C H R I S T A D E L P H I A N R E S E A R C H
Understanding what major Christadelphian beliefs are is fairly simple because it is well set out within their publications and have been defined within statements of faith. The initial seminal work was a book called Elpis Israel written by the founder John Thomas. It was primarily aimed at existing Christians and sought to prove conventional theology flawed. Its arguments are based upon the root meanings of words and his experiences debating against other Christians. To evaluate its arguments requires considerable scriptural knowledge and research making it a complex and tortuous read. Whilst still an involved read, a more concise explanation of historical Christadelphian doctrines is made in Christendom Astray by Robert Roberts. About a third of Elpis Israel focuses on prophetical expectations and a chapter in Christendom Astray. Much of that never occurred as expected, although the modern state of Israel came into existence as expected. Both books make comprehensive references to Bible passages as proof of the validity of the positions set out.
Understanding the variances between historical divisions within the Christadelphians is more difficult and centres on the fine meanings of words. Historically understanding the correct reasons why Christ had to die (the atonement) and his nature (whether clean or unclean and what is meant by those terms), who is responsible for judgement and the nature of people when raised prior to judgement were considered salvation matters. On these and other points today far less importance is generally placed and the community has lost interest in the finer points of its own theology except in some of the smaller breakaway Christadelphian groups. Questions remain as to which of these represent the original Christadelphian faith the best.
Simpler and more readable explanations are today found in publications such as God’s Way by John Carter and Bible Basics by Duncan Heaster. This is partly because the community has reached the position of being an established religion. Early works felt a need to make the case for the emergence of a new variation of Christianity and so as well as making a case for Christadelphian beliefs spent a lot of effort seeking to make a case that existing Christian beliefs had no merit. From the perspective of a new believer Christadelphian publications are still relatively complex. This is because adherents are trained to believe faith depends on Biblically proving a case rather than its essence being a personally transmitted understanding. More than many other churches Christadelphian believe that salvation depends upon being baptised whilst holding the correct belief set.
A simple overview of the major Christadelphian beliefs and where the main emphases lie.
A consideration of money within the Christadelphian organisation.
Critical to understanding distinctions between Christadelphian theology and mainstream theology is a re-interpretation of passages generally understood to refer to supernatural elements. This section explores that and considers whether its roots lie in the Bible or in a growing contemporary view of the world known as materialism. This is of interest today because much of Christianity is moving in the Christadelphian direction.
The mainstream dogma of the Trinity is widely described as illogical, pagan in origin and unscriptural and yet forming a consistent alternative explanation of the nature of God, how he could be manifest in Christ and the atonement has proven difficult and divisive for the Christadelphians themselves. We consider some of the reasons why that is with a brief consideration of this deep topic.
This section considers the Christadelphian idea of salvation as a process and how that compares to the mainstream Christian view that salvation is through grace.
In the New Testament we find a view of mainstream society described as a separate system described as “the world.” Different churches interpret this idea in various ways and certain practices and behaviours are considered worldly or inappropriate for Christians. How this concept is understood can vary. It can lead to isolationist and strongly puritanical practices. Understanding this area is one basis of the isolating factor of involvement with the Christadelphians and the resultant claims of it having cult-like elements. There are marked similarities to churches such as the Exclusive Brethren on how Christadelphians view the outside community and how it influences what they do.
The Christadelphian position with regards to warfare and conscription.
In the Bible we find an idea that Christians are in fellowship with each other. We have a look in this section on how Christadelphians understand and apply this concept.
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PAGE VISITS FROM 16/09/13
THE TRINITY HURDLE
NOVEL: HOLY BIBLE
You lay a great stress upon facts throughout your letters, and are incessant in your demand that I should attend to them. This is good; but facts have to be rightly put together, and then you must have all the facts. I do not think you put the facts rightly together, and you leave out some, I am sure.
(Robert Roberts, a Christadelphian Pioneer, quoted
by Ruth McHaffie in Brethren Indeed)
The Spirit of liberty, based upon the law of faith, is the Spirit of Christ; and this spirit all the Sons of God are privileged to possess, and having it, to breathe. I claim the right of exercising this privilege, as well as my contemporaries; and I require of them that they should do to me as once they loudly required others to do to them…
(written by John Thomas, the founder of the Christadelphians, when he was against creeds in
The Apostolic Advocate magazine, August 1836)
(John Thomas, from Apostacy Unveiled, p. 137,
quoted in The Christadelphian Magazine, January 1906)
Must a man never progress? If he discovers an error in his premises, must he for ever hold to it for the sake of consistency? May such a calamity never befall me! Rather let me change every day, till I get right at last.
(from a letter written by John Thomas in 1848, quoted by Robert Roberts, in Dr. Thomas: His Life and Work)
Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth; teach it without compromise, and all lovers of the Truth will approve you. For all others you need not care a rush!
(from a letter written by John Thomas to Robert Roberts and published in The Christadelphian magazine, February 1866)