Questions and Answers About The
- When were the Christadelphians established?
The origins of the modern Christadelphian movement can be traced back to an English doctor, Dr.
John Thomas who emigrated to America in 1832. Circumstances led him away from medicine and towards the Bible, upon which he lectured and wrote extensively for the last thirty years of his life.
Congregations holding Christadelphian views began to form around 1840.
What does the name "Christadelphian" mean?
In order to register as conscientious objectors in the American Civil War, early members of our movement were asked to take an identifying name. Both the English expression "Brethren in Christ" (taken from Colossians 1:2) and the one-word equivalent "Christadelphian" were chosen.
The name "Christadelphian" is formed from three Greek roots: Christos (Christ), adelphoi (brethren) and the ending -ianos. The name can be compared to others like "Christian" (one belonging to Christ) and "Philadelphia" (city of brotherly love).
Both the names "Christadelphian" and "Brethren in Christ" are used in our community around the world, with the term "Christadelphian" being more common in English-speaking countries.
- Where are Christadelphians found?
Christadelphians are located throughout the world (in something like 120 countries at last count). Like the early Christians, we meet in homes, rented rooms, and, in some cases, our own halls.
- How are Christadelphians
We are a lay community patterned after first century Christianity. Members of each congregation are addressed as "Brother" and "Sister", and all have an equal responsibility for the welfare of the congregation. While a strong common belief (enshrined in a Statement of Faith) binds our Brotherhood together, local congregations (or ecclesias) are autonomous.
- Why are Christadelphian churches called "ecclesias"?
The word ecclesia is lifted from the Greek New Testament. Its basic meaning is that which is called out, and in our English Bibles the word is usually translated as "church". However, over the years, the word "church" has come to refer more to a building than a people. Since the building in which we meet has no relevance to our salvation (Acts 7:48-50) we call ourselves an "ecclesia", that is, people called out to serve God.
- What kind of people are Christadelphians?
We are made up of people from most walks of life. We would like to think that we are normal, but our beliefs do tend to be held with a strong conviction and this probably reflects in our character.
Our faith encourages us to be enthusiastic in our work, loyal in our marriages, generous in our giving, dedicated in our preaching, content in our circumstances. We tend to have little interest in much that the modern world finds entertaining; for example most of us would rarely, if ever, turn to the television for comfort or relaxation.
- What do Christadelphians do?
We hold regular meetings for worship, Bible study, and preaching. The most important of these is held every Sunday morning when all the congregation meets together for "the breaking of bread". This is a service in which, after an exhortational talk, Christadelphians share bread and wine in remembrance of our Lord's sacrifice and in anticipation of his return.
By doing this we are obeying the instruction of Jesus, through the Apostle Paul, given in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
(we also call this service our "Memorial Meeting"). The meeting is preceded by a Sunday School (for children and young adults).
We have a mid-week Bible Class for in-depth study, and we also hold regular
to preach the gospel. We do not have a paid ministry (or clergy); all our studies, seminars and administrative activities are performed in turn by our own members.
- Why won't we worship with other Christians?
We are not an ecumenical movement because we believe that agreement on doctrine is important (see for example Ephesians 4:4-6),
and therefore we only break bread and drink wine (communion) with other Christadelphians, because
we share with them a common faith and understanding of the gospel.
- What's so different about Christadelphian beliefs?
Hardly any Christadelphian belief is unique to us, but major differences with most of Christendom would include:
- we do not accept the Trinity of the Godhead; Jesus is God's son and not co-equal with the Father;
- we believe the Christian's hope is the resurrection from
the dead to eternal life, and not the departing of an invisible soul to heaven
upon death ;
- we do not have paid clergy members, but rather we
participate together as members of the body of Christ, preaching, exhorting,
singing and praying.;
- we look forward to the overthrow of human governments at the return of Christ.
- Although we give Dr Thomas much of the credit for outlining a coherent exposition of Biblical truth, Christadelphians do not treat his writings as in any way inspired or especially authoritative (Thomas's books are not a Christadelphian equivalent to "Science and Health" or "The Great Controversy". The authority for our faith and beliefs comes entirely from the inspired word of God (both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible):
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (1 Tim 3:16).
- Colossians 1:2
"To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse; Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
- Lay: i.e. having no special priesthood or paid ministry. All Christadelphians have an equal responsibility to minister to one another, to study the scriptures and to engage in preaching the gospel.
- Autonomous: Christadelphian ecclesias make independent decisions. There is no central hierarchy or bureaucracy which sets Christadelphian policy.
- Acts 7:48-50
"... however, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?"
- Christadelphian occupations: as an example, amongst the Wellington ecclesia you might find examples of accountants, artists, civil servants, chemists, computer consultants, electricians, executives, mechanics, salesmen, writers.
You won't find any Christadelphian politicians, soldiers or policemen. This is because we are "campaigning" for the coming kingdom of God and cannot actively support any alternative ideology. We offer our support to Christ the king and do not swear allegiance to any earthly crowned head or government. As the Bible says (in Philippians 3:20), "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ". We can leave politics and the like to the providence and power of God to control:
"the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whoever He chooses." (Daniel 5:21).
- 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."
- Ecumenical: this word, derived from the Greek term for the entire world, has come to mean "promoting universal Christian unity".
- Ephesians 4:4-6
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."