Christadelphian Beliefs and Practices

Christadephian Beliefs
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Christadelphians hold several beliefs that differ from traditional Christian denominations. They reject the Trinity doctrine and believe that Jesus Christ was a man. They do not mingle with other Christians, maintaining that they possess the truth and have no interest in ecumenism. Members of this religion do not vote, do not run for political office, or engage in war.

Christadelphian Beliefs

Baptism

Baptism is mandatory, a visible demonstration of repentance and contrition. Christadelphians hold that baptism is the symbolic participation in Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, resulting in forgiveness of sins.

Bible

The 66 books of the Bible are the inerrant, "inspired word of God." Scripture is complete and sufficient for teaching the way to be saved.

Church

The word "ecclesia" is used by Christadelphians instead of church. A Greek word, it is usually translated "church" in English Bibles. It also means "a people called out." Local churches are autonomous. Christadelphians take pride in the fact that they have no central governing body. 

Clergy

Christadelphians have no paid clergy, nor is there a hierarchical structure in this religion. Elected male volunteers (called lecturing brethren, managing brethren, and presiding brethren) conduct services on a rotating basis. Christadelphians means "Brothers in Christ." Members address each other as "Brother" and "Sister."

Creed

Christadelphian beliefs adhere to no creeds; however, they do have a list of 53 "Commandments of Christ," most drawn from his words in Scripture but some from the Epistles.

Death

The soul is not immortal. The dead are in the "sleep of death," a state of unconsciousness. Believers will be resurrected at Christ's second coming.

Heaven, Hell

Heaven will be on a restored earth, with God reigning over his people, and Jerusalem as its capital. Hell does not exist. Amended Christadelphians believe the wicked, or unsaved, will be annihilated. Unamended Christadelphians believe those "in Christ" will be resurrected to eternal life while the rest will remain unconscious, in the grave.

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is only a force of God in Christadelphian beliefs because they deny the Trinity doctrine. He is not a distinct Person.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is a man, Christadelphians say, not God. He did not exist prior to his earthly incarnation. He was the Son of God and salvation requires acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior. Christadelphians believe that since Jesus died, he cannot be God because God cannot die.

Satan

Christadelphians reject the doctrine of Satan as the source of evil. They believe God is the source of both good and evil (Isaiah 45:5-7).

Trinity

The Trinity is unbiblical, according to Christadelphian beliefs, therefore, they reject it. God is one and does not exist in three Persons.

Christadelphian Practices

Sacraments

Baptism is a requirement for salvation, Christadelphians believe. Members are baptized through immersion, at an age of accountability, and have a pre-baptism interview about the sacrament. Communion, in the form of bread and wine, is shared at the Sunday Memorial Service.

Worship Services

Sunday morning services include worship, Bible study and a sermon. Members share bread and wine to remember Jesus' sacrifice and to anticipate his return. Sunday School is held before this Memorial Meeting for children and young adults. In addition, a mid-week class is held to study the Bible in-depth. All meetings and seminars are conducted by lay members. Members meet in each others' homes, as early Christians did, or in rented buildings. A few ecclesias own buildings.

Founding of the Christadelphians

The denomination was founded in 1848 by Dr. John Thomas (1805-1871), who broke from the Disciples of Christ. A British physician, Thomas became a full-time evangelist after a hazardous and terrifying ocean voyage. Shortly after the ship, the Marquis of Wellesley, had cleared the harbor, storms set in.

Wind broke off the main-mast and the tops of two other masts. At one point the ship nearly ran aground, crashing against the bottom a dozen times. Dr. Thomas uttered a desperate prayer: "Lord have mercy upon me for Christ's sake."

At that moment the wind shifted, and the captain was able to head the vessel away from the rocks. Thomas promised then and there that he would not rest until he uncovered the truth about God and life.

The ship landed weeks behind schedule, but safely. On a subsequent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Thomas met Alexander Campbell, a leader in the Restoration Movement. Thomas became a traveling evangelist, but eventually split from the Campbellites, disagreeing with Campbell in a debate. Thomas later rebaptized himself and was disfellowshipped by the Campbellites.

In 1843, Thomas met William Miller, who founded what eventually became the Seventh-day Adventist Church. They agreed on the second coming of Christ and other doctrines. Thomas traveled to New York and preached a series of sermons which eventually became part of his book Elpis Israel, or The Hope of Israel.

Thomas' goal was to return to the beliefs and practices of early Christianity. In 1847 he was baptized again. A year later he returned to England to preach, and then came back to the States. Thomas and his followers became known as the Royal Association of Believers.

During the American Civil War, people had to belong to a recognized religious group to be conscientious objectors. In 1864 Dr. John Thomas called his group Christadelphians, which means "Brethren in Christ."

Religious Legacy of Dr. John Thomas

During the Civil War, Thomas finished another of his major books, Eureka, which explains the Book of Revelation. He returned to England in 1868 to a warm reception by Christadelphians there.

On that visit, he met Robert Roberts, a newspaper reporter who became a Christadelphian after Thomas' previous British crusade. Roberts was a staunch supporter of Thomas and eventually assumed leadership of the Christadelphians.

After returning to America, Thomas made a final visit to the Christadelphian ecclesias, as their congregations are called. Dr. John Thomas died March 5, 1871, in New Jersey and was buried in Brooklyn, New York.

Thomas did not consider himself a prophet, only an ordinary believer who dug for the truth through intensive Bible study. He was convinced that mainstream Christian doctrines on the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, and heaven and hell were wrong, and he set out to prove his beliefs.

Today's 50,000 Christadelphians are found in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia, Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim. They hold firmly to Dr. John Thomas' teachings, still meet in each others' homes, and separate themselves from other Christians. They believe they live out true Christianity, as practiced in the first-century church.