Thursday, 6 November 2014

Who are the Christadelphians

Base for a community

Since the day Jesus got followers, there were serious people who loved to follow everything Jesus told them to belief and to do. Many of them had to bring a lot of changes to their life, which was not always received kindly by family and friends. But they found it more important to take actions under the Law of Christ, doing the Will of God Like Jesus also wanted only to do the Will of his and our heavenly Father.

Those beliefs and practices of the earliest disciples continued to live by many individuals throughout the ages. Several enthusiast continued the preaching work the apostles had started and did not mind going to places far away to preach the Gospel of the Good News, the coming Kingdom of God. Around the world countless independent communities were founded on the same believes the early followers of Christ had. Those people who came together in several places, private and public, found it most important to follow the Holy Scriptures, The Bible, which they considered to be the infallible Word of God.  For them the best way to get to know what God wanted from them and humankind was to eagerly study the Bible and to accept its simple teachings, above the teachings of man

The beliefs and practices of the Christadelphians can be traced from the New Testament to the earliest Christians of the 1st and 2nd Centuries in documents such as the Epistle of Clement, The Didache and The Apostles’ Creed.

With the advent of religious freedom in Europe in the 16th Century Reformation and the the Antitrinitarian Council of Venice in 1550, the same beliefs and practices resurfaced in Bible-minded groups such as the Swiss Anabaptists and Polish Socinians. The early English Baptists held similar beliefs (although these beliefs are not held by Baptists today and at the turn of the 20th century many left the Baptist community because it had become more and more trinitarian). In the 18th Century many leading figures in the Enlightenment such as Sir Isaac Newton and William Whiston held these beliefs.

 

A renewed movement

In the world of the Christian religion many times people found it necessary to react against the activities of religious behaviour or against the way of living at that time.

Early in the 19°century lots of people did not like how things were going in their country and looked for better pastures somewhere else. Going from one place to an other far away place they had  lots of time to think about their and others way of life and about the world they were living. They also were confronted by the beauties of nature and looked for the Hand of God.

The modern Christadelphian movement has its origin in the 1830s, an age of revival and reform in America and England. The British medical doctor, John Thomas (1805-1871), whose family descended from French Huguenot refugees, emigrated to America in 1832 where he joined a group of evangelical Christians, the Campbellites. He disagreed with their beliefs and pursued his own study of the Bible. In May 1834 the first issue appeared of his magazine the Apostolic Advocate (1834-39).

He began to believe that the basis of knowledge before baptism was greater than the Restoration Movement believed and also that widely held orthodox Christian beliefs were blatantly wrong. His difference on the works we should do to be able to come in the Kingdom of God and the preaching of these beliefs as necessary for salvation met with a lot of controversial debates particularly between Dr Thomas and Alexander Campbell. For him it was clear that be baptised was not always a clear way to the hope we all should have, to inherit the Kingdom.
In 1843 Dr Thomas was introduced to William Miller, the leader of the Millerites, and agreed with their belief in the second coming of Christ and the founding of a millennial age upon His return.

 

Groups around bible students

John Thomas
Going around the New Country he encouraged many to study the Bible and those Bible Students in turn created small groups or home-churches were they tried to go back to the way the first Christians worshipped. Exchanging his ideas with many other enthusiast Bible students he started bringing all their ideas together and putting them in order. Sometimes it is held against him that he took ideas of different denominations and formed his own sort of faith, but he found what was right should be kept and what was false or doctrinal teaching should have to be abandoned.

He arrived at his unique interpretation of various Bible doctrines by about 1848 and attracted a small group of followers who were, at first, known as 'Thomasites'.

John Thomas published the magazines The Herald of the Future Age (1843-49) and Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come (1851-61). His writings from writings from 1845-61 were posthumous published as Faith In the Last Days. 
The Herald of the Kingdom set out Bible teaching on the resurrection and the Kingdom of God.


On 1 January 1834 in Philadelphia John Thomas married Ellen Hunt who became his lifelong companion and constant support throughout the trials of faith that persisted throughout his life. John Thomas made never a claim to any vision or personal revelation and wanted never to be seen a a prophet.

In Britain a journalist named Robert Roberts took up the same cause in the Ambassador of the Coming Age. Thomas and Roberts made no claims to any vision or personal revelations - only to try to be honest students of the Bible.

