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Christadelphians (from the Greek for Brothers of Christ / Christ's Brethren: Christou Adelphoi; cf. Greek of Colossians 1:2—"brethren in Christ")[1] are a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century. The name was coined by John Thomas, who was the group's founder. Although no official membership figures are published the Columbia Encyclopedia gives an estimated figure of 50,000 Christadelphians[2] in 120 countries[3] established in many countries throughout the world,[4] along with isolated members. Census statistics are available for some countries. Estimates for the main centres of Christadelphian population are as follows: United Kingdom (18,000),[5] Australia (9,987),[6] Malawi (7,000),[7] Mozambique (5,300),[8] United States (6,500),[9] Canada (3,375),[10] New Zealand (1,782),[11] Kenya (1,700), India (1,300), Tanzania (1,000), and Philippines (1,000).[12][13] This puts the figure at around 60,000.

History and development

The Restoration movement and John Thomas (up to 1871)

The Christadelphian religious group can be traced back to Dr John Thomas, who moved to America from England in the mid-19th century. Following a near shipwreck he vowed to find out the truth about life and God through personal Biblical study. Initially he sought to avoid the kind of sectarianism he had seen in England. In this he found sympathy with the rapidly emerging Restoration Movement in America at the time. This movement sought for a reform based upon the Bible alone as a sufficient guide and rejected all creeds. However this liberality eventually led to dissent as John Thomas developed in his personal beliefs and started to question mainstream orthodox Christian beliefs. Whilst they accepted his ability to have his own beliefs, when he started preaching that they were essential to salvation, it led to a fierce series of debates with a notable leader of the movement, Alexander Campbell. John Thomas believed that scripture, as God's word, did not sustain a multiplicity of differing beliefs, and challenged the leaders to continue with the process of restoring first century Christian beliefs and correct interpretation through a process of debate. The history of this process can be read in the book Dr. Thomas, His Life and Work by a Christadelphian, Robert Roberts.[14]

During this period of formulating his ideas he was baptised twice,[15] the second time after renouncing the beliefs he previously held. His new position was based on a new appreciation for the reign of Christ on David's throne.[16] It was this renunciation of his former beliefs that eventually led to him being disfellowshipped by the Restoration Movement. Following his disfellowship he toured England.

The Christadelphian community in Britain can effectively be dated to Thomas' first tour lecturing (May 1848 - October 1850). His message was particularly well received in Scotland, and Campbellite, Unitarian and Adventist friends separated to form groups of "Baptised Believers". Two thirds of ecclesias, and members, in Britain before 1864 were in Scotland.[17][18][19] In 1849, during his tour of Britain he completed (a decade and a half before the name Christadelphian was conceived) Elpis Israel[20] (Elpis being Greek for hope) in which he laid out his understanding of the main doctrines of the Bible.

This page uses content from the English Wikisource. The original article was at Christadelphians. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion wiki, the text of Wikisource is available under the CC-BY-SA.

Since his medium for bringing change was print and debate, it was natural for the origins of the Christadelphian body to be associated with journals and books, namely the 'Herald of the Kingdom' and 'The Ambassador' (which later became 'The Christadelphian').

In this desire to seek to establish Biblical truth and test out orthodox Christian beliefs through independent scriptural study he was not alone and, amongst other churches, he also had links with Adventist movement and Benjamin Wilson (Biblical scholar) who later set up the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith (which in 1921 separated into the smaller Church of the Blessed Hope and the larger Church of God General Conference)

Although the Christadelphian movement can be shown to originate through the activities of John Thomas, he never saw himself as setting up disciples. Rather he believed he had rediscovered first century beliefs and sought to prove that through a process of challenge and debate and writing journals. Through that process a number of people were convinced and set up various fellowships that had sympathy with that position. Groups associated with John Thomas met under various names, including Believers, Baptised Believers, the Royal Association of Believers, Baptised Believers in the Kingdom of God, Nazarines (or Nazarenes) and The Antipas[21] until the time of the American Civil War. At that time, church affiliation was required to register for conscientious objector status and in 1865 Thomas chose for registration purposes the name Christadelphian.[22]

Robert Roberts, debates, divisions and Statements of Faith

Through the teaching of John Thomas and the need in the American civil war for a name, the Christadelphians emerged as a denomination, but they were formed into a lasting structure through a keen admirer of his, Robert Roberts. At the age of 10 he was taken by his mother to hear a talk given by John Thomas in Aberdeen, Scotland. At the age of 13 he read Thomas's Elpis Israel and was subsequently baptised in 1853 at the age of 14 in the River Dee and joined the "Baptised Believers". He was 're-baptised' in 1863 "on attaining to an understanding of the things concerning the name of Jesus, of which he was ignorant at his first immersion".[23] In 1864 he began to publish The Ambassador magazine. This was renamed The Christadelphian in 1869 and continues to be published under that name.[24] Roberts was prominent in the period following the death of John Thomas and helped craft the structures of the Christadelphian body.[25]

Robert Roberts was absolutely certain that John Thomas had rediscovered the truth, and it is largely down to Roberts' organisation that the Christadelphian body exists in its present form. His life was characterised by debates over issues that arose within the fledgling organisation and some of this process can be found in the book Robert Roberts—A study of his life and character by Islip Collyer. He also wrote a booklet called a A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias.[26] which has been significant in establishing the basic structure most ecclesias follow today.

Initially the denomination grew in the English-speaking world, particularly in the English Midlands and parts of North America. In the early days after the death of John Thomas the group could have moved in many directions and many doctrinal issues arose. Not everyone believed that John Thomas had established the truth exactly right and many issues arose, debates were held and statements of faith were created and amended as other issues arose. These attempts were felt necessary by many to both settle and define a doctrinal stance for the newly emerging denomination and to keep out error by setting boundaries to belief.

