Guilt by Association
The concept and practice of Guilt by Association is live and well within
our Community. Basically the idea is that in fellowshipping with someone
'following the Way of the World' we are partakers in their sin. Is this
a Biblical concept? The following articles give arguments both in favour
of guilt by association and against. Read, examine and judge in your own
by Association - The Scriptural Arguments in Favour -
this article is a modified version of that found on the St Lutheran
Church Online website (non- Christadelphian)
by Association? - by Don Styles, from
The Carribean Pioneer, Editorial, November 2002.
Emergence of Error by the Dawn Christadelphians.
Looks at the emergence of doctrinal error in the Early Church and
our present position with regard to those that err. The concept of
'Guilt by Association' is found about half-way down the page under
the heading of A Need for Unity not Disharmony.
In the following I have collected together a number of resources, articles
and links which approach Fellowship Matters. They cover a whole range
of different perceptions and understandings, may agree or disagree with
each other in points. Some deal with the subject of Fellowship directly,
others look at some of the underlying concepts and Scriptural ideals.
It is my belief that we need to look at all angles of an argument, prayerfully
and conscientiously examine the matter for ourselves, and each draw our
Articles and Poems:
Online Books & Articles by Christadelphians dealing with fellowship
Fellowship by George Booker, the following
is extracted from the Preface:
"This writer, with the uninhibited zeal of youth, felt
for a number of years that he knew all that was worth knowing about
“fellowship”. But changing circumstances provoked a
serious and prolonged re-examination of the foundations of his “pure
fellowship” position, and he was led at last to conclude that
there is a “better way” consistent with the commandments
of Christ. He now holds a different understanding of “fellowship”,
with not quite the certainty of earlier times, but rather what he
believes is a more realistic awareness of the imperfection of all
things human (including this book!).
Some of the results of those studies are now offered to the
brotherhood, with the prayer that they might somehow encourage brethren
of all “fellowships” to embrace the true “purity”
that is never distinct from “peace”. May the Lord when
he returns find his disciples endeavoring, in all humility, to keep
the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph.
of Sin and Withdrawal by Robert Roberts,
part of the The Ecclesial Guide (1883 ed.)
"Withdrawal is a serious step, and ought not to be lightly
taken against any brother. It erects a barrier and inflicts a stain
not easily removed. It ought never to be taken until all the resources
of the Scriptural rule of procedure have been exhausted."
Offences by Robert Roberts, part of
The Ecclesial Guide (1883 ed.)
"Christ has laid down the law very plainly for the curing
of these; and it is the duty of the brethren everywhere to see it
of Ecclesial Life by Don Styles
"The ecclesial community is not man's idea; it is not
a Christadelphian idea; it is God's idea. Baptism is more than the
individual being baptized into fellowship with the Father and the
Son; it is inclusion into a community of believers established by
God; we are all baptized into one body."
of Perfectness by G.V. Growcott
"For acceptable walk in the Truth, and for ecclesial health
and harmony and a state of true mutual spiritual joyfulness to which
we as the sons and daughters of God are freely invited, it is necessary
that the Spirit's teachings on the subject of love be continually
and repeatedly presented before the mind. ... Any aim short of perfection
is not unifying, but dividing and breaking up. No group
can have true unity unless it is wholly and wholeheartedly dedicated
to the pursuit of divine perfection."
Judgment And The Quality Of Our Brethren by Duncan Heaster,
part of James and Other Studies
"There are a number of passages which indicate that our
reward at the judgment will take into account the spiritual quality
of those with whom we have had close association. An appreciation
of this will have numerous, sobering practical outworkings."
To Others by Duncan Heaster, part of
Judgement To Come - a Biblical Discussion
"One of the themes of the parables of judgment is that
our attitude to our brethren will have an impact on the outcome
of the judgment. Those who will be in the Kingdom will therefore
be powerfully taught at the judgment the utter supremacy of love.
This will be the basis upon which we enter the Kingdom. Mt. 25:45
seems to suggest that our attitude to the weak ones of the ecclesia
will especially be considered by the Lord."
Not Leprosy by Don Styles, from The
Carribean Pioneer, Editorial, April 1999
"There are some symptoms which are unmistakably leprosy
(Lev. 13:3). One careful examination by the priest would be enough
to determine the individual was infected and declare him unclean.
In like manner, there are some teachings which are unmistakably
major departures from the gospel and teachers of them, after careful
examination, must be set apart from the community."
I Make My Brother to Offend by David Edwards,
from The Carribean Pioneer, Exhortation, November 2001
"The fact that the scriptures give emphasis to the subject
of giving offence should alert us to its importance. "It is
impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through
whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged
about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend
one of these little ones" (Lk. 17:1-2). According to our Lord,
offending our brothers and sisters has dire consequences, making
it imperative that we examine his statement and modify our behavior
- Principles by the Dawn Christadelphians,
see also the following link to the Practicalities of Fellowship.
"The concept of fellowship is one of the fundamental doctrines
of Scripture. Primarily, fellowship is with the Almighty Creator,
who created man with the object of extending to him eternal fellowship.
God's holiness and purity are at present a barrier for sinful man,
but through the work of Jesus Christ that perfect fellowship can
eventually be gained. Meanwhile those who have been called to the
truth have the additional privilege of joyful fellowship with each
other. They continue "steadfastly in the apostles doctrine
and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Acts 2v42. But this sharing of a God given hope means that individual
believers, and communities of believers, must repudiate all fellowship
with anything abhorrent to Him. This is one of the basic principles
of divine revelation, and is the basis of repeated exhortations
in the scriptures."
- Practice by the Dawn Christadelphians,
see also the previous link to the Principles of Fellowship.
"Having established the principles, we go on to consider
the practical effect these should have in ecclesial life, and the
specific New Testament teaching on this topic."
as the body is one, and hath many members,
and all the members of that one body, being
many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one
body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and
have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body;
is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;
is it therefore not of the body?
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were
hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it
hath pleased him.
And if they were all one member, where were
But now are they many members, yet but one
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again
the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble,
And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon
these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath
tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to
that part which lacked:
That there should be no schism in the body; but
that the members should have the same care one for another.