We note that bro. Genusa is putting his web site back up. It sadly looks no different than before. Here is a sample of his criticism. The blue text below is my comments, and the red text is added for emphasis to some pioneer writings. The rest is by bro. Genusa.
Local fellowship and fellowship 10,000 Miles Away -- A Berean Christadephian Claim Tested by the Scriptures
Brother Growcott, a former Berean editor, wrote,
"We are in fellowship with those 10,000 miles away to just as great a degree as those with whom we meet weekly. Here is its beauty and power: it has no limits of time and space. Fellowship is the total oneness of the whole Body, based on THE TRUTH, believed and practiced, and preserved soundly among us according to the commands God has given us." (G. V. Growcott, The Berean magazine, 1980, p. 12)
This claim by brother Growcott, as a thought isolated from reality is beautiful, powerful and certainly a thing desirable to seek after. However, reality does exist and in reality it contradicts not only Rule 35 of the Birmingham Constitution (also Rule 35 in The Berean Common Constitution) but also the Scriptures. We can prove it wrong with a simple demonstration of Scriptural doctrines no one sound in the Truth can deny. We are not "in fellowship with those 10,000 miles away to just as great a degree as those we meet with weekly" and here's how to prove it:
If you specified that only truly faithful brethren, those judged as such by Christ, were in such fellowship, the statement would be correct. Brother Growcott neither made this distinction nor saw the point in making this distinction. He believed in a worldwide fellowship table and that all Bereans who broke bread were in fellowship with one another, "no limits of time and space".
Bro. Growcott is now awaiting the return of our Savior, and cannot speak for himself. I would not presume to speak for him. Nor have I any idea how bro. Genusa can tell us what distinctions bro. Growcott made, or didn't make. Bro. Growcott did believe that we were in fellowship with all Bereans who broke bread in fellowship together, with, as bro. Genusa says, no limits as to time and space. Berean Christadelphians continue to believe this. This is the fellowship that we are commanded to keep in our lives. It is not in any way related to those judged in fellowship with Christ and God, by Christ and God. Concerning this, we make no judgment whatsoever.
However, to appreciate and uphold Biblical Truth, there needs to be a clear distinction made between local ecclesial fellowship and fellowship in Christ. They may occur simultaneously at the breaking of bread, but they are distinct states of fellowship and here is why:
This is, of course true. We have no ability whatsoever to determine who is in fellowship with Christ and God. We can only deal with fellowship matters, as it pertains to things we are permitted, or required by God, to judge.
The local ecclesia only has a strictly limited power to judge the righteousness of each individual member of the ecclesia (Matthew 7:1,2; Luke 6:37; James 4:11). We can only judge others on external conformance to ecclesial standards and even with that we must be careful (Gal. 5:15; John 7:24; Deu 1:17; Deu 16:19; Psalm 58:1; Psalm 82:2; Proverbs 17:15; James 2:1,9). If we break bread with individuals who we know violate ecclesial standards, we fellowship iniquity (1st Cor. 10:21; Eph. 5:11; 2 John 11; 1st Tim. 5:22). Once conformance to those ecclesial standards has been met, we accept individuals as "in fellowship" with ourselves, and indeed, we share (fellowship) the bread with one another.
As Bereans, we do not believe we have any authority or even the ability to judge the righteousness of members of any ecclesia, even our own (Matthew 7:1,2; Luke 6:37; James 4:11). This sort of judgment belongs to Christ, and Christ alone. The only thing we can judge are things we see, which is whether brethren conform to our basis of fellowship. For local ecclesial fellowship there is one step:
- External conformance to first principles of the Gospel, the commandments of Christ, and a rejection of doctrines that negate the first principles of the Gospel (doctrines to be rejected).
