bro. Roberts included the Burnt Offering in the mandatory offerings, while later writers tell us that the Burnt Offerings was a voluntary offering. So the first point from bro. Roberts is this:

Burnt Offerings, Sin Offerings, and Trespass Offerings

These were compulsory offerings as distinguished from the offerings considered in the last chapter—which were more or less voluntary. That there should be these two classes of offering is an adaptation to spiritual needs. There are appointments of God that are imperative—not at all left to human choice—to be omitted on pain of death. In the observance of these, every enlightened man delights.


Now the next point to be seen, is that the three offerings, the Burnt, Trespass, and Sin Offerings, were all for atonement. That the Burnt Offering was for atonement is also denied by modern "clean flesh" folks.

The diversity of offerings is a little perplexing at first; and it is some time before we discover the difference between them. They all seem indiscriminately sacrifices—animals to be slain and consumed in the fire of the altar. By and by, we naturally ask, what are burnt offerings as distinguished from sin offerings and trespass offerings? and why should there be a trespass offering in addition to a sin offering, seeing that trespass is sin? The light gradually dawns. We find they represent gradations of the same subject. All were for atonement, but atonement for different degrees of sin, as we might express it.

So here we have two fundamental differences between those of us with the foundation Christadelphian position, and those who embrace the modern "clean flesh" point of view. The Burnt Offering was mandatory, and the Burnt Offering was for atonement.

Bro. Roberts then goes into a discussion about sin for which there was no atonement, which is called "sin of presumption." And then he follows this up with a definition of what the three offerings were for. This is where we tie into our subject for this post, "sin that dwelleth in me." Because this sin by metonymy, or sin that dwelleth in me, is, according to bro. Roberts and the foundation Christadelphians, the subject of the Burnt Offering.

...The common case was sin not of presumption: sin of natural state, sin of ignorance, and sin of weakness: the first, the constitutional uncleanness that has come into the world by sin, which is "no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:20): the second, where men do wrong without knowing it, as in "sin of ignorance": and third, acts of known disobedience, but not deliberate or intentional but the result of infirmity deplored. For these three phases of sin, the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering appear to have been provided, differing in methods and accessories according to the respective cases.

It should be an easy thing to put this all together. The three mandatory offerings were for sin of the natural state (the Burnt Offering), sin of ignorance (Sin Offering) and sin of weakness (Trespass Offering.) Note what he says about the sin of our natural state. He says it is the same thing as "sin that dwelleth in me." Bro. Roberts goes on then, to define more precisely what the Burnt Offering was for, and we will see that he says, it was for (on account of) sin in the flesh.


The type involved in complete burning is self-manifest: it is consumption of sin-nature. This is the great promise and prophecy and requirement of every form of the truth; the destruction of the body of sin (Rom. 6:6). It was destroyed in Christ’s crucifixion —the "one great offering" we ceremonially share it in our baptism’ "crucified with Christ", "baptized unto his death" We morally participate in it in putting the old man to death in "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts"; and the hope before us is the prospect of becoming subject to such a physical change as will consume mortal nature and change it into the glorious nature of the Spirit. "We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."

The whole process of consumption is the work of the Spirit, whether we consider the sending forth of Christ to condemn sin in the flesh, or our association with his death in baptism or our repudiation of the old man as the rule of life, or our change at the judgment seat into the incorruptible and glorious nature of the Son of God. When the work is finished, flesh and blood, with all its weakness and its woe, will have ceased from the earth, and given place to a glad and holy race of men immortal and "equal to the angels". It was a beautiful requirement of the wisdom of God in the beginning of things that He should require an act of worship that typified the repudiation of sinful nature as the basis of divine fellowship and acceptability. Those who deny Christ’s participation thereof, deny its removal by sacrifice, and therefore deny the fundamental testimony of the gospel, that he is "the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world". They think they honour him by saying his flesh-nature was a clean nature. In reality, they deny his qualification for the work he was sent to do. They mistake holiness of character for holiness of nature, and by a wrong use of truth, destroy.


It is hard to see how bro. Roberts could have been clearer, but it is easy to see why the "clean flesh" folks had to produce works like "Law and Grace" by Barling, and the little booklet on Sacrifice by Mitchell, in order to deny the clear truths presented here by bro. Roberts.

And it is equally clear why MT wanted to use a specific writing, which while not contradicting the teachings of bro. Roberts, it doesn’t lay the matter out quite so clearly, as bro. Roberts does in other places.

Now, MT goes on to quote from bro. H. P. Mansfield. I am not prepared to defend the writings of bro. Mansfield, though I am confident that they generally can be defended by those so minded. Bro. Mansfield’s diary, dealing with Richard Stone, showed that he could correctly identify "clean flesh" when he was faced with it, and he clearly told Richard Stone that he taught "clean flesh." Where I would differ with bro. Mansfield, was after he had explained to him his error, he had no problem fellowshipping him.

But before leaving this subject, lets go back to the article of bro. Meakim, which MT quoted, for he quoted a very finite portion of bro. Meakim’s discussion, and the rest of bro. Meakim’s work contradicts the general premises laid out in the book we are discussing. Lets look at the whole paragraph which MT has excised his few words from:

The same apostle describes these two seeds respectively as "the children of God," and "the children of the devil"; the latter term having for its scriptural signification what the apostle Paul describes as "sin in the flesh"; and which he said dwelt in him, for, said he, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing. . . . Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." The word "sin" is here used by him metonymically for those impulses of the flesh which, obeyed, constitute sin, which is "the transgression of the law." These impulses are referred to by Paul as "the motions of sins"; hence he says of himself, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man (the mind which has been renewed in knowledge is thus styled—Col. 3:10); but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." And in view of the presence and inworking of this principle of evil, he exclaims, "O wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 7.). He then says, "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, (did); and for (or on account of) sin, condemned sin in the flesh."

How was sin in the flesh condemned in him? By his crucifixion, in the nature under condemnation, "sinful flesh."...

Note how MT tells us that the devil is not sin in the flesh, but bro. Meakim tells us it is. Note how MT tells us that sin in the flesh, is not an expression, but bro. Meakim tells us that it is. Note that MT tells us that the way sin was condemned in the flesh, was by his life, Christ resisting temptation all his life, while bro. Meakim tells us it was by crucifying the nature under condemnation, sinful flesh. All these beliefs were commonly held by the foundation Christadelphians like bro. Meakim (who is a frequent author of articles in the Christadelphian Magazine), yet MT selectively quotes them, implying that they taught something they did not.


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43 – Two Acceptations

I’m going to skip over the third example of metonymy, as it is just more of the same, and the expression "the body of sin" is covered in the comments on the Burnt Offering from the Law of Moses.

We now move on to one of the statements from bro. Thomas for which the moderns have no possible explanation, as is evidenced by Matthew Trowell’s (MT) effort to deal with the subject here. It is a quote from bro. Thomas dealing with the two generally accepted understandings associated with the word sin. First the complete quote from bro. Thoams:

The word sin is used in two principal acceptations in the scripture. It signifies in the first place, "the transgression of the 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. It is that in the flesh "which has the power of death"; and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression.Inasmuch as this p 127 evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled "sinful flesh," that is, "flesh full of sin"; so that sin, in the sacred style, came to stand for the substance called man. In human flesh "dwells no good thing"; and all the evil a man does is the result of this principle dwelling in him.a Operating upon the brain, it excites the "propensities", and these set the "intellect", and "sentiments" to work. The propensities are blind, and so are the intellect and sentiments in a purely natural state; when therefore, the latter operate under the sole impulse of the propensities, "the understanding is darkened through ignorance, because of the blindness of the heart". The nature of the lower animals is as full of this physical evil principle as the nature of man; though it cannot be styled sin with the same expressiveness; because it does not possess them as the result of their own transgression; the name, however, does not alter the nature of the thing

First off, what does "acceptation" mean? According to Miriam Webster, it means "a generally accepted meaning of a word or understanding of a concept." So according to bro. Thomas, the word sin in the Scriptures has two generally accepted meanings, or the word sin is to be understood according to two different concepts. What then, are these two accepted meanings. According to bro. Thomas, "It signifies in the first place, ‘the transgression of the 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."

