Purpose

To: All Amended brothers and sisters in the Great Lakes Region

Beloved brethren,

Loving greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Seeking to unite Amended and Unamended ecclesias in North America is the expressed desire of us all, even as Paul beseeches us in Ephesians 4 “that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  Evidence of this desire for unity has been expressed in many ways in the Great Lakes region; indeed, over a decade has been spent on documents and processes to unify the two communities.    Many  brethren,  sincere  in  their  desire  to  unite,  have  sought  to  work  through  the doctrinal differences existing between the two communities, and to come to a mutual understanding of each  other’s  fellowship  practice  as each  believes  it is taught  in the  Scriptures.  This  desire  to unite resulted  in the  North  American  Statement  of Understanding  (NASU),  in many  local  ecclesial  based unity attempts, in the Midwest Unity Agreement, in a document built upon the NASU by four Toronto ecclesias called the Unity Agreement 2008 (UA08), and lastly in a proposal to restore unity by five southwestern  ecclesias  in the Great Lakes region.   Unfortunately  to date, all of these attempts  have failed to truly unite our two communities.

Our focus in this booklet is the UA08/NASU, which was proposed in 2008 as a sound basis for reunion. All Amended ecclesias in the Great Lakes Region were encouraged to examine the agreement as to its merits and were encouraged to support it.  Sadly, three years later we find the implementation of this document  has had a devastating  impact on the Amended  community.   Inter-ecclesial  fellowship  has been suspended in some cases, and severely strained in others.  Brothers and sisters who once worked in  harmony  now  find  themselves   in  opposition.     Instead  of  being  a  document  that  unites,  the UA08/NASU  has  proven  to be  one  that  divides  and  as time  passes,  we  fear  the  division  will  grow deeper and more permanent.

First principles involving resurrectional  responsibility,  the nature of man, and baptism are explained in the  UA08/NASU  in a manner  which  accommodates  two  distinct  points  of view,  depending  from whose perspective the document is read. It accepts a fellowship practice that changes the Central community’s  ecclesial-based  understanding  of  fellowship  and  promotes  an  individual  conscience-based fellowship practice.  The manner in which the UA08/NASU has been implemented redefines the teaching  of resurrectional  responsibility  as a first principle,  to being only a matter of conscience,  in which the doctrinal views of both the Amended and Unamended communities are accommodated in fellowship.  This is how Thomas Williams, a leading Unamended brother in North America defined the issue in the early 1900s, and why he would not make resurrectional responsibility a test of fellowship. While he viewed the doctrinal issue significantly different than brother Roberts and the Central community, he simultaneously contended that the different doctrinal beliefs between the two communities should not prevent fellowship and was highly critical of the Central community for doing so.

We believe the UA08/NASU and its implementation represent a departure from the Truth in accommodating errors that have never before been given a place in our community.   If accepted, they result  in  permanent   changes   to  our  doctrine,   a  distortion   of  our  fellowship   practice,   and  the undermining of our Statement of Faith.  These changes compromise our commitment to the worldwide community to uphold the Truth in doctrine and in fellowship.  These errors include:

  1. The  elimination  of  the  BASF  as  the  touchstone  for  inter-ecclesial  fellowship  within  North America.
  2. Replacing a common basis of fellowship accepted by all amended ecclesias (i.e., extending fellowship to the Central community only on the basis of the BASF), with multiple bases of fellowship  that  vary  from  ecclesia  to  ecclesia  and  from  week  to  week.    It  would  support fellowship outside the Central community, even with those who do not share our beliefs.
  3. Ecclesial autonomy in respect of fellowship practice superseding Ecclesial responsibility to the greater body of Christ, thus wrongly empowering each ecclesia to determine what is acceptable for fellowship.
  4. The  enshrinement   of  certain   Unamended   erroneous   beliefs  in  the  NASU,  teaching   them alongside the Truth and making them a permanent addition to our community’s beliefs.   This makes the NASU doctrinally ambiguous and unsuitable for an effective reunion.
  5. A rejection of over 100 years of scriptural exposition and counsel from pioneer brethren in our community regarding the need to uphold Clause 24 as a first principle and a test of fellowship, and to exclude from fellowship those who deny it.
  6. Forfeiting  our ability  to teach  our young  people  and interested  friends  that the Bible clearly teaches they are responsible to a resurrectional judgment based upon God’s calling through the gospel.  The result is that no single view can be taught to the exclusion of another because fellowship  is  extended  to  accommodate  different  doctrinal  views  on  resurrectional responsibility.

The  information  contained  in  this  booklet  is  our  appeal  to  brothers  and  sisters  to  consider  our concerns with the UA08/NASU document and process, and to provide clarification on doctrine and fellowship practice which can be used as a resource to redress the drift toward error.  This resource contains this booklet and four taped public addresses on this subject given on Jan. 14, 2012 which can be viewed at http://comeletusreasontogetherstudyday.com.  DVD’s of the addresses are also available by contacting samemind@rogers.com.  The addresses are entitled:

  1. Except the LORD Build the House
  2. The Truth We Continue to Believe
  3. Why the NASU is not uniting the Christadelphian Community
  4. The Relationship of Doctrine and Fellowship

Our  loving  commitment  and  strong  desire  is  to  reestablish  unity  among  our  Amended  ecclesias without compromising first principle doctrine or changing the fellowship practice our ecclesias have committed to uphold as members of the worldwide Central community.  While we realize that going through  this material with Bible in hand may be time consuming,  we believe it is imperative  in the effort to restore the unity of our Amended ecclesias.  This will require the participation of all ecclesias, and that every brother and sister become educated  in these matters.   Paul states in Romans 15:5-­6 “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.