Inter-ecclesial fellowship is based on this single step as well. We cannot personally judge the conformance of individuals 10,000 miles away: on doctrine we may come to agreement (without making a visit to that ecclesia, or receiving a visit from brethren in that ecclesia), but we must rely on the judgment of brethren in that ecclesia as to whether the doctrinal standards are being upheld. As to conduct, we cannot judge it personally unless news of some misconduct is reported and we have full details (John 7:51; Pro. 18:13); again we can only rely on the judgment of brethren in that ecclesia. That we have to rely on the judgment of other brethren, should be carefully noted. How often does your judgment perfectly match that of any other person? We know even less about the individuals in a remote ecclesia than we know about those in our own ecclesia. How are we to ensure the remote ecclesia is maintaining doctrinal and moral standards and that every individual is suitable for fellowship? We have not been charged with the impossible task: their own ecclesia is responsible for maintaining standards of doctrine and conduct (1 Tim. 3:15; Titus 1:5; Rev 2:1, 5, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14, 19). Inter-ecclesial fellowship cannot go beyond external conformance to mutually agreed upon standards of doctrine and conduct (which may, or may not, include the same statement of faith).
As Bereans, we expect ecclesias to judge their own matters related to walk and conduct, and we expect ecclesias to be responsible for maintaining moral standards. It is irrelevant that our judgment may not agree perfectly in some walk and conduct matters. We do not interfere with other ecclesias, unless or until charges are made that an ecclesia is harboring errorists. Bro. Genusa asks, "How are we to ensure that the remote ecclesia is maintaining doctrinal...standards, and that every individual is suitable for fellowship?" It is really not that hard. If the ecclesia has agreed with our basis of fellowship, we accept their testimony. If questions arise, we simply enquire. If we get conflicting reports, we investigate. Bro. Genusa frames this discussion as if this is some incredibly difficult task. It is actually quite simple, as most brethren are impeccably honest, and willing to tell us what they believe.
For inter-ecclesial fellowship there is one step:
- External conformance to first principles of the Gospel, the commandments of Christ, and a rejection of doctrines that negate the first principles of the Gospel (doctrines to be rejected).
This is true.
Now, ask yourself, does unity in Christ begin and end with external conformance to ecclesial standards (Rom. 2:28; Matt. 23:27; 2 Cor. 10:7; 1 Pet 3:3)? If breaking bread is "total oneness of the whole Body", in other words, if the Fellowship has already judged you as "in worldwide fellowship", a member of the One Body, just because you meet the external standards and broke bread, why then examine yourself? I can hear readers saying "Of course, self-examination. We know that is required", but there is much more to this point than literally meets the eye.
Notice how bro. Genusa changes the subject here. To this point, we have been discussing what we might call the doctrine of fellowship as it applies to us today, in our existing lives. Bro. Genusa now wants us to consider matters relating to "the One Body" which, as we have already pointed out, we have no right or authority to make any judgment upon whatsoever. Entrance into the body of Christ, is a decision belonging to Christ alone. Breaking of bread in our ecclesias is a total oneness of the whole body of believers. It is a world wide, and even a time wide body. It is a fundamental act of obedience. But it is not an act that initiates an individual into the "One Body." A fellowship saves no one. Just because you meet, or for that matter, fail to meet the requirements of a fellowship, that is not some sort of guarantee of entrance into, or exclusion from the "Body of Christ." That judgment belongs to Christ alone. Obedience in fellowship is simply an act of obedience we are required to perform at this time.
If you have already achieved unity with the brethren of Christ and with Christ through the breaking of bread, why does the inspired Apostle Paul command us "let a man examine himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28) before we break the bread? The clear implication at that point is not to judge one another because external conformance to ecclesial standards has already been met -- ecclesial duty has been fulfilled to the extent it is both commanded and capable of performing. This is a very important point to understand.
You haven't achieved unity with Christ, simply by obeying the doctrine of fellowship. No fellowship that I know of, suggests you have. The notion is absurd. Note how bro. Genusa has to blur principles which should be held in juxtaposition to each other, in order to mystify his followers. The reason why we must examine ourselves, is because we have not finished our race. There is no implication, simply at the breaking of bread to not judge others. It is a universal law, not a time specific one related to the Breaking of Bread, that we do not judge who is in the "One Body." If the external standards have been met, we break bread with our brothers and sisters, without speculation as to who is really in the body of Christ, and who is not.
It is here, at the point of self-examination, that external ecclesial fellowship may begin a transformation into fellowship in Christ and with the Father and all his children, on an individual by individual basis.
