Australian Christadelphian Central Standing Committee
Unity In Australia

Doctrinal Error Exposed

In presenting his second article “THE TRUTH IN AUSTRALIA” in THE CHRISTADELPHIAN, August 1958, page 372, Bro. Carter alludes to the writings of a certain contemporary brother in Australia (outside the “Shield” fellowship) whose teachings on the nature and sacrifice of Christ, were set out from time to time in various pamphlets, extant at the time of his visit to Australia.

Bro. Carter felt it his duty, in the interests of reunion, to expose these teachings as being out of harmony with doctrines held as scriptural by the “Central Fellowship” in Great Britain.

The citations quoted by Bro. Carter from these writings are essential to the understanding of his comments in refuting them, and are therefore given in full.

Under the heading “CITATION” is the quotation Bro. Carter makes from the writings of Bro. —————. In each case the “COMMENT” is that of Bro. Carter. The teachings of Bro. ———— are expressed by Bro. Carter in propositions I to VII.


Last month we reported on the reunion efforts in Australia, and pointed out that in the cross currents and agitations there, ideas had been put forward by certain brethren which were as far astray one way, as ideas they were opposing were the other.

As we pointed out last month, we have long recognised the tendency on the part of some “Berean” brethren to swing towards the doctrines of the late J. J. Andrew; and the same can be recognised in the contentions of some in Australia. We will now examine some of these contentions, which have been dogmatically, but in our judgment, mistakenly advanced as representing the views of the Central Fellowship. We might introduce the matter with a quotation from a letter recently received from the U.S.A.

The writer says:

“Your article ‘Christ Given’ (CHRISTADELPHIAN, May, page 127) is certainly one that strikes the core of the matter and in my opinion brings to light the fact that I have long suspected, that many of the extremists in the former “Berean” fellowship, now quite fittingly supporters of ‘The Old Paths’, are in reality closer to the teaching of J. J. Andrew than they realise.

“I wonder if the ‘Old Path’ supporters endorse the belief which I know is a part of their followers’ doctrine and those with whom they are in fellowship now of the Berean side, i.e., that it is a sin to be born into the human family.

“Consequently they say Christ is a ‘sinner’ in that respect and alienated from God by being a son of Adam. I think the time has come when those who are so keenly concerned in ‘heresy hunting’ should be given some information in starting to clean their own house; or else agree the things they fellowship are believed by them too as being truth.”

This brings the matter to a focus. We mentioned in THE CHRISTADELPHIAN, 1957, page 311, the similarity between the teaching of Bro. ———— (referred to above) and J. J. Andrew.

We propose now illustrating our assessment of this matter by giving some quotations from Bro. ————’s writings with comments.

In doing this we do not forget the nebulousness of some of these discussions and the sterility in ecclesial life they seem to foster. Bro. —— teaches the following:


CITATION: (from Bro. ————) “Before being baptised a believer is dead in being alienated from God (a) by ignorance, (b) condemnation inherited from Adam, and (c) trespasses and sins.”

COMMENT: (by Bro. Carter) The Bible supports (a) and (c) (see Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21), but is silent about (b).

CITATION: “The trespass in Eden produced two related results, both of which excited God’s displeasure and were causes of Adam’s position as an outcast. These were (a) his personal guilt and (b) his unclean physical condition.”

“No one in Adam can cease to be ‘by nature’ a child of wrath on his own terms.”

“Paul in Eph. 2:3 declares all to be ‘by nature children of wrath’. The wrath here referred to is the wrath or displeasure of God. Now only one thing is the cause of His disfavour namely sin. With what sin, then, in a newly born irresponsible infant is God displeased? Obviously not disobedience but inherited sin is the answer.”
COMMENT: These statements are full of errors. Although what we do arises out of our nature, yet it is for what we do, and not for our nature, that we are “children of wrath”. The context in Eph. 2:3 shows this. That “by nature” is too narrowly construed is evident when we note that Gentiles “by nature” fulfil the law (Rom. 2:14). It is clear that “by birth” or “by physical constitution” is not the meaning. To talk of “inherited sin” is to talk jargon. We inherit mortality and a tendency to sin but this does not make us the subject of wrath until we sin. Otherwise, since Jesus was of our nature he would be a child of wrath: which is absurd.

CITATION: Speaking of Romans 8:1, 2, we are told: “this simply means that the release (by the sacrifice of Christ) from the condemnation inherited from Adam plus transgression was the answer—cherished by them ‘in faith’—to the indwelling deathfulness which was their weakness when experiencing persecution.”
COMMENT: This is “simply” not correct. The only “condemnation” inherited from Adam is mortality: we do not inherit any personal condemnation; we shall receive personal condemnation for our sins unless they are forgiven now and our mortality will be swallowed up of life at the coming of the Lord.

