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Continental European Protestantism


Doctrines In terms of the content and importance which they assign to doctrine, the Christadelphians contrast sharply with the indifference to theology which typified the Restoration Movement of the 19th century. When John Thomas left the Disciples, he did so because of the strength of his beliefs concerning the Trinity, immortality and eschatology, beliefs that were distinctively his own. He taught an antiTrinitarian doctrine in which Jesus is a manifestation of the one God, no more than human in his earthly life, yet carrying within himself that divinity which is none other than God the Father. Thomas regarded the Holy Spirit as God's effluence - the same effluence God used to create Jesus. Sacrifice is not entailed in the crucifixion of Jesus, which is simply about conquest and abolition of death through the Resurrection. Through belief and obedience to God humanity shares in this victory and consequent immortality. If one does not participate in this salvation then the consequence is death, which is seen as God's just punishment of sin; yet they envisage no eternal suffering, there being no immortal soul.
Resurrection is therefore a key element of Christadelphian eschatology. Excluding those who never heard the Gospel, all the dead will be brought back to life: the unfaithful to be judged and to suffer a second and final death, the faithful to receive immortality on this earth. Christ will then return to rule the earth from Jerusalem for one thousand years as the Davidic king. Sin and death are not totally eradicated during this intermission - not until a second judgement when God will reign over a perfected earth. Membership in the Christadelphians requires acceptance of these doctrines and full immersion baptism as a sign of obedience. The church has a congregational structure without clergy.

History Founded in 1848 through the inspiration of one man, John Thomas (1805-71), the Christadelphians represent an unorthodox Adventist response to the 19th century Restoration Movement. Thomas left England for America in 1830 and soon became involved with the Disciples, until he withdrew from them on doctrinal grounds. Initially, he and his followers organised themselves in local autonomous societies, without a collective identity. However, their pacifist principles during the American Civil War made it expedient to formalise their association, and they accepted the name Christadelphians, or Christ's Brethren. In this way they could justify their refusal to accept military service. As far as possible they maintain informality. Meeting in rented halls or homes, they dispense with paid clergy, and choose to evangelise through lectures and literature. Consistent with this approach, they publish no statistics or membership lists. Their influence returned to England through Robert Roberts, where a moderate number can be found.

Symbols Like other Christian denominations the Christadelphians take bread and wine in commemoration of Christ's death on the cross. Baptism is done by total immersion in water. The act of full immersion symbolises that the believer participates in Christ's death (Colossians 2:12); the emergence from the water symbolises the act of rising to new life.
Some Christadelphian publications contain a logo of the earth. The picture of the earth can be understood to represent the new earth which will be inhabited by the faithful followers of Christ and ruled over by Christ.

Adherents The Christadelphian movement is highly decentralised and does not keep statistical information on its membership. There are sizeable Christadelphian communities in the following countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Smaller groups are to be found in South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and East Asia.

Main Centre
 The Christadelphian movement does not have a headquarters; the highest level of organisation is the local church. Information about the Christadelphians can be obtained from the Christadelphian Publishing House, 404 Shaftmoor Lane, Birmingham, United Kingdom.