Well, obeying the doctrine of fellowship is no different than any of the other commands we are called upon to obey. Obeying the doctrine of fellowship does not begin a transformation into the fellowship of Christ, any more than any other act of obedience we are called upon to obey does. Obedience is evidence of the transformation which should already have occurred. It is not the transformation itself. Fellowship into the "One Body," does not actually occur until judgment. Though there is a very real sense in which the redeemed have fellowship now, just as there is a very real sense in which the redeemed are now saved. But none of it is guaranteed to specific individuals.
So then, we must judge ourselves (1Cor. 11:31; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 6:4) and that self-judgment can only be based on our individual level of knowledge and maturity.
This is true.
The thoroughness of that self-judgment, or lack thereof, is known only in part by the individual, but in full detail by Christ, the Father and the angels. It cannot be known to the ecclesia much less a worldwide Fellowship. No one of sound mind would contradict this point. OK, then it is clear that something more is required than external conformance and breaking bread to be accepted as "in fellowship" by Christ: internal holiness and self-examination — and you must admit that the local ecclesia is already incapable of making sure each individual is genuinely holy and has properly examined themself as part of step two (James 1:22; Matt 7:21-25; Luke 6:46-48; Luke 12:47; John 13:17; Romans 2:13). It must be emphasized that even the local ecclesia has no idea whether each individual has made the required self-examination and whether it has been done as Christ would have it done. Letthat complete lack of knowledge sink in for a minute. Good. Let's continue the thought through to its conclusion.
No one of sound mind would make this point. It is comparing things that differ. There is such a thing as the doctrine of fellowship. That is what we are called upon to obey in our lifetime. There is also such a thing as fellowship with the "One Body." Of this, no ecclesia or fellowship can make any judgment. It is a judgment reserved to Christ himself. You will notice that bro. Genusa continually needs to blur the line between what we are required to judge, and what Christ alone can judge, in order to confuse his followers. We might call this the missing link. In order for bro. Genusa to rain page after page of condemnation upon those he disagrees with, he has to invent a doctrine for them. But notice he never proves with quotes from brethren, that those he opposes holds this doctrine he invents for them. He can't find the quote where some brother says that to be in fellowship with such and such a group, is to be in the fellowship of the redeemed.
The ecclesia is required to judge the things it can judge. It can judge what a man teaches. It can judge what a man claims to believe. It can judge if a man walks openly disorderly in his life. But, there are things that the ecclesia, whether local or distant are forbidden to judge. Such things include motives pertaining to love, hope, faith, unity, purity, and holiness. Essentially anything that requires reading the hearts and minds of our brethren, are strictly forbidden to us. This should not need to sink in. It should be self obvious. We recognize that knowledge brings responsibility. We are responsible for things we can and do know, we are not responsible for things we can't possibly know.
Self-judgment is not the final judgment. Christ alone judges the thoughts and the intents of the heart (John 5:22; Hebrews 4:12; Ecc. 12:14). This judgment is known only to Christ, the Father and the angels. Not even the individual knows Christ's judgment, during this age. (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18; 1st Cor. 4:5; Romans 2:16)
This is true.
Whereas there was only one step required for local ecclesial fellowship and for inter-ecclesial fellowship, there are three distinct steps to fellowship and unity in Christ and the One Body:
- External conformance to first principles of the Gospel, the commandments of Christ, and a rejection of doctrines that negate the first principles of the Gospel (doctrines to be rejected).
- Internal holiness and self-judgment.
- The judgment performed by Christ (John 5:22) and acceptance of the individual by Christ, the results of which are known only to Christ, the Father and His angels.
One of the most peculiar features of Genusism, is his desire to judge in Christ's stead. His article "Understanding Self" is unique in Christadelphian history in this regard. The rest of us would never try to determine or limit what will be the basis upon which Christ makes his decision. While we can agree with his points 2 & 3, as they are vague enough not to infringe upon standards which would be known to Christ alone, and quite frankly, probably vary from individual to individual; his number one is way past the pale.
In all Christadelphian history, the standard for what an individual must, or must not believe to be acceptable at Christ's return has been exemplified by the words of bro. Thomas:
Categorical Answers on the Subject (the flesh) a Year Before His Death
3rd.—"Was the flesh of Jesus from his birth by Mary pure, holy, spotless, undefiled? Answer: ‘No.’"