This is all quite elementary and simple. It is what we have been discussing at length. The word sin has a primary meaning, which is the transgression of law. The word sin has a secondary or derived meaning, which is human nature. As we have discussed, the latter is a meaning derived by metonymy, the cause being put for the effect. Adam’s sin in the garden, resulted in a curse on human nature which resulted in death. The curse is the result of sin, and so in the sacred text, sin comes to stand for human nature.

In commenting on this Matthew Trowell (MT) goes into no explanation of what bro. Thomas is saying, but immediately begins defending his point of view against the obvious conclusions one would draw from this paragraph, trying to find some way to harmonize it with what bro. Thomas has just written here. For what he writes here, and in the few paragraphs which follow, is fatal to the position MT holds. MT begins:

There are not two different ‘forms’ or ‘categories’ of sin (ie.‘moral’ sin and ‘physical’ sin.) But "the word sin is used in two principle acceptations." There is a world of difference between these two ideas. Misunderstanding the difference leads to all kinds of errors.

He tells us that bro. Thomas is not defining two different forms or categories of things Scripturally called sin. Well then, what is he doing? MT doesn’t tell us. And he can’t tell us because that is exactly what bro. Thomas has just told us. There are two different forms or categories of things which are called sin. They are first, the transgression of law, and second, human nature.

MT tells us that there is a world of difference between saying there are two acceptations for the word sin, and that there are two categories of sin, moral and physical. Simply stated, no there isn’t. Bro. Thomas had defined the two uses of the word sin. It was transgression, which is moral. And it was human nature, which is physical. Bro. Thomas’ point is that the word sin is acceptably applied to both, in the Scriptures. It seems impossible to me that anyone could dispute that.

It seems to me that MT is frustrated by this section of Elpis Israel, and is not thinking clearly. His (and all "clean flesh" folks) objection to this section is not to the statement that there are two acceptable uses of sin in the Scriptures, one moral and the other physical, for this is quite obvious to everyone. MT’s objection, had he stated it properly, is that physical sin or human nature, while called sin, is not really sin. I don’t know if he would appreciate me clarifying his point, but that is what he is trying to say.

If we look at his quotation in his book, and observe his emphasis, we should note it is not the emphasis of bro. Thomas. He has changed the emphasis to make his point. He points out that bro. Thomas said that sin only "represents" the physical principle, not that it is the physical principle. In changing this emphasis, he is trying to suggest that physical sin is called sin, but isn’t really sin, it only represents or symbolizes sin. Yet he ignores the exact same language as regards transgression. Bro. Thomas says the word sin "signifies" (which means to "show by sign") the transgression of law. Should we then conclude that sin only signifies transgression of the law, not that it is transgression of the law. That would be absurd.

MT goes on to try and clarify his unstated point:

It is most important to recognise the language that Bro. Thomas used. He did not say that "there are two forms of sin". He said that "the word sin is used in two principle acceptations." He did not say that ‘sin… is the substance called man’. He said that the word ‘sin’… "came to stand for the substance called man." This language is entirely consistent with other language that he used in this paragraph such as ‘represents’, ‘principle’, ‘is styled’. This is an important differentiation to make because saying that ‘physical flesh’ is ‘sin’ or contains ‘sin’ is completely different from saying that the word ‘sin’ came to ‘represent’ or ‘came to stand for’ something. Such teaching would be completely inconsistent with Bro. Thomas’ teaching on the nature of man elsewhere throughout Elpis Israel, and other writings such as Eureka etc..."

You can kind of see his point in this paragraph. He is trying to break the connection between the meaning of the word sin, and the use of the word sin. He wants to argue that the word sin stands for, or represents human nature, not that sin is human nature.

This is what I was referring to from the start of our discussion, in dealing with the question of whether or not this is a simple subject. When I said that the "clean flesh" folks "spiritualize" the word sin, I was referring to this principle where they acknowledge that "sin" is used for human nature, but deny that "sin" is meant. I borrowed the word "spiritualize" from how the churches explain all the verses which say that the kingdom is on earth, in Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital. The churches tell us, sure the Bible says "earth," and "Israel," and "Jerusalem,’ but we must understand it is not really "earth, Israel, and Jerusalem," but rather "Earth, Israel, and Jerusalem" are simply figures of speech for Heaven. We must "spiritualize" "Earth, Israel and Jerusalem" to understand this. It is spiritual earth, spiritual Israel, and spiritual Jerusalem which is actually meant.

Well, this is the same argument we get from the "clean flesh" folks. Sure, they say, the Bible refers to human nature as "sin," but we must understand that it isn’t to be understood as sin. Rather "sin" when used of human nature, is a mere figure of speech. We must, with the mind of the spirit, understand sin to mean something else whenever we see it applied to human nature.

This is also MT’s entire point behind the long metonymy discussions. He wants to try to say that since the word sin is chosen by metonymy, that therefore sin doesn’t really mean sin. And, as I have stated many times, metonymy tells us why a word is used. It does not say anything about the meaning of the word. Except that synecdoche, the form of metonymy from which "sin" is derived in the scriptures, does. It is two words with the same interpretation.

But MT’s arguments are understood to be quite empty, by anyone familiar with the writings of the foundation Christadelphians. They are simply, and demonstrably false. I showed, in our discussions of Andrewism, how the term "physical sin" was used in the Christadelphian magazine. Just to refresh your memory, here is bro. Roberts reflecting back on the first "clean flesh" controversy, about a year after it started:

"It is about eleven months since doctrines contradictory of our previous faith concerning the nature and sacrifice of Christ were introduced into the ecclesia, which have led to the present diversity of opinion. These views were mainly in sympathy with certain new doctrines promulgated by Edward Turney, of Nottingham, England, and known as ‘Renunciationism,’ which doctrine by affirming that Jesus Christ came in flesh free from the law of sin and death, physical evils inherited by the whole human race through the transgression in Adam; and that he possessed a free and uncondemned life from the Father, and by further teaching that our fleshly organization is free from the principle of physical sin, have promulgated doctrines which are subversive of Deity’s plan of redemption by remission of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ, and, is in effect a reintroduction of one of the first heresies of the early churches." Robert Roberts  (Christadelphian Magazine 1875, pg. 170)

So obviously, the early brethren had no difficulty with the concept of physical sin. It was laid out plainly by bro. A. Andrew in the 1876 Christadelphian, just after the Renunciationist division, which also I referenced in the section on Andrewism.

There are two kinds of sin—moral and physical. There is no dispute about the former; all believers of the Bible are agreed that it is the transgression of the law. But it is asserted by some that there is no such thing as physical sin. The fallacy of this assertion will, perhaps, be best evident from the following passages:—Rom. 7:16, 17: "If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me; " verse 20: "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." How can transgression of a law be said to dwell in a man? Rom. 6:12: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." To "reign" and to be "obeyed" are the same thing: for sin to reign in the body, and the lusts to be obeyed, are the same thing; therefore "sin" is here used as synonymous with "lusts." No doubt James (1:15) says, "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin," but he is there speaking of transgression; and the fact that lust is there spoken of as the cause of sin is no proof that lust itself is not elsewhere, and from another point of view, termed "sin." Would it be correct to say, "Let not transgression reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it (i.e, obey transgression) in the lusts thereof?" Evidently not; and if so, "sin" must, in this passage, signify something other than transgression; and what can that be but what we have termed "physical sin?" The lusts of the flesh can appropriately be termed "sin" because they are the result of sin, and also the cause of sin, and "sin in the flesh" has, not inappropriately, been termed "constitutional sin," because it is what the Scriptures term "sin," in the organization or constitution of man.

Now, my reading of the magazines would indicate to me that not all brethren liked the term "physical sin," though only one comes right out and says he rejects the notion of physical sin, and he was in isolation in Michigan, is only noticed to have take one trip to an ecclesia, which was to see A. D. Strickler, and had other issues besides this. I think bro. Roberts didn’t really understand him as he wrote in a confused manner, and so bro. Roberts was extremely tolerant of him. But those who don’t feel comfortable with the term "physical sin" all still wrote of a physical principle or element in the flesh called sin. For instance:

"Sin in the flesh" when personified in Scripture is called "the devil," and it was a part of the mission of Christ to destroy this devil through death, which would have been impossible if sin, as a physical element, had had no existence in him. But having sin in him constitutionally, we can see how he put away sin by a sacrifice of himself. This diabolos, or devil, being in all the descendants of Adam, is styled "our old man," and "the old man." In mankind generally we see "the old man with his deeds" (Col. 3:9), but in Christ the "old man" existed without his deeds, that is, without evil-doing. In his death the "old man was crucified, that the body of sin might be destroyed"—the enmity in himself was slain and abolished (Eph. 2:6). There was justice in his death, and justification in his resurrection. In his death there was a declaration of God’s righteousness, by showing man’s sinfulness even by nature, and in his resurrection an illustration of the fact that God would not suffer an holy one even in sin’s flesh to see corruption. B. J. Dowling, Christadelphian Magazine, 1889, pg 18

So clearly implying, as MT does, that bro. Thomas not laying the foundation of sin carrying the meaning of two separate forms or categories is false. This is precisely what anyone would have taken from these paragraphs, and it is precisely what the foundation Christadelphians did take from it.

