Question in relation to
An Unamended Brother involved with the NASU initiative wrote us the following question in regards to our understanding of the Responsibility issue. He writes:
I have a question regarding the following concluding paragraph of your "Unamended Christadelphian" page:
The sponsors of this web site, in contrast to our Amended counterparts, believe firmly that due to the Condemnation of Death that all men inherit from Adam (Romans 5), it is only by symbolic contact with the Blood of Christ (through baptism) that we can find release from the grave, according to the Laws that God Himself has established and revealed to us through His word (Romans 8:1, John 3:18, II Timothy 1:10).
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Jon 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
2Tim 1: 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
My question is: You have made the positive assertion as to who will be released from the grave "according to the Laws that God Himself has established", but do you have any verses that explicitly indicate who will not be released from the grave?
Here is an illustration of the problem.
The U.S.A. decided that too many Mexicans were illegally sneaking into the country.They devised a law that says that any and every Mexican found illegally crossing the border will be immediately detained for 3 years, then deported. This law may seem specific and clear. What do they do about the 5 Libyans who they catch sneaking in amongst a group of 500 Mexicans crossing the border illegally?
Can it be assumed that because they aren't specifically included that they are necessarily excluded?
In your material you mentioned two categories of Unamended Christadelphians, the "Traditional" and those who allow that God may raise others. I am trying to better understand what you call the "traditional" perspective.
Your Brother in Christ,
Our response was as follows:
Getting straight to the apparent point of your message you ask, "do you have verses that explicitly indicate who will not be released from the grave?" Quite frankly I am surprised by this question from you. Since you are involved with the current NASU effort I would assume that you would be fully aware of the arguments and scriptural passages that are used by both sides of the Responsibility argument, therefore you would understand that there are in fact no scriptural verses besides Isaiah 26:14 (in other words a "thus saith the LORD") that "explicitly indicates who will not be released from the grave". But along these lines it should also be mentioned that we have no explicit passage that state that-
· there is no immortal soul
· that there is no supernatural devil/Satan
· that there is no Trinity
We also have no "explicit" statement in the Promises made to Abraham that he would be "resurrected". Who is to say that the capitol city of the Coming Kingdom couldn't be somewhere else rather then Jerusalem? How do we come to very solid conclusions regarding these matters? Is it not by what is "positively" stated or "positively" inferred? We know Abraham will be resurrected because there is no other way that he could enjoy the eternal blessing promised to him. I can't find any explicit verse that states that the Kingdom will not be centered in Cairo, London, Washington D.C., etc. But the scriptures do positively deal with where the Kingdom will be centered. I would hope that you can see the point that is being made here. Many times what is only stated in "positive" terms is how we make a doctrinal stand, not by what is found in the shadows of human speculation.
To turn your initial question around - What versus can be provided that explicitly teach that others besides those in covenant relationship will be raised from the grave? I think you know the answer to that question. There are none. So on one hand we have the positive affirmation found in the scriptures that Resurrection comes by being "in Christ" though there are not any scriptures that explicitly deal with who will not be raised. Then on the other hand we have absolutely no scriptural evidence (positive or negative) that refer to those who are out of covenant being raised for judgment. If we put the two understandings in the balance which one comes out woefully deficient?
The scriptures REPEATEDLY and CLEARLY indicate that the Hope of Resurrection is directly and exclusively connected to the blood of Christ. Jesus himself rose from the dead through the operation of the "blood of the everlasting covenant". This is what the scriptures have revealed to us and it certainly was the urgent message of the Apostles in preaching the Gospel. Do you need a comprehensive listing of these passages?
I am afraid the illustration that you provided does not properly deal with the issue that we are considering here. Realize that in releasing individuals from the grave we are talking about God's revealed will and direct power. We are talking about being "In Christ" or "In Adam". There isn't any gray area here. Both are exclusive of each other. Being "In Christ" speaks of a very explicit status. The Apostles taught "through (in, Gr.= en) Jesus the resurrection from the dead". They didn't teach that light or knowledge was the basis of resurrection and that "you better be baptized to avoid being condemned when you are resurrected for knowing too much but not acting upon it". They taught that if you wanted to be resurrected that it had to be "through" (in) Christ. There isn't the ambiguity in God's laws that often appear in men's laws. The problem in this matter is only isolated to your illustration and has nothing to do with the clear and fluid teaching of the Scriptures.
