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Introduction to Phanerosis

The following passage was originally accepted for publication by the main magazine, The 

Christadelphian, 1881 and was written by J. W. Thirtle (who later left the Christadelphians). It has been re-quoted in the introduction to some editions of Phanerosis, written by the founder of the Christadelphians, John Thomas. This book was written to explain his view of the nature of Christ, which he termed "god manifestation".

It is interesting for two reasons. Firstly it shows the unique position historically attributed to John Thomas in terms of ability to interpret scripture. Secondly, it illustrates the complexity of the topic being considered which is a frequent criticism of Trinitarian explanations and used to suggest they are therefore necessarily flawed. Here we can see alternative Christadelphian explanations can be equally complex. In fact in my experience many Christadelphians would struggle to explain some of the difficulties with “God manifestation”

“Both in ‘Eureka’ and ‘Phanerosis’ Dr. Thomas wrote much about the name ‘Yahweh.’ To study the word aright, introduces us to the subject of God-manifestation, the Scripture teaching concerning which many have misunderstood. Some people, with nothing better than a vague notion as to what Dr. Thomas’s writings on this subject really amount to, have adjudged him in error on some points; and most frequently a little examination has shown that the points of difference have involved a difficult criticism or an investigation of matters beyond the compass of those who have not seen their way to be content with dealing with things which are within their reach. Others, however, convinced of the impregnability of Dr. Thomas’s position, have been thankful for the plainly expressed results of his labour and study, and grateful for the light he shed upon the doctrine of God-manifestation in its many revealed phases; and this, notwithstanding their individual inability to follow him in every stage of his reasoning, owing to their own lack of the qualifications necessary to support them in an adventure on the field of Biblical criticism . . . It will be patent to any reader of Dr. Thomas’s works that he did not find his problems ready worked out, neither were the difficulties he encountered already solved and only waiting to be ‘re-hashed up.’ It is also clear to anyone having only a slight acquaintance with current and recent literature on the subjects dealt with by the Doctor, that hard study and careful investigation were required before he could, in the lucid way he did, ‘open up the Scriptures’ to enquirers after the way of life. Bringing to bear upon the subject of God-manifestation, a knowledge of the revealed purpose of the Deity, he was well equipped for his task of examining both the Old and New Testaments.”






Christadelphian Quotes

You lay a great stress upon facts throughout your letters, and are incessant in your demand that I should attend to them. This is good; but facts have to be rightly put together, and then you must have all the facts. I do not think you put the facts rightly together, and you leave out some, I am sure.

(Robert Roberts, a Christadelphian Pioneer, quoted

by Ruth McHaffie in Brethren Indeed)

The Spirit of liberty, based upon the law of faith, is the Spirit of Christ; and this spirit all the Sons of God are privileged to possess, and having it, to breathe. I claim the right of exercising this privilege, as well as my contemporaries; and I require of them that they should do to me as once they loudly required others to do to them…

(written by John Thomas, the founder of the Christadelphians, when he was against creeds in 

The Apostolic Advocate magazine, August 1836)

(John Thomas, from Apostacy Unveiled, p. 137,

quoted in The Christadelphian Magazine, January 1906)

Must a man never progress? If he discovers an error in his premises, must he for ever hold to it for the sake of consistency? May such a calamity never befall me! Rather let me change every day, till I get right at last.

(from a letter written by John Thomas in 1848, quoted by Robert Roberts, in Dr. Thomas: His Life and Work)

Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth; teach it without compromise, and all lovers of the Truth will approve you. For all others you need not care a rush!

(from a letter written by John Thomas to Robert Roberts and published in The Christadelphian magazine, February 1866)