  • In 1873 the Nazarene Fellowship, led by Edward Turney of Nottingham, separated over the atonement. Following his death in 1879 his most active supporter David Handley of Maldon returned to the main grouping,[27] and the group gradually died out. In the 1950s Turney's cause, and the name of the group, were revived by Ernest Brady.[28]
  • In 1885 the Suffolk Street Fellowship was formed over the inspiration of the Bible. Robert Ashcroft, a leading member, wrote an article which challenged commonly held views about inspiration which led to a division in the main body. One group formed a new ecclesia which later met in Suffolk Street, Birmingham. Other ecclesias throughout the world which supported them became known as the Suffolk Street Fellowship to distinguish itself from the group they were separated from, which became known as the Temperance Hall fellowship. The main magazine of this group from 1884-1957 was The Fraternal Visitor, whose editors included J.J. Bishop and J.J. Hadley (died 1912).
  • In 1898 the Unamended Fellowship was separated as a result of differing views on who would be raised to judgment at the return of Christ. The majority of Christadelphians believed that the judgment would include anyone who had sufficient knowledge of the gospel message, and was not limited to baptized believers.[29] The majority in Britain, Australia and North America amended their statement of faith accordingly. Those who opposed the amendment in North America became known as the Unamended Fellowship and held the position that God either could not or would not raise those who had no covenant relationship with him. Opinions vary as to what the established position was on this subject prior to the controversy.[30] In North America those who continued to associate with Britain on the basis of the amended statement became known as the Amended Fellowship,in contrast to the Unamended Fellowship, who took their lead from the Christadelphian Advocate Magazine of Thomas Williams of Chicago.
  • In 1923 the Berean Fellowship was formed as a result of varying views on military service in Britain, and on the atonement in North America. In 1942 the Bereans again divided over marriage and divorce with the stricter party forming the Dawn Fellowship.[31] The majority of the North American Bereans re-joined the main body of Christadelphians in 1952; though a small number continue as a separate community to the present day.

The Twentieth century and the World Wars

The Christadelphian position on conscientious objection came to the fore with the introduction of conscription during the First World War. Varying degrees of exemption from military service were granted to Christadelphians in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. In the Second World War, this frequently required the person seeking exemption to undertake civilian work under the direction of the authorities.

During the Second World War the Christadelphians in England assisted in the Kindertransport, helping to relocate several hundred Jewish children away from Nazi persecution and founding a hostel Elpis Lodge.[32][33] In Germany the small Christadelphian community went underground from 1940-1945, and a leading brother, Albert Merz, was imprisoned as a conscientious objector and later executed.[34]

A movement towards reunions

The emphasis on the restoration of truth has led to a history of division and schism that many have felt unpleasant and that has divided friends and families. Moves have been made to try to solve them with some success. In the early 1950s the majority of the Berean Fellowship re-joined the Temperance Hall Fellowship, with the remainder continuing as a separate community. In 1957-1958, there was further reunion with the Suffolk Street Fellowship, which had already incorporated many of the Unamended Fellowship outside North America. This re-united group, which now included the large majority of Christadelphians, became known as the Central Fellowship[35] named after the Birmingham Central ecclesia. In Australia and New Zealand a union occurred in 1958 between the Central fellowship and the Shield fellowship (which was allied to the Suffolk Street fellowship) through an understanding expressed in a document called the Cooper-Carter Addendum. Those who held that the reasons for separation from the Suffolk Street Fellowship remained, opposed the re-union and formed the Old Paths Fellowship.[36][37] There is also some co-operation between the Central (Amended) and Unamended Fellowships in North America, but they remain separate communities despite attempts at re-union under a North American Statement of Understanding (NASU)[38] in recent years.

Despite success in reuniting large sections of the wider Christadelphian community and periodic efforts at reuniting smaller offshoots, there are still a number of groups who remain separate from other bodies of Christadelphians. These include the Berean Fellowship (who use precisely the same BASF as the central fellowship),[39] the Dawn Fellowship, the Old Paths Fellowship, the Companion Fellowship[40] and the Pioneer-Maranatha Fellowship.[41] However, Dawn Christadelphians and the former Lightstand Fellowship in Australia united in November 2007.[42] Most of the divisions still in existence within the Christadelphian community today stem from further divisions of the Berean fellowship.[43]


The post-war, and post-reunions, period saw an increase in co-operation and interaction between ecclesias, resulting in the establishment of a number of week-long Bible schools and the formation of national and international organisations such as the Christadelphian Bible Mission[44] (for preaching and pastoral support overseas), the Christadelphian Support Network[45] (for counselling), and the Christadelphian Meal-A-Day Fund (for charity and humanitarian work).

The period following the reunions was accompanied by expansion in the developing world, which now accounts for around 40% of Christadelphians.[46]

Other historical groups and individuals with some shared doctrines

One criticism of the Christadelphian movement has been over the claim of John Thomas and Roberts Roberts to have rediscovered scriptural truth.[47][48] However, although both men believed that they had recovered the true doctrines for themselves and contemporaries, they also believed there had always existed a group of true believers throughout the ages, albeit marred by the apostasy.[49][50][51]

