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The Christadelphians are a millenarian Christian group who hold a view of Biblical Unitarianism. The movement developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century around the teachings of John Thomas, who coined the name Christadelphian from the Greek for "Brethren in Christ".
Basing 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. There are estimated to be 60,000 Christadelphians in around 120 countries worldwide. Congregations are usually referred to as ecclesias.
The Christadelphian religious group traces its origins to Dr John Thomas (1805–1871), who migrated 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 of America at the time. This movement sought for 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 in his personal beliefs and started to question mainstream orthodox Christian beliefs. Whilst 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 Britain 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.
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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 out orthodox Christian beliefs through independent scriptural study he was not alone and, amongst other churches, he also had links with 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' views had certain similarities with the 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). See History of Unitarianism
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 Confederacy 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. This was renamed The Christadelphian in 1869 and continues to be published under that name. Roberts was prominent in the period following the death of John Thomas in 1871, and helped craft the structures of the Christadelphian body.
Robert Roberts was certain that John Thomas had rediscovered the truth. Robert Robert's life was characterised by debates over issues that arose within the fledgling organisation; some of these debates can be found in the book Robert Roberts—A study of his life and character by Islip Collyer.
Initially the denomination grew in the English-speaking world, particularly in the English Midlands and in parts[which?] of North America. 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 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 and founding a hostel Elpis Lodge. 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 who remain separate.
The post-war, and post-reunions, period 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 formalized 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 Encyclopedia 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: United Kingdom (18,000), Australia (10,653), Mozambique (7,500), Malawi (7,000), United States (6,500), Canada (3,375), New Zealand (1,785), India (1,750), Kenya (1,700), 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 (21,400), Americas (10,500), Asia (4,150), Australasia (12,600), Europe (18,950). 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 (around 60,000) belong to Central fellowship, named after the Birmingham Central ecclesia. This was formed in 1957–1958 as a result of a reunion between the Temperance Hall and Suffolk Street fellowships in the UK. The Suffolk Street fellowship had formed in 1885 over the inspiration of the Bible. Robert Ashcroft, a leading member, wrote an article which challenged Christadelphian belief in plenary inspiration and which, although he himself left, led to a division in the main body. One group formed a new ecclesia which later met in Suffolk Street, Birmingham. Other ecclesias throughout the world which supported them became known as the "Suffolk Street fellowship" to distinguish them from the group they had separated from, which became known as the "Temperance Hall fellowship". The main magazine of this group from 1884–1957 was The Fraternal Visitor, whose editors included J.J. Bishop and J.J. Hadley (d. 1912), then Thomas Turner, and finally Cyril Cooper (till reunion in 1957). The Temperance Hall-Suffolk Street reunion was closely followed by union in 1958 with the Shield fellowship (allied to the Suffolk Street fellowship) through an understanding expressed in a document called the Cooper-Carter Addendum. The Central fellowship in North America is often referred to as the Amended fellowship.
The Unamended fellowship, consisting of around 1,850 members, is found in 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 judgment at the return of Christ. The majority of Christadelphians believe that the judgment will include anyone who had sufficient knowledge of the gospel message, and is not limited to baptized believers. The majority in Britain, 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 have opened fellowship to one another despite the failure of wider attempts at re-union under the North American Statement of Understanding (NASU).
The Berean Fellowship was formed in 1923 as a result of varying views on military service in Britain, 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.
In 1942 the Berean fellowship divided over marriage and divorce with the stricter party forming the Dawn fellowship. Following union with the Lightstand fellowship in Australia in November 2007, there are now 800 members in the UK, Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Poland, the Philippines and Russia.
The Old Paths fellowship was formed in the 1957 by those in the Temperance Hall fellowship who held that the reasons for separation from the Suffolk Street fellowship remained and opposed the re-union. There are around 250 members in the UK, and 150 in Australasia.
The Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith (CGAF) has common origins with Christadelphians and shares Christadelphian beliefs. Numbering around 400 (primarily Ohio and Florida, USA), they are welcomed into fellowship by some 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.
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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.