CITATION: He speaks of men “by legacy from Adam” being still “children of wrath” and then adds: “But those ‘in Christ’, not being ‘in the flesh’—i.e. ‘in Adam’—can please God; not because baptism renders physically inactive their fleshly tendencies to transgress, but because by baptismal induction into Christ their relationship to the constitution of sin involving the condemnation inherited from Adam—is, as a basis for the blotting out of past sins, cancelled; and that, conditional on their walking ‘in the light’, they are cleansed from all future unrighteous acts through the mediation of Jesus their High Priest (1 John 1:9; Heb. 2:17).”
COMMENT: This is a confused sentence. We are all ‘in Adam’ so long as we live; for ‘in Adam’ defines the physical relationship we sustain to the first man. However, the paragraph affirms that our relationship to the ‘constitution of sin’ involves a condemnation inherited from Adam. This we believe to be unscriptural. Moreover, “in the flesh” cannot be equated with “in Adam”. “In Adam” denotes only physical decent, but “in the flesh” in Rom. 8:9 means to have the mind of the flesh in opposition to God.

CITATION: Further since we are told: “Because it was the result of, and conditioned by sin, this ‘corruption’ or ‘unclean-ness’ defiled the nature it cursed. That its possession caused estrangement from God is decisively proved by the fact that myriads of human beings, innocent of transgression (infants) have died and still die. If transgression (as ‘the only form of sin’) left Adam’s ‘very good’ body unchanged and if (as logically follows) infants, at birth, are at one with God, why do they die?”
COMMENT: There is here more confusion. Infants die because they inherit the mortality that has come by sin. But that does not mean they die because they are estranged. Estrangement arises from ignorance or wicked works: the word can only be rightly applied where reconciliation is possible; babies are just flesh and as such sustain no relationship personally to God one way or the other. To talk of “possession” of human nature causing estrangement misses entirely the essential factors of separation from God and reconciliation to Him. Its fallacy is shown by the fact that Jesus possessed our nature, but he was never estranged from God.

CITATION: “There is one thing that I firmly believe, that you once believed and that was believed by brethren Dr. Thomas, R. Roberts and C. C. Walker as well as by Bro. J. J. Andrew, viz., that two aspects of sin separate all unregenerate men from God: (a) man’s inherited uncleanness and (b) transgression. The former (a) Paul variously styles ‘the law of sin and death’ (Rom. 7:23; 8:2); ‘him that had the power of death’ (Heb. 2:14); ‘the sting of death’ (I Cor. 15:56); ‘our old man’ (Rom 6:6) and ‘the uncircumcision of your flesh’ (Col. 2:13). The latter (b) he refers to as ‘your sins’.”

“What was the barrier preventing fellowship between God and man? Man’s guilt and inherited sinful nature. In scriptural phrasing ‘transgressions’ and ‘uncleanness’ (Lev. 16:16).” “Between the fall of Adam and crucifixion of Christ, sin as cause and effect existed as a barrier between God and man. Before God can favourably look upon man, his evil and iniquity must be covered. This applies to death and corruption as well as transgression.”

“Accordingly the devil (sin enthroned in the flesh) and his works (disobedience) stood as a barrier or obstacle between fallen man and divine favour, for sin (both as an actuating principle in the flesh, and transgression) is rebellion against the authority of God.”

“It may be asked, what proof have we that the ‘devil’ or ‘sin in the flesh’, as well as disobedience, was a barrier between God and man?”

“That the blood of Christ made of none effect as a barrier between God and His people, that in the flesh having the power of death (the devil) as well as personal sins (the works of the devil), is the direct teaching of the Spirit word, and does not, as some assert, logically result in the acceptance of the Andrew theory of the non-resurrection of enlightened rejectors.”

“The cause of disobedience dwelling in and animating the flesh, is obnoxious to God, and unoffered for, alienates all ifs possessors from Him. That is why, although possessing a spotless character, Jesus required to be ‘brought nigh’.
COMMENT: There are as many aspects of sin as there are forms of transgression. All the works of the flesh enumerated by Paul are aspects of sin. The confusion in the above extracts arises from treating sin in its literal sense and “sin” when used metonymically for the impulses to sin, as both belonging to one category. Anger and malice are alike aspects of sin: but impulses are not literally sin until they are expressed in wrong thought or action.

