The Christadelphians are a Christian denomination that developed in the United Kingdom and the United States in the 19th century. Other names for them include Brothers of Christ and Christ's Brethren. They were in effect founded by John Thomas, but do not consider him greater than any other teacher. Today, there are about 55,000-60,000 Christadelphians. Many of them live in Britain, Australia, Africa and the United States.
Their ideas are close to other Restorationist movements such as the Anabaptist movement. They say that when Christianity came in contact with the Hellenic world, it was spoiled. Therefore, they only accept teachings that can be found in the Bible. They think that the Bible was inspired by God and they accept no other texts.
- God - They reject the idea of the Trinity.
- Jesus - They also believe that Jesus did not exist before his birth, and that he is literally "Son of Man" by Mary and the "Son of God" by the holy spirit by the virgin birth. They believe that Jesus was literally dead for three days between his death on the cross and the day when God raised Jesus from the dead. They believe that Jesus is now with his Father, and that he will come again to be king on earth.
- They believe that men and women know nothing when they are dead. They do not believe that dead people go to heaven or hell. They say that the two words for "hell" mean (1) the grave, and (2) a valley near Jerusalem.
- They also believe that the devil in the Bible is a synonym for sin, which are present in the people on earth. Sin is what keeps people from being reunited with God. Christadelphians practise baptism as adults, by total immersion in water.
Today almost all Christadelphians belong to the main "Central" fellowship. But, following some disagreements, there have been different groups of Christadelphians:
- 1873-1901. The Nazarene fellowship was formed because of the idea that Jesus did not have to die on the cross. The group returned to the main group.
- 1885-1957. The Suffolk Street Fellowship was formed because of the question in what way the Bible was inspired by God. Robert Ashcroft wrote an article which challenged commonly held views about inspiration. Even though Ashcroft left the movement, his letter led to a division in the main body. A new group was formed and met in Suffolk Street, Birmingham. Other groups throughout the world which supported them became known as the "Suffolk Street fellowship", so they could be distinguished from the group they had separated from. That group became known as the "Temperance Hall fellowship". In 1957 the two groups united.
- In 1898 in North America the Unamended Christadelphians split over the question of would be raised at the last Judgment. Many of them allow the teaching that only the baptised will be raised. The main group do not allow this teaching. This group has 1,800 members in North America.
- In 1923, the Berean Fellowship separated from the main group, because they thought the main group were not strict enough against part-time work in the police. In 1942 the Bereans divided again over the questions of marriage and divorce. The stricter party formed the Dawn Fellowship. The majority of the North American Bereans re-joined the main body of Christadelphians in 1952. There is a small community of Bereans that continues to the present day.
They do not have priests or pastors, instead each local church has a group of elders who are chosen by the members each year. Most male members take turns to speak each week.
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