What do Christadelphians believe? What is Christadelphianism?
The Christadelphians are a religious group founded by John Thomas in 1838 in the United States. Seeking to avoid the sectarian church of his homeland in England, this physician sought to build Christian beliefs by looking back to the practices of the Bible. By the time of the Civil War, the name Christadelphian was chosen to allow the group a formal organization under which Americans could register as a conscientious objector.
Following the death of John Thomas, an early follower named Robert Roberts continued to lead the movement, offering a booklet entitled A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias that was formative in the establishment of early congregations.
Today it is estimated that more than 50,000 people follow Christadelphianism. Though no central body leads this movement, the BASF or Basic Fellowship that represents many of its congregations holds to a statement of faith. Though Christadelphians accept the Bible as inspired, non-orthodox teachings include a rejection of the Trinity, Jesus as a created being, soul-sleep, a non-literal hell, that the Holy Spirit is an impersonal force, and a view that no one (even believers) go to heaven when they die but will return to life when Jesus returns to establish His kingdom on Earth (and that unbelievers are annihilated). Salvation includes faith plus baptism.
Though John Thomas originally intended to base his beliefs upon the Bible, many of the established doctrines of the Christadelphian movement are in direct contradiction of biblical teachings. Jesus is clearly presented as divine, not created (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16). The Holy Spirit is referred to as God (Acts 5:1-4). As such, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exist as one, eternal, Triune God in three Persons (Matthew 28:18-19). Salvation is available only through Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9). Concerning the afterlife, the apostle Paul clearly taught that to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Hell is clearly mentioned by Jesus (Matthew 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 16:18). First Thessalonians 4:17 promises believers will be with Christ forever: "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."
Regarding salvation, the Bible is clear that a person is saved by grace through faith in Christ (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Though baptism is commanded and important (Matthew 28:19), it is not a requirement for salvation.
Christadelphian teachings are so incompatible with biblical teaching that they cannot be accepted as a Protestant Christian denomination, but are rather a Christian sect that does not hold to traditionally accepted, biblical Christian beliefs.
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