Considerable evidence can be provided that since the first century CE there have been various groups and individuals who have held certain individual Christadelphian beliefs or similar ones. However, no consistent line of people or groups which have held all their beliefs have been discovered. The most notable attempts to find a continuity of those with doctrinal similarities have been Alan Eyre's two books 'The Brethren in Christ' and 'The Protesters' in which he shows that many individual Christadelphian doctrines had been previously believed. Eyre focused in particular on the Radical Reformation, and also among the Socinians and other early Unitarians. In this way, Eyre was able to demonstrate substantial historical precedents for individual Christadelphian teachings and practices, and believed that the Christadelphian community was the 'inheritor of a noble tradition, by which elements of the Truth were from century to century hammered out on the anvil of controversy, affliction and even anguish'[52]. Although noting in the introduction to 'The Protestors' that 'Some recorded herein perhaps did not have "all the truth"—so the writer has been reminded', [53] Eyre nevertheless claimed that the purpose of the work was to 'tell how a number of little-known individuals, groups and religious communities strove to preserve or revive the original Christianity of apostolic times', [54] and that 'In faith and outlook they were far closer to the early springing shoots of first-century Christianity and the penetrating spiritual challenge of Jesus himself than much that has passed for the religion of the Nazarene in the last nineteen centuries'.[55] Eyre's research has not withstood close examination from his Christadelphian peers. Both of Eyre's works were criticized thoroughly by Ruth McHaffie's work 'Finding Founders and Facing Facts' (2001), in which evidence was presented demonstrating that Eyre had misread or misrepresented a number of his sources, and that some his claims could not be supported from (and were often contradicted by) the available historical evidence. As a result of this and other criticisms of Eyre's work, Christadelphian commentary on the subject was subsequently more cautious and circumspect, with caveats being issued concerning Eyre's claims,[56][57] and the two books less used and publicized than in previous years.

Other examples of shared doctrines can be found amongst many 16th century Socinian beliefs (e.g. the rejection of the doctrines of the trinity, pre-existence of Christ, immortal souls, a literal hell of fire, original sin)[58] correspond closely to those of Christadelphians. Also, recent discoveries and research have shown a large similarity between Christadelphian beliefs and those held by Isaac Newton who, among other things, rejected the doctrines of the trinity, immortal souls, a personal devil and literal demons; the same is true of John Epps. Taking, as an example, the concept of the devil and/or demons, the following people also rejected them as literal supernatural agents of evil: Thomas Hobbes (1651); Balthasar Bekker (1695); Arthur Ashley Sykes (1737); Nathaniel Lardner (1742); Dr. Richard Mead (1755); Hugh Farmer (at least in the account of Christ's temptation; 1761); William Ashdowne (1791);[59] and John Simpson (1804).


Fellowships today

Since the reunions in UK and Australia in 1957 two generations of Christadelphians have grown up with little awareness of the existence of the minority "fellowships", or awareness that the main group is called "Central" by the minority groups. Parallel with this generational change, the articles and books on the doctrine and practice of fellowship with the main "Central" grouping now reject the notion itself of separate "fellowships" among those who recognise the same baptism as "schism".[60][61][62] A third significant change, outside North America, has been the shrinking of the minority "fellowships" due to defection to the main group and natural causes. According to Bryan Wilson functionally the definition of a "fellowship" within Christadelphian History has been mutual or unilateral exclusion of groupings of ecclesias from the breaking of bread.[63] This functional definition still holds true in North America, where two other sizeable groups, Unamended Christadelphians and CGAF are not received by most North American Amended ecclesias. But outside North America this functional definition no longer holds. Many ecclesias in the "Central" grouping would not refuse a baptised Christadelphian from a minority "fellowship" from breaking bread, the exclusion is more usually the other way.

Today the Christadelphian body remains divided into fellowships, the largest being the Central Fellowship, named after the now-defunct Birmingham Central ecclesia, once its largest and most influential ecclesia.[64]. There remains a large number of Unamended Christadelphians, particularly in the US and Canada. Smaller fellowships are the Berean Christadelphians, the Dawn Christadelphians, and the Old Paths Christadephians. There are other fellowships, but their numbers are too small to be worthy of much consideration here. The number of adherents to these smaller groups of Christadelphians varies from approximately 1,850 members (the Unamended Christadelphians as of 2006)[65] to groups made up of little more than one or two immediate families[66].

Estimates of numbers are difficult to verify but the following represents consensus figures taken from several threads on the largest Christadelphian forum 2005-2009.[67]

  • Central = 55,000
  • Unamended = 1,850 (SW & NW USA, Ontario)[68]
  • CGAF = 400 (primarily Ohio, Florida)[69]
  • Dawn = 670 (UK 200, Africa 200, Australia 200, Ontario 50, Poland and Russia 20)
  • Old Paths = 400 (UK 250, Aus-NZ 150)
  • Berean = 330 (US 200 primarily Texas, Kenya 100, Wales 30)
  • Companion = 40 (Australia)
  • Other very small groups = 100~150 total?

They tend to operate organisationally fairly similarly, although there are different emphases. For instance the Berean Christadelphians focus on the pioneer Christadelphians and the Dawn Christadelphians put a huge importance on the need to follow a consistent set of disciplines regarding divorce and remarriage.[70] These different Christadelphian fellowships are to some degree localised. For example, the Unamended Fellowship exists only in North America, and some of the others are confined to the English-speaking world.[71]

Each fellowship has a Statement of Faith, the most common of which is the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF), named after an ecclesia in Birmingham. This is used by all Old Paths ecclesias without amendment from the days of Robert Roberts. The Unamended have a similar Statement of Faith called the Birmingham Unamended Statement of Faith (BUSF)[72] with one clause being different. The Dawn Christadelphians [73] use a statement of faith which is based on the original 1886 statement of faith, but has four additions addressing issues that have arisen since that time. The Berean Christadelphians have an amendment in the doctrines to be rejected which prohibits a person being a police constable. Some Christadelphian groups which are separated to a greater or lesser degree from the main body of Christadelphians use statements of faith which differ in some regard from the BASF and from each other. Individual ecclesias also may have their own statement of faith, whilst still accepting the statement of faith of their fellowship.

