Resurrectional Responsibility

Should It Be Made A Test of Fellowship?

A Reprint of a Study by

 Bro. G.E. Clementson


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 judgment seat.

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.


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Updated last on 2023-02-07.