C H R I S T A D E L P H I A N R E S E A R C H
The focus of the Christadelphians is based upon the Jewish state of Israel and prophecies found in the Old Testament believed to relate to its restoration. To understand their perspective fully requires some grasp of the structure and progression of the Old Testament. The belief is that a future kingdom of God is to be established soon on the earth and the Jewish state is a fulfilment of Bible prophecy intended to lead to this. This is largely based upon Old Testament views of the kingdom of God that were related to a physical kingdom set up by two kings in particular, David and Solomon, and prophecies they were given that their kingdom would last forever.
The kingdom expected is therefore based upon a restoration of the kingdom of ancient Israel and it is expected to be run along similar lines. The initial Jewish kingdom split into two - one half (called Israel) was taken over by the Assyrians, the other half (called Judah) was taken over by the Babylonians. The Jewish people were made slaves by the occupying forces and removed from their lands. Prior to this their prophets warned them of the pending dangers of these “captivities.” They interpreted the looming threats as a consequence of disobedience in not following God’s law and intents with all their hearts. They proclaimed that a full turning to God through national repentance would have forestalled this. They also predicted it would not be permanent, that a remnant would return, and that through a restored Jewish nation promises given to the Jewish founders (or patriarchs) to be a blessing to all nations would be fulfilled. This Jewish hope is “the hope of Israel” that Christadelphians look forward to.
They do not believe the New Testament spiritualises or alters this hope and it is understood in a thoroughly material sense, as indeed in the Old Testament it reads. They place Jesus therefore into the role of a literal human ruler, with a literal kingdom, a literal throne and a literal army. Taking it to its natural conclusions and literal Old Testament expectations, Christadelphians expect a literal temple to be built (based upon Ezekiel 40) which people will visit each year and expect the Law of Moses and animal
sacrifices to be re-introduced.
There is an order attached to the fulfilment of these things. At present the existing forms of human government are understood to be “the kingdoms of men” and the future restored kingdom is to be “the kingdom of God.” The king in this scenario is Jesus and his return (also called the “advent” or “second coming”) is central to this. That is why the whole of the historical Christadelphian speculations have been in reference to the “return of Christ.”
The kingdom is not a democracy, but is very firmly based upon a form of central government. Jesus as king is assisted by a group called “the saints” which are those people who believe the Truth as understood by Christadelphians and are found faithful at an event called “the judgment.” Some would allow today the possibility those with non Christadelphian beliefs will be among these faithful people, but historically this was rejected. The faithful, led by Jesus will rule with “a rod of iron” and dispense perfect righteousness as a result. Before this is possible “the saints” have to be firmly decided and therefore Christadelphians expect a judgment to occur. This is not a judgment of everyone, but is a judgment of those who know God’s purpose. A few Christadelphians historically have limited it further to only those who both knew and were baptised.
The faithful are also made immortal and are sinless as a result of a changed nature. A division occurred historically over whether the faithful would be raised mortal or immortal. The mainstream view is that they are raised mortal, with immortality being granted as a result of being accepted. Those who are found “not worthy” are condemned to die again as “the beasts that perish” an event which is called “the second death.” Christadelphians reject any idea of hell. There are a few difficulties in view of passages suggesting proportional punishment as a result of deeds that have not really been addressed.
Most people will not be involved in this judgment and if they survive the events that lead up to this “new world order” they become what Christadelphians call “the mortal population.” For 1000 years two groups live side by side. There are the saints who are immortal, live forever and are like the angels. They neither marry nor have children but lead lives promoting holiness and rule justly. There is also a mortal population who do marry and have children. It is for their spiritual development that the saints exist. As a benefit of living under righteous rule the mortal population has an extended lifespan. This is not unconditional because any form of rebellion is impossible. The nations of the world have to attend Jerusalem to keep God’s festivals on a periodic basis. It is in essence a religious dictatorship, but with beneficial results of justice, order and restoration of ill.
At the same time as being under a natural order of arrangement based upon a form of central rule, there are a few supernatural elements in play in this kingdom. We have mentioned the longer lifespan, but in addition the whole natural arrangement is altered. Verses from the poetic books of the Bible about lions lying down with lambs are taken literally too. How the supernatural changes in the natural world align with a very natural arrangement of the kingdom are not explained.
The millennium or thousand years (based upon one chapter in the symbolic book of Revelation taken literally) ends with a rebellion against the system of divine government. This rebellion is overcome and the 1000 years of a mortal population living with an immortal population also ends with a final judgment. This time because knowledge of the truth as understood by Christadelphians is far greater a lot more people are judged and there are more saints. After this expectations get a lot more vague. God is “all in all.” There is only immortality. There is no more pain, suffering or evil.
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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)