General organisation

In the absence of centralised organisation, some differences exist amongst Christadelphians on matters of belief and practice. This is because each congregation (commonly styled 'ecclesias') is organised autonomously, typically following common practices which have altered little since the 19th century. Most ecclesias have a constitution,[74] which includes a Statement of Faith, a list of doctrines to be rejected and a formalized list of 'the Commandments of Christ'. With no central authority individual congregations are responsible for maintaining orthodoxy in belief and practice, and the Statement of Faith is seen by many as useful to this end. The Statement of Faith acts as the official standard of most ecclesias to determine fellowship within and between ecclesias, and as the basis for co-operation between ecclesias. Congregational discipline and conflict resolution are applied using various forms of consultation, mediation, and discussion, with disfellowship (similar to excommunication) being the final response to those with unorthodox practices or beliefs.[75]

The relative uniformity of organisation and practice is undoubtedly due to the influence of a booklet, written early in Christadelphian history, called A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias.[76] It recommends a basically democratic arrangement by which congregational members elect 'brothers' to arranging and serving duties,[77] and includes guidelines for the organisation of committees, as well as conflict resolution between congregational members and between congregations.[78] Christadelphians do not have paid ministers. Male members are assessed by the congregation for their eligibility to teach and perform other duties, which are usually assigned on a rotation basis, as opposed to having a permanently appointed preacher. Congregational governance typically follows a democratic model, with an elected arranging committee for each individual ecclesia. This unpaid committee is responsible for the day-to-day running of the ecclesia and is answerable to the rest of the ecclesia's members.

This page uses content from the English Wikisource. The original article was at Christadelphians. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Religion wiki, the text of Wikisource is available under the CC-BY-SA.

Anyone who publicly assents to the doctrines described in this statement and is in good standing in their "home ecclesia" is generally welcome to participate in the activities of any other ecclesia.

Inter-ecclesial organisations co-ordinate the running of, among other things, Christadelphian schools[79] and elderly care homes, the Christadelphian Isolation League (which cares for those prevented by distance or infirmity from attending an ecclesia regularly) and the publication of Christadelphian magazines.

Major Christadelphian beliefs in the Statements of Faith

Due to the way the Christadelphian body is organised there is no central authority to establish and maintain a standardised set of beliefs and it depends what Statement of Faith is adhered to and how liberal the ecclesia is, but there are core doctrines most Christadelphians would accept. In the formal statements of faith a more complete list is found. For instance in the Central Fellowship, the BASF the official Statement of Faith has 30 doctrines to be accepted and 35 to be rejected.

Despite their differences Christadelphians state that their beliefs[80] are based wholly on the Bible,[81] and they accept no other texts as inspired by God.[82] They believe that God is the creator of all things and the father of true believers,[83] that he is a separate being from his son, Jesus Christ,[84][85] and that the Holy Spirit is the power of God used in creation and for salvation.[86] They also believe that the phrase Holy Spirit sometimes refers to God's character/mind, depending on the context in which the phrase appears,[87] but reject the orthodox Christian view that we need strength, guidance and power from the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life, believing instead that the spirit a believer needs within themselves is the mind/character of God, which is developed in a believer by their reading of the Bible and trying to live by what it says during the events of their lives which God uses to help shape their character.

Christadelphian Hall in Bath, United Kingdom

Christadelphians believe that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, in whom the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament find their fulfilment.[85][88][89] They believe he is the Son of Man, in that he inherited sinful human nature from his mother, and the Son of God by virtue of his miraculous conception by the power of God.[85][88][90] Although he was tempted, Jesus committed no sin, and was therefore a perfect representative sacrifice to bring salvation to sinful humankind.[85][88][90] They believe that God raised Jesus from death and gave him immortality, and he ascended to Heaven, God's dwelling place.[88] Christadelphians believe that he will return to the earth in person to set up the Kingdom of God in fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham and David.[91][92] This includes the belief that the coming Kingdom will be the restoration of God's first Kingdom of Israel, which was under David and Solomon.[93][94][95] For Christadelphians, this is the focal point of the gospel taught by Jesus and the apostles. Christadelphians believe that people are separated from God because of their sins, but can be reconciled to him by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.[96][97] This is by belief in correct doctrine, through repentance, and through baptism by total immersion in water.[97][98] They do not believe we can be sure of being saved believing instead that salvation comes as a result of a life of obedience to the commands of Christ [99] After death, believers are in a state of non-existence, knowing nothing until the Resurrection at the return of Christ.[100] Following the judgement at that time, the accepted receive the gift of immortality, and live with Christ on a restored Earth, assisting him to establish the Kingdom of God and to rule over the mortal population for a thousand years (the Millennium).[101] Christadelphians believe that the Kingdom will be centred upon Israel, but Jesus Christ will also reign over all the other nations on the earth.[102] Some believe that the Kingdom itself is not worldwide but limited to the land of Israel promised to Abraham and ruled over in the past by David, with a worldwide empire.[103]

Christadelphians reject a number of doctrines held by many other Christians, notably the immortality of the soul, trinitarianism,[84][87] the pre-existence of Christ,[85][87] the baptism of infants,[98] the personhood of the Holy Spirit[86][87][84][85] and the present-day possession of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.[86][88][87] They believe that the words devil and satan are references to sin and human nature in opposition to God. According to Christadelphians, these terms are used in reference to specific political systems or individuals in opposition or conflict. Hell is understood to refer to death and the grave, rather than being a place of eternal torment.[104] Christadelphians do not believe that anyone can go to Heaven. Instead, they believe that only Christ Jesus went to Heaven, and when Christ Jesus comes back to the earth the true believers will live in the Land of Israel which will be the Kingdom of God on Earth. Christadelphians believe the doctrines they reject were introduced into Christendom after the 1st century,[105] and cannot be demonstrated from the Bible.[84][87][85]

Marriage and family life are important. Christadelphians believe that sexual relationships are limited to heterosexual marriage, ideally between baptised believers.[106][107]


Christadelphians are organised into local congregations, that commonly call themselves ecclesias,[81] which is taken from usage in the New Testament[108] and is Greek for gathering of those summoned.[109] Congregational worship, which usually takes place on Sunday, centres on the remembrance of the death and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the taking part in the "memorial service". Additional meetings are often organised for worship, prayer, evangelism and Bible study.