Much more on this will come. I must suspend writing on this for a week, as I lecture in Lampasas this weekend.


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A slip of the pen? Honestly? No.

Some years back, authors in one of the Central magazines attempted to excuse poor old brother Thomas' use of the word "synonym" in connection with sin and human nature by suggesting it was a "slip of the pen." The inference being that if our brother had really thought more clearly about what he was writing, he might have used a different word such as, say, metonymy - a word they prefer principally because it provides more wiggle room for the promulgation of their notions. Not that that there's anything necessarily wrong with the word itself. It's a perfectly good word when used in both proper King's English and in true Biblical context. So is synonymous when it is used correctly.  Here is the rub. Certain of the Central Writing Authority know full well that the two words in question carry different meanings and it synonymous that is a bit too specific or narrow to suit their doctrinal bent. And so, instead of honestly representing brother Thomas by what he did write, they created pure fiction and misrepresented our brother to suit their notion.

I wonder if the same brethren would assert that brother Thomas also made a "slip of the pen" when using metonymically. Hardly. The following excerpt is precisely how metonymy is used. Metonymy is changing one noun for another which, standing alone have two different meanings, yet one clearly implies the other. Here are a couple of the better known examples follow by brother Thomas in an excerpt from Eureka:

"Rights in the Authorized Version of the Bible are vested in the crown."

Here "crown" isn't what we normally think of, that is, a golden headpiece atop the King's head. It is metonymy for the King.

"The cup of blessing which we bless..."

In similar manner, the cup, here, is metonymy for the fruit of the vine.

"In process of inscription, the humanity was transmuted into the Divine
Nature, which in the scene before us, appears metonymically as
a garment and thigh scribed with the glorious, majestic, and all powerful,
name of the Invisible Blessed and Only Potentate, the
King of kings and Lord of lords ; of which spirit-manifestation, the
appellation 'THE LORD JESUS ANOINTED' is the concise and scriptural
expression..." Eureka III: 648.

The inscribed garment and thigh is metonymy for the Divine Nature.

Unlike metonym, a synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language. With this thought in mind,  read again the quote from Elpis Israel:

In Elpis Israel, page 114, the following sentences occur:—"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 woman?’—(Job 25:4.) ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.’—(Job 14:4.) ‘What is man that he should be clean? And 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?’ (Job 15:14–16.) This view of sin in the flesh is enlightening in the things concerning Jesus. The apostle says, ‘God made him sin for us, who knew no sin’ (2 Cor. 5:21); 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(Rom. 8:3) in the offering of this body once.—(Heb. 10:10, 12, 14.) 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 he died for; 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.’—(John 3:6.)

Unlike brother Thomas, if one is to suggest that "sin is a metonym for human nature," then in accordance with the rule of grammar, which noun do you propose to change out or replace for "sin," or "sinful flesh," et al. in relation to human nature? i.e., a noun standing alone having a different meaning, yet implying the other?  Take your pick. The list is endless.*

However, in the final analysis, there can be only ONE true all-encompassing synonym for human nature. It is that which makes unclean. It is that which manifests itself in "all that is in the world" and "not of the Father." It is, as Paul wrote in Romans 7 and 8. It is sin in the flesh.

Clearly, brother Thomas understood the difference between metonomy and synonymous:

"It represents that physical principle of the animal nature, which is the cause of all its diseases, death, and resolution into dust. It is that in the flesh 'which has the power of death'; and it is called sin, because the development, or fixation, of this evil in the flesh, was the result of transgression.Inasmuch as this p 127 evil principle pervades every part of the flesh, the animal nature is styled "sinful flesh' that is, 'flesh full of sin'; so that sin, in the sacred style, came to stand for the substance called man. In human flesh 'dwells no good thing'; and all the evil a man does is the result of this principle dwelling in him. Operating upon the brain, it excites the 'propensities', and these set the 'intellect', and 'sentiments' to work. The propensities are blind, and so are the intellect and sentiments in a purely natural state; when therefore, the latter operate under the sole impulse of the propensities, 'the understanding is darkened through ignorance, because of the blindness of the heart'. The nature of the lower animals is as full of this physical evil principle as the nature of man; though it cannot be styled sin with the same expressiveness; because it does not possess them as the result of their own transgression; the name, however, does not alter the nature of the thing."  Elpis Israel.

Finally, the Apostle Paul writes:

"Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

"I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." (Rom. 7)

"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:..." (Rom 8:3).

(With thanks to bro J Phillips for addressing a complex subject.)

*Metonymy certainly can be used correctly in connection with human nature by one who understands the atonement as Bro Growcott demonstrates here.  Our problem is with the certain of the Central who misuse the word, wrest the Scriptures and misrepresent brother Thomas with this phony "slip of the pen" assertion.  Again, metonymy in connection with human nature is also broad enough in meaning to accommodate errorists with clean flesh and partial atonement. Synonymous is not.

Final edits 7:30 am 3/28/2015

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44 – Two Acceptations

We showed in our last post, that the idea of "physical sin," or the idea of a "physical principle or element in the flesh called sin" was the only acceptable explanation of metonymical sin, or sin in the flesh, ever used by the foundation Christadelphians. I showed it was the constant theme of the Christadelphian Magazine. I pointed out that this demonstrates the position taken by Matthew Trowell (MT) in his effort to avoid the obvious conclusions from the section of Elpis Israel we are dealing with, are simply factually wrong.

But there is much more in this section of his work which is factually and demonstrably wrong. Next lets consider his statement:

He did not say that ‘sin… is the substance called man’. He said that the word ‘sin’… "came to stand for the substance called man." Understanding the Atonement pg. 137

This is simply not true. Bro. Thomas does say sin is the substance called man. Two paragraphs from where MT is quoting, bro. Thomas says:


"Sin, I say, is a synonym for human nature. Hence, the flesh is invariably regarded as unclean."

A synonym (from syn = same; and nym = noun or name) is two words with the identical, or near identical meanings. So sin and human nature (the man) are, according to bro. Thomas, the same thing. This idea he confirms in the same paragraph:

"...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."

Therefore, God made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, in making him of human nature. Sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus had it not existed there. Since sin and human nature are synonyms, sin was condemned in the flesh when his nature was destroyed on the cross. This is the plain and straight foward teaching of bro. Thomas. These things all go together to show just how impossible this separation that MT imagines, between sin, and human nature or the flesh, really is.

Bro. Thomas makes the same point in Eureka:

"Sin" is a word in Paul’s argument, which stands for "human nature," with its affections and desires. Hence, to become sin, or for one to be "made sin" for others, (2 Cor. 5:21, ) is to become flesh and blood. This is called "sin," or "Sin’s flesh," because it is what it is in consequence of sin, or transgression.

Note this language. "Sin" stands for human nature, because to be made sin, or to become sin for others, is to become flesh and blood. Its tough to see how he could have been any clearer, that MT is wrong. But he is even clearer.

And again in Eureka:

This perishing body is "sin," and left to perish because of "sin." Sin, in it application to the body, stands for all its constituents and laws. The power of death is in its very constitution, so that the law of its nature is styled "the law of Sin and Death." In the combination of the elements of the law, the power of death resides, so that "to destroy that having the power of death," is to abolish this physical law of sin and death, and instead thereof, to substitute the physical "law of the spirit of life," by which the same body would be changed in its constitution, and live for ever.

There is the exact phrase used by bro. Thomas, that MT says he never intended. And it is used as a physical law in our bodies, that brings death. And because death comes through sin, it is called the law of sin and death.

Compare the two sentences and the absurdity in MT’s position becomes apparent.


