The Christadelphians are a millenarian Christian group who hold a view of Biblical Unitarianism. There are approximately 50,000 Christadelphians in around 120 countries. The movement developed in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and North America in the 19th century around the teachings of John Thomas, who coined the name Christadelphian from the Greek language-term for "Brethren in Christ".
Claiming to base their beliefs solely on the Bible, Christadelphians differ from mainstream Christianity in a number of doctrinal areas. For example, they reject the Trinity and the immortality of the soul, believing these to be corruptions of original Christian teaching. They were initially found predominantly in the developed English-speaking world, but expanded in developing countries after the Second World War. Congregations are traditionally referred to as 'ecclesias' and would not use the word 'church' due to its association with mainstream Christianity, and its focus on the building as apposed to the congregation.
The Christadelphian religious group traces its origins to John Thomas (1805-1871), who emigrated to North America from England in 1832. Following a near shipwreck he vowed to find out the truth about life and God through personal Biblical study. Initially he sought to avoid the kind of sectarianism he had seen in England. In this he found sympathy with the rapidly emerging Restoration Movement in the United States at the time. This movement sought a reform based upon the Bible alone as a sufficient guide and rejected all creeds. However, this liberality eventually led to dissent as John Thomas developed his personal beliefs and began to question mainstream orthodox Christian beliefs. While the Restoration Movement accepted Thomas's right to have his own beliefs, when he started preaching that they were essential to salvation, it led to a fierce series of debates with a notable leader of the movement, Alexander Campbell. John Thomas believed that scripture, as God's word, did not support a multiplicity of differing beliefs, and challenged the leaders to continue with the process of restoring 1st-century Christian beliefs and correct interpretation through a process of debate. The history of this process appears in the book Dr. Thomas, His Life and Work (1873) by a Christadelphian, Robert Roberts.
During this period of formulating his ideas John Thomas was baptised twice, the second time after renouncing the beliefs he previously held. He based his new position on a new appreciation for the reign of Christ on David's throne. The abjuration of his former beliefs eventually led to the Restoration Movement disfellowshipping him when he toured England and they became aware of his abjuration in the United States of America.
The Christadelphian community in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland effectively dates from Thomas's first lecturing tour (May 1848 - October 1850). His message was particularly welcomed in Scotland, and Campbellite, Unitarian and Adventist friends separated to form groups of "Baptised Believers". Two thirds of ecclesias, and members, in Britain before 1864 were in Scotland. In 1849, during his tour of Britain, he completed (a decade and a half before the name Christadelphian was conceived) Elpis Israel in which he laid out his understanding of the main doctrines of the Bible. Since his medium for bringing change was print and debate, it was natural for the origins of the Christadelphian body to be associated with books and journals, such as Thomas's Herald of the Kingdom.
In his desire to seek to establish Biblical truth and test orthodox Christian beliefs through independent scriptural study he was not alone. Among other churches, he had links with the Adventist movement and with Benjamin Wilson (who later set up the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith in the 1860s). In terms of his rejection of the trinity, Thomas's views had certain similarities with Unitarianism which had developed in a formal way in Europe in the 16th century (although he formally described both Unitarianism and Socinianism as "works of the devil" for their failure to develop his doctrine of God-manifestation).
Although the Christadelphian movement originated through the activities of John Thomas, he never saw himself as making his own disciples. He believed rather that he had rediscovered 1st century beliefs from the Bible alone, and sought to prove that through a process of challenge and debate and writing journals. Through that process a number of people became convinced and set up various fellowships that had sympathy with that position. Groups associated with John Thomas met under various names, including Believers, Baptised Believers, the Royal Association of Believers, Baptised Believers in the Kingdom of God, Nazarines (or Nazarenes), and The Antipas until the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865). At that time, church affiliation was required in the United States and in the Confederate States of America in order to register for conscientious objector status, and in 1864 Thomas chose for registration purposes the name Christadelphian.
Through the teaching of John Thomas and the need in the American Civil War for a name, the Christadelphians emerged as a denomination, but they were formed into a lasting structure through a passionate follower of Thomas's interpretation of the Bible, Robert Roberts. In 1864, he began to publish The Ambassador of the Coming Age magazine. John Thomas, out of concern that someone else might start a publication and call it The Christadelphian, urged Robert Roberts to change the name of his magazine to The Christadelphian, which he did in 1869. His editorship of the magazine continued with some assistance until his death in 1898. In church matters, Roberts was prominent in the period following the death of John Thomas in 1871, and helped craft the structures of the Christadelphian body.
Initially, the denomination grew in the English-speaking world, particularly in the English Midlands and in parts of North America.[which?] In the early days after the death of John Thomas, the group could have moved in a number of directions. Doctrinal issues arose, debates took place, and statements of faith were created and amended as other issues arose. These attempts were felt necessary by many[according to whom?] to both settle and define a doctrinal stance for the newly emerging denomination and to keep out error. As a result of these debates, several groups separated from the main body of Christadelphians, most notably the Suffolk Street fellowship and the Unamended fellowship.