Ecclesias are typically involved in evangelism in the form of public lectures on Bible teaching,[110] college-style seminars on reading the Bible,[111] and Bible Reading Groups. Correspondence courses[112] are also used widely, particularly in areas where there is no established Christadelphian presence. Some ecclesias, organisations or individuals also preach through other media like video,[113] podcasts[114] and internet forums.[115]

Only baptised believers are considered members of the ecclesia. However, the children of members are encouraged to attend Christadelphian Sunday Schools and youth groups. Interaction between youth from different ecclesias is encouraged through regional and national youth gatherings. Many ecclesias organise holidays for young people, the most popular form in the UK being camping holidays.

Christadelphians understand the Bible to teach that male and female believers are equal in God's sight, and also that there is a distinction between the roles of male and female members. Women are typically not eligible to teach in formal gatherings of the ecclesia when male believers are present, and do not sit on ecclesial arranging committees. They do, however: participate in other ecclesial and inter-ecclesial committees; participate in discussions; teach children, other women and non-members; perform music; discuss and vote on business matters; and engage in the majority of other activities.

There are ecclesially-accountable committees for co-ordinated evangelism, youth and Sunday School work, military service issues, care of the elderly, and humanitarian work. These do not have any legislative authority, and are wholly dependent upon ecclesial support. Ecclesias in an area may regularly hold joint activities combining youth groups, fellowship, preaching, and Bible study.

Christadelphians refuse to participate in any military because they are conscientious objectors.[116][117][118]

There is a strong emphasis on personal Bible reading and study[119][120][121][122] and many Christadelphians use the Bible Companion to help them systematically read the Bible each year[123]


Christadelphians are a non-liturgical denomination. Christadelphian ecclesias are autonomous and free to adopt whatever pattern of worship they choose. However, in the English-speaking world, there tends to be a great deal of uniformity in order of service and hymnody.

Christadelphian hymnody makes considerable use of the hymns of the Anglican and British Protestant traditions (even in US ecclesias the hymnody is typically more British than American). In many Christadelphian hymn books a sizeable proportion of hymns are drawn from the Scottish Psalter and non-Christadelphian hymn-writers including Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, William Cowper and John Newton. Despite incorporating non-Christadelphian hymns however, Christadelphian hymnody preserves the essential teachings of the community.[124]

The earliest hymn book published was the "Sacred Melodist" which was published by Benjamin Wilson in Geneva, Illinois in 1860. The next was the hymn book published for the use of Baptised Believers in the Kingdom of God (an early name for Christadelphians[21]) by George Dowie in Edinburgh in 1864.[125] In 1865 Robert Roberts published a collection of Scottish psalms and hymns called The Golden Harp (which was subtitled "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, compiled for the use of Immersed Believers in 'The Things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ'").[126] This was replaced only five years later by the first "Christadelphian Hymn Book" (1869), compiled by J. J. and A. Andrew,[127] and this was revised and expanded in 1874, 1932 and 1964. A thorough revision by the Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association resulted in the latest (2002) edition[128] which is almost universally used by English-speaking Christadelphian ecclesias. In addition some Christadelphian fellowships have published their own hymn books.

A more contemporary worship style is now popular in some quarters. The Praise the Lord songbook[129] was produced with the aim of making contemporary songs which are consistent with Christadelphian theology more widely available, though these are generally used as a supplement to the more traditional Hymn Books.

In the English-speaking world, worship is typically accompanied by organ or piano, though in recent years a few ecclesias have promoted the use of other instruments and the involvement of worship leaders. This trend has also seen the emergence of some Christadelphian bands[130] and the establishment of the Christadelphian Arts Trust[131] to support performing, visual and dramatic arts within the Christadelphian community.

In other countries, hymnbooks have been produced in local languages,[132] sometimes resulting in styles of worship which reflect the local culture. It has been noted that Christadelphian hymnody has historically been a consistent witness to Christadelphian beliefs, and that hymnody occupies a significant role in the community.[133]

Notable Christadelphians

Christadelphians tend to avoid rather than seek fame or influence. There have been some individuals who left the movement and became famous. These include writer Alan Paton, artist Mat Collishaw and actress Alison King.[134]