4th.—"Had he not been put to death violently, would he have lived for ever? Answer: ‘No.’"
5th.—"Did he stand in the same relation to ‘the law of sin and death’ as Adam did before he transgressed? Answer: ‘Answered above.’"
6th.—"Can a man be justified who believes the things implied in these questions concerning the nature of Jesus? Answer: ‘The Lord will settle this question at the judgment?’"
From Christadelphian Magazine 1873, pg. 364[/QUOTE]
If bro. Thomas was not willing to usurp Christ's authority and say that the belief that Christ came in the defiled flesh common to all mankind, was an essential belief, but rather yielded all judgment on such things to Christ, then one must truly marvel at bro. Genusa who wants to try and set limits on what Jesus may or may not require from his servants. While we believe that there is such a thing as the truth, and there is such a thing as error, and while we believe that obedience to the doctrine of fellowship requires that we fellowship those who walk in the truth, and withdraw from those who embrace error; we place no limits on what Christ may or may not do with his servants at his return.
Notice that both our ability and responsibility to judge others ends with step one. This is far short of giving us the power or authority to claim what brother Growcott claims. Our ability to judge our self ends with step two. Now we are considering only our self and we are impossibly short of brother Growcott's claim. The results of the judgment by Christ, step three, is not known in this age: neither by the individual, nor the local ecclesial table of fellowship and certainly not a worldwide Fellowship/Church. To take the Mosaic type, the High Priest is still in the Most Holy ministering. Whether the sacrifice offered has been accepted or not is not revealed until the High Priest leaves the Most Holy: that is, at the judgment-seat.
Bro. Growcott makes no such claim as bro. Genusa imagines, and neither do the Bereans today. All judgment by the ecclesia ends, as bro. Genusa says, with his step one. This is the doctrine of fellowship in our existing Berean ecclesias. We would consider any efforts by the ecclesia to judge matters in bro. Genusa's 2 & 3 to be an infringement upon the doctrine of fellowship, a violation of the unity which should exist in and among ecclesias. We have demonstrated time after time in our 96 years of existence, that we will not accept either additions or subtractions to our basis of fellowship. And again, though our judgment ends with step one, this in no way means we limit the mercy and judgment of Christ towards his servants. Bro. Genusa has correctly given us an explanation of the symbology of the High Priest in the Holy Place, under Moses' law. But he confuses the things we must judge in our lifetimes, with things Christ will judge, when he comes out of Heaven, the Most Holy Place.
Each local ecclesia is responsible for itself in its internal and external relations with individuals and other ecclesias. There is no worldwide fellowship except to those who are genuinely abiding "in Christ". Men may create worldwide Fellowships (Unions of ecclesias) but they cannot create The Apostles' fellowship. It exists and is exclusively regulated by Christ. My brethren, please stop confusing yourselves by claiming worldwide fellowship just because step one has been met. Christ and the Apostles never charged you with claiming such a thing or being responsible for what you cannot possibly judge. If you cannot possibly judge every remote individual, why would you recklessly claim worldwide fellowship "without exception"? Christ alone is responsible for joining "in himself" (worldwide, universal &c), those who are faithful from the local ecclesia and the ecclesia 12,451 miles away.(John 5:22; Eph. 2:15, 20-22; Eph. 4:15-16). Do your part individually, then ecclesially, and Christ does the rest. He expects no less, and he expects no more than what is reasonable.
I would put it more clearly that each ecclesia is responsible for itself, in its internal and external relations with individuals within its ecclesia, and with other ecclesias. Ecclesias do not judge individuals in other ecclesias, or become involved in other ecclesias affairs, except as outlined in the Birmingham Constitution, when a former member from one ecclesia applies to another ecclesia for fellowship. This principle, exercised world wide, becomes a world wide fellowship, whether by design or by default. It is not the formation of the "One Body," which as bro. Genusa said previous, cannot be established till Christ returns.
