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The Early History of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in Britain

The “Early History of the Kingdom God in Britain” was an account of those who set up new communities following the initial preaching campaign of Doctor John Thomas in Britain in 1848. At that time there was no denominational structure since the name “Christadelphian” was not in use until 1865 when it was registered to make claims for exemption from the American Civil War as conscientious objectors. At that time John Thomas wrote a book, “Elpis Israel” where he set out his personal views on the kingdom of God and other matters, but since he railed against creeds those who adopted many of his views did not feel they had to follow him on every aspect.

Those who responded to his preaching campaign therefore simply called themselves “baptised believers in the kingdom of God.” This diverse start to the Christadelphian movement was subsequently edited out of Christadelphian accounts as found in the research by Andrew Wilson. It was only later that many became known as Christadelphian ecclesias (examples Mumbles and Swansea). Others never embraced the name “Christadelphian” at all, were subsquently not retained as brethren, and others would not subscribe to the creedal process that had previously been advocated against.

The "Early History of the Kingdom of God in Britain" was written in 1904 by one of those early followers, William Norrie, detailing what he considered to be a movement following in the steps advocated by John Thomas and until the community tightened up its requirements through creeds was accepted as such. In fact Robert Roberts (who was prominent in making the Christadelphian movement creedal) was married to his sister, Jane Norrie in Edinburgh.

The inevitable result of a non creedal movement without organisation was a diversity. This threatened to be too liberal in outlook and thought for many and to limit followers to the beliefs promoted by John Thomas initial creedal steps were taken. These were widely supported until a prominent member raised thoughts about how the Bible was inspired that led to widespread division. Further steps to again tighten doctrinal requirements have also subsequently proved highly divisive.

“The Early History of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in Britain” is in three volumes:

(these will take a long time to load up as they are very large files)






Christadelphian Quotes

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)