References and footnotes

  1. Carter, John (May 1955). "Our Name". The Christadelphian 92: 181. .
  2. 'Christadelphians', The Columbia Enclyclopedia. Available online
  3. CBM Worldwide Guide 2006, Christadelphian Bible Mission (UK), 2006
  4. Ecclesias Around the World from Christadelphia World Wide
  5. UK Christian Handbook 2004, as quoted in 'Focus on Christadelphian Community', Multicultural Matters, October 2004 (London: Building Bridges, 2004). Available online
  6. Religious Affiliation—Australia: 2001 and 1996 Census
  9. 'Christadelphians', The Columbia Encyclopedia. Available online,
  10. 'Christadelphians', The Canadian Encyclopedia. Available online
  11. 2006 Census figures from Zealand Statistics
  13. Statistics for Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, and Tanzania from Christadelphian Bible Mission (UK); statistics for India from CBM Worldwide Guide 2007, Christadelphian Bible Mission (UK), 2007
  14. Available online
  15. John Thomas was baptised by Walter Scott of the Disciples of Christ in 1832 and again in 1847 (probably by John Tomline Walsh, according to Peter Hemingray John Thomas—His Friends and His Faith 2003 p.145) after publishing A Confession and Abjuration in which he renounced previously held beliefs as false.
  16. Available online
  17. Wilson, AB op cit
  18. Evans, Christmas. The Christadelphian 1956-63
  19. Norrie, William "Early History of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in Britain" Earlston 1904
  20. John Thomas, Elpis Israel: an exposition of the Kingdom of God with reference to the time of the end and the age to come (London: 1849). Available online
  21. 21.0 21.1 Peter Hemingray, John Thomas: His Friends and His Faith 2003 p. 235
  22. Thomas preferred the name Brethren in Christ, but settled on Christadelphian. He once wrote in a letter, "I did not know a better denomination that would be given to such a class of believers, than Brethren in Christ. This declares their true status; and, as officials prefer words to phrases, the same fact expressed in another form by the word Christadelphians, or Christou Adelphoi, Christ’s Brethren. This matter settled to their satisfaction ... " (Carter, John (May 1955). "Our Name". The Christadelphian 92: 181. ).
  23. The Christadelphian Vol. 11 1874, p.610(Birmingham: Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association)
  24. The Christadelphian is published by The Christadelphian Magazine & Publishing Association Ltd (Birmingham, UK)
  25. Andrew Wilson writes of Roberts that "The organising ability of Robert Roberts was very important: he gave the movement its rules, institutions and much of its literature". Andrew Wilson, History of the Christadelphians 1864-1885: the emergence of a denomination 1997 p.399.
  26. Robert Roberts, A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias (Birmingham: 1883). Available online
  27. Christadelphian Magazine 1881
  28. "Introduction". Retrieved 2008-02-09. 
  29. The Sydney Ecclesia, Australia had already "disfellowshipped" 10 members for denying this in 1883. The Christadelphian Magazine 1884, ecclesial news p.90 and editorial comment p.382
  30. For example: Website claiming views held by Amended community were original Christadelphian beliefs Versus Website claiming views held by Unamended community were original Christadelphian beliefs.
  31. Dawn Christadelphians
  32. "Kinderball piano score". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  33. Morrell, Leslie. "The Christadelphian Response to the Holocaust" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  34. April 1941 in Berlin.Bogner, Gustav. Geschichte der Christadelphians in Deutschland (2)
  35. The first use of the term "Birmingham (Central) fellowship" in The Christadelphian magazine was in volume 70, 1933, p. 376. The term was used to distinguish those ecclesias in fellowship with the Birmingham (Central) ecclesia from those in the "Suffolk Street Fellowship". By 1939 the word "Birmingham" was dropped and the term "Central Fellowship" was thereafter used with some regularity (342 times between 1939 and 2000) in The Christadelphian magazine
  36. Old Paths Fellowship (Australia)
  37. Old Paths Fellowship (UK)
  38. North American Statement of Understanding
  39. Berean Christadelphians
  40. Companion Christadelphians
  41. The Pioneer and Maranatha fellowships united in August 2008 Pioneer-Maranatha Christadelphians
  42. The Dawn Christadelphian Magazine, January 2008
  43. Phillips, Jim, The Berean Christadelphians: Why the Bereans? [1][2]
  44. History of the Christadelphian Bible Mission
  45. see
  46. Based on figures from CBM Worldwide Guide 2006, Christadelphian Bible Mission (UK), 2006
  47. Christendom Astray, Robert Roberts, written 1862, Lecture 1: 'Do you mean to say, asks the incredulous enquirer, that the Bible has been studied by men of learning for eighteen centuries without being understood? and that the thousands of ministers set apart for the very purpose of ministering in its holy pages are all mistaken?' He then goes on to suggest that social conditioning, self interest by the clergy and an incomplete reformation prevented its rediscovery.
  48. In an article 'A Glance at The History and Mystery of Christadelphianism', a contemporary of John Thomas, David King, from the Restoration Movement 1881, argues that a complete losing of truth would have been unlikely. Available online
  49. 'An arrangement of this sort was absolutely necessary for the preservation and protection of the One Body, witnessing for the truth against "the worshipping of the daemonials and idols," in the midst of the nations, and "before the God of the earth;" the weapons of whose warfare were civil disabilities, and the infernal tortures of anti-heretical crusaders and inquisitions.', John Thomas, 'Eureka' (1915 edition), volume 2, chapter 11, section 2.1
  50. 'Thus, the history of the ages and the generations of the unmeasured Court is in strict harmony with this prophecy of the witnesses. For a period considerably over a thousand years after Rome renounced its old gods for the ghosts, dry bones, and fables of the catholic superstition, the Spirit had provided himself with Two Witnessing Classes, to whose custody he providentially committed the truth, and its judicial vindication by fire and sword.', John Thomas, 'Eureka', volume 2, chapter 11, section 2.2
  51. 'Though the apostles died, their work continued, and the generation of believers that went to the grave with them were succeeded by other believers who maintained the integral structure of the temple of God, founded in Europe. True, the work was marred and corrupted by the apostasy of the mass: still, a real work—a real temple, existed, consisting of the remnant of true believers preserved by God as His witnesses in the midst of the prevailing corruption.', Robert Roberts, 'Thirteen Lectures On The Apocalypse' (4th edition 1921), page 98
  52. Alan Eyre, 'The Protestors', page 8 (1975)
  53. Alan Eyre, 'The Protestors', page 8 (1975)
  54. Alan Eyre, 'The Protestors', page 11 (1975)
  55. Alan Eyre, 'The Protestors', pages 11-12 (1975)
  56. 'But some, though having neither time nor opportunity to search archives, knew enough to realise that the claims were exaggerated, however praiseworthy the intention. Moreover, misgivings increased as the years passed and when members examined the subject more closely for themselves. As explained in the November 1993 issue of The Endeavour Magazine, Brother Ron Coleman in 1986, when preparing an address for the Oxford ecclesia to commemorate the 450th anniversary of William Tyndale's death, not only sought information from The Protesters but also from Tyndale's own writings. He was surprised to find serious misrepresentations in our community's publication.', Ruth McHaffie, 'Founding Fathers And Facing Facts', (2001), page 8
  57. 'In 1989 when an article by Brother Alan appeared in The Christadelphian containing a number of inaccuracies on the hymn writer Isaac Watts, , editor of The Christadelphian, and subsequently corresponded with Alan in the manner which becomes Brethren. Scholarly evidence to disprove Ron's criticisms was not forthcoming with regard to either Tyndale or Watts, and the editor was requested to publish a short note of amendment on both writers, but there appears to have been no response.', Ruth McHaffie, 'Founding Fathers And Facing Facts', (2001), page 8
  58. Pope, Hugh (1912), "Socinianism", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 14, New York: Robert Appleton Company, 
  59. An attempt to shew that the opinion concerning the devil or satan, as a fallen angel, and that he tempts men to sin, hath no real foundation in scripture. By William Ashdowne. 1791, printed by J. Grove; and sold by Johnson, in St. Paul's Church-yard; Marsom, bookseller, Holborn; Bristow, Canterbury; and Ledger, Dover (Canterbury)
  62. Perry, Andrew. Fellowship Matters, Willow publications, 2nd edition, 1996
