Name - Christadelphians
Year Founded - 1864
Founder - John Thomas
||Date of Birth & Death - 1805-1871
||Place of Founder's Birth
Size of Group
The movement was founded by physician John Thomas (1805-1871) who had
left the Disciples of Christ in 1844, because of a number of
theological disagreements. He started a periodical that same year,
called "The Herald of the Future Age". Thomas wrote a
book in 1848, titled "Elpis Israel - An Exposition of the
Kingdom of God." He founded a number of groups, starting in
1848; they were commonly referred to as the Thomasites. His
motivation was to return to what he believed to be the beliefs of the
very early Christian church. In 1864, the group adopted a formal name,
the Christadelphians (Brothers of Christ).
The movement survived the death of its founder in 1871. However, a
conflict started during the 1880's in the US over the topic of resurrectional
responsibility. The Unamended group believe that only the
deceased who are "in Christ" will be raised from the
dead and have eternal life; the rest will simply remain dead, without
conscious existence. The Amended group believe that all
who are responsible will be raised from the dead at the time of
the Final Judgment. Those who are not responsible (that is have had no
exposure to the Gospel) will not be raised. The righteous will be judged
according to their works, rewarded appropriately, and live forever. The
wicked will be annihilated, and cease to exist. Before the split, the
entire denomination agreed that Jesus was of fallen human flesh, not
"pure flesh" or "clean flesh" or
"free life." However, since then, some of the amended
group have adopted the belief that Jesus was born pure. This concept has
altered their views of the sacrifice of Christ and the atonement.
Neither group believes in a Hell where the unsaved will be tormented
forever. This difference of belief led to a schism in the movement
within North America. In the rest of the world, Christadelphians follow
the Amended belief system.
During the 1970's, an unsuccessful attempt was made to merge the two
groups in the US. They were unable to find a consensus on the matter of
resurrection responsibility. They remain separate to this day. There are
currently about 90 unamended and 80 amended congregations in the US.
Worldwide, the two groups have some 850 congregations located in Africa,
Australia, New Zealand, North America, South East Asia and throughout
Beliefs of Group
They share many core beliefs with most other conservative Christian
- inerrancy (freedom from error) of the books of the Bible, as they
were originally written.
- the Bible as the source of all religious knowledge.
- the virgin birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- salvation through belief and acceptance of Christ as savior.
However, they differ noticeably in their belief in the nature of God,
Christ, Holy Spirit and Satan.
Their beliefs are similar to those of the "losing sides"
at the first two Ecumenical Councils of the early Christian Church.
- At the Council of Nicea (325 CE), the Bishops of the church
attempted to define the precise nature of Jesus Christ. Arius
(250 - 336 CE) argued that Jesus and God were very separate and
different entities: Jesus was closer to God than any other human
being, but he was born a man. On the other hand, God has been in
existence forever. Arius felt that any attempt to recognize the
deity of Christ would blur the lines between Christianity and pagan,
polytheistic religions. Athanasius (296 - 373) argued that
Jesus was divine, because otherwise, he could not be the Savior.
Both Arius and Athanasius had large followings among the bishops.
The council, under pressure from Emperor Constantine, decided by a
close vote in favor of Athanasius. They wrote the Nicene Creed,
which declared that Jesus Christ was "of one substance with
the Father." This did not settle the question of the
divinity of Christ; many churches refused to accept the council's
- At the Council of Constantinople (381 CE), the earlier
council's decision on the deity of Jesus was confirmed and Arianism
declared a heresy. They also decided that Holy Spirit was the third
Person of the Trinity.
The Christadelphians reject the Trinity and believe that:
- God is a single entity. They are strict monotheists; their beliefs
resemble those of Judaism, Islam and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
- Jesus Christ is the Son of God, an human being who possessed a
human nature. He had no existence prior to his conception circa 6
BCE by the virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit. His lived without sin.
His death atoned for the sins of all believers.
- Holy Spirit is simply the Power of God; it is not a
separate person, but is rather "an unseen power emanating
from the Deity."
- Satan is not a quasi-deity with magical powers. Satan is the
principle of evil which resides in people and promotes them to sin
and rebel against God.
Some additional beliefs include:
- The soul is not immortal. People lose consciousness at death and
do not regain it unless they are resurrected at some date in the
- Salvation requires an adult to both accept the gospel message and
- Christadelphians do not believe in original sin. This is the
traditional Christian concept that every child, at birth, has
inherited part of the sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of
Eden. Quoting the Encyclopedia Britannica: Thus, every newborn
deserves "God's wrath for its share in the original sin of
mankind and before it acquires the guilt of its own actual sin."
- Hell does not exist as a place of eternal torment; it is rather
the state of non-existence in the grave.
- After Jesus returns to earth in the near future, the wicked will
be destroyed and believers will reign with Christ for a millennium.
After that period, those selected for eternal life will live on
- Christadelphians do not believe that the saved will spend eternity
in heaven. They believe that the Kingdom of God will be located on
the Earth, with Jerusalem as its capitol.
Practices & Rituals
They meet weekly on Sundays for a Memorial Meeting or Breaking
|Their local group is called an ecclesia
which is Greek for "congregation". (Plural is ecclesias.)
They average about 20 members each.
|Most of the ecclesias meet in each
other's homes or in rented halls. A few own their own buildings.
|They have no central organizations.
Each ecclesia is autonomous. Coordination is largely through
|They have no paid clergy or church
|Their leaders are called lecturing
brethren, managing brethren and presiding brethren. All are male
volunteers who are elected to their posts.
|Women are given equal voting rights.
|Members do not vote, run for office,
or go to war.
|Many members read the Bible daily;
some use a reading plan which completes the Old Testament once per
year, and the New Testament twice.
|Christadelphians generally discouraged
fellowship with Christians from other denominations.
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