Appendix – Human or Ecclesial Traditions

The UA08 ecclesias insist that their fellowship practice is more in line with Central practice,27 and yet whenever those opposing the UA08/NASU have attempted to show this is not the case by using historical Christadelphian quotations, the UA08 ecclesias have accused them of placing human or ecclesial traditions over Bible study. “We note from the content of your ‘points of concern’ your strongly held affinity for the traditions of our community. We too have great thankfulness for the Christadelphian community and practices both here, in Southern Ontario, and worldwide. We are confident that each of you would agree with us that the fundamental tradition of our community is to value Bible study over human or ecclesial traditions.”28

One cannot have it both ways; how is it possible to measure the fellowship practice of the community without referring to the documentation that describes its practice? The question arises, are Christadelphian traditions relevant in the present crisis?

The first point to emphasize is that there are two kinds of traditions; the traditions of men and traditions based upon a Biblical foundation. The traditions of men are clearly rejected in the scriptures. The Lord Jesus Christ answered the scribes and Pharisees by asking, “why do ye also transgress the commandments of God by your tradition (Gk. ‘paradosis’ #3862)” (Matthew 15:3). Human traditions were tantamount to drawing nigh unto God with the mouth, and honouring God with the lips (verse 8). The traditions of men were strictly forbidden (Colossians 2: 8).

The UA08 ecclesias cite Matthew 15:9 in response to those who quote from Christadelphian writings, which is completely unfounded. The verse in question says, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” and was used in the context of setting traditions above truth. The question is, are Christadelphian traditions (as 100 years of accumulative Christadelphian writings have been described) equal to the traditions of men alluded to by the Lord Jesus Christ?

Biblically based traditions are completely different from human traditions. The apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to, “stand fast, and hold the traditions (Gk. ‘paradosis’ #3862) which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thess.2:15); and again “…remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances (Gk. ‘paradosis’ #3862), as I delivered unto you” (1Corinthians 11:2). See also 2Thessalonians 3:6. The traditions referred to in 1 Cor.11:2 were not just applicable to the Corinthians; these traditions were recognized throughout the worldwide community (or body of Christ) – “If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither in the ecclesias of God” (verse 16).

Does this have any application today? It is true that every Christadelphian fellowship in some form or other adheres to certain unnecessary traditions, but this cannot be said of the first principle teachings and the fellowship practices that have been documented over the past 150 years. Our Christadelphian heritage and ecclesial traditions are based upon the accumulation of literally thousands of Bible expositions which have been documented for our benefit. There is no justification for dismissing such evidence as mere tradition. To substantiate the claim that the UA08 fellowship practice is in line with the rest of the Central Christadelphian community worldwide, it must measure up to the documented evidence that is available in the community; unfortunately it fails in this regard.

27 UA08 paper, March 1, 2011, Response no.1, page 3.

28 UA08 paper, March 1, 2011, Introductory letter.