Bexley Christadelphians


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IMPORTANT BIBLE TOPICS

Hurst Place Community Centre, Bexley
The meeting place of the Bexley Ecclesia, Dawn Fellowship, Christadelphians

Christadelphian Beliefs

  1. There is only one God the Creator
  2. Jesus Christ is the Son of God
  3. The Holy Spirit is the power of God
  4. The Bible is the inspired word of God
  5. Man is mortal and dies because of sin
  6. Resurrection is the true hope of believers
  7. Salvation is only possible through Jesus
  8. Belief and baptism are essential for salvation
  9. There is only one Gospel
  10. The Gospel was preached to Abraham
  11. The Jews are God's witnesses
  12. The kingdom of Israel was the kingdom of God on earth
  13. Jesus will return to re-establish the kingdom of God on earth
  14. Jesus will be king over the kingdom of God
  15. The reward of the righteous will be eternal life on earth

Christadelphian Do Not Believe in the Following

  1. The Trinity
  2. The Devil and Satan are physical beings
  3. Going to Heaven or Hell when people die

Who are the Christadelphian?

From time to time readers ask who the Christadelphians are, and what do they believe. We are not affiliated with any other church and are a community of Christians whose beliefs and way of life are based on the teaching and example of Jesus Christ and his immediate followers. An explanatory booklet is freely available entitled ‘Light on the Christadelphians’.

The following is an extract from the booklet: ‘Christadelphians’ may sound a rather imposing name but it simply means ‘Brethren in Christ’. John Thomas, an Englishman born in London in 1805, first used the name. He was the son of a clergyman and became a doctor of medicine. In 1832 as a young man, he emigrated to the U.S.A., sailing from St Katherine Docks, London, aboard a ship called The Marquis of Wellesley. He helped to pay his passage by working as the ship’s surgeon.

The stormy Atlantic crossing was so bad that the ship lost its mainmast and ran aground. The passengers feared for their lives and at this point Dr Thomas determined that if he ever reached land he would never rest until he found out the truth about life and death. The ship eventually reached port after eight dreadful weeks and the relieved passengers and crew disembarked in New York.

At that time America was full of people with new ideas and a freedom of thought that gave rise to the formation of many different religious communities, unrestricted by any form of state religion. It was in this ‘cauldron’ of religious activity that Dr Thomas began to implement his resolve to search for the truth about life and death.

With his religious family background he already had a foundation belief in the Bible, and it was to the Bible that he looked for answers to his questions. He read the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament avidly, learning the original languages and searching out the beliefs of the people of the Bible. He found, to his astonishment, that a great deal of what was accepted as established church doctrine was not in the Bible!

In between earning his living in medicine, Dr Thomas travelled widely in America preaching what he now understood to be the message of the Bible. He involved himself in debates and addressed many congregations, finding there were others like himself who had searched God’s Word for the answer to these vital issues.

Dr Thomas then began to publish his own conclusions about the true doctrines found in the Bible. These were published in 1848 in a book entitled ‘Elpis Israel’ (‘The Hope of Israel’) while he was on a visit to England (this book is available free of charge, see inside back cover).

By this time his preaching efforts had led to a number of people in America and England studying God’s Word and realising that this man had indeed uncovered original Christianity as taught by Jesus and his apostles. They became associated with Dr Thomas but they still had no fixed name although they were known in some places as ‘Thomasites.’ However he resisted this, as he was not a man who sought a following or wanted to have his name associated with a newly formed religious group.

The American Civil War

It was the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 that made Dr Thomas choose a name for those who had accepted his understanding of the Bible’s teaching. It seems little thought had been given to a name, as it was not considered to be a necessary part of their faith. They followed the teaching of Jesus, and like the 1st Century believers, they simply regarded themselves as his brethren and sisters.

The war between the Northern and Southern States of America resulted in believers living in ‘opposing camps’, and this raised the question as to whether the followers of Jesus should serve in the armed forces. Should they obey the call to take up arms if the Authorities ordered them to do so? After much thought, and by searching the Scriptures, they came to the conclusion that they had no alternative but to become conscientious objectors if they were to follow the commandments of Christ and the apostles (Matthew 5.43,44; John 18.36).

Conscription was resorted to by the Authorities in both the Northern and Southern States and the rules for exemption were different on both sides. Negotiations were necessary with the Authorities, who would only consider the cause of conscientious objectors who belonged to a recognised religious group.

The brethren asked Dr Thomas for help in adopting a name that would be recognised by the military authorities and so he set his mind to the task and decided to adopt the name ‘Christadelphians’. He later wrote, ‘I did not know a better denomination that could 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 is expressed in another form by the word, ‘Christadelphians’, or Christou adelphoi’, (Greek words meaning brethren in Christ).

With this new name, the Christadelphians now had official recognition in America. Dr Thomas travelled widely, even into battle zones, to represent those who were having difficulties with the Authorities, but generally the adoption of the name Christadelphian gained the exemption they sought in their desire to uphold the teaching of Christ. The name was also accepted as an established religious denomination in the U.K. from about the same time.

An apostolic fellowship

For the enquiring reader, it is perhaps already noticeable that the Christadelphians look back to the first century to the teachings of Christ and his apostles to see what they originally preached and to what we can only describe as true Christianity. We would hope that the circumstances that led us to adopt the name ‘Christadelphians’ do not divert your attention from the fact that the basic beliefs of our community are apostolic. The same fundamental teaching of the first century believers forms the basis of Christadelphian beliefs. The fact that the established churches have strayed from first century Christianity is the reason for our position today.

Christadelphian beliefs are based on the Bible’s claim that it is the inspired Word of God. This claim is supported by a substantial weight of evidence (2 Timothy 3.16; 2 Peter 1.19-21). When Jesus preached the Gospel, he taught from the Old Testament Scriptures. It was from these ancient Jewish Scriptures that Jesus expounded to the people of his time the ‘Gospel’ or ‘good news’ of the coming kingdom of God. It is to these same Scriptures that Christadelphians look for the foundations of true Christianity.

This section is a reprint from Light on a New World Volume 31.3

Christadelphian History


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