Breaking Bread with “Them”?
In the June, 1901 issue of the Christadelphian Advocate bro. Williams had this to say about the issue of Unity:
"It is not
to be wondered that brethren are making pleas for unity, in view of the
situation generally, and especially in
"It is to be feared that the danger we are now speaking of is overlooked by some who are crying out for 'unity.' Their cry is to be respected and sincerely sympathized with; but disregard of duties incumbent upon a faithful maintenance of the Truth and pure fellowship based upon fundamental principles must be condemned and carefully guarded against."
(June, 1901 Editorial, p. 219 - emphasis added)
Not directly connected to the above quote but along the same lines, we have heard it occasionally mentioned regarding our relationship to the Amended that, "that they won't break bread with us, but we will break bread with them." Though some (many?) Unamended individuals and ecclesias may in fact embrace such an attitude or policy the sender of this e-mail finds this to be a dangerous if not incorrect way of viewing the matter. As bro. Williams warns in the provided quote, there are "real doctrinal differences of a serious character" dividing the Amended from the Unamended. Why would we be willing to fellowship with those who differ with us on vital doctrines? Bro. Williams was a man who worked steadfastly for unity, but clearly he recognized that true unity could only be achieved when vital truths are not compromised - and conditions were such even 100 years ago that real doctrinal unity did not exist. What was true 100 years ago has proven to be even more pronounced today- despite claims to the contrary.
I find it disconcerting to think that some of us (i.e, the Unamended) would be all to willing to break bread with the Amended if they were to somehow open the doors wide to us. In a very real sense to have the "we will break bread with them" attitude is to deny the importance and vital character of some of the doctrines that separate the two communities. The following questions (to name a few) have to be considered:
· Are we willing to fellowship those who deny the legal principal of Adamic Condemnation?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who think we can be "in Adam" and "in Christ" at the same time?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who deny that we are alienated from God from our birth due to the Adamic Nature we are born with?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who think that it is not until we commit our first personal transgression that we are alienated?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who do not believe that we pass out of the Law of Sin and Death at our baptism?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who believe that "sin in the flesh" represents only a "propensity to sin" rather then an actual Sin principal in our flesh that needs atonement?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who believe that Christ himself did not need atonement?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who believe that baptism is only for the forgiveness of personal sin?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who believe that it is "light"/"knowledge" that brings us from the grave to appear before Christ's Judgment Seat rather then "the blood of the everlasting covenant"?
· Are we willing to fellowship those who have absolutely no understanding or comprehension of what they believe regarding the above mentioned issues and doctrines- whether they call themselves Amended or Unamended?
Whether certain Amended fall under all the points mentioned above, a few of the points, or only one point (and we recognize that the issues vary throughout the Amended community) - the issues are such that to say "we will break with them" shows either a degree of carelessness or a lack of understanding of the matter when considering the subject of fellowship between the Amended and Unamended. Clearly there is not unity between the Amended and Unamended on these issues - and it should be our sincere hope that the Unamended community itself can find doctrinal unity and a shared conviction as to the importance of these doctrines. If others do not share with us the same understanding on the above mentioned doctrines why would we be so willing to break bread with them? Why would they be willing to break bread with us if we do not agree on fundamental issues such as these? And if there are Amended individuals who do share with us the same beliefs then we would hope that they would embrace the Unamended position - but once they did so there could be no going back in forth. "Light" can have no fellowship with "darkness".
Unity and true fellowship, as it is defined in the scriptures, cannot exist where agreement on vital truths is lacking. Let us keep that in mind as we consider who we are willing to break bread with. “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” I Corinthians 1:10.