Australian Christadelphian Central Standing Committee
Unity In Australia

First Report on Unity in Australia (John Carter)

This report by Bro. Carter on his visit to Australia, appeared in “The Christadelphian,” July 1958, page 324, on his return to England.

The first portion of the report has been used in this publication as an introductory background to the Unity movement, as pertaining to steps already taken in Australia to foster Unity, prior to the coming of Bro. Carter in 1958.

This second and major portion takes up events from his arrival in Sydney. As well as being a record of his movements and meetings in Australia, he discusses the main doctrinal issues involved.

Also appended is a list of the ecclesias throughout Australia, as it appeared with this report in “The Christadelphian,” which endorsed the BASIS OF FELLOWSHIP set out previously.

To these are here also added the names of other ecclesias who later approved of the basis and were listed in “The Christadelphian” of November, 1958, page 519.



On our arrival in Sydney we met the Unity Committee and had reports on the response of the ecclesias to the circular setting out the proposed basis for reunion. Consent to this in writing had been received from ecclesias representing upwards of 95 per cent of the brethren of the “Shield” and Victoria ecclesias. Two or three ecclesias in the country with very small membership were in doubt, but the Committee expressed their intention to clarify the position with them and also to deal with any cases of difficulty that might arise in the process of reunion. These assurances were endorsed later by the Unity Committee in Melbourne, and we were then enabled to go forward with a programme that had been drawn up. This covered the following:

April 2-15, Melbourne; 16, 17, Launceston, Tasmania; 18-24, Sydney (with lecture at Newcastle); 25-30, Brisbane; May 1-7, Adelaide (and district ecclesias); 8-12, Perth; 13 and 14, Sydney. These arrangements were later modified a little to enable meetings for discussion to be held in Sydney, which curtailed the visits to Brisbane and Perth each by a day.


Some idea of the work involved can be gained from the following summary. In twelve days spent in New Zealand before going on to Australia, we met four groups of arranging brethren, exhorted twice, lectured seven times and addressed two Fraternal Gatherings, in addition to private talks undertaken at the request of brethren. In Australia we met the Unity Committee in Sydney three times, the Melbourne Committee once. We met the arranging brethren of Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth ecclesias, and had several talks with the arranging brethren of Melbourne ecclesias. These conversations, usually occupying a whole evening, and sometimes a late sitting, were cordial and helpful. We also had meetings with the brethren in Sydney (Concord) and Brisbane who had dissociated themselves from Central fellowship at the time of reunion in England, and also with the North-cote arranging brethren who have separated from Horticultural Hall, Melbourne, since they disagree with a basis for dealing with visitors agreed by that ecclesia (see Intelligence from Melbourne, March, 1958, and Northcote, April, 1958). To some of these meetings we must refer at greater length. We also met brethren from the small ecclesias in Largs Bay, and at Perth, who had supported Concord West and Brisbane (Elizabeth Street) in counter proposals to the basis which had been accepted.


Meetings in Brisbane and Adelaide were addressed on unity matters in England and Australia. In addition, some 17 lectures were given (one on the Atonement in each town); exhortations were given every Sunday but one; three fraternal gatherings were addressed and two farewell meetings. On the whole it was a strenuous time, but it was greatly helped by the co-operation of the brethren in the arrangement of all transport, both local and from city to city, and the kind hospitality of the homes where we stayed, where the sisters did everything possible for comfort and rest.


We will next consider the difficulties. That there were such we hinted in the article “The Truth in Australia” in “The Christadelphian”, 1956, page 311. Now perhaps we should put the issue plainly. The Concord ecclesia was at one time in Central fellowship; then separated and, we believe, was associated with the Berean group; but again resumed fellowship about 1940 with Central ecclesias. Over the years a series of pamphlets and circulars have emanated from a Bro. P. O. Barnard of Concord, sometimes with the endorsement of the ecclesia, but at other times on his own responsibility. A feature of the “Berean” fellowship has been a leaning towards the teaching of J. J. Andrew which was controverted in the 1890’s; not, be it said, to his views on resurrectional responsibility, but to those doctrines of condemnation and inherited sin and alienation which were the basis upon which he built the denial of resurrectional responsibility. This tendency was evident years ago in the U.S.A. and was pointed out in a “Message to all Christadelphians” which was sent to a conference convened in October, 1947, when Detroit was chosen as the meeting place. In that “Message” we sought to meet some questions to which answers were demanded by a brother in the Berean group and who has again separated himself since reunion in England. In our reply we showed there was not only identity of thought but identity of language with that of J. J. Andrew. The same doctrinal outlook is discernible in the teaching of Bro. Barnard and those who support him.


We propose going into this matter in some detail next month, as we think something should be said not only to help the brethren in Australia but also to put the doctrinal issues in clearer perspective. There are doubtless brethren with Bro. P. O. Barnard who know little of these issues but who have been imbued with the idea of doctrinal unsoundness on the part of those who do not subscribe to Bro. Barnard’s teaching, and something should be said for their sakes. In all contentions extremes tend to beget extremes and some utterances by “Shield” brethren have doubtless been provoked by this teaching and must be looked at in this context. Again and again we found that brethren thought the B.A.S.F. had to be interpreted in the way Concord ecclesia taught. After patient enquiry it was evident that the “Shield” ecclesias were more representative of Central position than either Concord or Brisbane (Elizabeth Street) so far as the latter can be judged by the statements of their arranging brethren.


