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Christadelphians

The Christadelphians are a Christian denomination, in the inclusivist sense. However, they prefer to avoid being called Christian in order to draw a distinction between themselves and the majority of Christians, since many of their views are different.

The Christadelphians were founded in the 19th century by John Thomas, and the name comes from the Greek meaning "Brothers [and Sisters] in Christ".

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Authority Christadelphians believe that the Bible is the only source of knowledge concerning God and his purpose with the earth and with mankind, that it was wholly given by inspiration of God in the writers (II Tim 3:16 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/2Ti/2Ti003#16)), and is consequently without error, except such as may be due to errors of transcription or translation.

They therefore reject tradition, human organisations and human leaders as having any authority concerning the things of God (Isa 8:20 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Isa/Isa008#20)).

Nevertheless, they do believe that the authority of rulers and political leaders should be respected and adhered to as far as they do not require action in direct contradiction of the teachings of the Bible (Rom 13:1-2 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rom/Rom013#top), Mark 12:17 (http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Mar/Mar012#17)).

Beliefs Their belief in the Bible, along with a desire to return to the beliefs held by Christ and his followers in the first century AD lead them to hold the following beliefs:

  • There is only one God - the Father. The Holy Spirit is His power, by which, with His angels, he created the earth for His glory. ()
  • Jesus is the Son of God, and a human being through his mother, Mary. God sent him into the world to declare his glory and righteousness, and to provide a way of salvation by his death and resurrection. He was only able to do this by living a sinless life before God, whilst bearing the sin-prone nature common to mankind.
  • Man is mortal, having no existence while dead. On death, his body returns to the dust from which he was created, and his breath returns to his maker. Death, along with sinful human nature, came into the world following Adam's sin. As a result, all since Adam have sinned (Rom 3:23) and are thus worthy of the sentence of death that has passed upon them.
  • Belief and Baptism are essential steps to salvation. Only when a believer is baptised into the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12) is he associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and hence heirs of salvation (Rom 6:4-5). To this end, baptism is considered as the full immersion of an adult believer, rather than the sprinkling of an ignorant infant (Acts 8:36-38).
  • God raised Jesus from the dead - God, through his righteousness and love, would not allow the sinless Jesus to remain in the grave. He raised Jesus to life, and to His right hand in heaven, from where he will return (Acts 1:11). Since God has promised to grant forgiveness to repentant believers, and to count their faith in him as righteousness, he will not allow them to remain in the grave, and will raise them, too, from the dead. This will happen at the return of Jesus to earth.
  • The Kingdom of God - At his return, Jesus will raise believers from the dead, grant them eternal life, and set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed (Dan 2:44).

They reject the doctrine of the immortal soul as unscriptural, rather asserting that all men return to the dust from which they were created (Eccl 12v7) when they die. They also absolutely reject the doctrine of the Trinity on the same basis.

It is their view that the teachings of the Bible have been perverted by mainstream Christianity. They do not believe in tradition, but make a point of deriving everything from the holy scriptures. Every member is expected to study the scriptures for himself.

Most male members are eligible to teach and perform other duties, and these are usually assigned on a rotation, rather than having a designated preacher or minister. Governance is handled with a democratic model, typically with an elected board.

There are different roles for men and women. Women are not eligible for the elected offices or to lead the services. They are allowed to participate in all discussions, to teach the children, and do most other activities. They do not however believe that women are inferior.

In attempting to get back to the original teachings of the Bible, Christadelphians take issue with a number of standard Christian doctrines.

They do not believe in a fallen-angel devil or Satan, looking instead at the literal meaning of the words. Depending on context, the word "Satan" can refer to human (sin-prone) nature, or to some specific adversary.

There are a few different "fellowships" in the Christadelphian faith; the Amended Christadelphians, the Unamended Christadelphians, and the Berean Christadelphians. Contact between these groups is limited, though various reunion efforts have been tried.

Christadelphians can be primarily found in the United States, England, and Australia. Ecclesias are small compared to the major denominations, ranging in size from a few families to a few hundred members at most. Most ecclesias have fewer than one hundred members. Membership is growing rapidly in the non-English-speaking world, particularly Africa, India and Eastern Europe.

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