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 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 was error free (errors in later copies are thought to be due to 'errors of transcription or translation'). Based on this, Christadelphians teach what they believe to be 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 orthodox Christian view that we 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. 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 people are separated from God because of their sins but that mankind 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 do not believe we can be sure of being saved, believing instead that salvation comes as a result of a life of obedience to the commands of 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 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.
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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 are 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) 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 Christ Jesus 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 "rediscovered" scriptural truth. However, 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 1st-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 publicized than in previous years.
Nevertheless, even with most source writings of those later considered "heretics" destroyed, evidence can be provided that since the 1st century CE 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 16th 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:
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.
While Christadelphians have beliefs that are different from the majority of other Christian denominations, over the last 100 years some mainstream Christian theologians and Biblical scholars have gradually been developing beliefs which the Christadelphian community has historically held. Example areas are the atonement; justification; heaven and hell; the state of the dead.
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.
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 the risk of such conflict, 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 British Protestant traditions (even in US ecclesias the hymnody is typically more British 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, etc) 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, hymnbooks 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.
• "A Dawn Christadelphian's Website". Dawnchristadelphians.org. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
• "Old Paths Fellowship (UK)". Christadelphians.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
• "Only True God | A Witness To The God Of The Bible | Watchman Christadelphians". Onlytruegod.info. Retrieved 2012-08-01.
• "Biblical Fellowship". Christadelphianbooks.org. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
• 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 (rûaḥ, e.g., Ps 104:29) or the life (nepeš, e.g., Gen 35:18) disappears and returns to the God who is rûaḥ. 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)
• ‘Indeed, the salvation of the “immortal soul” has sometimes been a commonplace in preaching, but it is fundamentally unbiblical. Biblical anthropology is not dualistic but monistic: human being consists in the integrated wholeness of body and soul, and the Bible never contemplates the disembodied existence of the soul in bliss.’, Myers (ed.), ‘The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary’, p. 518 (1987)
• ‘A particular instance of the Heb. avoidance of dualism is the biblical doctrine of man. Greek thought, and in consequence many Hellenizing Jewish and Christian sages, regarded the body as a prison-house of the soul: sōma sēma ‘the body is a tomb’. The aim of the sage was to achieve deliverance from all that is bodily and thus liberate the soul. But to the Bible man is not a soul in a body but a body/soul unity; so true is this that even in the resurrection, although flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we shall still have bodies (1 Cor. 15:35ff.).’, Cressey, ‘Dualism’, in Cressey, Wood, & Marshall (eds.), ‘New Bible Dictionary’, p. 284 (3rd. ed. 1996)
• ‘Even as we are conscious of the broad and very common biblical usage of the term “soul,” we must be clear that Scripture does not present even a rudimentarily developed theology of the soul. The creation narrative is clear that all life originates with God. Yet the Hebrew Scripture offers no specific understanding of the origin of individual souls, of when and how they become attached to specific bodies, or of their potential existence, apart from the body, after death. The reason for this is that, as we noted at the beginning, the Hebrew Bible does not present a theory of the soul developed much beyond the simple concept of a force associated with respiration, hence, a life-force.’, Avery-Peck, ‘Soul’, in Neusner, et al. (eds.), ‘The Encyclopedia of Judaism’, p. 1343 (2000)