Our ecclesia believes that the only hope man has of a resurrection from the grave is through Christ. I believe that point is clearly made on the web site. If others believe that God might raise some due to His own purpose or prerogative apart from any laws that He has revealed then we cannot make an issue out of that as long as they do not make the error of placing an uncovenanted individual at the Bema of Christ or think that we are raised due to light rather then the combination of light (knowledge) and covenant making - not forgetting the necessity of faith.
You had questions concerning our definition of what a "traditional" Unamanded belief is. I believe if you consider the context of what was written there is little room for question. It was stated in our explanation that,
"The traditional portion of the Unamended Community continues to contend that it is only through contact with the sacrificial work of Christ (through the waters of baptism) that there is any hope or guarantee of rising from the dead at Christ's return. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). Though there are Unamended that believe that God, based upon His own power and not by any laws that He has revealed, may raise some outside of covenant relationship to receive some special condemnation separate from the Judgment Seat of Christ, it is agreed that anything beyond what God has clearly revealed (that the "dead in Christ" will be raised) is mere speculation at best and not a test of fellowship."
There is not "two categories" (as you seem to want to infer) listed here by us as being traditional or non-traditional. Those who believe that God "may raise some outside of covenant relationship...separate from the Judgment Seat of Christ" are not labeled as something else as long as they believe that "it is only through contact with the sacrificial work of Christ (through the waters of baptism) that there is any hope or guarantee of rising from the dead at Christ's return." This was Thomas William's belief (who did not believe in the "Enlightened Rejector") throughout his tenure as editor of the Advocate and has always been the position of the Advocate, which has historically or traditionally been the voice of the Unamended community. My collection of Advocates go all the way back to 1885 so I know this to be true. I also have regularly attended four different bible schools within the Unamended community throughout my life and know that no other belief besides understanding the connection between covenant making and Resurrection as should concern us is tolerated. To be a traditional Unamended individual is to understand and embrace this point. This is why the Unamended Community exists because of its resistance to follow slipping trends in the understanding of the Atonement and its refusal to go along with the idea that it is light alone that makes us responsible to the Judgment Seat of Christ. If an individual does not believe what we describe as "traditional" Unamended belief then you are not Unamended but something else.
As you must realize the Responsibility issue is not as simple as some may wish to make it. There are different views of Resurrectional Responsibility. There have always been some views that have been tolerated within the Unamended community, but there are other views of the issue that nullify the atoning efficacy of Christ's shed blood that have not been allowed to be taught within the community.
I hope this clarifies for you where we stand in regards to this issue. If you wish to be provided with historical information or scriptural passages I would be pleased to provide them for you.
By such a question as this coming from one who should understand and represent the doctrinal interests of the Unamended community in the NASU effort, we cannot help but get the impression that long held beliefs in regards to the Responsibility Question within the Unamended community would not be tolerated if the NASU initiative were to be adopted across the continent. The fact remains that the traditional Unamended understanding (or what is termed by the Amended community as the “Advocate” position in regards to this issue even though such a belief was accepted previous to the division of 1898) is considered to be false doctrine by the Central Fellowship. The Unamended fellowship has consistently contended that the act of entering a Covenant with God through the blood of Christ is what makes us responsible to the Judgment Seat or bema of Christ. The Amended (to the extent of this writer’s knowledge) continue to contend that “light” or “knowledge” alone makes an individual (baptized or unbaptized) liable to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. It seems obvious that the Amended community is not willing to move on this point especially since the NASU document concedes that the BASF will be the standard for world-wide fellowship and also that no connection is made in the NASU wording that recognizes the relationship between covenant making and resurrection. It is too bad that the Unamended fellowship cannot be as firm on the issue of Resurrectional Responsibility on our side of the doctrinal fence as the Central fellowship is on theirs. They seem to show very little interest in compromising on this issue, so why do we?
It is disheartening to see some within the Unamended community cast doubts on Unamended beliefs regarding this subject. This should raise the question in our minds as to whether or not the Unamended members of the NASU committee really represent the beliefs of the Unamended fellowship or if they see that the only real way to achieve “unity” with the firm stand taken by the Central Fellowship on this issue is by a capitulation to the Amended view on the subject?