 

 

To be registered

In 1854  Bro. John Thomas wrote in the Herald of the Kingdom and Age To Come a "Constitution Of the Royal Association Of Believers In New York" which was also published as The Old Man and The New Man In The Coming Tribulation.
 
When the American Civil War broke out in 1861 those Christian groups who did not fight were required to register with the Union government. Sam Coffman and other brothers in Ogle County, Illinois, registered themselves as "Brethren in Christ, or in a word Christadelphian". This name was soon adopted by many like-minded groups of believers in America and Britain. Since then, independent Christadelphian groups have been established in countries all over the world.

Those Bible students did not want to be lovers of the world but make sure that they came together as loving of the law of God, finding it a characteristic of the faithful, who search the Scriptures daily as circumstances allow.

 

Robert Roberts

The man who is mainly responsible for having a worldwide community under the name of Christadelphians or having several  Brothers in Christ adhering to the teachings of Dr. John Thomas is the son of a captain of a small coasting vessel, Robert Roberts, born in Link Street, Aberdeen, Scotland (1839 – 1898).
After he had come across a copy of a magazine, belonging to his sister, entitled the Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, by Thomas, when in his teens he started his Bible studies in earnest.

After reading Thomas’ book Elpis Israel, with Bible in hand, he became convinced of its soundness, and ceased attending the Calvinistic Baptist chapel with his family. He was baptised in 1853 aged 14 as part of the "Baptised Believers" (this was 11 years before the name 'Christadelphian' was coined by John Thomas; he was re-baptized in 1863 "on attaining to an understanding of the things concerning the name of Jesus, of which he was ignorant at his first immersion")

The reading plan, later published as The Bible Companion, to facilitate his daily systematic reading of the Scriptures he developed is still followed by many Christadelphians and other Biblestudents.

He married Jane Norrie in Edinburgh on April 8, 1859. They had 6 children, only three of whom survived into adulthood.

Being of one faith

Christadelphians want to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ (Jeshua) and would love to become like the Nazarene man, only doing the will of God.
In the Christadelphian faith each person is responsible for himself and has to make their own choices, this with the knowledge that every man's work is always a portrait of himself.

For Christadelphians it is not persons or organisations that we do have to follow, but we may not be so bounded to the world that we keep to the traditions of that world. Everything what is against the Word of God and against the Will of God, we should avoid to be connected with. Each of us has to make sure to whom we want to be enslaved, man or God.

Christadelphians are convinced that the God of gods is a loving God Who has given His Word for humankind as a guide and a message which can build us up. We should take it at heart so that it can bring us as individuals to faith in God and His Son and can make us to become one part of the sharing community which should be part of the Body of Christ, all having God's hope as our hope.

All believing in only One God, Who has given us His son as the only one mediator between God an man, for salvation, should come into Fellowship to help each other to grow if faith. Christadelphians do believe that it was God Who sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
The Christadelphians do believe that this Jew from Nazareth, born in the tribe of King David was a man of flesh and blood who, though tempted several times, did not sin. He died to show God’s righteousness and to redeem those who receive this sacrifice by faith. God raised him from the dead, gave him immortality, granted him all authority in heaven and on earth, and set him, the one with the other name, as the mediator between God and man in whose death is glorification. (Romans 3:21-26; Ephesians 1:19-23; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:5) 

The Christadelphians want to give Jeshua or Jesus Christ full honour for what he has done. They believe that the unbiblical doctrine of the Trinity diminishes the work of Christ by denying both his humanity and the reality of his death. For if he was God he was not tempted, and could not die. (1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Hebrews 5:8)

The Christadelphians do believe that the Divine Creator has given many promises to the world which shall become fulfilled and are fulfilled in Jesus Christ and give the believers reason to treasure that Great and Precious Promise. (Acts 13:32; Genesis 13:14-17, 22:15-18; 2 Samuel 7:12,16; Luke 1:31-33; Galatians 3:6-9,16,26-29) Knowing those many promises they are convinced that the world shall not end. Only this system will end but those who believe in the son of God will not perish, but have everlasting or eternal life, because God shall receive us on the basis of our faith. (Matthew 1:20-21, 3:17; Luke 1:35; John 3:16) 

