In understanding the Christadelphians and their theology in depth it is necessary to grasp some of the unique meanings they attach to words and language. The following list is a basic and currently incomplete list.
These can be broken down into three main categories:
These words originated from the system of church authority and organisation set up in the movement’s early days and which used a combination of a democratic approach within a defined statement of faith and a committee approach. Examples here would be “arranging brethren” (or ABs), “recording brother,” “ecclesia” and “fraternal gathering.”
Common words such as “the gospel,” “the kingdom,” “hell,” “the devil,” “the world” and many more have distinct theological meanings. When a Christadelphian uses various words he often does not mean by those words what may be understood by the hearer. To understand a Christadelphian requires some understanding of their language and the word pictures they have attached to certain words and concepts.
This has resulted also in a rejection of many words other churches employ. Christadelphians traditionally used the word “ecclesia” rather than “church.” They “break bread” or “take emblems” rather than “communion.” They don’t “excommunicate,” they “disfellowship” or “withdraw.” To an outsider the different language used can seem pedantic or minor, but historically the reasons for employing them were considered important. They sought to use words which did not carry existing impressions in the minds of non Christadelphians. The downside has been that it can seem strange and incomprehensible to those outside and in recognition of this there is a growing use of words Christadelphians historically would not use, such as “pastor” or “church.”
In fact in the past Christadelphians were even reluctant to use the word “Christian” because of its association with other Christians whom they considered to be an apostasy from Truth and a common response to the question “are you a Christian” would be to ask what the hearer understood a Christian to be.
Due to the divisions within Christadelphian history there are a lot of words associated with historical issues and divisions. Examples here are “immortal emergence,” “clean flesh” and “enlightened rejecters.” Most Christadelphians are likely to be in the main grouping and generally there is little discussion now on these issues. These words are more likely to be found where a person has dealings with some of the smaller breakaway groups. In fact to the average young Christadelphian today with little understanding of their history the historic ones would seem a bit strange to the ears.
The exact definitions of some words themselves is unclear even within the community itself. An example here would be “sin in the flesh” where huge debates and divisions centred around exactly what was meant or thought to be meant.
The words below are an initial basic list and further ones will be added in time and the definitions may need some tightening too.
The gradually changing words and language of the community is of interest and also of interest is the type of words generally not used, especially those relating to the experience of being a Christian, such as “knowing God,” “relationship with God,” “being saved” and also a range of emotional terms relating to being guided or led.