"He (John Thomas) did not say that ‘sin… is the substance called man’."--MT

"This perishing body is ‘sin,’..."– John Thomas

What the pioneers called "physical sin" or the "element in the flesh called sin" is the same thing the pioneers called "metonymical sin", or "sin by metonymy." This physical or metonymical sin, is the sin condemned on the cross. Moral sin is condemned, because it is included in all sin, when physical or metonymical sin is condemned. Moral sin is not condemned on the cross by actually existing in Christ, because he was morally perfect. Sin could only have been condemned in the flesh of Christ, had it existed there. Morally, it did not exist there in any fashion. Physically, it did. This is the consistent teaching of the foundation Christadelphians.

In his work "Aaron and Christ," bro. Thomas draws a comparison between the priesthood of Aaron and the work of Jesus. Bro. Thomas writes of the sin that was condemned in the flesh of Jesus thus:

But to return. Jesus, with the sin of the world thus defined, rankling in his flesh, where it was to be condemned to death when suspended on the cross (Rom. 8:3), came to John as the "Ram of Consecration," that his inwards and his body might be washed according to the law.—(Ex. 29:17, 22.) But these representations of the law and the prophets could not have found their antitype in Jesus, if in the days of his flesh he had possessed a holier or purer nature than those for whom he was bruised in the heel. His character was spotless; but as being the seed of the woman, of whom no clean flesh can be born (Job 25:4), and seed of Abraham, which is not immaculate, be it virgin or Nazarite, his nature was flesh and blood (Heb. 2:14), which Paul styles "sinful flesh," or flesh full of sin, a physical quality or principle which makes the flesh mortal; and called "sin" because this property of flesh became its law, as the consequence of transgression. "God made Jesus sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."—(2 Cor. 5:21.)

This physical principle, called sin (by metonymy) because this physical characteristic of the flesh became its law, as a consequence of transgression, is the sin condemned in the flesh of Jesus. When bro. Thomas says that it was the sin of the world thus defined, which was condemned in Jesus. How did bro. Thomas define "the sin of the world." We see it plainly in Eureka:

The mission of the Lord Jesus Christ was to "destroy that having the power of death, which is the devil;" or Sin’s Flesh; in other words, to "take away the Sin of the world;" and to "destroy the works of the devil," or of Sin (Heb. 2:14; John 1:29; 1 John 3:8).

The "sin of the world" is not transgression, but the diabolos, or sin’s flesh, or sin in the flesh. This is further testimony to the fact already established, that MT has not correctly understood the diabolos. It was the diabolos, that is, sin in the flesh, which was "rankling in his flesh" where it was to be condemned on the cross. In the condemnation of the physical constituent called (by metonymy) sin, all sin, physical and moral was condemned. When the root is destroyed, the tree cannot produce its fruit.

MT then quotes from "Clerical Theology Unscriptural." This was an article, written as a discussion where bro. Thomas was Boanerges, and was talking to a man named Heresian. The full paragraph shows how completely MT has missed the point of the discussion, which was: what is sin.

Boanerges: O fie, Heresian; I thought you had more sense than to talk thus. You do not seem to know what sin is. If I did not know otherwise, I should have concluded that you had been studying tractarianism in the dark and mystic groves of Isis, among the Puseys and the Newmans of its cloistered halls. You ought to know that the primitive sense of the word is "the transgression of law;" and the derived sense that of evil in the flesh. Transgression is to this evil as cause to an effect; which effect re-acts in the posterity of the original transgressors as a cause, which, uncontrolled by belief of the truth, evolves transgression in addition to those natural ills, disease, death, and corruption, which are inherent in flesh and blood. Because he transgressed the Eden-law, Adam is said to have sinned. Evil was then evolved in his flesh as the punishment of his sin; and because the evil was the punishment of the sin, it is also styled sin. "Flesh and blood" is naturally and hereditarily full of this evil. It is, therefore, called "sinful flesh," or flesh full of sin. Hence, an apostle saith, "in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). The absence of goodness in our physical nature is the reason of flesh and blood being termed "sin." "The Word was made flesh;" a saying which Paul synonymizes by the expression, "God hath made Jesus sin for us who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21): and Peter by the words, "He made his own self bear our sins in his own body" (1 Pet. 2:24). "God made Jesus sin," in the sense of "making him of a woman" (Gal. 4:4), or of flesh and blood; so that having the same nature, its evil was condemned in his flesh; and consequently the sins of those who believe the gospel of the Kingdom were then borne away, if they have faith also in the breaking of his body for sin (Rom. 8:3; Luke 22:19). Besides this, John says, that "all unrighteousness is sin;" and another apostle, that "whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Now, Heresian, I should like you, or some of your spiritual lords, to inform me what sins, actual or original, are remitted to an infant in the "baptismal regeneration" they talk so much about?

It is pretty easy to see from this, that like Heresian, MT does not know what sin is. All unrighteousness is sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. The flesh itself is full of evil, hence it is called sinful flesh, or flesh full of sin.  It therefore cannot be of faith, and it cannot by anything but unrighteous. God made Jesus to be sin, in his being born of a woman. And this evil, or derived sin, was the evil which was condemned in his flesh. All this is quite clear from the reasoning of Boanerges.


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45–Two Acceptationis

We have taken a break of a few months, and have caught up on some other stuff, as well as a couple of gatherings this year. We will try to pick up from where we left off. One thing we discovered in our travels this year was quite interesting and relevant to this discussion. Bereans are growing at a faster rate than at any time since 1952. Clearly one of the reasons for this has been the hostile attitude taken towards us by adversarial assemblies of Central or Unamended, over teachings such as Matthew Trowell’s (MT).

In the past, the adversarial assemblies would say to the young or inexperienced, "Oh, there is no difference between us. We all believe the same thing. Some just word things a little different." And this would be enough for some, who longed for the greater associations which are available in those adversarial assemblies. But thanks to Matthew Trowell, John Martin, and a host of lesser known men, the Berean Christadelphians have now been branded as errorists on the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ, so that ones going over to the adversarial assemblies from the Truth must change their beliefs. Add to that the false teaching of bro. Steven Genusa on fellowship, and the hedge we have tried to keep between ourselves and the adversarial assemblies has, with their unwitting help, become quite impregnable, and allowed us a safer sheepfold in which to work.

In dealing with both the doctrine of Fellowship and the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ, the argument for us has become quite simple. We compare the way the pioneer brethren used the verses, to the way the men from the adversarial assemblies use verses, and the original position becomes quite clear. Men can find ways to twist words and make any author appear to say something he never intended. The churches twist Jesus’ words. How much more will men twist the words of his followers.

But when it becomes apparent that the Bereans believe and practice every verse relevant to the Nature and Sacrifice of Christ, and every verse relevant to the doctrine of Fellowship identically the same as the pioneer brethren did, then it becomes quite easy to see who is in the foundation position, and who has invented some new thing. Then it is simply a choice for the individual, as to whether to walk in the old paths, or to determine that the new is better. That is a lot easier argument for us to make, compared to the argument of only a few years ago, that the Bereans and the adversarial assemblies all believe the same thing.

In the section we are considering, Matthew Trowell (MT) is trying to escape the writings of bro. Thomas that the word "sin" has two acceptations, that is, two acceptable meanings. The one is transgression. The second is human nature. MT began by saying that bro. Thomas is not telling us there are two forms or categories of sin. MT’s point is simply and grammatically false. If there are two acceptable uses of the word, then obviously, there are two different forms or categories for the word. And this is clearly the case as bro. Thomas tells us that sin stands for transgression of law, and that sin also stands for human nature.

MT quoted from bro. Thomas’s word "Clerical Theology, Unscriptural" and we focused him on a portion of that work where Boanerges ridicules Heresian, as bro. Thomas would have ridiculed MT, that he doesn’t know what sin is.

MT goes on to quote from bro. Roberts, John Carter, and bro. Mansfield. We have no interest in defending either John Carter or bro. Mansfield. In fact we are comfortable that John Carter cannot reasonably be defended. But we will look at the quote from bro. Roberts’ lecture, "The Slain Lamb."

