CARM's Questions for Christadelphians


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At the link, CARM poses several questions for Christadelphians. This thread will address the questions.

According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature.

Deut. 17:1 says, "You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God," (NASB, See also Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23). Of course, Jesus is not an animal. The point is that the sacrifice to a holy God must have no blemish or defect.

"defect" in Hebrew is ra. In this verse, it is translated as "evilfavourdness" in the KJV, as "defect" in the RSV and NKJV, and as "flaw" in the NIV.

  • Question: If Jesus had a sinful, fallen nature, then isn't that a defect?
  • Question: If Jesus' sinful nature is not a defect, then what would you call it?
  • Question: If Jesus sinful nature is a defect, then doesn't that mean His sacrifice is insufficient?
  • Question: If you state that being obedient is what makes a person "unblemished," then why are we damned by nature (Eph. 2:3) if it is only our sinful deeds that condemn us?

The preamble to the question begins with the claim that there is this thing called a “sinful, fallen nature”. I don’t know what that means. It isn’t in the bible. I will simply speak of human nature as Paul does (1 Corinthians 15:39). Christadelphians believe Jesus had a human nature, just like Adam and everybody else. Adam sinned with the nature God gave him at his creation and he was at the time "very good".

Contrary to the idea that “sinful, fallen nature” is a defect, the teaching of the bible is that we are to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). If our nature is a defect per the questioner’s understanding of “defect” in Deut 17:1, then Paul is teaching that we should offer “detestable thing(s)" to God. The idea that “sinful, fallen nature” makes a sacrifice detestable in God's eyes is not found in the bible.

Paul's teaching in Romans 12:1 is an expansion of the fundamental truth that David observed, the sacrifices God desires are “a contrite heart and broken spirit” (Psalm 51:17). This is consistent with what Christ's sacrifice was, humbling himself and becoming obedient to the point of death on the cross, and for this reason God exalted him and gave him a name above every name (Philippians 2:8-9). And as Paul makes plain, this is how we should think and act (Philippians 2:5).

Regarding the scripture reference of Ephesians 2:3, it says:

"All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath."

In context, Paul is speaking to mortal people alive at the time. These people still possessed the supposedly "sinful, fallen nature" when Paul wrote the letter. Their "sinful, fallen nature" had not changed after their conversion to becoming sons of God. The passage makes it clear that what has changed is their actions. They are no longer living a life of "gratifying the cravings of [the] flesh", and are no longer "like the rest". Paul is directly teaching that behavior is what brings the wrath, not the “sinful, fallen nature”.

Ephesians 2:3 is actually a place that a Christadelphian would go to confirm their understanding.


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Continuing . . .

According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had to die in order to save himself. Yet the Christadelphians also maintain that Jesus was without blemish or defect.

  • Question: If this is so, why would Jesus need to save Himself if He had no sin?
  • Question: If Jesus needed to save Himself, then that means He was not without defect. If that is the case, then how can he be a pure and unblemished sacrifice?

As the bible tells Jesus needed to be saved because he was mortal. There is conclusive biblical evidence that Jesus was mortal as it is amply recorded that he died, further he testifies that he was dead, and the bible explains that had “dominion over him” (Romans 6:9) and he needed someone to “save him from death” (Hebrews 5:7).

The second question doesn't make any sense in light of the reference to Deut 17:1 in the first question. The animals brought to the altar were not rejected because they could not save themselves. The ability or inability to save yourself is not articulated by God as a defect. Quite the contrary, the bible teaches that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9). As the bible declares, Jesus being like every other man was in fact a necessary part of the sacrifice:

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.


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Continuing . . .

Thomas said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God," (John 20:28). He was not sinning by using God's name in vain.

  • Question: Can you, like Thomas, say to Jesus, "My Lord and my God."?
  • Question: If you do call Jesus your Lord and your God, since you believe Jesus is a creation, isn't that idolatry?
  • Question: If you do call Jesus your Lord and your God, is Jesus the true God or not?
  • Question: If you do not call Jesus you Lord and your God, why not? It is biblical.

In the context of John 20, we have several declarations. Prior to the declaration by Thomas, Jesus told Mary, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God." (John 20:17). At the close of the chapter, we have John's reason for writing is so that we " may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God" (John 20:31).

In the whole of the chapter neither John, Mary, nor Jesus considered Jesus “true God”. If John thought that Thomas was claiming that Jesus was “true God”, then it certainly would be important enough to mention as part of the reason he wrote the letter, which he did not.

The idea of calling a creation “God” has occurred several times in the bible, for example
  • Jacob claims to have seen God face to face (Gen 32:30) and he was of course wrestling an angel (Hosea 12:4).
  • The Davidic king was called “God” in Psalm 45:6.
  • Those to whom the word of God came (John 10:35 explaining Psalm 82:6)
In the context of Christ’s teachings, we see how Thomas saw Jesus. Contrary to his reputation as the doubter, Thomas was the first apostle to understand what Jesus meant when Jesus made the following claim:

John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

When Thomas saw Jesus in John 20, the prophecy was fulfilled. When Thomas saw Jesus, he saw the Father. Jesus is a man in the image of God. And when Christ returns and we see him, we will be like him (1 John 3:2).

