Christa What? About Christadelphians

History

The Christadelphians are a small Christian denomination started in the mid-nineteenth century. We never developed a central organization and each local group runs its own activities. The Christadelphians in northern Virginia first organized a meeting in Arlington in 1932 and have been meeting in the Lyon Village Community Center since 1955.

The name ‘Christadelphian’ means “Brethren in Christ”. The early Christadelphians deliberately attempted to get back to the faith and character of the early Christian church as a response to a troubling drift away from the truth in the denominations from which they came. Christadelphians have come from all sorts of denominations and backgrounds and continue to respectfully question doctrines that are inconsistent with the entirety of God’s word. We still assert that many common, so-called Christian beliefs are not taught by the Bible and are a confusing corruption of otherwise very simple truths.

Our purpose is to preach the true hope of God and the full gospel of Christ. Jesus gave this charge to his disciples (e.g., Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19-20). We teach through words and actions: the life we lead should be as much of a testimony as any booklet or website. God’s Way of salvation gives effective direction to our lives. We try to rely fully upon God and develop a faith that is active in prayer and good works. At the same time, however, we recognize that salvation is by grace. (1 Corinthians 1:3-11; 1 Peter 2:1-5; 2 Peter 1:5-11; James 2:17,5:16; Ephesians 2:5-10)

With God’s help, we seek to please and obey Him every day, striving to imitate Christ who faithfully obeyed his Father and unselfishly gave himself for mankind. (Philippians 2:13, 4:13; Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 2:1-5; Rom 12:1-2; Ephesians 5:1-2)

We therefore endeavor to be enthusiastic in work, loyal in marriage, generous in giving, dedicated in preaching, cheerful and joyful. (Ephesians 6:6-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 2 Corinthians 9; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; John 16:33; Matthew 5:1-16; Philippians 4:4-7)

If you want to learn more about God and want to serve him, want to be more like Jesus, and want to express your love for him, you might be just like us!

Ecclesias

Christadelphians still use some traditional language and customs that the brethren of the mid-nineteenth century developed. For instance, we are loosely organized into local groups, called “ecclesias” which is the New Testament Greek word for “church.” The 19th century brethren used this word to refer to our groups because the word “church” had confusingly come to mean the buildings in which Christians worshipped. The buildings were not “the churches” of which the apostles wrote. The apostles were referring to a group of people who held the common beliefs of Christians. Ecclesias are not buildings; they are groups of people who live near one another and share beliefs and activities. Consequently, we do not “go to church” which in the original sense of the term is nonsensical. We “go to meeting,” which is the time that members of the ecclesia meet to hold a memorial service. The memorial service is the traditional breaking of bread service that Jesus instituted at the last supper for his followers to perform in remembering his death and resurrection. Christadelphians hold extremely simple memorial services compared to those performed in other denominations. Many Christadelphian ecclesias are too small to own their own building, so many meet in homes or rent a local facility. The Arlington ecclesia has been renting the same community center for meetings on Sundays since 1955.

Patterned after first century Christianity, members of each ecclesia are addressed as “Brother” and “Sister”, and all have an equal joint responsibility for the welfare of the church. A strong common belief binds our brotherhood together. (Matthew 23:8-12; Romans 12:4-6; 16:1; 1 Corinthians 12:4-27; Galatians 3:28)

There are Christadelphian ecclesias all over the world. Some of the largest are in Great Britain and Australia where ecclesial membership can be hundreds strong, but most ecclesias are smaller than this. In America, an ecclesia with a hundred members is considered very large. Many ecclesias have only a few dozen members.

Membership

Members join Christadelphian ecclesias by affirming their beliefs to be the same as those of the ecclesia that they wish to join. Typically, this involves an interview with elder members of the ecclesia to describe their beliefs. If the person understands “the first principles” as expressed in the Bible, the person is baptized by full immersion in front of the ecclesia. The Christadelphians have a traditional statement of faith with a list of first principles and doctrines to be rejected that was compiled during the late 19th century. This statement and others with similar doctrines create the basis of inter-ecclesial fellowship around the world. If problems or questions come up associated with doctrines or other concerns, each ecclesia is free to handle it independently, as the local members decide democratically. Of course, we always seek divine guidance through prayer.

Sunday School

Christadelphians hold Sunday School classes for all ages like most other denominations in America. Lessons include stories, songs, crafts and plays for children. Teens and adults study the Bible in informal classes with teachers who share the teaching duties or they rotate teachers throughout the year. The Christadelphians have no paid ministers to organize these activities, but some ecclesias make their teaching materials available for others to use.