The Christadelphian position on conscientious objection came to the fore with the introduction of conscription during the First World War. Varying degrees of exemption from military service were granted to Christadelphians in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. In the Second World War, this frequently required the person seeking exemption to undertake civilian work under the direction of the authorities.
During the Second World War, the Christadelphians in Britain assisted in the Kindertransport, helping to relocate several hundred Jewish children away from Nazi persecution by founding a hostel, Elpis Lodge, for that purpose. In Germany, the small Christadelphian community founded by Albert Maier went underground from 1940-1945, and a leading brother, Albert Merz, was imprisoned as a conscientious objector and later executed.
After the Second World War, moves were taken to try to reunite various of the earlier divisions. By the end of the 1950s, most Christadelphians had united into one community, but there are still a number of small groups of Christadelphians who remain separate.
The post-war and post-reunions periods saw an increase in co-operation and interaction between ecclesias, resulting in the establishment of a number of week-long Bible schools and the formation of national and international organisations such as the Christadelphian Bible Mission (for preaching and pastoral support overseas), the Christadelphian Support Network (for counselling), and the Christadelphian Meal-A-Day Fund (for charity and humanitarian work).
The period following the reunions was accompanied by expansion in the developing world, which now accounts for around 40% of Christadelphians.
In the absence of centralised organisation, some differences exist amongst Christadelphians on matters of belief and practice. This is because each congregation (commonly styled 'ecclesias') is organised autonomously, typically following common practices which have altered little since the 19th century. Most ecclesias have a constitution, which includes a 'Statement of Faith', a list of 'Doctrines to be Rejected' and a formalised list of 'The Commandments of Christ'. With no central authority, individual congregations are responsible for maintaining orthodoxy in belief and practice, and the statement of faith is seen by many as useful to this end. The statement of faith acts as the official standard of most ecclesias to determine fellowship within and between ecclesias, and as the basis for co-operation between ecclesias. Congregational discipline and conflict resolution are applied using various forms of consultation, mediation, and discussion, with disfellowship (similar to excommunication) being the final response to those with unorthodox practices or beliefs.
The relative uniformity of organisation and practice is undoubtedly due to the influence of a booklet, written early in Christadelphian history by Robert Roberts, called A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias. It recommends a basically democratic arrangement by which congregational members elect 'brothers' to arranging and serving duties, and includes guidelines for the organisation of committees, as well as conflict resolution between congregational members and between congregations. Christadelphians do not have paid ministers. Male members are assessed by the congregation for their eligibility to teach and perform other duties, which are usually assigned on a rotation basis, as opposed to having a permanently appointed preacher. Congregational governance typically follows a democratic model, with an elected arranging committee for each individual ecclesia. This unpaid committee is responsible for the day-to-day running of the ecclesia and is answerable to the rest of the ecclesia's members.
Inter-ecclesial organisations co-ordinate the running of, among other things, Christadelphian schools and elderly care homes, the Christadelphian Isolation League (which cares for those prevented by distance or infirmity from attending an ecclesia regularly) and the publication of Christadelphian magazines.
No official membership figures are published, but the Columbia Encyclopaedia gives an estimated figure of 50,000 Christadelphians. They are spread across approximately 120 countries; there are established churches (often referred to as ecclesias) in many of those countries, along with isolated members. Estimates for the main centers of Christadelphian population are as follows: England (18,000), Australia (10,653),Mozambique (9,400),Malawi (7,000), United States (6,500), Canada (3,375),Kenya (2,700), New Zealand (1,785), India (1,750),Tanzania (1,000). and Pakistan (900). Combining the estimates from the Christadelphian Bible Mission with the figures above, the numbers for each continent are as follows: Africa (22,100), Americas (10,500), Asia (4,150), Europe (18,950), Oceania (12,600). This puts the total figure at around 67,000.
The Christadelphian body consists of a number of fellowships - groups of ecclesias which associate with one another, often to the exclusion of ecclesias outside their group. They are to some degree localised. The Unamended Fellowship, for example, exists only in North America. Christadelphian fellowships have often been named after ecclesias or magazines who took a lead in developing a particular stance.