Sin used as a literal term, and “sin” used by metonymy, cannot be classed in one category. Because we read “all flesh is grass” we do not say there are two kinds of grass—the green variety that is rooted in the soil and a variety that walks on two legs. Because Jesus said “This is my body” as he took the bread of the Passover in his hands, we do not say there are two kinds of bodies of Jesus, one of flesh and one of flour. The Romanist denies the metaphor and believes in “transubstantiation”—although the actual body of Jesus was there when Jesus spoke the words.

The argument we are considering confuses the literal and figurative and brings them both within one category. In addition, if the flesh is the “barrier” between God and man, then it was a barrier in the case of Jesus. This appears to be recognised by saying that Jesus needed to be “brought nigh”. Was there ever a barrier between Jesus and God that estranged him? How did he need to be brought nigh? Was he not always the beloved Son?
This is involved in the preceding, but finds precise expression in the following:

CITATION: “But in possessing the nature of a condemned race he (Jesus) came under condemnation: ‘sin in the flesh’ could not have been anti-typically condemned in anyone upon whom the condemnation common to the race did not rest. Jesus was born under the condemnation or curse, so that ‘through death he could make it of none effect. At birth, therefore, his relationship to God was no different from that of other descendants of Adam, who, ‘by nature’ are ‘children of wrath’. (Eph. 2:4).
COMMENT: That the disfavour of God towards Jesus is intended is clear from the further statement:

“to concede that a thing is condemned and yet contend that it is not the object of disfavour, is to postulate a contradiction in terms.”

When in the 1890’s a correspondent used the phrase “alienation of Christ” only to refute it, Bro. Roberts interpolated the phrase “God pardon the expression appearing in THE CHRISTADELPHIAN”. A theory that makes the son of God a child of wrath is self-condemned.

CITATION: “Besides man’s defilement having ‘actual’ or ‘literal’ sin as its source, its inner essence consists in the organic permeation of his ‘being’ by a sin-principle that continually projects into his consciousness ‘contrary to God’ ideas and inclinations; thus perpetually echoing ‘the spirit of disobedience’ infused into the mind of the first man by disobedience.

“This sin-impregnated nature God justifiably views with extreme disfavour and (mainly because that nature is instinct with sin-begotten opposition to His law) He regards its possessors as estranged from Him whether they are transgressors or not. He, therefore, required ‘sin by metonymy’ as well as ‘literal’ sin to be condemned by sacrifice: so that ‘through death’ it—as ‘the devil’ having ‘the power of death’—might be ‘destroyed’, ‘brought to nought’, ‘made of none effect’, ‘put off’ or ‘put away’.

“Could God be other than displeased with and estranged from a nature containing, swayed and energised by ‘a principle contrary to’ Him? Can He be completely ‘at one’ with any possessor (sinner or no) of a ‘tendency so inevitable in its sin-producing power that Paul can say that through Adam’s sin all sinned’?”

“Man’s inherited uncleanness, then—possessed by whomsoever, sinner or no—stands as an obstacle between every unregenerate son of Adam and resurrection to eternal life as well as personal transgression.”

“From this it is certain that at baptism not only are ‘the sins’ of the believer ‘washed away’, the state of estrangement occasioned ‘by nature’ is, provisionally, at an end too. In thus contending Bro. J. J. Andrew was quite right.”
COMMENT: It is important that we note the words “sinner or no” in these extracts, because the use of these words clearly includes Jesus, the sinless one, in the estrangement and displeasure of God. One would have thought such a conclusion was of itself sufficient to show that there is something wrong with the premises laid down. God is estranged from individuals, and it is foolish to speak of estrangement from “a nature”. But there is more.

CITATION: “That Jesus, being ‘born of a woman’, was no exception is proved by the fact that, like all other Jews, He was provisionally cleansed from inherited sin by being circumcised, and that His mother offered according to the law for her cleansing (Lev. 12:8, Luke 2:21 to 24).”
COMMENT: How could a rite performed on a babe cleanse anything, provisionally or in fact? Human nature with its weakness and mortality, will be cleansed by transformation wrought by the Spirit of God after the resurrection. This mortality is our misfortune and not our fault, as Dr. Thomas said, and it is an outrage on justice to talk of estrangement as a result of something a person cannot help. We shall be cleansed of our mortality by the transforming energy of the Spirit of God when the Lord comes.

CITATION: “The plain truth is that any possessor of sinful flesh is liable to pain or death in any form . . . this liability is not negatived by a guiltless character . . . His being ‘born of a woman’ rendered Him liable to suffer a violent death.”
COMMENT: If death is a punishment, and surely an imposed violent death must be so regarded, then we are now told that the possession of a nature conferred by birth brings a liability for punishment. To what strange ends can theories lead us!

