Should It Be Made A Test of
Reprint of a Study by
There is a large number of brethren and
sisters who know very little about the “Responsibility Question” except that
it is one of the causes of a division in the brotherhood.
Until about 1892 there had been among
the household of faith, two differing views as to who would be raised from the
dead at the coming of Christ. Some
believed that knowledge, or light, was the basis of resurrection.
For many years brethren holding the different views met together in peace
and harmony. In about 1892, Bro.
J.J. Andrew began to speak and write to show that if resurrection was based upon
the death and resurrection of Christ, then knowledge alone was not sufficient to
bring anyone from the dead. This
started a great controversy, and much bitterness, and the brotherhood became
divided into two camps.
Briefly, Bro. Andrew contended that as
by nature all mankind are under condemnation to death in Adam, unless Christ had
come and offered an acceptable sacrifice, all mankind would have remained in the
grave. Therefore, unless one had
become associated with Christ’s sacrifice they would not be raised.
Well-known Scriptures were quoted such as “I am the resurrection and
the life,” “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of
the dead,” “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive,”
“Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christ’s at his
coming,” “We must all (the household) appear before the judgment seat of
Christ.” Also were quoted a
number of the parables of Christ, such as the “ten virgins,” “the
talents,” which in the view of Bro. Andrew showed that only those who were the
servants of Christ, or classes as the “virgins” would be responsible to his
Bro. Roberts and many others disagreed
with Bro. Andrew and also quoted numerous Scriptures which in their view taught
that those who had heard the gospel and had refused to obey would also, with the
household of faith, be raised to judgment.
Eventually a debate was arranged between
Bro. Roberts and Bro. Andrew. The
result was very unsatisfactory. Some
who went to the debate in favour of Bro. Roberts, came away convinced that Bro.
Andrew was right, and some vice versa. In
view of the amount of Scripture quoted on both sides, and the arguments used,
some did not know what to believe, and only made up their minds after some time.
There are many who even today are not prepared to take a definite line.
Soon after the debate a number of
brethren who were in favour of the view of Bro. Roberts pressed him to make it a
test of fellowship. This he refused
to do, and although he was bitterly attacked for taking this attitude, yet he
did not yield, and it was not until after his death that the Temperance Hall
basis was amended to make the question a test of fellowship.
At the time of this controversy the
Suffolk Street section of the brotherhood were already separated from
“Temperance Hall” over the alleged “inspiration question,” and although
they took a great interest in the matter, they decided to remain as they were,
and keep to the old original Birmingham basis.
This did not mean that they favoured the view of Bro. Andrew.
It was rather that they considered that the decision of Bro. Roberts, not
to make the matter a test of fellowship, was a right one.
If “Suffolk Street’s” refusal to
make it a test of fellowship is regarded as a reason for withdrawal, then if
Bro. Roberts were alive to-day, the ecclesias meeting on the “amended” basis
would have to withdraw from him, to be consistent.