• ‘Gn. 2:7 refers to God forming Adam ‘from the dust of the ground’ and breathing ‘into his nostrils the breath of life’, so that man becomes a ‘living being’. The word ‘being’ translates the Hebrew word nep̄eš which, though often translated by the Eng. word ‘soul’, ought not to be interpreted in the sense suggested by Hellenistic thought (see Platonism; Soul, Origin of). It should rather be understood in its own context within the OT as indicative of men and women as living beings or persons in relationship to God and other people. The lxx translates this Heb. word nep̄eš with the Gk. word psychē, which explains the habit of interpreting this OT concept in the light of Gk. use of psychē. Yet it is surely more appropriate to understand the use of psychē (in both the lxx and the NT) in the light of the OT’s use of nep̄eš. According to Gn. 2, any conception of the soul as a separate (and separable) part or division of our being would seem to be invalid. Similarly, the popular debate concerning whether human nature is a bipartite or tripartite being has the appearance of a rather ill-founded and unhelpful irrelevancy. The human person is a ‘soul’ by virtue of being a ‘body’ made alive by the ‘breath’ (or ‘Spirit’) of God.’, Ferguson & Packer (eds.),’New Dictionary of Theology’, pp. 28-29 (electronic ed. 2000)
• ‘Far from referring simply to one aspect of a person, “soul” refers to the whole person. Thus, a corpse is referred to as a “dead soul,” even though the word is usually translated “dead body” (Lev. 21:11; Num. 6:6). “Soul” can also refer to a person’s very life itself 1 Kgs. 19:4; Ezek. 32:10).“Soul” often refers by extension to the whole person.’, Carrigan, ‘Soul’, Freedman, Myers, & Beck (eds.) ‘Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible’, p. 1245 (2000)
• ‘There is no suggestion in the OT of the transmigration of the soul as an immaterial, immortal entity. Man is a unity of body and soul—terms that describe not so much two separate entities in a person as much as one person from different standpoints. Hence, in the description of man’s creation in Genesis 2:7, the phrase “a living soul” (kjv) is better translated as “a living being.”’, Elwell & Comfort (eds.), ‘Tyndale Bible dictionary, p. 1216 (2001)
• ‘It has been noted already that the soul, like the body, derives from God. This implies that man is composed of soul and body, and the Bible makes it plain that this is so. The soul and the body belong together, so that without either the one or the other there is no true man. Disembodied existence in Sheol is unreal. Paul does not seek a life outside the body, but wants to be clothed with a new and spiritual body (1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5).’, Bromiley, ‘Psychology’, in Bromiley, ‘The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia’, volume 3, p. 1045 (rev. ed. 2002)
• ‘Nor is any place left for dualism. Soul and body are not separate entities which are able to work in concert by virtue of a preestablished harmony (Leibniz).’, ibid., p. 1045.
• ‘soul. The idea of a distinction between the soul, the immaterial principle of life and intelligence, and the body is of great antiquity, though only gradually expressed with any precision. Hebrew thought made little of this distinction, and there is practically no specific teaching on the subject in the Bible beyond an underlying assumption of some form of afterlife (see immortality)., Cross & Livingstone, (eds.), ‘The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church’, p. 1531 (3rd rev. ed. 2005)
• ‘The English translation of nepeš by the term “soul” has too often been misunderstood as teaching a bipartite (soul and body—dichotomy) or tripartite (body, soul, and spirit—trichotomy) anthropology. Equally misleading is the interpretation that too radically separates soul from body as in the Greek view of human nature. See body; spirit. N. Porteous (in IDB, 4:428) states it well when he says, “The Hebrew could not conceive of a disembodied nepeš, though he could use nepeš with or without the adjective ‘dead,’ for corpse (e.g., Lev. 19:28; Num. 6:6).” Or as R. B. Laurin has suggested, “To the Hebrew, man was not a ‘body’ and a ‘soul,’ but rather a ‘body-soul,’ a unit of vital power” (BDT, 492). In this connection, the most significant text is Gen. 2:7, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [nišmat hayyîm], and the man became a living being [nepeš hayyâ]” (the KJV rendering “living soul” is misleading).’, Lake, ‘Soul’, in Silva & Tenney (eds.), ‘The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible’, volume 5, p. 586 (rev. ed. 2009)
• Wright, Tom (March 24, 2008), Heaven Is Not Our Home: The bodily resurrection is the good news of the gospel — and thus our social and political mandate, Christianity Today (Carol Stream, Illinois)
• Wright, Tom (2007), Surprised by Hope, London: SPCK
• Witherington III, Ben (2009), Imminent Domain, Cambridge: Eerdmans
• Wittmer, Michael (2004), Heaven is a Place on Earth, Grand Rapids: Zondervan
• ‘But new challenges to the position arose in the modern period and were accepted by more and more churches. Able apologists for the penal substitutionary view also defended and developed that position against these new theories.’, Allison, ‘History of the Doctrine of the Atonement’, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology ( 11.2.15), 2007)
• ‘Therefore, in the very act of putting on the name of Christ “for the obtaining of the blessings promised,” he is made to endorse and morally participate in the “condemnation of sin in the flesh,” which Jesus underwent in the “body preared” for the purpose.— (Heb. 10:5.) ’ , ibid.