Bro. Genusa says men may create worldwide Fellowship (Unions of ecclesias). Good. This, in fact, is what we have done with the Berean Christadelphians. Then he says there is no world wide fellowship except to those who are genuinely abiding "in Christ." That is not true. As bro. Genusa says, We cannot say who is genuinely abiding in Christ, but we are commanded countless times in the Scriptures, to fellowship one another. So we do fellowship one another in our lifetimes, in ecclesias all over the world, thus creating a worldwide fellowship. But also, we are in full knowledge that our fellowship with one another is a matter of obedience in this lifetime, and not a usurpation over Christ's prerogative to choose who does and who does not make up that "One Body" at his return.
Now, notice bro. Genusa makes another effort at blurring the two principles which should remain separate. He blends "the Apostle's Fellowship" with the fellowship of those who are truly abiding "in Christ" or the "One Body" who Christ will establish at his return. This is false, and very poor Scriptural exegesis. "The Apostle's Fellowship" (Acts 2:42) was the name given to those ecclesias formed in the first century, who abided in the teaching of the apostles. They were ecclesias formed exactly as our ecclesias today are formed, with the exception that that leadership was Spirit led. But they were made up of individuals, some who will ultimately make up the "One Body," and some who will not. That they were not the "One Body" is evidenced by the apostle Paul's words to them:
[QUOTE]Act 20:29-30 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.[/QUOTE]
"Of your own selves," that is out of the body known as "the Apostle's Fellowship" would this perversion to divine principles grow. So there is no possibility that the Apostle's Fellowship was a definition of the "One Body."
There is no confusion in claiming fellowship with ecclesias worldwide. It is a fact, not a confusion. Nor is there any confusion that to claim fellowship with brethren worldwide, is to judge the motive or salvation of brethren, that is, to usurp Christ's authority. This is simply an invention of bro. Genusa's own mind, nowhere found in the minds of the brethren, current or past.
Ecclesial fellowship and fellowship with the Father and Christ are two distinct states of fellowship. One occurs on earth, the other is spiritual with the Father and Christ in Heaven. The measures are different, one judged locally and the other judged in Heaven. The first is judged fallibly by mortals with limited abilities and clear but limited responsibilities; and the other judged infallibly and by the all-knowing Firstfruits from the dead. The Way, outwardly, is the same; and the same "loaf" of bread is broken by all. But The Way, inwardly, is often not completed. The success of each individual in attaining fellowship with the Father, His Son and the One Body is not a guaranteed constant and never to be presumed upon, unless you are going to adopt the false "once saved always saved" doctrine as well. (It isn't hard to see how these false doctrines amalgamate over time.)
Bro. Genusa offers these great words of wisdom, as if it is some new discovery he has made. This is nothing new, but the things believed by all Christadelphians from the beginning. What is new is bro. Genusa's accusations that the Bereans, or other bodies, confuse "the One Body" with the obedience in fellowship we are called upon to perform in our lifetimes. There is no such confusion, and never has been. The fellowship practices we exercise today, are the ones commanded by Christ. We have no illusions that our fellowshipping someone, constitutes either theirs, or our salvation.
Once you start claiming responsibility for maintaining standards 10,000 miles away, and claiming universal or worldwide fellowship just because bread has been broken under the denominational name of a man-made Fellowship Institution, or claiming worldwide fellowship "without exception", you are developing a universal Church, you are practicing universal Church doctrine — not Apostolic. You have begun to take away judgment that ought to be developed IN the individuals in each ecclesia, not FOR each ecclesia and certainly not FOR a worldwide Fellowship/Church. You are usurping the judgment of Christ to constitute "the heavenlies" (just as the apostasy usurps the judgment of Christ at funerals by pronouncing the dead as now alive in Heaven). The slow creep to the apostasy of a universal Church has set in while you think you are being faithful to Christ, and you think you are doing God service.
"They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." — Christ Jesus
Bro. Genusa's perspective of these things is so wrong, that it renders him incapable of carrying on a reasonable discussion. All he can do is create some missing link, or some straw man who doesn't exist. Then when he is challenged to prove his missing link, he simply ignores the challenge. He must do this, for if he was ever to try to prove the things he alleges, his whole house of cards would collapse. Observe here, how he has again used his invented perspective, a false perspective, to insinuate confusion where no confusion exists, and condemn brethren simply doing the best they can to obey Christ.