The contentions current are not new, as we have said. They concern condemnation and alienation for our physical nature; being children of wrath by birth; that Jesus needed because of his physical inheritance to be “brought nigh” to God. Yet the facts of Scripture are quite simple. If we ask, For what are we baptized? the answer of the Scripture is always, For the remission of sins. Was Jesus a child of wrath? To ask such a question is to answer it, for everyone who is not entrammelled in the legal mystifications of the arguments advanced. Is a man estranged because of his physical nature? The answer of Scripture is that we are alienated by ignorance and by wicked works.

A few words might be added in response to requests made several times to clear up points of uncertainty concerning the usage of Bible language. What are the broad facts of Scripture teaching? Adam sinned and death came by sin. But two other things followed; death passed through to all men for that all sinned (Rom. 5:12). It is a fact that all have sinned (except the Lord Jesus) and this fact is explicable only because through Adam’s sin the original very good state was lost, and his posterity inherit a nature with a tendency to sin to which all have succumbed. Because this inherited tendency is so evident a characteristic of human nature, and because it is the result and the cause of sin, Paul by the use of metonymy can describe it as sin: “It is no more I but sin that dwelleth in me.” He gives it other names as well, such as “a law—evil present with me,” the “flesh”, “a law in my members,” etc. (Rom. 7).

A similar usage of metonymy is found in 2 Cor. 5:21, where Paul says that “Him who knew no sin God made to be sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” This statement is one of a whole series of paradoxes in 2 Cor. 5:7. Christ the sinless was made to be sin in sharing in the effect of sin in his life, and by his death providing the conditions for the forgiveness of sins and, finally, the removal of all the effects of sin. The same usage occurs in Heb. 9:28, which declares that Jesus will appear the second time apart from sin unto salvation. It is a fallacy in reasoning to say that what is affirmable of sin literal must apply to sin used in this metonymical way. We are blameworthy for our sins, but we cannot help the possession of the natures with which we were born. Sins need forgiving and our nature needs changing. Sins are forgiven now for Christ’s sake but the change of nature takes place when the Lord comes. “The most outrageous statement that has been made (in the Andrew controversy) is the one that men are objects of divine anger because they are flesh” (“The Christadelphian,” 1894, page 466).


In Romans 5:8 by the figure of personification Sin is represented as a Master that pays wages, as a king that reigns, and as a slave owner. By the same figure Sin is represented in a court scene as being condemned—its ownership of men was lost and its own destruction was decreed. God condemned Sin in the work and death of Jesus. Hence Jesus shared our nature that in the very arena where Sin ruled, its claim could be contested and overthrown. Therefore, Paul adds. that God condemned Sin, in the flesh—the flesh in question being the flesh that Jesus and all other men alike share. Much confusion has arisen from treating the phrase “sin in the flesh”, which occurs but once, as a hyphenated expression. Similarly, the phrase “sinful flesh” which also occurs only once, is strictly “flesh of sin”, in which phrase the figure of personification and ownership is continued.


Another cause of difficulty arises out of the Lord’s relationship to his own death. It is affirmed in Scripture that “by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption”; and that “God brought from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant”; and that he was saved out of death. He needed redemption; he needed salvation from death. The confusion arises when we isolate him from his work. He was there to be our Saviour, and but for our needs we may reverently say he would not have been there.


God purposed that as by man came death, by man must come resurrection. He must be one who died but whose resurrection was assured. God set him forth to declare His righteousness, that identifying ourselves with him we subscribe to the declaration of God’s righteousness made by him. He did these things for himself that it might be for us. We are not entitled to say what he would have had to do had he stood alone—that is purely hypothetical, neither may we say that because God required his death in the given circumstances in becoming our Saviour, God would have required the same under different conditions. We do not know. On the one hand we must accept what is written concerning his benefit from his own work, while on the other hand we keep clearly in mind that the purpose of it all was that we might be saved through him.

These added comments will, we hope, help to keep in right perspective the revealed facts concerning sin, and the use of the word by the figure of personification and metonymy.


The wondrous love of God in giving Jesus, his perfect obedience to the Father, even unto death on the Cross, the offer of the forgiveness of sins, the promise of life by the transformation of our bodies like unto the body of his glory, the provision of one who ever liveth to make intercession for us, and who can save to the uttermost— these and kindred truths can be overlaid with cloudy and mystifying strifes of words, which dishearten the simple earnest believer, annoy the earnest seeker after the deeper things of divine truth, and destroy the soul enlarging and purifying effects which God intended the offering of His Son should produce. The love of Christ constrains to holiness, not to strife.

We append a list of ecclesias in Australia who have subscribed to the Basis set out in “The Christadelphian,” 1958, page 132; and who thereby have entered into fellowship with each other and with Central ecclesias everywhere. Intelligence from these ecclesias will be received for “The Christadelphian”.


Regent Hall
Malvern Hall
West Ryde

“Malvern Hall” ecclesia is now the “Shaftesbury Road (Burwood)” ecclesia.


South Brisbane




Latrobe Street





Also in “The Christadelphian” for November 1958, page 519:

To the list of ecclesias in Australia that have accepted the Basis of Reunion and are now in fellowship, published in July, the following must be added:

North Sydney

The list of ecclesias accepting THE BASIS in 1958 should also include the following:

Blue Mountains
Horticultural Hall
Booval, Wynnum Central, Mackay

As at the present time (1963), other ecclesias since formed and meeting under the Unity Basis are:

Burwood (Belmore Street) Bosley Park
Frankston, Lower Plenty, Ormond, Pascoe Vale, Ringwood, Clayton, Ballarat.
Perth (Yokine).

There are several ecclesias smaller than those listed, as well as some family groups in private homes, who meet under the Unity Basis.

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