• ‘By this three-fold preparation, entering within the circle of righteousness, participation in the one great sacrifice, and “the washing of water by the Word,” we antitypically enter into the Holy place, where the candlestick was to be seen in the type.’, WHB, ‘The Temple Exhibition’, Christadelphian Magazine (44.522.540), 1907
• ‘This, then, is the way of approach to God—by voluntary entrance into Christ and a participation in his death. Thus each individual coming to God must first of all recognise the principles involved in the crucifixion, virtually proclaim his own worthiness of death and at the same time declare, in a practical manner, God’s righteousness.’, Walker, ‘The Cross of Christ’, Christadelphian Magazine (55.652.457), 1918
• ‘The final meeting, on the subject “Risen with Christ”, emphasized the nature and the means of our participation now in Christ’s resurrection.', Sargent, ‘The Ecclesial Visitor’, Christadelphian Magazine (104.1235.230), 1967
• ‘The Apostle’s reasoning in Romans 6 on the nature of baptism as a dying with Christ, a participation in his crucifixion, is reinforced here by his categorical “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (v. 3).’, Nicholls, ‘Editorial’, Christadelphian Magazine (120.1428.201-202), 1983
• 'Reno says that, in this account, Milbank accords the activity of "interpretive creativity" an indispensable role in the act of atonement itself, which thereby gives rise to the idea of "participatory atonement."', Hyman, 'The Predicament of Postmodern Theology: Radical Orthodoxy or Nihilist Textualism?', p. 87 (2001)
• But Paul's teaching is not that Christ dies "in the place of" others so that they escape death (as the logic of "substitution" implies).86 It is rather that Christ's sharing their death makes it possible for them to share his death. “Representation” is not an adequate single-word description, nor particularly “participation” or “participatory event”. But at least they help convey the sense of a continuing identification with Christ in, through, and beyond his death, which, as we shall see, is fundamental to Paul’s soteriology.’, Dunn, ‘The Theology of Paul the Apostle’, p. 223 (2006)
• ‘In the Roman Church, after the critique by Sabourin and Lyonnet and under the climate created by Teilhard de Chardin and Rahner, few scholars of note, if any, have maintained it. K. Barth again proclaimed that Christ was “the Judge judged in our stead” but expressly repudiated the doctrine that he was so punished as to spare us death and to “satisfy” the demands of wrath (CD IV/1, §59/2, fine print after about 40 percent of the section). In their later writings Moltmann and Pannenberg have come closer to evangelical language. However, Moltmann denies that God’s wrath was appeased (25–26), and Pannenberg, despite strong statements of penal substitution (425–27), claims that “the reconciling death of Christ is not a payment that Christ made to God in place of others” (429; 448, against “satisfaction”).’, Vanhoozer, et al (eds.), 'Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible', p. 73 (2005)
• 'Sanders goes so far as to argue that "the purpose of Christ's death [for Paul is] that Christians may participate in it, not that their sins may be atoned for.".', Finlan, 'The background and content of Paul's cultic atonement metaphors', p. 117 (2004)
• 'On the other hand, the New Testament leaves no doubt that atonement is accomplished through the believer’s participation with the Lord in his death rather than merely by Christ’s death on the cross (Rom. 6:2, 6, 8; cf. Gal. 2:19–20).’ , ‘Atone, Atonement’, in Myers (ed.), ‘Eerdmans Bible Dictionary’, p. 106 (1987)
• Restall & Bayne, ‘A Participatory Model of the Atonement’, in Nagasawa & Erik Wielenberg (eds.), ‘New Waves in Philosophy of Religion’, pp. 150-166 (2008)
• '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)
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