The statement bro. Genusa is condemning, is a quote from bro. Growcott at the beginning of this page. "We are in fellowship with those 10,000 miles away to just as great a degree as those with whom we meet weekly." Note how he subtly changes bro. Growcott's words, to enable his condemnation: "Once you start claiming responsibility for maintaining standards 10,000 miles away,". Bro. Growcott has said nothing about having the responsibility to maintain standards in another ecclesia. But because bro. Genusa is so anxious to condemn, he invents positions for those he disagrees with, which they would know nothing about.
Establishing fellowship between ecclesias world wide, each ecclesia which has the same beliefs and same goals, is a wonderful thing, not something to be condemned. How can such agreement, be said to infringe upon judgments which belong to individual ecclesias, if the individual ecclesias already agree? Christadelphian fellowships are simply associations of ecclesias which agree, and therefore maintain their own standards. If an ecclesia ceases to agree with the association, it goes out from the association, and if it will not go out of its own, its removal is forced by the others ecclesias in the association But these decision are always made by each individual ecclesia, never by a fellowship. There is no usurping of judgment pertaining to Christ anywhere, except in the imagination of bro. Genusa. There is simply the judgment of individual ecclesias, doing the best they can according to the commandments of Christ.
Yes, we suppose if Christadelphian fellowships set up hierarchical systems to settle matters for individual ecclesias, then bro Genusa would have a point. But where does he ever direct our attention to such an hierarchical system? He doesn't, because he can't. Such systems do not exist outside of bro. Genusa's own mind.
Have these words which Christ spoke a powerful application to our day, to an apostasy from God's doctrine and practice of fellowship? Clearly they have an application to those who "cast out" and deny fellowship to Scripturally qualified brothers and sisters.
This is the point, isn't it? Christadelphians disagree on what constitutes those brethren with whom we fellowship, to be "Scripturally qualified brothers and sisters." No Christadelphian wants to deny fellowship, where it should be Scripturally extended. But we disagree on what doctrines and behaviors should be fellowshipped, and what should not. This disagreement is not intended to be a judgment of who Christ will deem worthy to be the "One Body" and who will not, as bro. Genusa alleges. It is not intended to be a "casting out" as bro. Genusa alleges. Rather, it is simply judging ourselves, and standing aside, not wanting to be responsible for certain beliefs and behaviors. But invariably, those who find their beliefs and practices outside the beliefs of some other fellowship, feels they have been judged unworthy, and say they have been "cast out."
This has been an issue in the Christadelphian movement from the beginning. Bro. Genusa takes the position of the opponents of the Christadelphian movement, fulfilling the prophesies of bre. Thomas and Roberts concerning those who attack our position. He says we "cast off." He says we "excommunicate." All these charges were made by the enemies of the truth against bre. Thomas and Roberts. First from bro. Thomas, note how he responds to those who call him "Pope" because he will not fellowship with them:
INTOLERANCE OF LIBERALISM.
" In endeavouring to guard against sectarian intolerance, we are liable to treat the strict requirements of the gospel with looseness. * * * Because others have rejected from their fellowship the humble Christian, we should not receive the unsanctified into our bosom"—Expositor, p.175.
The above is true. The treating the strict requirements of the gospel with looseness, is the crying sin of the piety of this age of gospel profession. By "the requirements of the gospel" are meant, we suppose, the requirements of the Lord Jesus and his apostles in their teaching. He required that, for men to be recognized as his disciples, they should believe the word or gospel he preached in Judea ; and that such believers should be baptized. This requirement, however, is almost universally disregarded. It is too sectarian and intolerant for the generality, whose " Christian charity and liberality" rejoices in unbounded toleration of "opinions" for all who do not call in question their Christianity; that is, the scripturality of what they teach as gospel, and the obedience it requires. With all their " liberality," they have no tolerance for such an "opinion" as this. It is "exclusive," "unchristian," and " Ishmaelitish. To try their foundation by a logical application of the word, is to become " greater than our father Abraham or the apostles," and to set up for a Pope, [my emphasis-jp]or a manufacturer of iron bedsteads ! Admit that their recognition of the divine sonship of Jesus, with ignorance, or denial, of the gospel he preached, is a scriptural foundation for a man to be placed upon by immersion, and you are a very liberal, Christian, and charitable person. This admission, with piety, constitutes a " humble Christian" of modern type, who cannot be rejected from fellowship by any without universal condemnation and execration. Upon such premises, however, the Pope and all his associates are admissible to fellowship, and the man is an Ishmaelite that rejects their Christianity by a logical application of the word against it. He sets up for a pope who denies the Pope's gospel to be the gospel of Christ by a logical application of Scripture ! "Who art thou that judgest thy brother ?"— " Who made thee the judge of another man's servant"—thus, by such taunts as these, they would silence the application of your discourse! It is the essence of " liberal Christianity" to riot in unbounded licence of discourse, with intense and angry intolerance of the "application" of the same.
