Down through the centuries of
time, alongside the mainstream of Christendom, there have always been other small groups
who could not for conscience sake be part of the majority. Marked by their strict
adherence to the Word of God, these groups were made up of common people who made few
ripples on the political scene. The Donatists, Waldenses, Paulicans and Hugenots were some
of the more prominent groups that history texts may have passed by, had it not been for
the hatred and contempt shown toward them by those with power and authority. These people
chose to live quiet and peaceable lives with the Bible as the focal point, but they didn't
conform to the traditional line and so were condemned as heretics and suffered banishment,
massacre and torture.
Today, a group of people with similar markings is the Christadelphians. Bertrand
Russel, a noted English philosopher in his book, Power, A New Social Analysis, wrote
on page 109, "Christianity was in its earliest days, entirely unpolitical. The best
representatives in our time are the Christadelphians..." If the Church had the
political power today that it had during the times of the above-mentioned groups, the
plight of the Christadelphians would be identical.
Christadelphians are not found in public office, nor on juries nor in armed services --
they aren't demonstrating or manifesting civil disobedience to get public attention. They
are patiently waiting for the fulfillment of the Biblical promise of the return of Jesus
Christ from heaven to change the political structure of the day (Acts 1:11). They firmly
believe their lot and role in this present day is one of a stranger and sojourner no
matter what the country of their residence. However, with the coming of their Lord, they
expect with his approval to be of those who will be elevated to be kings and priests on
the earth (Revelation 5:10).
Throughout most of the noncommunist world, Christadelphians can be found. They meet
regularly on the first day of the week for a service in which the death and resurrection
of their Lord is commemorated. They meet mid-week for a Bible study and usually some other
time in the week for a Bible based talk to which the public is invited. Sunday school and
young-peoples activities figure prominently in their weekly routines.
In Christadelphia personal Bible study is stressed. There is no central authority
dictating what is to be studied, or how it is to be interpreted. Churches or
"Ecclesias" as Christadelphians prefer to call them, are relatively independent
of each other. A common statement of faith on first principles binds the ecclesias
together. No binding statements, however, demand that all ecclesias act the same way on
matters such as "birth control," abortion and interpretation of non-fundamental
parts of the Bible.
On matters of authority Christadelphians are rigid. No modern day prophets, personal
revelations or other books are considered as authorities alongside the Bible. They do not
bury their heads in the sand on these issues. They regularly challenge the Atheists, the
Evolutionists and the compromisers to public debate.
The Christadelphians believe in being 'born again,' but according to the Bible's
standard -- not by today's 'instantaneous' methods. They believe rebirth involves
knowledge and understanding as well as emotion to get started and much more of the same to
keep going (1Peter 1:23; 2:1,2). They believe rebirth requires a change in one's
attitudes, such that a convert's speech and behavior become beyond reproach.
The literal resurrection of the body to judgement and then to everlasting life on earth
is the Hope of Christadelphians. They teach man's greatest enemy is his own nature and, to
find acceptance by Jesus Christ, each person must with God's help learn to discipline
themselves according to God's word.
The Christadelphians carefully substantiate their beliefs from the Bible while
reproving ideas whose roots are obviously of pagan origin. They contend the idea that man
has an immortal soul (see article: The Immortal Soul Myth) to be a belief mutually
exclusive to the resurrection of the dead. The belief in a triune God, a fallen angel
devil, eternal fire torture, are a few other beliefs that the Christadelphians contend are
not Bible based, but founded on compromise and tradition. They believe that the vast
majority of Christendom in adhering to such pagan beliefs become subject to the words of
Jesus, "but in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of
men." (Matthew 15:9).
The Christadelphians acquired their name during the American Civil War when the
government of the United States demanded that all such groups be registered by name.
Although the name is unique, it simply means brethren in Christ (Colossians 1:2;
Hebrews 2:11). Their beliefs are Bible-based, similar to those of the protestors of past
centuries and have not changed since the group was named.
F. Abel (Ontario, Canada).