C H R I S T A D E L P H I A N R E S E A R C H
Why Do People Leave?
In seeking to gain a full and balanced picture of any religious community it is often worth considering why people leave, resign or are disfellowshipped as well as why they join. This is because organisations by their nature will often present an aspect intended to convert potential new converts. Those who are committed will tend to keep any doubts about shortcomings to themselves or downplay their importance.
The reasons people leave are varied. Some cease to believe in God or decide that despite believing they would prefer to not follow him. Here are some other primary objections:
- the format adopted tends to be very stale, formal and highly over intellectualised.
- the focus on doctrines rather than knowing God and Christ and being like him.
- the requirements for fellowship exceed what seems essential for salvation and the lack of grace implicit in the approach adopted.
- the way exclusivism has led to divisions, debates and heartache and how it suppresses free thought and real Biblical investigations.
- it reaches the head but misses the heart.
- a recognition that we need more than words and a recognition of a growing need for God’s Spirit.
- the limited role for women.
- the recognition that there are “difficult passages” and not all the Bible easily fits into Christadelphian theology and must be “balanced” to fit.
- a greater recognition of the need to explore our emotions and experiences.
- the lack of willingness and ability to confront pressing and difficult issues such as marital problems and abuse within families.
- the institutionalisation often lacks relevance to the real issues people are struggling with and there is a lack of opportunities or venues to do so because sustaining the formal arrangements uses up people’s time and effort.
There are also some very difficult practical issues which leads to people leaving such as:
- marriage other than with Christadelphians is not acceptable and can lead to exclusion, although it is more commonly allowed today with an acknowledgement that it is a sin. This also includes those who are other Christians, but who don’t have Christadelphian beliefs.
- divorce and remarriage often leads to people leaving. Separation tends to be more acceptable, but remarriage tends to get classified as a form of adultery. There is more of a question mark over those who separate as a result of their partner’s adultery, some believing remarriage in such circumstances is permitted.
- hidden abuse within families.
- sexual abuse.
- hidden substance abuse.
- mental health issues.
- personality issues (including Aspergers).
Over time the need to try to recognise that such problems do occur within the Christadelphian community and aren’t easily handled by individual congregations has led to the formation of Care Groups which in the main have tended to move away from the stated position of the community that all the answers lie in scripture. Many have embraced recognised worldly psychological perspectives and in fact proclaim the need for professional worldly qualifications. This movement in emphasis has been recognised by some traditional elements of the community, but the reality of these problems has led to the acceptance of the need for Care Groups in the main. There has been less recognition that some problems in fact may be caused BY some spiritual deficiencies that the historical approach has - in particular the strong exclusivity, denial of the need for God’s Spirit and the extreme intellectualism of the community. In my experience there is also a big problem with depression, which in some cases may be connected to non attendance.
Links to personal testimonies can be found in the category Former Christadelphians in the links section.
Some information on the related topic of why young Christadelphians are increasingly not committing can also be found in the article on the Process of Conversion.
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PAGE VISITS FROM 16/09/13
THE TRINITY HURDLE
NOVEL: HOLY BIBLE
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)