The only hope of life after death is the resurrection of the body and everlasting life in God’s kingdom on earth after the Conclusion of the System of Things. (Psalms 49:12-20; John 11:25-26; Acts 24:15; Romans 8:22-39; 1 Corinthians 15:12; Revelation 5:10, 20:4; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:31-34; Luke 21:20-32; John 5:28-29; Acts 1:11; 2 Tim 4:1; Revelation 22:12)
The Christadelphians do believe that the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. Jesus will be king in Jerusalem; his rule will be worldwide and his government will bring eternal righteousness and peace. (Psalms 72; Isaiah 2:2-4, 9:6-7, 11:1-9, 61:1-11; Jeremiah 3:17; Daniel 2:44, 7:14,27; Acts 3:21)

The Christadelphians are convinced that the way to enter the kingdom of God is by faith. This involves belief in the Bible and obedience to its requirements that men and women confess their sins, repent, be baptised and follow Jesus faithfully. (Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 16:16; John 3:3-5; Acts 2:37-38, 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 11:6)

As parts of the body of Christ we should take all opportunities to share a love like brothers and sisters, reading and studying the Bible, as our only authority, with each other. Together the Christadelphians do look forward to the return of Christ at the Last Days, believing that he will return in power to set up a worldwide theocracy beginning at Jerusalem. Though they believe that we do not know when the Messiah shall return, the Christadelphians believe the world can see the signs of the days coming to an end and that we should prepare ourselves to be ready to enter the Kingdom of God.

For the Christadelphians no one is infallible. We all have our own shortcomings. They also believe each of us has to work on their own failings but should also be prepared to help others to overcome their inadequacies. This helping each other should be done in agapé or brotherly love, together tasting a great promisse of being renewed under Christ.

 

Organisation

Coming together to study the Bible
The Christadelphians want to show the world that not all christians are followers of a Greco-Roman culture, and that we best take care to come to live according to what the Bible teaches. With Power in their life they do find it important to come together at regular times. But their meetings or not dependent of one greater organisation; All Christadelphian groups have their own independence.

Following the teaching and example of the Apostle Paul all Christadelphians aim to support themselves and their family by honest work. Certain professions (politics, the military, the police, criminal law) are avoided. (I Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12) For the work of God, the work in the ecclesia, the preaching, the members are not paid for and as such always do have to provide for their own means to live properly.
In the communities there is also no demand to give money to the ecclesia or to tithe (give 10% of our income to the church) because in the Old Testament tithes were to provide for the (Levitical) priesthood - which has now been abolished.(Numbers 18:24; Hebrews 7:1-28)

Christadelphians gathering at the Belgian ecclesia Brussel-Leuven
Christadelphians are, both individually and in groups, involved in charitable work and giving. However they try not to "do our works to be seen of men", and also do not mix charity with preaching to avoid people coming to Christ for the wrong reasons. (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27, 2:15-16; Matthew 6:1-4; John 6:26)

They want to be an open community welcoming everybody without any distinction for culture, race or colour. all people are considered to be created in the image of God and being part of creation and as being a creature of God should be respected likewise.

 

Christadelphianism


Christadelphianism is nothing more nor less than the result of that principle that God intended men to make themselves acquainted with the Bible, the word of God, and to embrace what it teaches, and reject what it denounces, however many may be arrayed against the conclusions to which the study of it may lead them.

All over the world there are different Christadelphian groups which may have or may not have any connection with each other. Most of them are belonging to one of the main deviations like the Amended, Unamended, Central (with the CBM-mlembers), Bereans, Dawn Christadelphians, Carlinks, Christadelphian Bible Students, or are just Free Christadelphians.
Further there are Thomasites, Old-Path, Antipas,  Maranatha Christadelphians, Nasu Christadelphians, Republic Christadelphians, or
Some other groups also may be considered belonging to the Christadelphian breed: Nazarene Fellowship, Nazarene Friends, Church of God of Abrahamic Faith, Abrahamic Faith church, Commandments of Christ, Remnant of Christ's Ecclesia ,United Shepherds, Restoration Fellowship, Restoration church, a.o..

All of the members are free to read whatever theological writings and no Christadelphian writer is considered to have all the knowledge and power. they themselves also not consider themselves as pope, bishop, theologian, or a prophet every Christadelphian should believe in and follow.
Each Christadelphian is free to express himself or herself and every ecclesia, wherever in the world is free to organise its own ecclesia as they want. there is not a central committee that decides everything for all the Christadelphians over the world.

They all are under Christ, liberated and as such not bounded to any man or organisation, but to Christ.

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