"Adam was driven out of Eden because of disobedience. He was therefore thrown back upon himself, so to speak, and he soon found in himself and his progeny how weak and evil a thing the flesh is, for his first son was a murderer. And because disobedience or sin, was the cause of his expulsion, and that sin was the result of the desires of the flesh, and because all the desires that are natural to the flesh organisation are because of native ignorance, in directions forbidden, there is no exaggeration, no high figure in talking of sin in the flesh. It is Paul’s figure. He speaks of "sin that dwelleth in me" and as he defines ‘me’ to be "my flesh ", ‘Sin that dwelleth in me’ is "sin in the flesh" — a metonym for those impulses which are native to the flesh, while knowledge of God and of duty is not native to the flesh." (The Slain Lamb – Robert Roberts) [Note: The emphasis, all emboldening, and almost all italics are MT’s.]

Now remember what it is that MT is trying to prove. He is trying to prove that "Sin" has only one meaning, which is transgression. He acknowledges that "sin" in spiritualized in the Scriptures so that by a figure, it represents human nature, but MT wants us to believe that human nature is not actually sin. That is why MT has emboldened "Paul’s figure." It is why he has both emboldened and italicized "a metonym for those impulses which are native to the flesh."

Remember that "metonym" tells us why a word or expression is chosen. It does not redefine the meaning, as MT has been insisting. Sin, by metonymy, that is the cause given for the effect or the container given for the thing contained, comes to stand for human nature. We can all understand that. MT then makes the jump that since by metonymy human nature is called sin, that therefore human nature is not sin. And frankly, metonymy is a vague enough word that that could be true, if the form of metonymy is determined to be metalepsis, but it also could not be true if the form of metonymy is determined to be synecdoche. And I have already shown that the only form of metonymy bro. Roberts ever explains in his entire time as editor, is synecdoche, which means "the same interpretation as." So human nature has the same interpretation as sin.

And it is crystal clear as to which form of metonymy, bro. Roberts is referring to here. He says there is no "high figure" no "exaggeration" in Paul’s speech, when he calls human nature "sin." That is to say, there is no metaphor, no metalepsis involved in this discussion. Well, if it is not high figure or exaggeration, what is it? Obviously, it is interpretive.

There is an important quote in that section, which goes directly against a point MT tried to make, just a few paragraphs ago, MT tried to tell us what "sin in the flesh" was. Or more precisely, MT tried to tell us what "sin in the flesh" wasn’t, because he never did tell us what he thinks it was. As close as MT comes to a definition of "sin in the flesh" is this:

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’).

So to MT, sinful flesh, or sin’s flesh is not referring to "sin-in-the-flesh." Sinful flesh, to him, is physical, and not the same thing as sin in the flesh. Why does he make this distinction? He hasn’t told us yet. Perhaps he won’t at any time in this book, because what he, and all clean flesh folks believe, is exactly opposite the point bro. Roberts made in his "Slain Lamb" quote. Notice these words from his quote: ‘Sin that dwelleth in me’ is "sin in the flesh." To bro. Roberts then, "sin in the flesh" is sinful flesh. It is the impulses with all its weaknesses of sin and death, which is inherent in the flesh. That is the point of this entire section from which MT takes his quote.

Well, if MT agreed withthe argument bro. Roberts makes here, why object to saying "sinful flesh" is "sin in the flesh?" It’s because "Clean Flesh" folks believe that when Paul says Christ condemned sin in the flesh, what he meant was that while Christ was in the flesh common to man, he condemned sin through all his life by resisting sin, and verbally teaching against and condemning sin. They don’t believe that the flesh is the subject of the condemnation. Why should it be, since sin can only be moral and never physical? Since they believe that sin is only moral, they turn Christ’s condemnation of "sin in the flesh" to be a moral condemnation of sin, made by Christ while he was in the flesh.






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46–A Sacrifice for Sin

I remember now why I chose this spot to stop. It was because I was not sure how to proceed, since Matthew Trowell (MT) has decided that he has proved that flesh is not sin, when it is so obvious that he has completely failed in his task. He wrote:

So we have seen that flesh is not literally sin, but rather the word sin is used in Scripture to describe our flesh and blood natures because of the fixed principle within our members that causes us to sin.

In point of fact, all MT has accomplished to date in this regard, is that he has shown that by metonymy, human nature is called "sin." He has not proved, or even tried to prove that "metonymy" is the magic term he imagines, which turns a reality into a metaphor, or exaggeration, or a "high figure." He is counting on the ignorance and laziness of his readers to allow him to make his point.

He has not proved either Merriam Webster or bro. John Thomas wrong, in how they have defined sin to have two acceptable meanings. And most importantly of all, he has not even tried to explain to us how sin was condemned in the flesh of Jesus, if it was not there to be condemned, when he destroyed his flesh-body on the cross.

That is apparently what MT will now try to do. He says he is going to explain to us how sin was condemned in the flesh of Jesus. And he will try to do this by showing how it was that sin was condemned without actually existing there. He begins by quoting Rom. 8:3 and Heb. 2:14 which are unquestionably linked together by the pioneer brethren, the devil (diabolos) being to the pioneer brethren, the equivalent term as "sin in the flesh." MT believes this too, but as the pioneer brethren understood both terms to be a reference to the physical qualities of the flesh, MT will try to show that both are moral terms. But he begins by asking a most unusual question.

Now the question is this: ‘Are these passages speaking about the physical removal of the impulses to sin through sacrificial purification or cleansing, or are they speaking of something else?’

The true answer is that these passages are both talking about the condemnation and destruction of Sin, with the understanding of "Sin" in its acceptation or sense of human nature. These verses are not discussing the removal of Sin (defiled human nature) from the man though there are verses which do. And these verses are not particularly discussing the purification or cleansing from Sin (human nature) though again, there are verses which do. So why does MT ask this question as pertaining to these verses?

Remember MT rejects bro. Thomas’ teaching that "sin" has two acceptations, the first human nature which bro. Thomas often capitalizes as "Sin," and the other acceptation is transgression. Here is another quote from bro. Thomas to that point:

The word sin is used in two senses; first, to represent that combination of principles within us, which in excitation is manifested in passion, evil affections of the mind, diseases, death and corruption. They are called sin because their manifestation was permitted as the consequence of transgression. And this is the second sense of the word; as it is written, ‘sin is the transgression of law.’ Transgression was the effect of the unbridled inworking of humanity; and when the transgression was complete, or ‘finished,’ that inworking and its result were both styled sin. Chdn. 1873 pg 484

Since MT rejects what bro. Thomas calls the first sense in which the word "sin" is used, he can hardly focus our attention on its condemnation, can he? I would guess that is why he wishes to focus our attention elsewhere.

MT tells us what he thinks the condemnation of sin in the flesh, was.

"Sin was openly condemned by Christ during his life of perfect obedience to his Father’s will by "mortifying the deeds of the body"

And then he goes on to quote John Carter:

The conflict takes place in the flesh—there Sin is overcome, and then as the final act, the very climax of the conflict, Jesus lays down his life as a sin-offering

As I explained in my last post, this is the completely false way in which "Clean Flesh folks like MT and like John Carter, define the way the condemnation of "sin in the flesh" is to be understood. This is why MT told us earlier that "sinful flesh" is not the same thing as "sin in the flesh." They do not see "sin in the flesh" as referring to the nature, nor do they see the nature as condemned. They do not believe the nature is sin, so why should it be condemned? Since the nature is not condemned, they have to have a way of interjecting moral sin into the expression "sin in the flesh," and the only way they can do that is by suggesting that the condemnation of sin is Christ’s repudiation of sin, throughout his life.  Note the emphasis on his life.  MT italicizes the word "life" in his paragraph above, so that he can make it clear that the condemnation of sin in the flesh was accomplished in the life, not in the death, of Jesus.

Observe MT’s reference to John Carter’s notes.

Bro Carter goes on to say in his notes on this verse: "*Not "sin-in-the-flesh" as a compound term, but "Sin, in the flesh", as the italicized words show."

Of course it is John Carter’s italicized words, not Scripture. And this is an explanation never found in the pioneer writing. Because they clearly believed that the way "sin in the flesh" was condemned, was when Jesus destroyed the flesh of sin, by going up on the cross.

Look also at MT’s explanation of the word "condemn." MT tells us that condemn means "to give judgment against, to judge worthy of punishment, to condemn." But according to Merriam Webster, the word "condemn" also means "to give someone a usually strong punishment." That is what Paul is describing in Rom. 8:3. It is not the sentence pertaining to the nature as MT would limit it that is God’s condemnation of sin, but the carrying out of the sentence itself.