The majority of Christadelphians today (around 60,000) belong to what is commonly known as the Central Fellowship. The term "Central" came into use around 1933 to distinguish those majority ecclesias worldwide who were in fellowship with the Birmingham (Central) Ecclesia, from those minority ecclesias of the "Suffolk Street Fellowship" who had been collectively withdrawn from in 1885 over disagreements surrounding the inspiration of the Bible. This had begun when Robert Ashcroft, a leading member, wrote an article which challenged Christadelphian belief, stating that some parts of the Holy Scriptures were with error and therefore uninspired. Although he later left the community, this led to a division in the main body where his doctrinal influence remained. Robert Ashcroft's sympathisers in Birmingham, England formed a separate Ecclesia in local Suffolk Street and ecclesias which supported their position became known as the "Suffolk Street Fellowship". Those in local Birmingham, who maintained that the Holy Scriptures were divinely inspired in all their parts and were without error except as may be due to errors of transcription or translation, formed a separate Ecclesia in nearby Temperance Hall and ecclesias throughout the world which supported their position became known as the "Temperance Hall Fellowship". Meanwhile in Australia, division had ensued surrounding the subject of the "Clean Flesh" of Jesus Christ. The minority who believed Christ's nature was immaculate and therefore his flesh did not have the potential to sin formed the "Shield Fellowship". These soon became closely associated with the "Suffolk Street Fellowship" as their sympathisers, and also those known as the Dowieite community who had been previously disfellowshipped from the main body over disagreement surrounding the Biblical devil and evil spirits. The majority who believed Christ was born with the same flesh as his Brethren and thus had the ability to sin in his flesh but chose not to continued as members of the "Temperance Hall Fellowship". By 1939 the "Temperance Hall" members in Birmingham had relocated and were increasingly known as the "Birmingham Central Christadelphians", but before long the word "Birmingham" was dropped and the term "Central Fellowship" began to be used with some regularity among the next generations of Christadelphians in England. After the First and Second World Wars it was felt that a gradual relaxation of traditional fellowship practice needed to take place and the discussions of 1957-1958 resulted in a worldwide reunion between the majority Christadelphians of the "Temperance Hall Fellowship" and the minority "Suffolk Street Fellowship", closely followed in Australia by the minority "Shield Fellowship" and the Dowieite community. Birmingham Central Hall Christadelphians, where the formal meetings and unification papers were signed officially decreed the reunion as official, and the "Central Fellowship" was born. Reunion was also made official to the rest of the worldwide Christadelphians on the basis of the understanding of the atonement of Christ, expressed in a document called the Cooper-Carter Addendum (this was soon added to the BASF).
The Unamended Fellowship, consisting of around 1,850 members, is found in the East Coast and Midwest USA and Ontario, Canada. This group separated in 1898 as a result of differing views on who would be raised to judgement at the return of Christ. The majority of Christadelphians believe that the judgement will include anyone who had sufficient knowledge of the gospel message, and is not limited to baptised believers. The majority in England, Australia and North America amended their statement of faith accordingly. Those who opposed the amendment became known as the "Unamended Fellowship" and allowed the teaching that God either could not or would not raise those who had no covenant relationship with him. Opinions vary as to what the established position was on this subject prior to the controversy. Prominent in the formation of the Unamended Fellowship was Thomas Williams, editor of the Christadelphian Advocate magazine. The majority of the Unamended Fellowship outside North America joined the Suffolk Street fellowship before its eventual incorporation into Central fellowship. There is also some co-operation between the Central (Amended) and Unamended Fellowships in North America - most recently in the Great Lakes region, where numerous Amended and Unamended ecclesias are working together to unify their ecclesias. The "Central Fellowship" in North America is still often referred to today as the Amended Fellowship.
The Berean Fellowship was formed in 1923 as a result of varying views on military service in England, and on the atonement in North America. The majority of the North American Bereans re-joined the main body of Christadelphians in 1952. A number continue as a separate community, numbering around 200 in Texas, 100 in Kenya and 30 in Wales. Most of the divisions still in existence within the Christadelphian community today stem from further divisions of the Berean Fellowship.
The Dawn Fellowship are the result of an issue which arose in 1942 among the Berean Fellowship regarding divorce and remarriage. The stricter party formed the Dawn Fellowship who, following re-union on the basis of unity of belief with the Lightstand Fellowship in Australia in 2007 increased in number. There are now thought to be around 800 members in England, Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Poland, the Philippines, Russia and Kenya.
The Old Paths Fellowship was formed in 1957 by those in the "Temperance Hall Fellowship" who held that the reasons for separation from the "Suffolk Street Fellowship" and its sympathising communities remained. They also strongly believed that the Biblical teaching of fellowship required full unity of belief on all fundamental principles of Bible Truth and thus the re-union should have been with the full agreement and understanding of all members rather than the result of the majority vote that prevailed. Ecclesias forming the Old Paths Fellowship arose in England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada numbering around 500 members in total. Due to a proportionally large number of members in England joining the Central Fellowship in and around 2014, their numbers have reduced to around 250 members in total (around 100 members in England, and around 150 in Oceania).
Other fellowships which openly identify themselves as Christadelphians will have various numbers ranging from as few as 10 to over 200 members. Examples are the Watchman Fellowship, the Companion Fellowship and the Pioneer Fellowship.
Fellowship groups which are considered by the larger communities to be part of the "wider Christadelphian Brotherhood" are also very much in existence, some for as few as 30 years, others for the best part of a century. Although being Christadelphian in origin and sharing many Christadelphian teachings, these fellowship groups have renounced the popularly held name due to its public association with what they believe to be false teachings and/or practice within the Christadelphian community. These groups consider constituents of the One Body to be those within their own separate communities and therefore fellowship on that basis. Some examples are: The "Nazarene Fellowship" ; The "Ecclesia of Christ" Fellowship; The "Remnant of Christ's Ecclesia" Fellowship ; The "Apostolic Fellowship of Christ" Fellowship ; "The Apostolic Ecclesias" Fellowship . While quality of fellowship on biblical grounds are said to be emphasised rather than quantity, numbers of members may range from as few as two or three individuals in a fellowship, to a fellowship consisting of 50 or more spread over a number of Ecclesias. For example, the Apostolic Ecclesias  can be located in the UK (Dartford & Maidenhead, England; Cupar, Scotland); Southern Kenya (Mwangwei); and Western Kenya (Bungoma & Nalondo). Whereas the "Household of Christ Fellowship", for example, can only be found in Nottingham, England. While some of these groups may be considered exclusive in their approach, most openly continue their public witness in the locations they are found , even tailoring their advertising towards the popular Christadelphians in an endeavour to restore them to what they believe to be a correct understanding of Bible teaching and Biblical fellowship .
The Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith (CGAF) also has common origins with Christadelphians and shares Christadelphian beliefs. Numbering around 400 (primarily Ohio and Florida, USA), they are welcomed into fellowship by some "Central" Christadelphians and are currently involved in unity talks.
According to Bryan Wilson, functionally the definition of a "fellowship" within Christadelphian history has been mutual or unilateral exclusion of groupings of ecclesias from the breaking of bread. This functional definition still holds true in North America, where the Unamended Fellowship and the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith are not received by most North American Amended ecclesias. But outside North America this functional definition no longer holds. Many articles and books on the doctrine and practice of fellowship now reject the notion itself of separate "fellowships" among those who recognise the same baptism, viewing such separations as schismatic. Many ecclesias in the Central fellowship would not refuse a baptised Christadelphian from a minority fellowship from breaking bread; the exclusion is more usually the other way.
They tend to operate organisationally fairly similarly, although there are different emphases. Despite their differences, the Central, Old Paths, Dawn and Berean fellowships generally subscribe to the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF), though the latter two have additional clauses or supporting documents to explain their position. Most Unamended ecclesias use the Birmingham Unamended Statement of Faith (BUSF) with one clause being different. Within the Central fellowship individual ecclesias also may have their own statement of faith, whilst still accepting the statement of faith of the larger community. Some ecclesias have statements around their positions, especially on divorce and re-marriage, making clear that offence would be caused by anyone in that position seeking to join them at the 'Breaking of Bread' service. Others tolerate a degree of divergence from commonly held Christadelphian views.
Minority Fellowship groups also recognised by the larger fellowships to be part of the wider Christadelphian Brotherhood will likewise conform to the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith with particular amendments in their doctrines to be rejected, which results in their separation from one another. Some have revised previous statements of faith to include clarity on controversies that have arisen over the last 170 years. While some communities of Christadelphian origin have viewed previous statements of faith as set in stone, others have felt it necessary to revise them in order to meet contemporary issues which challenge the Scriptures and may weaken what they believe to be the True Faith. Some communities have completely revised the Statements of Faith in language to be easily understood, supported by the references to the relevant quotations. An example can be found here: 
For each fellowship, anyone who publicly assents to the doctrines described in the statement and is in good standing in their "home ecclesia" is generally welcome to participate in the activities of any other ecclesia.
Due to the way the Christadelphian body is organised there is no central authority to establish and maintain a standardised set of beliefs and it depends upon what statement of faith is adhered to and how liberal the ecclesia is, but there are core doctrines most Christadelphians would accept. In the formal statements of faith a more complete list is found. For instance in the Central fellowship, the BASF, the standard Statement of Faith has 30 doctrines to be accepted and 35 to be rejected.
Christadelphians state that their beliefs are based wholly on the Bible, and they do not see other works as inspired by God. They regard the Bible as inspired by God and, therefore, believe that in its original form, it is error-free and errors in later copies are due to errors of transcription or translation. Based on this, Christadelphians teach what they believe as true Bible teaching.
Christadelphians believe that God is the creator of all things and the father of true believers, that he is a separate being from his son, Jesus Christ, and that the Holy Spirit is the power of God used in creation and for salvation. They also believe that the phrase Holy Spirit sometimes refers to God's character/mind, depending on the context in which the phrase appears, but reject the view that people need strength, guidance and power from the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life, believing instead that the spirit a believer needs within themselves is the mind/character of God, which is developed in a believer by their reading of the Bible (which, they believe, contains words God gave by his Spirit) and trying to live by what it says during the events of their lives which God uses to help shape their character.
Christadelphians believe that Jesus is the promised Jewish Messiah, in whom the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament find their fulfilment. They believe he is the Son of Man, in that he inherited human nature (with its inclination to sin) from his mother, and the Son of God by virtue of his miraculous conception by the power of God. Christadelphians also reject the doctrine of Christ's pre-existence. They teach that he was part of God's plans from the beginning and was foreshadowed in the Old Testament, but was no independent creature prior to his earthly birth. Although he was tempted, Jesus committed no sin, and was therefore a perfect representative sacrifice to bring salvation to sinful humankind. They believe that God raised Jesus from death and gave him immortality, and he ascended to Heaven, God's dwelling place. Christadelphians believe that he will return to the earth in person to set up the Kingdom of God in fulfilment of the promises made to Abraham and David. This includes the belief that the coming Kingdom will be the restoration of God's first Kingdom of Israel, which was under David and Solomon. For Christadelphians, this is the focal point of the gospel taught by Jesus and the apostles.