Bro. Roberts similarly came under attack by those with bro. Genusa's views, as well. He was called "the Pope" and he was accused of "excommunicating" the brethren, just as those of us who have separated from some in Christadelphia also are charged.
[QUOTE]"Withdrawal, too, when it comes (it must be noted), is not expulsion. It is the apostolic form of separation which, though practically equivalent to expulsion in its effects on the separated, is more in harmony with the spirit enjoined by Christ upon his house than the form in vogue among professing bodies of all sorts. Withdrawal means that those withdrawing do modestly and sorrowfully step aside from the offender for fear of implication in his offence. Expulsion means thrusting out, which is a different thing, and implies and generates the arrogant attitude of ecclesiastical excommunication. the careful preservation of right forms in these things is a help to the preservation of the right spirit."[/QUOTE]
What is the "popery" that some cry out about, but inflexible insistence on the right-with courtesy where possible, but always with inflexibility. Would the outcriers do less than insist on the right?
"Oh no," say they, "but you are not the judge of the right."
Who is? Is it you? Suppose they say, "No one." What then? Is there no right?
"Oh yes," they may say, "but it is for each man to judge for himself."
Very good: "each man"-and we as well? Are we not to judge for ourselves? Must we accept their judgment? Must we make "popes" of them?
Our friends are not reasonable with us. We judge for ourselves alone in all matters of faith and practice. We impose our judgment on no one. If we cannot agree with the critics, we are sorry. If others agree with us, we ask in vain for the one hundreth time, why are we to be charged with this as a crime?[/QUOTE]
This is the key. We all judge for ourselves, and make fellowship decisions accordingly. And it is the point bro. Genusa has repeatedly refused to address, hiding instead behind figments of his imagination through which he accuses brethren of things they simply do not believe. And which, by the way, he makes no point to prove they believe. The "missing link," as it were.
To claim then,
"We are in fellowship with those 10,000 miles away to just as great a degree as those with whom we meet weekly." (G. V. Growcott, The Berean magazine, 1980, p. 12)
is to confuse the external/physical with the internal/spiritual and to let zeal outrun a sound understanding of Apostolic doctrine and practice. Worse, it leads to sinful fellowship practices; sinning against those for whom Christ died (3rd John 9-11); and therefore sinning against the Lord himself (Matt. 25:45; Matt. 10:40; Mark 9:7, 48; John 13:20) and ultimately God. It is a complete failure to discern the Lord's body in its two distinct manifestations (the earthly and the heavenly).
This again, is simply bro. Genusa's imagination, run amuck. In embracing fellowship among brethren with nearly identical beliefs, from all over the world, there is strength and encouragement in this dark age. There is no confusion such as bro. Genusa alleges. We have never heard of brethren confusing, or even implying that the fellowship of the "One Body" of the kingdom age, is the same thing as fellowship in our modern times. We have neither read or heard such things out of the mouth or pen of anyone, save bro. Genusa. The lone possible exception being an argument in an old Christadelphian by a bro. Lemuel Edwards, who bro. Roberts corrected.
If you belong to a worldwide Christadelphian Fellowship and are serious about serving God in Truth, ask defenders of your Fellowship to explain how fellowship works. If they can only cite passages like 1st John 1:7 but offer no explanation of the principles of fellowship; if they make no distinction between ecclesial fellowship vs. fellowship in Christ; if they blur the line between the two; if they claim worldwide fellowship of all those in the worldwide manmade Fellowship who break bread; if their answer is to denounce those who make a distinction in ecclesial fellowship and fellowship in Christ; you'll know they haven't got the doctrine of fellowship worked out themselves despite episkopos claims to the contrary.
