To the brethren and sisters of Central Fellowship ecclesias
Individually and collectively, in ecclesial life and worship,
we have for the past five years, enjoyed the fruits of Unity in Christ
These fruits unto God spring from the free spiritual and
social intercourse of minds, untrammelled by the tensions and stresses of
doctrinal controversy. Under this stimulus, our minds bend towards the more
important tasks of proclaiming the gospel to a perishing world, and of
nourishing and admonishing the household to a greater understanding of the Word
of God; with appreciation of spiritual values and conduct in Christ.
In expressing thanks to our Heavenly Father for this respite
from long periods of household division, we are mindful that the labour and
wisdom of our late beloved John Carter, expended in personal sacrifice, was
instrumental in setting unity on a firm and acceptable basis in Australia. Nor
can we forget the goodwill and energy of individual brethren and ecclesias of
both fellowships, now united, who laboured assiduously in committee, to
formulate an acceptable basis of fellowship, and to gain common assent from
practically the whole brotherhood throughout Australia.
It is now felt by ecclesias generally, and by many responsible
brethren throughout the Commonwealth, that the lapse of five years since the
establishment of unity, calls for a comprehensive record and reminder of the
principles of doctrine and fellowship, constituting the basis of Unity in
Australia. Also to remind us that this unity was virtually an extension of the
unity achieved in England between the two fellowships there. This made it
possible for all ecclesias assenting to unity, both here and in Great Britain,
to subscribe to what is known as the “Central Fellowship”.
If the booklet constitutes in some way, a memorial to the late
John Carter, it is incidentally so. It is because we cannot separate unity from
the rich spiritual insight that he brought to bear upon the nature and sacrifice
of Christ. Unity is equally indebted to his restrained but objective approach to
the personal problems involved. as well as his lucid explanation of words and
terms in and out of scripture, which hitherto were surrounded with some
confusion of thought.
The two outstanding addresses by Bro. Carter, delivered in
Australia in 1958, under the titles, “The Atonement” and
“Isaiah Chapter 53”, lifted the subject under review to a high
spiritual plane and are reproduced here, as perhaps the highlight of his
contribution to ecclesial unity in Australia. The beauty and profundity of these
expositions are strongly commended to the brethren and sisters, for earnest
study and meditation.
The several articles appearing in “The
Christadelphian”, 1958, under the title “The Truth in
Australia”, resulted from his visit here and are reproduced, by kind
permission of the present Editor, to remind us of the actual “Basis of
Fellowship” finally accepted. They also serve to show the mind of Bro.
Carter on those more difficult aspects of doctrine. His humble and reverent
approach to difficult scriptural passages served to avoid the more rabid and
extreme interpretations of past years, which were responsible for much
misunderstanding and division.
Perhaps we can never rise to a worthwhile understanding and
deep appreciation of the Truth in its various aspects, until we are confronted
by a challenge. This applies both to our “inward” and
“outward” responsibilities in the service of Christ.
It is well said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
and anything so valuable as unity in the brotherhood, achieved by prayerful
labour, study and personal sacrifice, and which sustains our sacred liberty in
Christ, is equally worth all of our prayers, labour and goodwill for its
In compiling this record, we have omitted certain of the
matter in the articles from “The Christadelphian” where this was
considered irrelevant to the end in view. It was thought desirable to include
Bro. Carter’s references to “historic” controversies, which
have undoubtedly assisted in leading us to a more mature and balanced
understanding of the central theme of our Salvation in Christ.
It is the earnest desire and prayer of the Central Standing
Committee, that this short history of unity achievement among the
Christadelphian ecclesias of Australia, may stimulate each and every brother and
sister to a higher appreciation of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.
Also that it may give us a higher sense of duty towards the preservation of
those principles of doctrine and fellowship, which form the basis of our Unity
—The Australian Christadelphian Central Standing Committee.
Sydney, August, 1963.