The real explanation for "how" God through Jesus condemned "sin in the flesh" is shown by bro. Roberts in the following:

"Jesus condemned sin in the flesh by suffering in the flesh of Adamic nature, the condemnation due to Adam’s sin. In this way, while himself bruised in the heel by the serpent-principle, he incipiently bruised its head in meeting its claim and escaping its power. But this result was entirely limited to his own person. It accomplished nothing beyond his own individual nature. It did not destroy the power of sin and death throughout the human race at large, who still continue as sinful and mortal as ever."

Note there is nothing here said about his openly condemning sin in his life of obedience. There is nothing said about his overcoming sin while in the flesh. Thre is nothing said about overcoming the "deeds" of the flesh. There is nothing even said about his being a "sin offering," though of course he was. All of this is from the "Clean Flesh" teaching of MT, and has nothing to do with how bre. Thomas or Roberts believed sin was condemned in the flesh. The pioneer brethren were focused on the condemning of the sin-body to death because of Adam’s sin, as the condemnation of sin in the flesh.

Note again the following from an exhortation by bro. Roberts:

In Christ He has provided the means of this; for in Him we have not only the glory of God manifest, but a fellow-partaker of the mortal nature that has been propagated throughout the earth as the result of sin; and in this nature God condemned sin by its crucifixion, and rescued the crucified one from death because of righteousness and love, and has given him to us as our only avenue to life eternal.

Bro. Roberts could not be clearer. In this nature, God condemned sin by its crucifixion. Note that it is not by his life, but by his crucifixion, by his death that sin in the flesh was condemned. And bro. Thomas is even more clear:

The Flesh made by the spirit out of Mary’s substance, and rightly claimed therefore in Psalm 16:8; Acts 2:31, as His flesh, is the Spirit’s Anointed Altar, cleansed by the blood of that flesh when poured out unto death "on the tree." This flesh was the victim offered—the sacrifice. Suspended on the tree by the voluntary offering of the Spirit-Word (John 10:18), "sin was condemned in the flesh," when the soul-blood thereof was poured out unto death.

What the pioneers taught is very clear. Sin was condemned in the flesh of Jesus when the soul-blood (life-blood) was poured out unto death. The condemnation of sin in the flesh was not Jesus’ moral condemnation of sin during his life time, but rather the great statement he made on the cross such as we have shown from bro. Roberts in discussing the declaration of God’s righteousness. The great condemnation of sin in the flesh was made when Jesus went up on the cross and exhibited to the world, that this is how Sin, that is, evil human nature must be treated in harmony with the righteousness of God. It is only fit for destruction. Sin was actually condemned in that great act, because Sin existed (physically) in Jesus in his nature. And if there was in no sense in which Sin was actually and physically in his flesh, then it was impossible for him to make that declaration.  As bro. Thomas points out, sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there.


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47–The Devil of Heb 2:14

Matthew Trowell (MT) now moves us to the Devil, and begins as a traditional "clean flesh" fellow would. That is, by turning the phrase "devil" into a moral relationship, ie. to transgression. He begins quoting bro. Thomas, and then builds on that quote:

There are not two powers of death; but one only. Hence, the devil and sin, though different words, represent the same thing. "Sin had the power of death," and would have retained it, if the man, who was obedient unto death, had not gained the victory over it.

From this quote, MT concludes the following:

The devil is defined as "him that had the power of death." In Romans 6:23 we learn that "sin has the power of death". The devil must, therefore, evidently be sin.

MT’s conclusions, however, are distorted due to his rejection of the two acceptations or senses of the word, "sin" as explained by bro. Thomas. Bro. Thomas said that the diabolos is a personification of sin, meaning a personification of human nature. Since MT rejects bro. Thomas’s teaching that human nature is sin, he concludes something altogether different from this quote, than bro. Thomas intended vis. a vis. that the devil is transgression. 

There is only one meaning for "sin," according to MT, which is transgression. So he concludes, as do all "Clean Flesh" folks, that devil or diabolos represents transgression. But now, rather than trying to explain to us how transgression was destroyed in the death of Christ, he takes us on a journey through what MT calls, an "implied" argument. 

Before we follow him through this maze, lets first establish what bro. Thomas meant, when he said that the devil was sin. First from Eureka:

By this time, I apprehend, the intelligent reader will be able to answer scripturally the question, "What is that which has the power of death?" And he will, doubtless, agree, that it is "the exceedingly great sinner Sin," in the sense of "the Law of Sin and Death" within all the posterity of Adam, without exception. This, then, is Paul’s Diabolos, which he says "has the power of death;" which "power" he also saith is "sin, the sting of death." 

But why doth Paul style Sin diabolos? The answer to this question will be found in the definition of the word. Diabolos is derived from diaballo, which is compounded of dia, a preposition, which in composition signifies across, over, and answers to the Latin trans; and of ballo to throw, cast; and intransitively, to fall, tumble. Hence, diaballo, is to throw over or across; and intransitively, like the Latin trajicere, to pass over, to cross, to pass. This being the signification of the parent verb, the noun diabolos is the name of that which crosses, or causes to cross over, or falls over. Diabolos is therefore a very fit and proper word by which to designate the law of sin and death, or Sin’s flesh.


Here bro. Thomas is crystal clear that when he says that the Diabolos is another name for Sin, he is using the term "Sin" in that sense of "sin" which is affirmed by bro. Thomas, but denied by MT: that of "Sin’s flesh" or "the law of sin and death." Note the expression that this diabolos is in all the descendants of Adam without exception. If "sin" means transgression, as MT suggests, then this could not be true, as Jesus was not guilty in any way, of transgression. 

Again we read from bro. Thomas:

We have ascertained satisfactorily, because scripturally, as it appears to me, that the thing styled in the Greek New Testament diabolos, and rendered devil in the English version, is sin in the flesh. He that ‘walks according to the flesh’ ‘serves sin,’ diabolos, or the devil. The mortal body is ‘the body of sin, ’ or sin incarnate, which with its affections, lusts, and transgressions, is styled ‘the Old Man;’ than whom no imaginary devil can be more wicked and defiant of God and his law. The Old Man, in his individual, social, and political manifestations, is the diabolos or devil of the New Testament mystery, and treated of accordingly. Destroy the ascendancy of the sin-principle of the flesh over the thoughts and actions, and you have a moral development of the New Man; and then eradicate it from the flesh by the Spirit moral and physical manifestation, ‘isangelos, ’ ‘equal to an angel.’—(Luke 20:36.) There is no sin in the flesh of the angelic nature, therefore, it cannot die. No element of it has ‘the power of death,’ so that diabolos exists not in angelic society. John Thomas "Tempter and Tempted"

Note how this paragraph attacks the foundation of MT’s error. Remember how MT isolated sin from death, when he taught that Adam and Eve had to eat of the tree of lives, or they would have died, apart from sin? As I pointed out before, this is an argument native to the modern "clean flesh" folks. Earlier ones, like Edward Turney, or Cornish, had the good sense to see that if Christ did not bear sin in his body, then he was not in any way related to death. It is the reason they argued that Christ had "free life." But MT and all the moderns since A. D. Strickler, believe that Jesus had to die apart from sin, which is a serious error, calling into question the righteousness of God. If death is the wages of sin, why would a sinless man die? As bro. Thomas says, sin in the flesh has the power of death. 

Bro. Thomas says: "there is no sin in the flesh of the angelic nature." Imagine how foolish that would be, if MT and his quote from John Carter, concerning the meaning of "sin in the flesh." was correct. Do angels not morally condemn sin, in their flesh? Of course they do. But here bro. Thomas is speaking of "sin in the flesh" as that which has the power of death, and which is not in the flesh of angels, but it is in all men. And as MT showed us before, it is sin which has the power of death. Is it not clear then, that to bro. Thomas, "sin in the flesh" is our physical nature, and is sin. 

Moving on to the next quote (and we could greatly multiply quotes on this point from both bre. Thomas and Roberts)

What is it in flesh and blood that had the power of subjecting the body to death? The evil principle of corruption within man, termed by Paul "the law of sin in the members," "the law of sin and death," "sin in the flesh." This then is "the devil, that had the power of death."