  63. See Wilson op.cit.
  64. The first use of the term "Birmingham (Central) fellowship" in The Christadelphian magazine was in volume 70, 1933, p. 376. The term was used to distinguish those ecclesias in fellowship with the Birmingham (Central) ecclesia from those in the "Suffolk Street Fellowship". By 1939 the word "Birmingham" was dropped and the term "Central Fellowship" was thereafter used with some regularity (342 times between 1939 and 2000) in The Christadelphian magazine
  65. 2006 Christadelphian Ecclesial Directory. Also see Unamended Christadelphian Wikipedia entry here
  66. For example, the short-lived Antipas Fellowship. Ref: Phillips, Jim. "The Southern California Division". Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  68. Parts of grouping currently involved in unity talks with Central.
  69. Note: Currently involved in unity talks with Central. The group does not use the name Christadelphian but shares Christadelphian beliefs:
  70. Dawn Christadelphians
  71. For example, the Maranatha Fellowship is limited to Southern California, New Zealand and Australia. Ref: "Antipas Christadelphians ... Members of the Maranatha Christadelphians". Retrieved 2008-02-10. 
  72. Birmingham Unamended Statement of Faith. Available online
  73. Dawn Christadelphians
  74. Example here
  75. Robert Roberts, A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias (Birmingham: 1883), Sections 32, 35-36
  76. Robert Roberts, A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias (Birmingham: 1883). Available online
  77. Robert Roberts, A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias (Birmingham: 1883), Sections 17-27
  78. Robert Roberts, A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias (Birmingham: 1883), Sections 35-38, 41-42
  79. For example: Christadelphian Heritage College, Cooranbong and Christadelphian Heritage College Sydney, Kemps Creek.
  80. A Declaration of the Truth revealed in the Bible (Birmingham: Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association). An early summary of Christadelphian beliefs. Available online
  81. 81.0 81.1 Hyndman, Rob (1999). The Christadelphians (Brothers and Sisters in Christ): Introducing a Bible-based Community. Beechworth, VIC: Bethel Publications. ISBN 81-87409-34-7. 
  82. Bull, Mike. The Bible—The Word of God. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. ISBN 81-87409-52-5. 
  83. Drabbenstott, Mark (2000). God Our Father. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. ISBN 81-87409-64-9. 
  84. 84.0 84.1 84.2 84.3 Flint, James; Deb Flint. One God or a Trinity?. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. ISBN 81-87409-61-4. 
  85. 85.0 85.1 85.2 85.3 85.4 85.5 85.6 Jesus: God the Son or Son of God?. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  86. 86.0 86.1 86.2 Tennant, Harry. The Holy Spirit—Bible Understanding of God's Power. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  87. 87.0 87.1 87.2 87.3 87.4 87.5 Broughton, James H.; Peter J Southgate. The Trinity: True or False?. UK: The Dawn Book Supply. 
  88. 88.0 88.1 88.2 88.3 88.4 Zilmer, Paul. Who is Jesus?. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. ISBN 81-87409-68-1. 
  89. Tennant, Harry. Christ in the Old Testament: Israel's True Messiah. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  90. 90.0 90.1 Do You Believe in a Devil?. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  91. Wilson, Shiela. The End of the World: Horror Story—or Bible Hope?. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  92. Scott, Malcom. Christ is Coming Again!. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. ISBN 81-87409-34-7. 
  93. Morgan, Tecwyn. Christ is Coming! Bible teaching about his return. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  94. Hughes, Stephen. The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth!. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. ISBN 81-87409-55-X. 
  95. Owen, Stanley. The Kingdom of God on Earth: God's plan for the world. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  96. Watkins, Peter. The Cross of Christ. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  97. 97.0 97.1 Flint, James; Deb Flint. Salvation. Hyderabad: Printland Publishers. 
  98. 98.0 98.1 Why Baptism Really Matters: What must we do to be saved?. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  99. Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith, Doctrine to be Rejected no 24 'That the gospel alone will save without the obedience of Christ's commandments'.
  100. After Death – What?. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  101. Raised to Judgement: Bible Teaching about Resurrection & Judgement. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  102. M.. Israel: God's People, God's Land. Birmingham, UK: CMPA. 
  103. See What is the true Gospel?, available online
  104. Doctrines to be Rejected—an appendix to the Christadelphian statement of faith
  105. Answering Common Questions about the Christadelphians from Christadelphian Articles
  106. "The Christian Life: Marriage—"Only in the Lord"". Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  107. Homosexuality and the Church: Bible Answers to Moral Questions (Birmingham: Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association). Available online
  108. e.g. see Greek of Acts 5:11; 7:38
  109. "Ecclesia." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 03 Feb. 2009. Available here
  110. Examples of lecture titles on Handsworth Christadelphians website
  111. For example: Learn to Read the Bible Effectively
  112. For example: This is Your Bible
  113. For example: Christadelphian Auxiliary Lecturing Society (CALS) videos, Williamsburgh Christadelphian Foundation (WCF) videos, the Christadelphians of Southern California's videos, and Christadelphian YouPreach on YouTube.
  114. For example: Washwood Heath Christadelphians' podcasts, Bible Study Podcasts and Search for Hope podcasts.
  115. For example: Open Bible Forum and Bible Truth Discussion Forum
  116. Norris, Alfred. The Gospel and Strife. Birmingham, UK: Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association. 
  117. Watkins, Peter. War and Politics: The Christian's Duty. Birmingham, UK: Christadelphian Auxiliary Lecturing Society. 
  118. While Christadelphians are not pacifists and say the time will come when military coercion and conflict will be required to establish Christ's kingdom.
  119. 'They are characterized by holding a firm belief in the inspired status of the Bible and place enormous emphasis upon biblical study', Evans, John S, 'The Prophecies of Daniel 2', page 251, USA:Xulon Press (2008)
  120. 'Christadelphian devotion centers on daily Bible study and weekly meetings', page 421, Fahlbusch, Erwin and Bromiley, Geoffrey W, 'The Encyclopedia of Christianity', USA:Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999)
  121. 'Christadelphians are devoted students of the Bible, which they believe to be the infallible and inerrant word of God', Edwards, Linda, 'A Brief Guide to Beliefs', page 421, USA:Westminster John Knox Press (2001)
  122. 'Daily Bible study is enjoined', Powles, Lilian V, 'The Faith and Practice of Heretical Sects', page 23, Michigan:Mothers' Union (1962)
  123. The BBC Website
  124. 'Hymnody was an important part of Christadelphianism from its beginning, and, along with the journal, The Christadelphian, gave independent ecclesias a broader fellowship. Hymns reflected the essential doctrines and principles of their faith. These principles were anti-Trinitarianism. They also believed that God would establish his kingdom on earth through the return of Jesus to reign a thousand years in Jerusalem', Wesley Roberts, Professor of Music, Campbellsville University, Kentucky, in the magazine 'Hymn', July 1997
  125. Andrew Wilson, History of the Christadelphians 1864-1885: the emergence of a denomination 1997 p. 326
  126. Peter Hemingray, John Thomas: His Friends and His Faith 2003 p. 195
  127. Ambassador of the Coming Age Vol. 6, P. 148
  128. The CMPA online bookshop
  129. Praise the Lord (Hoddesdon Christadelphian Service, 1993, 2000)
  130. An example is the Christadelphian folk rock band Fisher's Tale
  131. Christadelphian Arts Trust
  132. e.g. Liedboek van de Broeders in Christus (Holland, circa 1980)
  133. 'Considering the scope of hymnic literature by Christadelphians, we might conclude that few branches of Christianity can claim such a close relationship between hymn writing and their own religious development, and such a high percentage of hymnists in their membership. As their hymns become better known, this close relationship will reveal that the heritage and faith of Christadelphians has been enhanced through a strong emphasis on hymnody, from their beginnings to the present day', Wesley Roberts, Professor of Music, Campbellsville University, Kentucky, in the magazine 'Hymn', July 1997
  134. Famous Christadelphians