Christadelphians believe that the Satan or Devil is not an independent spiritual being or fallen angel. Devil is viewed as the general principle of evil and inclination to sin which resides in humankind. They believe that, dependent on the context, the term Satan in Hebrew merely means "opponent" or "adversary" and is frequently applied to human beings. Accordingly, they do not define Hell as a place of eternal torment for sinners, but as a State of Eternal Death respectively non-existence due to annihilation of body and mind.
Christadelphians believe that people are separated from God because of their sins but that humankind can be reconciled to him by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. This is by belief in the gospel, through repentance, and through baptism by total immersion in water. They reject assurance of salvation, believing instead that salvation comes as a result of remaining "in Christ". After death, believers are in a state of non-existence, knowing nothing until the Resurrection at the return of Christ. Following the judgement at that time, the accepted receive the gift of immortality, and live with Christ on a restored Earth, assisting him to establish the Kingdom of God and to rule over the mortal population for a thousand years (the Millennium). Christadelphians believe that the Kingdom will be centred upon Israel, but Jesus Christ will also reign over all the other nations on the earth. Some unorthodox Christadelphians believe that the Kingdom itself is not worldwide but limited to the land of Israel promised to Abraham and ruled over in the past by David, with a worldwide empire.
The historic Commandments of Christ demonstrates the community's recognition of the importance of Biblical teaching on morality. Marriage and family life are important. Christadelphians believe that sexual relationships should be limited to heterosexual marriage, ideally between baptised believers.
Christadelphians reject a number of doctrines held by many other Christians, notably the immortality of the soul (see also mortalism; conditionalism), trinitarianism, the personal pre-existence of Christ, the baptism of infants, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, the divinity of Jesus and the present-day possession of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (see cessationism). They believe that the word devil is a reference in the scriptures to sin and human nature in opposition to God, while the word satan is merely a reference to an adversary (be it good or bad). According to Christadelphians, these terms are used in reference to specific political systems or individuals in opposition or conflict. Hell (Hebrew: Sheol; Greek: Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus) is understood to refer exclusively to death and the grave, rather than being a place of everlasting torment (see also annihilationism). Christadelphians do not believe that anyone will "go to Heaven" upon death. Instead, they believe that only Jesus Christ went to Heaven, and when he comes back to the Earth there will be a resurrection and God's Kingdom will be established on earth, starting in the land of Israel. Christadelphians believe the doctrines they reject were introduced into Christendom after the 1st century in large part through exposure to Pagan Greek Philosophy, and cannot be substantiated from the Biblical texts.
One criticism of the Christadelphian movement has been over the claim of John Thomas and Robert Roberts to have "re-discovered" scriptural truth. However one might argue that all Protestant groups make the same claims to some extent. Although both men believed that they had "recovered" the true doctrines for themselves and contemporaries, they also believed there had always existed a group of true believers throughout the ages, albeit marred by the apostasy.
The most notable Christadelphian attempts to find a continuity of those with doctrinal similarities since that point have been geographer Alan Eyre's two books The Protesters (1975) and Brethren in Christ (1982) in which he shows that many individual Christadelphian doctrines had been previously believed. Eyre focused in particular on the Radical Reformation, and also among the Socinians and other early Unitarians and the English Dissenters. In this way, Eyre was able to demonstrate substantial historical precedents for individual Christadelphian teachings and practices, and believed that the Christadelphian community was the 'inheritor of a noble tradition, by which elements of the Truth were from century to century hammered out on the anvil of controversy, affliction and even anguish'. Although noting in the introduction to 'The Protestors' that 'Some recorded herein perhaps did not have "all the truth" -- so the writer has been reminded', Eyre nevertheless claimed that the purpose of the work was to 'tell how a number of little-known individuals, groups and religious communities strove to preserve or revive the original Christianity of apostolic times', and that 'In faith and outlook they were far closer to the early springing shoots of first-century Christianity and the penetrating spiritual challenge of Jesus himself than much that has passed for the religion of the Nazarene in the last nineteen centuries'.
Eyre's research has been criticized by some of his Christadelphian peers, and as a result Christadelphian commentary on the subject has subsequently been more cautious and circumspect, with caveats being issued concerning Eyre's claims, and the two books less used and publicised than in previous years.
Nevertheless, even with most source writings of those later considered heretics destroyed, evidence can be provided that since the first century BC there have been various groups and individuals who have held certain individual Christadelphian beliefs or similar ones. For example, all the distinctive Christadelphian doctrines (with the exception of the non-literal devil), down to interpretations of specific verses, can be found particularly among sixteenth century Socinian writers (e.g. the rejection of the doctrines of the trinity, pre-existence of Christ, immortal souls, a literal hell of fire, original sin). Early English Unitarian writings also correspond closely to those of Christadelphians. Also, recent discoveries and research have shown a large similarity between Christadelphian beliefs and those held by Isaac Newton who, among other things, rejected the doctrines of the trinity, immortal souls, a personal devil and literal demons. Further examples are as follows:[original research?]
Organised worship in England for those whose beliefs anticipated those of Christadelphians only truly became possible in 1779 when the Act of Toleration 1689 was amended to permit denial of the Trinity, and only fully when property penalties were removed in the Doctrine of the Trinity Act 1813. This is only 35 years before John Thomas' 1849 lecture tour in Britain which attracted significant support from an existing non-Trinitarian Adventist base, particularly, initially, in Scotland where Arian, Socinian, and unitarian (with a small 'u' as distinct from the Unitarian Church of Theophilus Lindsey) views were prevalent.