To MT, the devil is sin, the only definition of which he recognizes is transgression. To bro. Thomas, the devil or diabolos is Sin, meaning "that great and exceeding sinner, Sin," "the law of sin and death," "the law of sin in my members," "sin in the flesh," "the body of sin," "the mortal body," "sin’s flesh," "the Old Man," "sin incarnate," "the evil principle of corruption within man," and "that which does not exists in angelic nature." To bro. Thomas all these terms are the same, and all mean "sin." And that is just from these three short quotes. 

Now lets go back to MT’s treatise for Heb. 2:14, and the first thing we discover is he is affirming what he has already denied. That is, that death is the consequence of sin. MT says:

The devil is defined as "him that had the power of death." In Romans 6:23 we learn that "sin has the power of death".

I fully agree with the fact that Sin has the power of death. But if this is the case, why, then, did Jesus die? I answer that it was because he bore sin in his nature, and was in consequent subject to death. When God commanded him to die the death on the cross, it was righteous and just for God to put his body to death due to need to destroy the sin in his nature. But if sin can only mean transgression, and Christ never transgressed (as we all believe,) then why did God require Jesus to die? And how was God exhibited as right and just in requiring this? And why does MT say that sin has the power of death. 

We have made this point many times in this study whenever discussing how God’s righteousness was exhibited in the death of Christ. Sin was put to death in his body, by Jesus going up on the cross and destroying "that which had the power of death" or human nature, styled in the Scriptures "sin." This great statement, which we have shown from the pen of bro. Roberts was: "this is how human nature deserves to be treated in harmony with the righteousness of God. It is only fit for destruction." But if sin only means transgression, and cannot mean the nature, as MT has steadfastly argued, then that statement was never made on the cross. 

We now come to a repetition of a thought MT has already made in what he calls "an implied argument." The implied argument is that if sin (transgression) is the devil destroyed in the death of Christ, it implies that the temptations of the flesh must be destroyed as well. He writes:

But the cause of sin is the unlawful lusts that exist in the natural mind, or as Jesus expressed it: "from within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts" (Mk. 7:21). Hence to destroy sin implies the defeat in battle of a will which is in opposition to the will of God. Christ partook of flesh and blood with all its inherent weaknesses and publicly declared that human nature, as the cause of sin, was rightly related to death.

We pointed out before in this exercise, that Rom 6:23 does not say that "the wages of human nature as the cause of sin is death." In Section 21, we pointed out to MT that "Paul did not write: ‘the wages of the inherent tendency to sin, is death.’" Paul wrote "The wages of sin is death." MT misses this point. Paul did write about the inherent tendency to sin. He said: "In me, that is in my flesh dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me." He lamented the inherent tendency to sin in him, saying "the good that I would I do not, but the evil I would not, that I do. But note what he calls it. "If I do that I would not, it is not more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." Yes, it is the will of fallen human nature which is the subject of condemnation on the cross. But that is because fallen human nature is, by Scriptural definition, sin. 

MT thinks that by dying, Christ could sin no more, and therefore sin can said to be dead to him. We suppose that is true. But why bring this up? It has nothing to do with the declaration of God’s righteousness. The declaration of God’s righteousness is shown in the destruction of sin. But sin is not destroyed, according to MT’s definition, in the death of Christ. By his explanation, it was never in Christ to be destroyed. 

Bro. Thomas taught that sinful flesh is of itself Sin, and so when the body was crucified, Sin died. We can see that by MT’s definition, there was no sin in Christ, that was destroyed. Only the opportunity for sin, which, according to him (not the Scriptures) was not of itself sin. 

The difference between the two is this. The way MT explains it, sin is, by implication, destroyed. By bro. Thomas’ explanation, Sin is actually destroyed. This is the same difference as between sacrifices under the law, and the sacrifice of Christ. The law was a shadow, a symbol, an implication of the destruction of sin. But Christ’s sacrifice was the actual, physical, visible exhibition of the destruction of sin.


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48–The Devil of Heb. 2:14

As we have gone through this process, I have pointed out how Matthew Trowell (MT) has adopted bro. Andrew’s concept of a mechanical or chemical process. We come back to it again. MT writes:

The idea of‘condemning’ is to defeat those unlawful desires which are inherent in human nature. This was achieved morally throughout the Lord’s life of perfect obedience, with the crucifixion of his body being the final demonstration of what was rightly due to flesh, and, finally, by his resurrection and change to spirit-nature. Thus, it was "through death" that he destroyed "the devil". These principles do not even come close to suggesting the physical removal of fleshly impulses by sacrificial cleansing.

This statement by MT completely misses the mark, mostly, but not entirely due to how he views these things as chemical or mechanical reactions. To him, the sacrifice is some process by which an individual is physically cleansed, either mechanically or chemically. But the act or ceremony of sacrifice is to demonstrate the slaughtering sin. It does not cleanse anything, nor was it intended to. The cleansing of the individual from sin is done by God after the sacrifice, based upon the heart of the individual, and the correctness of the sacrificial ceremony.

"Cleanse" is a figurative term to describe the entire process of the change from mortal to immortal. When an author says that we are "cleansed by sacrifice" he means that the ultimate change to spirit life, is on account of the sacrifice of Christ. The sacrifice was an actual demonstration of the destruction of sin. When we acknowledge this, and recognize in it the great truth demonstrated in that sacrifice, that God is righteous, and that human nature or sin is not; then God is willing to forgive us our sins and change our vile bodies, like unto his glorious body. So we are cleansed by sacrifice, not literally, but as a result of Jesus’ great sacrifice.

The death of the animal under the law was a figurative ceremony, in that there was no actual sin in the animal to be slain. The entire process was figurative, or symbolic. But in the death of Christ, it was a very real ceremony, in that sin, that is, human nature, was slaughtered. This is the reason the law could not take away sin, but the death of Christ could. MT completely misses this point.

Because he doesn’t understand this, MT has set out completely different principles altogether. Rather than understanding the divine plan, that sin is a synonym for human nature, and that sin was physically condemned in the body of Jesus when he hung on the cross, (remember how bro. Thomas wrote that sin could not have been condemned in the body of Jesus, had it not existed there) MT says rather that the sin that is condemned in the flesh is moral, and that it was Jesus’ obedient resistence to sin all through his life, culminating in his greatest act of obedience in going up on the cross, and in this way sin was condemned while Jesus walked among us in the flesh. And of course, how could moral resistence be physically condemned? So yes, as MT says, his principles do not come close to suggesting the physical removal of fleshly impulses by sacrificial cleansing. But his principles are certainly not the principles of the pioneer brethren, and they are demonstrably wrong.

You may recall that MT gave us his understanding of the meaning of sacrifice in section 18–The Work of God. It was a wrong definition, very much in harmony with the explanations developed by the churches around us. The real meaning of sacrifice is "to slaughter, or to slay." Moral transgression, MT’s only definition of sin, cannot be slain or slaughtered as his definition has no physical existence. Human nature, one of the two acceptable senses of sin according to bro. Thomas, can quite publically be slaughtered, as in the case of Jesus when the Devil, or his sin nature was slaughtered on the cross.

This is the ceremony required by God. The slaughtering of the flesh on the cross was the ceremonial exhibition of the destruction of sin. This is all God’s ritual. It is all God’s imagery. But if we force a mechanical meaning on all this, or as MT is insisting, we turn the condemnation of sin into a moral condemnation; we miss the picture, and end up denying the destruction of sin on the cross (as does MT,) or bringing charges of moral sin against Jesus, (as did bro. J. J. Andrew.)

Sin was slaughtered on the cross when the physical impulses to sin, which are Scripturally styled sin, were destroyed. But the process is all in the hands of God. It is not mechanical, or chemical. Jesus was not actually purified from sin as a mechanical or automatic result this great ceremony. He was purified from sin by God, because of his willing participation in this great ceremony. As we brought out before, these things don’t happen by mechanical or chemical operation. They occur because God wills it. He was purified from sin by God, as a result of his great sacrifice, specifically, by the great statement he made in his sacrifice: This is how sin (human nature) is required to be treated in harmony with the righteousness of God. It is only fit for destruction.

MT then goes to bro. Roberts to try and develop the support for his idea of a figurative condemnation, in a rather grammatically strained way:

"It pleased God to require the ceremonial condemnation of this sin-nature in crucifixion, in the person of a righteous possessor of it, as the basis of our forgiveness." –Robert Roberts The Blood of Christ.

Now the emboldening and italicized words above are not the way bro. Roberts wrote it. MT wants us to focus on these words, for this is where he will draw his point from.