Further reading

  • Fred Pearce, Who are the Christadelphians? Introducing a Bible Based Community (Birmingham: CMPA). Available online
  • Stephen Hill, The Life of Brother John Thomas – 1805 to 1871 (2006).
  • Peter Hemingray, John Thomas, His Friends and His Faith (Canton, MI: The Christadelphian Tidings, 2003 ISBN 81-7887-012-6).
  • Andrew R. Wilson, The History of the Christadelphians 1864-1885 The Emergence of a Denomination (Shalom Publications, 1997 ISBN 0-646-22355-0).
  • Charles H. Lippy, The Christadelphians in North America Studies in American Religion Volume 43 (Lewiston/Queenston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989 ISBN 0-88946-647-5).
  • Harry Tennant, The Christadelphians: What they believe and preach (Birmingham, England: The Christadelphian, 1986 ISBN 0-85189-119-5).
  • Bryan R. Wilson, Sects and Society: A Sociological Study of the Elim Tabernacle, Christian Science and Christadelphians (London: Heinemann, 1961; Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1961).
  • BBC article, Religion & Ethics—Chrisitanity: Subdivisions: Christadelphians. Available online
  • Rob Hyndman, The Christadelphians (Brothers and Sisters in Christ): Introducing a Bible-based Community (Beechworth, VIC: Bethel Publications, 1999 ISBN 81-87409-34-7). Available online
  • Rachel Hocking, A Study of Christadelphian Hymnody: singing with the spirit and with the understanding, 2000. Available online