Christadelphians are organised into local congregations, that commonly call themselves ecclesias, which is taken from usage in the New Testament and is Greek for gathering of those summoned. Congregational worship, which usually takes place on Sunday, centres on the remembrance of the death and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by the taking part in the "memorial service". Additional meetings are often organised for worship, prayer, preaching and Bible study.
Ecclesias are typically involved in preaching the gospel (evangelism) in the form of public lectures on Bible teaching, college-style seminars on reading the Bible, and Bible Reading Groups. Correspondence courses are also used widely, particularly in areas where there is no established Christadelphian presence. Some ecclesias, organisations or individuals also preach through other media like video, podcasts and internet forums. There are also a number of Bible Education/Learning Centres around the world.
Only baptised (by complete immersion in water) believers are considered members of the ecclesia. Ordinarily, baptism follows someone making a "good confession" (cf. 1 Tim. 6:12) of their faith before two or three nominated elders of the ecclesia they are seeking to join. The good confession has to demonstrate a basic understanding of the main elements - "first principles" - of the faith of the community. The children of members are encouraged to attend Christadelphian Sunday Schools and youth groups. Interaction between youth from different ecclesias is encouraged through regional and national youth gatherings. Many ecclesias organise holidays for young people, the most popular form in the UK being camping holidays and Youth Weekends such as Swanwick and others locally organised by different ecclesias.
Christadelphians understand the Bible to teach that male and female believers are equal in God's sight, and also that there is a distinction between the roles of male and female members. Women are typically not eligible to teach in formal gatherings of the ecclesia when male believers are present, are expected to cover their heads (using hat or scarf, etc.) during formal services, and do not sit on the main ecclesial arranging (organising) committees. They do, however: participate in other ecclesial and inter-ecclesial committees; participate in discussions; teach children in Sunday Schools as well as at home, teach other women and non-members; perform music; discuss and vote on business matters; and engage in the majority of other activities. Generally, at formal ecclesial and inter-ecclesial meetings the women wear head coverings when there are acts of worship and prayer.
There are ecclesially-accountable committees for co-ordinated preaching, youth and Sunday School work, conscientious objection issues, care of the elderly, and humanitarian work. These do not have any legislative authority, and are wholly dependent upon ecclesial support. Ecclesias in an area may regularly hold joint activities combining youth groups, fellowship, preaching, and Bible study.
Most Christadelphians do not vote in political elections, as they take direction from Romans 13:1-4, which they interpret as meaning that God puts into power those leaders He deems worthy. To vote for a candidate that does not win an election would be considered to vote against God's will. To avoid risk of such conflict, most Christadelphians abstain from voting.
Christadelphians are a non-liturgical denomination. Christadelphian ecclesias are autonomous and free to adopt whatever pattern of worship they choose. However, in the English-speaking world, there tends to be a great deal of uniformity in order of service and hymnody.
Christadelphian hymnody makes considerable use of the hymns of the Anglican and English Protestant traditions (even in US ecclesias the hymnody is typically more English than American). In many Christadelphian hymn books a sizeable proportion of hymns are drawn from the Scottish Psalter and non-Christadelphian hymn-writers including Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, William Cowper and John Newton. Despite incorporating non-Christadelphian hymns however, Christadelphian hymnody preserves the essential teachings of the community.
The earliest hymn book published was the "Sacred Melodist" which was published by Benjamin Wilson in Geneva, Illinois in 1860. The next was the hymn book published for the use of Baptised Believers in the Kingdom of God (an early name for Christadelphians) by George Dowie in Edinburgh in 1864. In 1865 Robert Roberts published a collection of Scottish psalms and hymns called The Golden Harp (which was subtitled "Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, compiled for the use of Immersed Believers in 'The Things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ'"). This was replaced only five years later by the first "Christadelphian Hymn Book" (1869), compiled by J. J. and A. Andrew, and this was revised and expanded in 1874, 1932 and 1964. A thorough revision by the Christadelphian Magazine and Publishing Association resulted in the latest (2002) edition which is almost universally used by English-speaking Christadelphian ecclesias. In addition some Christadelphian fellowships have published their own hymn books.
Some ecclesias use the Praise the Lord songbook. It was produced with the aim of making contemporary songs which are consistent with Christadelphian theology more widely available. Another publication, the "Worship" book is a compilation of songs and hymns that have been composed only by members of the Christadelphian community. This book was produced with the aim of providing extra music for non-congregational music items within services (e.g. voluntaries, meditations, et cetera) but has been adopted by congregations worldwide and is now used to supplement congregational repertoire.
In the English-speaking world, worship is typically accompanied by organ or piano, though in recent years a few ecclesias have promoted the use of other instruments (e.g. strings, wind and brass as mentioned in the Psalms). This trend has also seen the emergence of some Christadelphian bands and the establishment of the Christadelphian Art Trust to support performing, visual and dramatic arts within the Christadelphian community.