MT goes on to say:

The condemnation was "ceremonial" which means that it was a public declaration and this concept excludes any idea of physically cleansing the body by sacrifice.

Simply stated according to the rules of grammar, no it doesn’t. "Ceremony" means "a formal act or event that is part of a religious or social occasion."–Merriam Webster. "Ceremonial" means "marked by, involved in, or belonging to ceremony: stressing careful attention to form and detail."-- Merriam Webster. So, what part of this excludes the idea of a physical cleansing, as a result of his sacrifice?

God required a specific formal ritual for Jesus to go through, to exhibit to the world the destruction of sin. That was the ceremony. Sin had to exist in the body of Jesus, to be condemned there, during that ceremony. Otherwise, it was simply a symbolical destruction of sin, as was the case in all sacrifice under the law. Sin was there, as represented by his nature, which throughout the Scriptures, is used as a synonym for sin. So when the mortal body was ceremonially slain, sin was condemned in the flesh common to all mankind.

So why would MT emphasize "ceremonial" and argue that this rules out a physical cleansing by sacrifice? It’s due to a secondary meaning of ceremonial which he needs his readers to use. The primary meaning of "Ceremonial" is what I have already written. It is simply an act, or series of acts. But it carries a secondary meaning which is: "having no real power or influence."–Merriam Webster.

It is this secondary meaning which MT requires to be placed on the words of bro. Roberts, in order for MT to make his point. MT said that the condemnation was "ceremonial" by which he means it had no real connection to anything, or real power, or real influence. It is just figurative. It is merely symbolical. It didn’t do anything of itself. It was just a show. They take it to mean that the sacrifice was nothing real in relation to sin, but simply symbolism. They believe the flesh symbolizes sin. Not that the flesh is sin. So whereas the pioneer brethren saw the sacrifice of Christ as a very real destruction of sin, the "Clean Flesh" folks only see it as a symbolical slaying of sin.

It is the same deception used by the "Clean Flesh" folks, when they say that sin, by metonymy means human nature. They say "by metonymy," but they mean "by metaphor." They believe that the language is entirely figurative, and only by an exaggeration of language can human nature be called sin. That human nature is not really sin, has been MT’s point throughout his book. And so when he says that the ceremony of the sacrifice on the cross must mean a ceremonial condemnation of sin, he means it is all just another figure of speech. A symbolical relationship. Nothing to them about it, is real. But "ceremonial" doesn’t have to mean "figurative," any more than metonymy has to mean "figurative."

Moving on, MT continues to try to prove that sacrifice does not cleanse anything. He quotes bro. Roberts. This may be one of the more deceptive usages of the pioneers to this point in his book. On most of his quotes, one could give him the benefit of the doubt that first, he is obviously not any kind of student of the pioneers, and so two, he is just searching for quotes and not paying much attention to context or ecclesial history. But to use this next quote shows not simple carelessness born out of ignorance and bias, but a definite effort at dishonesty and deception. It may not be MT’s deception. Perhaps MT never actually looks up his quotes, but is just taking information from one of Central’s other apostates. I certainly can’t say. But someone in this matter, is not being honest.

Bro. Roberts wrote:

It [cleansing] was not used in the sense of the removal of physical blemish in the living person. In that sense death would be a strange mode of cleansing: cure a mortal man of his mortality by killing him! Immortalisation is the physical cleansing.

Again, look at the distorted conclusion MT is reaching, that sacrifice must be the cleansing to immortal life. The truth is that the act of sacrifice doesn’t clean anything. It is a demonstration of the slaying of sin. Not, the cleansing of sin. The cleansing is done by God based on the sacrifice. And note the way "cleanse" and "change" are used interchangeably by MT. This is the very technique bro. Roberts condemns in the mocking correspondent, which necessitated this article.

The article that MT is quoting is entirely relevant to this subject, and MT ignores it completely. MT takes this quote and tries to make bro. Roberts say the very opposite of what he intended in the article. Someone (probably a "Clean Flesh" fellow like MT,) wrote to bro. Roberts to complain that he was writing contradictory things. Note that. Because MT has the same problem with bro. Roberts. He thinks he can agree with some of what bro. Roberts wrote, while completely ignoring facts which demonstrate conclusively how wrong MT is.

The two articles written by bro. Roberts three years apart, which the correspondent refers to are as follows:

"If there had been a Jew who kept the law in all things, having done the will of the Father from the beginning of life, he would have been in the very same position as the Lord Jesus himself; it would then have been in his power by dying to cleanse himself from the Adamic condemnation, and his righteousness would have caused his resurrection from the dead. . . . Death purifies him from hereditary condemnation."

This is the statement by bro. Roberts where he says death would have purified such a man from the hereditary condemnation. A perfect man such as Jesus, would have had to have died to "cleanse" himself from Adamic condemnation.

Note this statement is exactly opposite the position presented by MT in his book. The next quote is as follows:

"Though redeemed by the first (the moral), we are by the second (the physical), under the actual dominion of death until incorruptibility is conferred, and if a man before then died twenty times, he would no more be paying ‘the claims of sin’ twenty times over than in the case of twenty attacks of toothache. The claims of the case exist as long as we are mortal, and we shall continue mortal until the time arrives for God to seal His grace to us in the great change, and when that time arrives, it matters not whether we are living or dead.".

So in the first quote, bro. Roberts says we are cleansed from Adamic Condemnation by dying. In the second, he says dying doesn’t release us from the claims of death, but the great change (and he means at immortalization) is when we are changed from mortal to immortal.

The correspondent said this is a contradiction. MT would probably agree. With his mechanical or chemical approach to sacrifice, how could he say otherwise? But bro. Roberts, in the very article quoted, said there was no contradiction, but both ideas represent the truth. How could this be? Well, if bro. Roberts understood sacrifice in the same mechanical or chemical way as MT, it couldn’t be. And how is it possible that the very idea MT is condemning (the physical body cleansed by sacrifice) is defended on the same page from which he takes quote to argue that such an idea is error? To make such an argument, MT is really counting on his readers being lazy. Lets look at what the mocking correspondent says the contradiction is. Bro. Roberts quotes him thus:

The contradiction supposed to exist between these two extracts is thus expressed by our correspondent. "Some time ago you had been learning I presume, as well as ‘watching’ for twenty-one years, and had learnt that a man by dying would cleanse himself from the Adamic condemnation, but when you have been learning for twenty-three years, you have learnt that death will not cleanse him, but that he remains unchanged until God shall do the work by bringing about the great change after the judgment."

In defending his statement that there is no contradiction between the two, bro. Roberts writes:

But even if the propositions both applied to the same case, there is an absence of contradiction when the terms are properly understood. That they are not understood by W.A. is evident from his implied paraphrase of "cleanse" as used in the first extract by the word "change" (physical). We did not use the word with this meaning. Doubtless, the word cleanse, as a figurative expression, is a little ambiguous, and gives room for misunderstanding on the part of those who do not candidly and patiently consider all the explanations that have been given, which any one is bound to do, who so confidently and scornfully alleges the existence of contradiction. The word "cleanse" was used in the sense of being delivered from the defiling sentence in the way God’s honour required, viz., by being carried out. It was not used in the sense of the removal of physical blemish in the living person: in that sense, death would be a strange mode of cleansing: cure a mortal man of his mortality by killing him! Immortalization is the physical cleansing; but there is a cleansing which can only be effected by death, and this "cleansing" is defined in the very paragraph which is supposed to contradict it.

Bro. Roberts’ mocking correspondent and MT have a lot in common. They both want to take bro. Roberts expression (and indeed an expression found throughout the pioneer writings) that we are cleansed by sacrifice; and insist that such an expression means that the sacrifice had to mechanically change us to immortal bodies, at that very instant. As bro. Roberts says, it was never intended to be understood that way. "Cleanse" was used in the sense that the sacrifice was what God’s honor required, that we should ultimately be delivered or "changed" from the defiling sentence inherited from Adam.

Note that bro. Roberts says that his correspondent confuses the word cleanse with change. So does MT. His correspondent, he said, paraphrased the word "cleanse" in the first quote, with the word "change" in the second. He points out, he did not intend to use the two words as if they had the same meaning. Yet that is identically how MT has used them. Is it not incredible that MT has taken an article intended to resolve a contradiction, and reintroduced the very contradiction alleged by the correspondent necessitating the article?

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