Annual Gatherings

We organize annual weekend gatherings so that nearby ecclesias can visit us and hear guest speakers from around the world. These gatherings typically include lectures, hymn singing, and shared meals.

Bible Schools

We hold annual bible schools during the summer months. Brethren from all over the world spend a week together at a rented facility, often a college campus or a resort camp. A few regions own their own facilities. A variety of week-long classes are prepared for attendees to choose from, typically three classes per day. Afternoons are free for physical recreation and games. Evenings include music, videos, or games.

Preaching

The Bible is given the first priority. According to Scripture, there is only one hope and one gospel (cf. Ephesians 4:4, Galatians 1:7). Therefore it is critical that people get to hear the real Christian hope, not a false one. It is vital that we preach the full gospel of the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 8:12), not just part of the story.

Relevant scholarly materials and tools are available.

We provide on-line resources such as Bible study courses, booklets on fundamental topics and a disciple’s workbook; educational DVDs on key Bible subjects, praise music on CDs and Bible-study aids; and we conduct group Bible classes, personal classes, public seminars, youth group meetings, and Sunday worship.

Community Service and Charity

  • Meal a Day
  • Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation
  • Christadelphian Samaritan Fund
  • Africrafts
  • Shunem Residential Home
  • Agape in Action

Preaching Organizations

  • Christadelphian Bible Mission of the Americas www.cbma.net
  • Christadelphian Bible Mission www.cbm.org.uk
  • Christadelphian Bible Mission (Australia) www.acbm.org.au
  • Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation www.wcfoundation.org

 

 

Schools

  • Christadelphian Home Schooling UK www.christadelphianschooling.co.uk/
  • Christadelphian Heritage College, Cooranbong, NSW, Australia cooranbong.heritage.edu.au/
  • Christadelphian Heritage College, Sydney, Australia hcs.nsw.edu.au/
  • Christadelphian Heritage College, Perth, Australia www.hcp.wa.edu.au/

Sunday School and Youth Work

  • Christadelphian Sunday School Association http://www.cssa.asn.au/

Senior Care

  • Christadelphian Care Homes (CCH) UK http://www.cch-uk.com/
  • Christadelphian Aged Care, Australia http://www.chomes.com.au

What Others Say About Us

Some detratctors have said that the Christadelphians are a “non-Christian cult.” This is slanderous and insulting because the word “cult” in mass media carries increasingly negative connotations for unorthodox “religious” groups associated with brainwashing, kidnapping, psychological and physical abuse, counter-cultural communes, criminal and anti-governmental activities, and mass suicides. Christadelphians have never been associated with such things. The main reason this insult has been used to slander us is because of our rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity. The derogatory term, “cult,” is used to describe anti-trinitarian denominations despite the fact that anti-trinitarian debates have been a robust part of Christianity since at least the 4th century and played a major role in the Radical Reformation in the 16th century. It is instructive to note that anti-trinitarian doctrines were violently opposed by people who had a vested interest in having some “mystery” that needed explaining to the common people, thereby justifying their continued leadership of the church. If the doctrines of Jesus were easy to understand, where would be the need for priests and their ecclesiastical power? In the 16th century, anti-trinitarians like the Anabaptists and similar groups were burned at the stake, drowned, or killed by imprisonment. In comparison to this historical vehemence against anti-trinitarians, we count ourselves blessed to only have to face derogatory labels, but we still protest the injustice of applying the term “cult” to Christadelphians.

As for the claim that Christadelphians believe that Jesus was “just a man,” this is also incorrect. It is an exaggeration. We believe that Jesus was a very special, miraculous person. He was the son of God, born to a virgin by a miraculous conception. He was a very special man with a divine lineage, more special to God than any other person: more favored, more wise, and more powerful than anyone before or since. Now he is an immortal person having been resurrected from death by God. Trinitarians believe all of these same things, but then go on to confuse the issue by saying that God and Jesus are the same person (homoousias or consubstantial). This last step is non-sensical to us and many other Bible scholars throughout history. Jesus was God’s son, not God. He learned obedience through the things that he suffered (Hebrews 5:8), he prayed to God, and he reflected God’s love to us. God doesn’t need to learn obedience or pray to himself. God cannot die, cannot sin, and cannot be seen because he dwells in “unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:16). He always manifests himself though intermediaries like angels, prophets or his son. When Jesus says in John 10:30, “I and my Father are one” he is talking about a unity of purpose; the same unity that he prays that his disciples will have when he says, in John 17:22, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one…” We believe that Jesus is like God, has divine power given to him by God, and reflects God’s will and purpose to mortals, but he is a separate being.