In other countries, hymn books have been produced in local languages, sometimes resulting in styles of worship which reflect the local culture. It has been noted that Christadelphian hymnody has historically been a consistent witness to Christadelphian beliefs, and that hymnody occupies a significant role in the community.
• "Old Paths Fellowship (UK)". Christadelphians.co.uk. Retrieved .
• "Biblical Fellowship". Christadelphianbooks.org. Retrieved .
• Perry, Andrew. Fellowship Matters, Willow publications, 2nd edition, 1996
• 'Barr is surely right to stress that the Genesis story as it now stands indicates that humans were not created immortal, but had (and lost) the chance to gain unending life.', Wright, 'The Resurrection of the Son of God', p. 92 (2003); Wright himself actually interprets some passages of Scripture as indicating alternative beliefs, 'The Bible offers a spectrum of belief about life after death', Wright, 'The Resurrection of the Son of God', p. 129 (2003)
• 'In contrast to the two enigmatic references to Enoch and Elijah, there are ample references to the fact that death is the ultimate destiny for all human beings, that God has no contact with or power over the dead, and that the dead do not have any relationship with God (see, inter alia, Ps. 6:6, 30:9-10, 39:13-14, 49:6-13, 115:16-18, 146:2-4). If there is a conceivable setting for the introduction of a doctrine of the afterlife, it would be in Job, since Job, although righteous, is harmed by God in the present life. But Job 10:20-22 and 14:1-10 affirm the opposite.', Gillman, 'Death and Afterlife, Judaic Doctrines Of', in Neusner, 'The Encyclopedia of Judaism', volume 1, p. 176 (2000)
• ' "Who knows whether the breath of human beings rises up and the breath of an animal sinks down to the earth?" (Eccles 3:21). In Qohelet's day there were perhaps people who were speculating that human beings would enjoy a positive afterlife, as animals would not. Qohelet points out that there is no evidence for this.', Goldingay, 'Old Testament Theology', volume 2, p. 644 (2006)
• 'The life of a human being came more directly from God, and it is also evident that when someone dies, the breath (rûa?, e.g., Ps 104:29) or the life (nepe?, e.g., Gen 35:18) disappears and returns to the God who is rûa?. And whereas the living may hope that the absence of God may give way again to God's presence, the dead are forever cut off from God's presence.241 Death means an end to fellowship with God and to fellowship with other people. It means an end to the activity of God and the activity of other people. Even more obviously, it means an end to my own activity. It means an end to awareness.', ibid., p. 640
• 'At the same time there have always been isolated voices raised in support of other views. There are hints of a belief in repentance after death, as well as conditional immortality and annihilationism.', Streeter, et al., 'Immortality: An Essay in Discovery, Co-Ordinating Scientific, Psychical, and Biblical Research', p. 204 (1917)
• 'Many biblical scholars down throughout history, looking at the issue through Hebrew rather than Greek eyes, have denied the teaching of innate immortality.', Knight, 'A brief history of Seventh-Day Adventists', p. 42 (1999)
• 'Various concepts of conditional immortality or annihilationism have appeared earlier in Baptist history as well. Several examples illustrate this claim. General as well as particular Baptists developed versions of annihilationism or conditional immortality.', Pool, 'Against returning to Egypt: Exposing and Resisting Credalism in the Southern Baptist Convention', p. 133 (1998)
• 'Psalms of Solomon 3:11-12; Sybilline Oracles 4:175-85; 4 Ezra 7:61; Pseudo-Philo 16:3. Other presumed annihilation texts may be found in Fudge, The Fire That Consumes, 125-54', Walvoord, 'The Metaphorical View', in Crockett & Hayes (eds.), 'Four Views on Hell', p. 64 (1997).
• 'Thus we have one Rabbi denying the very existence of hell. "There is no hell in the future world," says R. Simon ben Lakish.', Darmesteter, 'The Talmud', p. 52 (2007)
• 'The theory of annihilationism in which the wicked pass into nonexistence either at death or the resurrection was first advanced by Arnobius, a 4th-century "Christian" apologist, according to standard reference works such as Baker's Dictionary of Theology (p. 184).', Morey, 'Death and the Afterlife', p. 199 (1984)
• 'Already in the fourth century Arnobius taught the annihilation of the wicked.', Hoekama, 'The Bible and the Future', p. 266 (1994)
• 'It is unclear if Arabian thnetopsychism ['soul death'] is related to the Syriac tradition of the soul's dormition [sleep] espoused by writers like Aphrahat (d. ca. 345), Ephrem (d. 373), and Narsai (d. 502), according to whom the souls of the dead are largely inert, having lapsed into a state of sleep, in which they can only dream of their future reward or punishments.', Constas, '"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream": The Middle State of Souls in Patristic and Byzantine Literature', in Talbot (ed.), 'Dunbarton Oaks Papers', No. 55, p. 110 (2001)
• 'Gouillard notes that variations of thnetopsychism ['soul death'] and hypnopsychism ['soul sleep'] existed alongside the views of the official church until the 6th century when they were resoundingly denounced by Eustratios.', ibid., p. 111.