CITATION: “I deny that baptism is only concerned with the washing away of ‘our sins’ and affirm, in harmony with our pioneers, that it also symbolises the crucifixion of ‘our old man’ (the diabolos or sin-nature) ‘with him’ (Jesus), (Rom. 6) and that, therefore, baptism signifies the provisional cancellation of ‘the racial condemnation which we physically inherit’ as well as the forgiveness of ‘our sins’.”
COMMENT: Bro. C. C. Walker wrote in 1900: “We believe that in baptism, upon belief of the gospel, God forgives us ‘our sins’ for Christ’s sake, and that the name of Christ was preached among Jews and Gentiles for this express purpose by his express commission: ‘Go ye and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you’ (Matt. 28:19). “Thus it is written and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). He had forgiven sins himself (Luke 5:20; 7:47). It was ‘thy sins’ in both cases referred to. How could it be otherwise? He taught his disciples to pray, ‘Forgive us our sins’ (Luke 11:4). The Apostolic preaching of his name always had reference to the repentance and remission of the sins of those who heard the word . . . there is no mention of ‘Adamic sin’.”

Andrew-Roberts’ Debate on J.J. Andrew’s Teaching

We might go on, but enough has been quoted. We will now quote briefly from the Andrew-Roberts Debate, to show that all this is the same as J. J. Andrew’s teaching.

Bro. Andrew wrote:

“Lust being the cause of physical corruption, every member of the race is necessarily the subject of Divine condemnation by reason of its possession; and the removal of this condemnation is requisite before they can ‘have peace with God’ (Rom. 5:1).”

“The denial that condemnation in Adam is legally taken away at baptism deprives that ceremony of half its efficacy.”

The following questions and answers from the Andrew-Roberts Debate are also relevant. The questions are by J. J. Andrew and the replies by R. Roberts.

Q. 100.—The question is not whether a man can sin, but whether he was made or constituted a sinner by the offence of Adam?

A.—By Adam’s offence he was brought into such a state of things that his being a sinner was inevitable. That is the fact of the case, and you must harmonise the facts and your maxims.


Q. 106.—Is it necessary for the shedding of blood to take away the sinful condition associated with birth?

A.—The object of the shedding of blood was to declare God’s righteousness as the basis of His offer of forgiveness.

Q. 118-125.—Are we not alienated from God before we commit a single wicked work?

A.—Not in the same sense.


Q.—Not in the same sense?

A.—No. We are members of a sinful stock which will certainly bring forth wicked works left to itself.


Q.—Is it not the sinful condition which we have by nature in itself a cause of alienation from God?

A.—The whole human race is in a state of alienation from Him; it can only become reconciled by coming into harmony with Him, and sinful flesh cannot be in harmony with him.


Q.—Is “sinful flesh” in itself the cause of alienation from God, before a single act has been committed?

A.—It is the root of the mischief.


Q.—Is it in itself a cause of alienation from God?

A.—As we cannot consider the thing in itself, the question cannot be narrowed in that way.


Q.—Why cannot we consider it in itself? Are there not human creatures born who die before they have committed a single act?

A.—Yes. They are mere bits of animal organism.


Q.—Were they not in a state of alienation from God at birth?

A.—Alienation is only applicable to those who are capable of reconciliation.


Q.—Is it not applicable to any who are unable to do right or wrong?

A.—No. It is a moral relation, not affirmable of an unconscious babe.


Q. 129-138.— Are we not justified from “sin in the flesh” at the same time as from wicked deeds?

A.—That is your way of putting it. I put the facts: that God forgives our sins when we are baptised, and takes away sin in the flesh when we are changed.


Q.—In Eph. 2 we read, “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins”. What do you mean by “trespasses and sins?”

A.—Wicked works.


Q.—Does it include “sin in the flesh” or the offence of Adam?

A.—Certainly not.


Q.—When it says in the third verse, “Ye were children of wrath”, it does not. of course mean they were children of wrath then, because it is in the past tense?



Q.—Does it mean they were “children of wrath” previously?

A.—It means they were “by nature” such as become children of disobedience or wrath, such as sin, such as become transgressors.


Q.—Previous to baptism?

A.—Previous to baptism.


Q.—Were they not children of wrath in consequence of their nature?

A.—No doubt. I prefer to understand things rather than to jingle phrases.


Q.—It is not a jingling of phrases at all. Are those who possess “sin in the flesh” and have not committed a single wicked thing, children of wrath?

A.—It is the sense in which a young serpent would be an object of your repugnance; although it has not power to sting you, it will have by and by if it grows.


Q.—Is it not the subject .of anger for its condition then? For its sinful nature?

A.—To be angry with a thing for its condition is absurd.


