The Advocate's Role in Preserving the Truth

There have been many challenges to the Truth both preceding and subsequent to the inception of The Christadelphian Advocate. One of the focal points of this special issue is the continuity of Unamended Christadelphian doctrinal positions contended for within the Advocate since its inception, with the intent that the record of firm adherence to historic and fundamental unamended Bible based beliefs might contribute to the reader's reassurance and lively anticipation of the imminent realization of our hope.

Challenges are best addressed through exposition affirming the Truth, though it is equally necessary to defend those beliefs when opposing doctrines appear in our midst. As Thomas Williams wisely observed in an excerpt from his Editorial in the August 1886 Advocate: Some ask.

"Why is it that Christadelphians have trouble among themselves? " This is easily answered. Among them is a people who love the Truth, and in whose "good and honest hearts" the seed of the kingdom has taken root. They will have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness: they will not compromise the fundamental principles of the gospel; and so whenever it is found that there are evil men and seducers in the camp, there is a collision - there is war, the spirit in the one, warring against the flesh in the other. This trouble could be very easily obviated if those who war for the principles and precepts of the Spirit would only surrender, and compromise - agree to disagree, but in the very nature of things this cannot be done. God has not ordered it so. He has arranged it so that His servants will "earnestly contend for the faith;" that they will not give up their fidelity to God's Word, either in word or deed. Therefore as long as there exist two conflicting forces, which will be as long as the present unbridled condition of things lasts, there will be the much tribulation through which the "few" out of the "many" who are called will, as Jehovah's chosen ones, enter into that rest which remains for the children of God.

The Christadelphian Advocate has taken very seriously its role in preserving the Truth throughout the one hundred and twenty five year life of the magazine. However, it would be presumptuous for individuals involved in its oversight to not properly acknowledge the guiding hand of our Heavenly Father in the establishment and continued existence of the magazine. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Psalm 127:1).

The guiding principle of the Advocate is embodied in the statement: A monthly magazine in defense of the "Things Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ" as embraced in The Hope of Israel with a view to "Taking Out A People For Yahweh's Name," which has appeared on the cover since the inception of the magazine. The servants of Yahweh have been entrusted with the priceless possession of the Truth, and those who have served the Advocate throughout the years have sought to provide a balance of spiritual nourishment encompassing both exposition and defense of first principles as well as exhortations concerning proper conduct and walk consistent with those principles.

The following excerpts from Our Name and Object, the opening article in the initial Advocate (March 1885), provide an excellent summary of the responsibility that falls upon all who would publicly proclaim God's Truth: Our object is to declare to the dying race of humanity, the unadulterated word of the gospel, and to maintain that "form of sound doctrine delivered unto us." ... If the work cannot be carried on in accordance with the principles of the truth, which lead in none other than the "straight and narrow way," and if in pursuing the straight and narrow way it become crippled and fall for lack of financial support, then let it fall, rather than step out into the "broad way that lead to destruction." We shall then conclude that the Master has no use for us in this field of operation, and shall bow in humble submission to his will. ...The called out ones constituting the ecclesia - those who have embraced "the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ," are called by Paul "the pillar and ground of the truth." Let us then accept the responsibilities which this designation involves, and to see to it that there is none of the "ground," or standing room allowed to be occupied or encumbered by, nor that the "pillar" become a support for, anything that is not "truth." Let us look to ourselves that we loose not those things which we have gained... (II John ii, 8.)

The Unamended Christadelphian body throughout its history has been assailed and challenged both from within and without for its beliefs. One of the more controversial areas of conflict has concerned the nature and sacrifice of Christ, which we will here consider as representative of the foundation principles historically expounded upon and defended within the As is frequently the case, differences in understanding regarding the nature of Christ arise due to unbalanced views on the subject. One party may overemphasize the human aspect of Christ born of a woman, while an opposing viewpoint overstates the divine characteristics of Christ as the Son of God. The differences in understanding of this critical and fundamental doctrine, and their resulting effect upon fellowship, have occupied much time and effort throughout the history of the magazine.