• 'Thnetopsychism ['soul death'] continued to challenge the patience and ingenuity of church officials, as evidenced by writers such as John the Deacon, Niketas Stethatos, Philip Monotropos (Dioptra, pp. 210, 220), and Michael Glykas, all of whom are keenly interested in the survival of consciousness and memory among the souls of the departed saints. John the Deacon, for example, attacks those who "dare to say that praying to the saints is like shouting in the ears of the deaf, as if they had drunk from the mythical waters of Oblivion" (line 174).', Murray, 'Symbols of church and kingdom: a study in early Syriac tradition', p. 111 (2006)
• 'The Syriac tradition of the soul's "sleep in the dust" (Job 21:26), with its links to the Old Testament and Jewish apocalyptic, stands as a corrective to overly Hellenized views of the afterlife, and was canonized at a Nestorian synod in the 8th century (786-787) presided over by Timothy I (d. 823), who rejected anything else as blatant Origenism.', ibid., p. 111.
• 'In virtually every period of Byzantine history, critical voices denied that the souls of the dead could involve themselves in the affairs of the living or intercede on their behalf in heaven. Based on a more unitive, materialist notion of the self as irreducibly embodied, some thinkers argued that the souls of the dead (sainted or otherwise) were largely inert, having lapsed into a state of cognitive oblivion and psychomotor lethargy, a condition sometimes described as a state of "sleep" in which the soul could only "dream" of its future punishment or heavenly reward. Still others argued for the outright death of the soul, which, they claimed, was mortal and perished with the body, and which would be recreated together with the body only on the day of resurrection.', Constas, '"To Sleep, Perchance to Dream": The Middle State of Souls in Patristic and Byzantine Literature', in Talbot (ed.), 'Dunbarton Oaks Papers', No. 55, p. 94 (2001)
• 'Till the end of the sixth century and beyond, Christians in Nisibis and Constantinople, Syria and Arabia adduced Leviticus 17:11 which states that "The soul of the whole flesh is the blood" to argue that the soul after death sank into non-existence, that it lost its sensibility and stayed inert in the grave together with the body.', Samellas, 'Death in the eastern Mediterranean (50-600 AD.): the Christianization of the East: An Interpretation', Studien Und Text Zu Antike Und Christentum, pp. 55-56 (2002)
• 'The wicked will be sent back to Sheol, the real of Death under the world (22.17.24; cf. 6.6), where they will be punished in the measure and the way that their sins deserve - some in "outer darkness," others in unquenchable fire, others by simple exclusion from the presence of God (22.18-22).', ibid., p. 73.
• 'Because of his insistence on the positive role of the body in human life and its necessity for a full human existence (e.g., CN 47.4), Ephrem sees eschatological reward and punishment as delayed until the resurrection of the dead. Resurrection will begin when souls are "awakened" from their sleep by the angel's trumpet and the commanding voice of God (CN 49.16f.).', ibid., p. 75
• 'Ephrem's picture of Gehenna is less detailed and more traditional than his picture of heaven. The damned there seem to suffer most from their awareness that they have lost all hope sharing in beauty and happiness (HP 2.3f.; 7.29).', ibid., p. 76
• 'The Nestorian Narsai described the soul and the body as a pair of inseparable lovers who could not live the one without the other. From the moment that her lover deserted her, he recounts, nephesh lost her speech and fell into a deep slumber. In spite of this, even in this state of forced inertia, she maintained her essential characteristics: her galloping intellect, her acute judgement, the emotions that open up a view in the world. The reason that all her faculties had ceased to function is that they had no more any purpose to serve, since the body for the sake of which they operated was no longer there. Nephesh recovered her sentience and her speech at the end of time when, together with the body, she rose to give an account for her deeds. Till then she felt no pain or joy. The vague knowledge she had of what was in store for her scarcely disturbed her peaceful sleep.', Samellas, 'Death in the eastern Mediterranean (50-600 AD.): the Christianization of the East: An Interpretation', Studien Und Text Zu Antike Und Christentum, pp. 56-57 (2002)
• 'On the influence of hypnopsychism on the theology of Jacob of Sarug see M. D. Guinan, "Where are the dead? Purgatory and Immediate Retribution in James of Sargu," in Symposium Syriacum 1972, pp. 546-549.', Samellas, 'Death in the eastern Mediterranean (50-600 AD.): the Christianization of the East: An Interpretation', Studien Und Text Zu Antike Und Christentum, p. 56 (2002)
• 'It appears that Sattler came to hold the doctrine of psychopannychism, or sleep of the soul', Snyder, The life and thought of Michael Sattler', p. 130 (1984)
• 'Christadelphian devotion centers on daily Bible study and weekly meetings', page 421, Fahlbusch, Erwin and Bromiley, Geoffrey W, 'The Encyclopedia of Christianity', USA:Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999)
• 'Christadelphians are devoted students of the Bible, which they believe to be the infallible and inerrant word of God', Edwards, Linda, 'A Brief Guide to Beliefs', page 421, USA:Westminster John Knox Press (2001)
• 'Daily Bible study is enjoined', Powles, Lilian V, 'The Faith and Practice of Heretical Sects', page 23, Michigan:Mothers' Union (1962)