Regarding Roger Stokes and E.M. Kito

(Investigator 14, 1990 September)

Mr Roger Stokes, a Christadelphian in the Adelaide Hills, and Mr W.M. Kitto of Stirling have apparently both backed out of a proposed debate in Investigator on the Sabbath doctrine.

Mr Stokes would have contended that Christians are not required to keep a Sabbath day — neither Saturday nor Sunday. Mr Kitto would have started in the debate by supplying a pamphlet supporting Sunday observance.

Mr Stokes separated from other Christadelphians in 1973 and leads a splinter group now numbering 18. He still agrees with the main body on the Sabbath question and so could have represented them.

The group paid for the production and distribution of Mr Stokes' 435-page 1987 book The Jews, Rome And Armageddon.

4,000 were produced for $18,000. Said Mr Stokes when interviewed by Investigator editors: "A full page newspaper ad cost us $7,000 and resulted in 1,500 requests."

The book is given away for free. It's wealth of detail suggests that Mr Stokes would have had the ability to contend about the Sabbath had he chosen to.

The book starts with an attack on evolution referred to (wrongly according to other texts we consulted) as "blind chance", proceeds to the history of the Jews, Armageddon and the destruction of the Catholic Church and spices this with unconventional interpretations of the Bible book of Revelation.

Admitted Mr Stokes: "I felt strongly that Jesus would return in around 1982."

Mr Stokes regards his book and his group's other attempts at evangelising as very important because everyone who doesn't correctly understand the Bible as he does is soon to face death.

Mr Stokes studied engineering at the University of Adelaide in 1956 at which time he was also baptized by Christadelphians. He was then about 17.

Explained Mr Stokes: "I was one of the founding members of the Woodville Ecclesia and helped to build the Hall. I was brought up as a Christadelphian with all the trappings, friends and meetings. But all that ended in 1973."

The problem was disagreement about the "atonement" — the doctrine of how the death of Jesus provides salvation. Australian Christadelphians split over this issue in 1904 and stayed divided until 1958 when the two main bodies produced a joint statement.

Mr Stokes didn't like the joint statement. "Many are called but few are chosen," he explained, evidently implying that he himself is chosen.
Mr Stokes compared this to the dispute about circumcision in the 1st-century Church when having the wrong view and sticking to it made a person "accursed". That's in the Bible in Galatians.

Mr Kitto is the State Secretary of the Lord's Day Observance Society which was founded in England in 1830 by a group of Anglican churchmen.

The aim of the Society is to promote Sunday as "The Lord's Day". This is the official Protestant position but the Society promotes it actively by publicizing tracts, writing to parliamentarians and opposing all use of Sunday for secular purposes.

Contacted by telephone, Mr Kitto, aged about 75, was at first eager to defend his views. He then received a copy of Investigator No. 12 which analyses several controversial topics and demonstrated a clear decision in at least one instance. Mr Kitto then backed out.
Investigator includes occasional theological debates because about half the readers have some interest in theology.

One reader pointed to Romans 14 in the Bible where it says: "One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind."

Originally, Roger Stokes was told we would try to match him against the Seventh Day Adventists who believe in observance of Saturday. These might have been "harder nuts to crack" than Mr Kitto.

At any rate the result seems to be that the faithful — or two who believe they are — took fright.