Q. 146.—But is not “sin in the flesh” in itself the object of divine wrath?

A.—It is “sin in the flesh” only in the sense of being that which will lead to sin afterwards. It is the impulse, but kept in subjection, it ceases to be the cause of wrath.


Q. 269.—When it becomes holy is not “sin -in the flesh” which defiled it the subject of justification?

A.—No. “Sin in the flesh” is physical; justification from that is by the change that is to come at another stage, viz., at the resurrection. Justification is moral first, physical afterwards.


Q. 280.—Not legally?

A.—I do not wish to deal in shadowy terms. I prefer the naked substance of truth. Adam sinned and was condemned, and we as his children inherit the mortality which was the consequence. God does not hold us responsible for what he did, but for our own sins.


Q. 413-415.—Did not that judgment bring condemnation upon all his descendants for his offences?

A.—It established a condition of things in which, if posterity ensued, they were necessarily sinners and therefore condemnation became the universal rule, and there can be no remission of that condemnation or forgiveness of sin without a preliminary vindication of God’s authority in the shedding of blood.


Q.—Are they not under condemnation for the offence of Adam before they do anything themselves, right or wrong?

A.—They are mortal because of Adam’s sin.


Q.—That is not an answer. Are they not under condemnation for the offence of Adam before they do anything, right or wrong?

A.—God condemns no man for Adam’s offence in the individual sense. Condemnation comes through it, which is a very different idea.


Q. 422.—Are they not “children of wrath”, and do they not die under the condemnation under which they are born?

A.—They are children who would grow up to be men who would provoke God’s wrath by disobedience if they lived, but as babies the wrath has not begun.


These questions and answers reveal the character of J. J. Andrew’s reasoning and the resemblance between the position of Bro. J. J. Andrew and Bro. ————— is evident.

Extracts - J. J. Andrew’s “The Blood Of Covenant”

A few short quotations from Bro. Andrew’s pamphlet The Blood of Covenant confirm this impression.

“Sin in the flesh ... is the subject of divine reprobation.” (Page 4.)

“Adam’s descendants are ‘made sinners’ (Rom. 5:19) without any exercise on their part.” “Sacrifice is as essential to take away sin in its physical as in its moral aspect.”

“Christ only possessed sin physically, not morally, but all who are sprinkled with his blood possess sin in both forms.” (Page 7.)

The baptism of those who enter Christ is “a practical confession that they deserved for their ‘sin in the flesh’ and for their ‘wicked works’ a violent death similar to that which was inflicted on Christ”.

Abraham “was a sinner by birth and by deed, and needed sacrifice to cover his sin”. (Page 11.)

Circumcision showed that the “child was a sinner by birth.” (Page 12.)

“The sons of Adam cannot be cleansed from sinful flesh without bloodshedding.” (Page 17.)

“Justification from individual sins is necessary as well as justification from the offence of Adam.” (Page 18.)

Speaking of circumcision of Jesus: “This was the first act of justification of which Jesus partook. Its effect was to transfer him from the state of condemnation to death under which he was born into the condition described as being ‘alive’”. (Page 23.)

“To be justified in God’s sight is impossible for anyone inheriting sin’s nature.” (Page 34.)

“Sin in the flesh deserves the same penalty as personal transgression”; and so on with many references to “inherited sin” and justification from it.

Further citation is unnecessary... That these ideas were resisted at the time they were advanced is abundantly evident from the discussions in THE CHRISTADELPHIAN in the 1890’s.

We believe they are far removed from the plain truths of Scripture, which can be expressed in terms the simplest can understand, whereas contentions along the lines of these extracts, while sometimes having a show of logic, lead to strife about legal abstractions. Those who pursue them live in a fantasy world of words.

As Bro. Collyer said in the article we reproduced last month:

“Earnest brethren and sisters, anxious to hold the truth, have sometimes been perplexed and almost distracted in the strife of words, beyond their power to understand. The havoc that such strife may cause is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that one of the most capable men we ever had among us, in his efforts for legal logic, ended by teaching justification for sin without faith, and we were all slow to realise the full enormity of the position. I well remember the surprise and even consternation of one of his supporters when he was first shown this feature of the case.”

“That men are objects of divine anger because they are flesh,” was described by Bro. Collyer sixty years ago as the most outrageous statement made in the controversy on Adamic condemnation. To that we subscribe. These contentions have also embittered and estranged brethren who could find harmony and co-operation by accepting the facts of Scripture testimony. But when legalistic minds insist on pursuing these mystifying tracks, and condemning all who will not follow them, we can only let them go their own way while we seek the sound paths of Scripture truth.

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