Note: I want to make it clear that I do not challenge or dare to question brother Growcott's personal righteousness. I have read Be Ye Transformed. I would not want to be compared with him at the judgment-seat. What I do challenge, and I do so on the command to contend earnestly for the Faith, are 1) His doctrine and practice of fellowship which were, as just demonstrated, unscriptural 2) His editorial practices which even some Bereans have distanced themselves from [Fred Higham "Jr" objects to this statement. In response I note thatThe Berean Ecclesial News (BEN) magazine, in the September 2007 issue, called the Berean Common Constitution "simply an article" in The Berean magazine, and saying The Bereanmagazine was purely a private concern of G. V. Growcott: both statements made as a way of downplaying The Berean Common Constitution of the "Unified and Universal" Berean Basis of Fellowship. Normal people would not read statements as made in the BEN article and see them as an embrace of, or even support of, the editorial decisions wholly placed by BEN on the shoulders of bro. Growcott. The Common Constitution was part of the 27 year published Berean basis of fellowship and printed after bro. Growcott's death, including by the BEN magazine in June 2007 as a "Removable Section for Reference". Simple articles are not published as a "Removable Section for Reference". This is another case of wanting to have it both ways: Unequivocal support for bro. Growcott but equivocal support for "simply an article" (that incidentally (?) for 27 years was published as the official Berean basis of fellowship as a "Removable Section for Reference")].
We have already shown that bro. Genusa has not even tried to show us the unscriptural nature of bro. Growcott's argument. He has given us one statement from bro. Growcott that he disagrees with. But to prove it unscriptural, bro. Genusa rewrote bro. Growcott's statement in a completely unjustified manner, claiming bro. Growcott taught something, he never taught. Then, without establishing that bro. Growcott taught such a ridiculous argument that a fellowship among ecclesias is identical to the fellowship of the "One Body" determined by Christ, bro. Genusa pulled point after point out of his own imagination to criticize the Berean Christadelphians, and groups like them.
As for disagreeing with bro. Growcott's editorial policy, bro. Genusa can disagree with this, if he likes. None of us will complain. We'll just simply hold a different opinion than bro. Genusa, that's all. We presume bro. Genusa is not suggesting that how bro. Growcott chose his editorial policies for the time in which he was editor, is alleged to be a violation of first principles. We note that bro. Genusa wants the privilege to insist upon what is "official" for the Berean Christadelphians, and what is not. We choose not to give him this privilege.
"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."
"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder"
"Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after."
"But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
"Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the ecclesia: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. I wrote unto the ecclesia: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the ecclesia. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?"
"But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another."
"But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
"Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
We are not unmindful of the responsibilities attached to these verses. Like most things in the Truth, the are sober and serious, and cut both ways. It is absolutely fundamental not to exclude brethren who walk uprightly in the truth. It is equally fundamental not to extend fellowship where Christ has forbidden it.
|"'Justice.'—Your proposal for the simultaneous adoption of a common statement of faith by all the ecclesias is made with the best of objects; but it could not accomplish the end you seek. It is not possible in the present state of things to bring all to harmony and stop the mouths of talkers. If the Apostles did not succeed in this, none else need hope to do so. We can but do our best and let things take their course."|
Robert Roberts, The Christadelphian, 1881, p. 572
"J. S.—Every ecclesia must manage its own affairs till the Lord come. It is doubtless grievous to righteous men to see things go wrong, but beyond arbitration by consent, no outside assistance can be brought to bear except the moral support that comes from the endorsement of intelligent men. This you would doubtless have when the facts were known. Our helpless position makes us sigh for the day of the Great Shepherd, who has said that offences must need be, but woe to that man by whom they come. Accept the position with as much patience as you can command."
Robert Roberts, The Christadelphian, 1872
Every ecclesia may have its own statement of faith, providing the things itemized in the BASF are included, and nothing is repudiated. This is no contradiction to the teachings of bre. Thomas and Roberts.
So must every ecclesia order its own affairs. This would not include tolerating error in an ecclesia, but be limited to the order and arrangements of the operation of the ecclesia. Brethren should always submit to one another in such things, as specified in Clause 5 of the Common Constitution. Ecclesias usually allow a great deal of variance in such matters.