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Cults and World Religions

Christadelphians



"Therefore, we conclude that it is not only that Jesus was called a sinner at his trial by his enemies or that he was "numbered with the transgressors" when he was crucified between two thieves, but more particularly that he shared the very nature which had made a sinner out of every other man who had borne it" (page 74).

"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was first promised, and came into being only when he was born of the virgin Mary" (page 86).

from The Christadelphians:  What They Believe and Preach, by Harry Tennant, The Christadelphian, 404 Shaftmoor Lane, Birmingham B28 8SZ, England, 1986.)

History

The Christadelphians are the creation of one man, Dr. John Thomas. Although born in England, Thomas spent much of his life in the United States. In traveling to America, Dr. Thomas’s ship encountered fierce storms. He “promised” God to devote his life to the study of religion if God would see him through the ordeal of the trip. Having survived, the good doctor commenced to study God’s Word with a group called the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ). However, Thomas disagreed with many of the groups doctrines and soon left, taking some of the group with him.

Thomas became interested in prophecy and soon started publishing. In 1848, Thomas returned to England, and while there lecturing, published, "Elpis Israel" which means "Hope of Israel." This is the work which sets forth most of Thomas’s doctrine. To this date, England maintains the largest number of Christadelphians.

Since Thomas and his group did not believe in participating in war, the out break of the American Civil War forced the group to formalize itself. This is the official start of the Christadelphians. The name was chosen for its Greek translation, “Brethren in Christ.”

Thomas died in 1871, but his movement lives on.

As with all the cults, this group changes two of the essential doctrines. First, they deny the deity of Christ and they add works to salvation by grace. In particular, they find that Jesus is not God in the flesh, having a sin nature and not being eternal. They also deny the substitutionary value of Christ’s death on the Cross. Further, they require that one be baptized to be saved. A more detailed listing of their doctrines will be found at the end of this chapter.

The problem with any cult is its appeal to the world. In this age of tolerance, consider the following description of Christadelphianism from the ReligiousTolerance.org WEB site:

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.

What else is there to differ on?

As with all cults, the group could not maintain its unity. In the 1880&s a dispute erupted over the issue of resurrection. Two divisions emerged from this dispute, and while efforts were made in the 1970s to reunite the groups, such efforts were unsuccessful.

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 (have been exposed to the Gospel) will be raised from the dead at the time of the Final Judgment. Those who are not responsible 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. Neither group believes in a Hell where the unsaved will be tormented forever.

The split occurs entirely in North America, primarily the United States. In the rest of the world, Christadelphians follow the Amended belief system.

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.

Practices

The group is less organized than might be expected and there is no formal governing structure such as with the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Christian Scientists. Most of the “coordination” occurs through the publishing houses and publications.

Beliefs of the Christadelphians, as taken from their literature

 

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