The Christadelphians are a small Christian denomination. They might best be described
as a conservative Christian movement which differs from conventional denominations in
their beliefs concerning the nature of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and Satan.
Some conservative Christians in the Counter-Cult Movement
(CCM) consider the Christadelphians to be a cult. Religious liberals, academic researchers, and
others consider them a new religious movement. Their theological beliefs are
much closer to those of the original Christian movement -- the Jewish Christian
church founded by Jesus' followers and centered in Jerusalem under the leadership of James -- than it is to most
current Christian faith groups.
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:
group believes 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
The Amended group believes that all who are responsible
will be raised from the dead at the time of the Final Judgment. The "responsible"
are those who have been exposed to the Gospel. The righteous among the
responsible ones will be judged according to their works, rewarded
appropriately, and live forever. The wicked will be annihilated, and
cease to exist. Those who are not
responsible, since they had never heard the Gospel, will not be raised.
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 tortured forever.
The differences in belief between the amended and unamended groups 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 Europe.
They share many core beliefs with most other conservative Protestant Christian denominations:
Inerrancy (freedom from error) of the books of the Bible, as they
were originally written.
The Bible's authors were inspired
directly by God.
The Bible is the source of all religious knowledge.
Salvation through belief and acceptance of
Christ as Savior.
Jesus will return to Earth soon.
Strict unamended Christadelphians do believe in original sin. This is the concept that every
child, at birth, has
inherited part of the sin committed by Adam and Eve
in the Garden of Eden. As explained in the Encyclopedia Britannica, original sin
means that 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."
8 Most Christadelphians reject the concept.
They differ from many other Christian denominations in other beliefs:
The soul is not immortal. People lose consciousness at death and do not regain it unless
they are resurrected at the time of the Final Judgment at some date in the future.
Salvation requires an adult to both accept the gospel message and be baptized.
Hell does not exist as a place of eternal torment. Those who do not
attain eternal life are in a 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.
Christadelphians believe that the Kingdom of God will be located on the Earth, with Jerusalem as its
Christadelphian beliefs concerning God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit:
There is considerable confusion concerning their beliefs in God, Jesus and
the Holy Spirit.
Many information sources
describe the group as having abandoned the traditional concept of the
Trinity in favor of polytheism -- a belief in multiple Gods. The vast majority of Christian
denominations follow the early Church councils and view God as a single deity composed of three persons:
God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These sources external to the
Christadelphians frequently base
their assessment on writings by the group's founder, John Thomas. In this
book Phanerosis, he wrote:
"There are not three Gods in the Godhead; nor are there but three
in manifestation; nevertheless, the Father is God and Jesus is God;
and we may add, so are all the brethren of Jesus gods; and 'a
multitude which no man can number.' The Godhead is the homogeneous
fountain of the Deity; these other gods are the many streams which
form this fountain flow. The springhead of Deity is one, not many;
the streams as numerous as the orbs of the universe, in which a
manifestation of Deity may have hitherto occurred."
However, Christadelphians do not necessarily still accept all of
Thomas' beliefs today -- including this one.
An accurate description of their beliefs is found in their Statement
of Faith (a.k.a. the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith or BASF).
God the Father is a single indivisible unity. They reject the
belief in a Trinity containing three separate personalities. They hold
this belief in common with Judaism,
Islam, Sikhism and
the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Jesus is a God manifestation -- a reflection and representative of God. Jesus is fully a man. He was and remains distinctly separate
from God. This agrees with the beliefs about Jesus held by the
Jewish Christian church prior to the return of Paul to Judea circa
38 CE. But it conflicts with the beliefs of most Christian
denominations who view Jesus as fully man and fully God.
Jesus had no
existence prior to his conception circa 6 BCE by the virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit.
was born with a fully human nature. However, he lived without sin.
One proof of Jesus' nature being entirely human is that he died on the cross.
He was raised by God the Father to eternal life. Afterwards,
Jesus ascended to Heaven.
Jesus will return soon and create a kingdom of God in Jerusalem.
This kingdom will then spread across the entire world.
Their document "Our Faith and Beliefs" states that
salvation requires good works:
"We reject as unbiblical the idea that Christ could die as a
replacement sacrifice for us, thus
covering all our sins forever with that one act. Certainly it is
through his sacrifice that we may be forgiven, but only if we walk
the path of self-denial that he marked out for us." 12
They view the Holy Spirit is simply the Power of God; it is not a separate person, but is
"... radiant visible power from the Father. It is an
unseen power emanating from the Deity, filling all space, and by which
God is everywhere present. It is the medium by which God created all
Christadelphian beliefs concerning the Devil and Satan:
The Devil is not viewed by Christadelphians as a quasi-deity with magical powers who travels the
Earth trying to lure people into sin --as is believed by most conservative
Christian groups. Based on Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 7:21-28, Matthew 15:19, James
other passages, they stress that "Temptation and hence sin, comes from inside
the person, not outside." Satan is viewed as the principle of evil which
resides in people and motivates them to sin and rebel against God.
They point out that the words "devil" does not appear in the
Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). In the New Testament, these terms are
sometimes used to translate the Greek word "diabolos" which means a human
slanderer or false accuser. Examples are John 6:70, 1 Timothy 3:11, 2 Timothy
3:1-3 and Titus 2:3.
"Satan" in Hebrew and "satanas" in Greek means an opponent or
adversary. Examples are: Matthew 16:23 when Peter was considered an adversary
because he opposed what Jesus wanted to do at the time. In Acts 5, Sapphira was an adversary. 14
They meet weekly on Sundays for a Memorial Meeting or Breaking of Bread
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
They have no central organization. Each ecclesia is autonomous. Coordination is largely
through publishing houses.
They have no paid clergy or church hierarchy.
Their leaders are classified as lecturing brethren, managing brethren and presiding brethren.
All are male volunteers who are elected to their posts. In common with many
conservative Christian denominations, women are excluded from positions
of authority. However, they are given equal voting rights.
Members do not vote, run for political 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.
Some Christadelphians discourage their members having fellowship with Christians from other
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the
above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today:
G.A. Mather & L.A. Nichols, Dictonary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult,
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, (1993), P. 54-59
F.S. Mead & S.S. Hill, Handbook of Denominations in the United States, 10th
Edition, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN (1995)
J.G. Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, Triumph Books, New York, NY
Amended Christadelphians, c/o Christadelphian Book Store, 14651 Livonia, Detroit,
The Christadelphian Magazine is published monthly in Birmingham, U.K.
The Australian Christadelphian Home Page has a very complete collection of
literature, courses, information, mailing lists etc. They are at:
J. Thomas, & H. Mansfield, "Phanerosis: An exposition of the doctrines of the Old and New Testaments
concerning the Manifestation of the invisible eternal God in Human Nature." Logos Publications (1997)
"The Bible--God's Word Wholly Inspired and Infallible," The Christadelphians, 1997-OCT, at:
"The Way of Life, Part3," The Christadelphian Sunday School Union of
Birmingham, UK, 1999-MAY, at: http://www.cssu.org.uk/
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