So the answer to the last question is yes. As Jesus pointed out, God called those to whom the word of God came “Gods”. Jesus is God’s appointed ruler of this earth (John 10:34) and sits on God’s throne.


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Continuing. . .

Jude 4 says, "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
  • Question: Can you call Jesus your only Master and Lord?
  • Question: If you do call Jesus your only Master and Lord, then what about God the Father? Is He not also your Lord and Master?
  • Question: If you call Jesus your "only" Lord and Master, aren't you committing idolatry?
  • Question: If you do not call Jesus your only Lord and Master, then aren't you disobeying the truth of God's word?

This group of questions is nonsensical. For example, if Jesus is the son of God (John 3:16), according to the author that would deny that Adam is the son of God (Luke 3:38) and the saints are therefore not sons of God either (Gal 3:26).

As a specific example directly related to the question, many of the 1st century saints were slaves and had earthly masters (1 Timothy 6:1). It would be foolish to accuse the 1st century saints of idolatry because they had earthy masters in addition to Christ. The inspired writers of the bible certainly didn’t take the occasion to call those slaves idolaters.

The question imposes things into the scriptures that the biblical writers never intended based on their other writings.


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Continuing . . .

John 1:12 says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,"
  • Question: Have you received Jesus?[/indent]



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Continuing . . .

In Matt.11:28 Jesus says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." The rest He is referring to is rest from the law, from trying to please God by your deeds.
  • Question: Have you gone to Jesus and rested are or you still trying to please God enough to be saved?
  • Question: If you have gone to Jesus, how did you do this? In prayer to Jesus?

The first question is in two parts that are nonsensically put together. I’m going to break the question up and answer the pieces individually.

Question: Have you gone to Jesus and rested

I’ll quote from Hebrews 4 as to what I, and every Christian, should try to do:

9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

The second part of the first question:

Question: are you still trying to please God enough to be saved?

The question of whether God is pleased “enough” comes from a direct denial of the biblical truth that we are saved by grace. The idea of trying to please a father "enough" indicates that the questioner takes a Judaistic view of God wanting “enough”. The idea that God wants "enough" is alien to the scriptures. God loves us as his children and doesn't want "enough", instead he wants us to be his children an act like we are his children.

The questioner invokes Matthew 11:28 under the idea that pleasing God by our deeds can only be interpreted as performing works of the law. This is a bizarre idea in light of the bible. Abraham pleased God with acts of faith, the law did not exist at that point. No law told him to walk the land. Noah pleased God with acts of faith, the law did not exist for him either. No law commanded him to build the ark. Of all of the people listed in Hebrews 11, none pleased God based on acts of law, all of them pleased God based on acts of faith. And likewise for us, we act in faith.

Question: If you have gone to Jesus, how did you do this? In prayer to Jesus?

Jesus did not ask us to go to him in prayer. He asked for something completely different. He wants us to follow his example and take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24, 1 Peter 2:21,).

When he taught us to pray, he taught us to pray to “our father”, and directly teaches that he has the same father that we do.


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Last batch of questions . . . .

When we sin, we sin against God because it is His law we are breaking. He is the one who must forgive us because we have offended Him. The one offended is the one who forgives. Someone or something else doesn't forgive us for our sins against God, only God can do that.
  • Question: How is it that Jesus is the one who forgives sins (Luke 5:20) if Jesus is not God, the one who is offended?
  • Question: If you state that it is because Jesus was given authority by God to forgive sins (Matt. 28:19), then have you gone to Jesus and asked Him to forgive you of your sins? Remember, to do that, you must pray to Jesus. Is it right to pray to a creature?

The claim that "only God can do that" is a claim that God is powerless to delegate authority to his chosen servants. It is a limitation placed on God by human imagination rather than anything stated in the bible. The idea denies the very words of Jesus who claimed that God has placed the authority to forgive sins into his hands (Matthew 9:5, Luke 5:24). And note the witness of the crowd when they heard Christ’s claim, ”they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.” (Matthew 9:8).

The second question imposes an idea onto the scriptures that we need to go to Jesus and ask him to forgive us of our sins. This is an idea absent from the scriptures. Jesus never said we need to go to him in order to have our sins forgiven, nor did he ever ask or tell anyone to come to him to have their sins forgiven, nor did Jesus ever tell anyone to pray to him.

Christ's teaching in prayer is that we pray directly to the Father, just as Jesus himself did (Matthew 6:12). And within the Lord's prayer, Jesus tells us it is the Father who is forgiving us (Matthew 6:14-15) rather than Jesus, and further that forgiveness is dependent on us seeing what our father in heaven does (forgiving our sins) and then acting like him and doing it ourselves (forgiving those that sin against us).