Albert Hall, in his editorial The Principle of Fellowship in the September / October 1930 Advocate, refers to "some trenchant thoughts" in an article by Brother J. J. Andrew published in the The Christadelphian 1866, ...to which we invite your attention, as "proving to a demonstration" that the attitude towards " fellowship" in those days...(when Brethren Thomas, Roberts, Andrew, and Williams, with many other like minded brethren who, in their day, played a prominent part in the Truth's Warfare)...was not the "open table" for which an attempt is being made at this time to establish...They had "come out" and they felt that the scriptures required that they should as consistently as possible maintain that "separateness" to which they were called - that if the doctrine of Christ which, by their belief and acceptance, gave them fellowship with the Father and the Son was denied by false teaching their duty was to maintain the Truth against the error and to 'withdraw' from the "errorists."

Further along in that same editorial Brother Hall specifically addresses false teaching associated with the nature of Christ in that era: Many deceivers are entered into the world who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist... Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God...If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed, for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John ver. 7-11). Twelve years ago it was necessary to give effect to this injunction, in consequence of some abiding "not in the doctrine of Christ;" they admitted in words that Christ came in the flesh, but practically denied it by affirming that there was a difference between his flesh and that of his mother, Mary. The doctrine concerning Christ's nature is only one element of the truth, although a vital one.

During the reunion effort in the mid 1980's, the Advocate Publishing Committee outlined those unamended beliefs and teachings that define our faith and our community (September 1986 - The Nature of Man, The Nature and Sacrifice of Christ, Baptism, Covenant Relationship and Resurrectional Responsibility). Also, in the Open Letter On Unity Proposals in the April 2009 Advocate, it was deemed appropriate that those beliefs be reaffirmed, with teachings relating to The Nature of Christ addressed as follows: We believe the Bible teaches that by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation to death. Christ was one of the "all men" and during the days of his flesh death had dominion over him. Since the only Divine provision for escaping the dominion of death is the redemptive and sacrificial work of Christ, Jesus was the first beneficiary of his own sacrifice, that sacrifice being required to effect deliverance from the condemnation to death. His perfect obedience made him a perfect sacrifice for sin - a lamb free of the blemish of personal sins, yet at the same time bearing the sin-nature common to all of Adam's posterity.

The work of the Advocate throughout its years has contributed to the continued existence of the Unamended Christadelphian community, members of which today still embrace and defend those fundamental truths and doctrines as promulgated before the 1898 amendment to the Christadelphian Statement of Faith. Readers will find an abundance of exposition covering such principles as Adamic condemnation, the nature of man, baptism, resurrectional responsibility and judgment, partaking of the memorial emblems and fellowship, complemented by such exhortative topics as faith, love, and the commandments of Christ contained in the pages of the Advocate from 1885 to the present. Readers are encouraged to review this wealth of material and consider the spiritual benefits to be derived from such edifying testaments. Many of these works have provided strengthening reassurance in our heritage of spiritual treasure over the years as well as a lively anticipation of the imminent and glorious consummation of the Hope of Israel.

"The Difficulty Has Been To Find An Editor"

...your manifest faithfulness to the truth as a whole, has removed obstacles to co-operation, and made me feel that we can, with advantage to the truth, work together in a common endeavour to uphold the honor and supremacy of the Holy Scriptures in this cloudy and dark day.

The usefulness of a paper with local applications on the American continent must be recognized by every disinterested servant of the truth. The difficulty has been to find an editor inspired by the Scriptures and not by the maudlin literature of the day... who would have sufficient originality of insight to discern clearly, and sufficient independence of character to avow fearlessly the teaching of the Holy Oracles as distinguished from the impressions, opinions, and traditions of an unenlightened and carnally minded public, in the various issues and questions that inevitably arise on the frictions and fermentations of life; and at the same time, who would have that modesty of self-estimate and that kindness of speech and action that are the indispensible foundation of all true shepherd work in the truth, and without which all else is, as Paul says, mere "sounding brass" - a disagreeable and useless noise in the ears. So far as you may prove yourself an editor of this stamp, with wisdom enough to avoid personalities, which always turn to bitterness and destruction; and spirituality to write always, in matters great and small, under control of the law which enjoins the law of kindness, and non-return of railing for railing, you will be a welcome fellow-laborer to every man who truly loves our Lord Jesus Christ, and aims to do his will during these few and evil days.

Letter from Robert Roberts to Thomas Williams, September, 1888, p. 194-5