A Group of People Similar to the Early Christians
Down through the centuries of time, alongside the mainstream of Christendom, there have always been other small groups who could not for conscience sake be part of the majority. Marked by their strict adherence to the Word of God, these groups were made up of common people who made few ripples on the political scene. The Donatists, Waldenses, Paulicans and Hugenots were some of the more prominent groups that history texts may have passed by, had it not been for the hatred and contempt shown toward them by those with power and authority. These people chose to live quiet and peaceable lives with the Bible as the focal point, but they didn't conform to the traditional line and so were condemned as heretics and suffered banishment, massacre and torture.
Today, a group of people with similar markings is the Christadelphians. Bertrand Russel, a noted English philosopher in his book, Power, A New Social Analysis, wrote on page 109, "Christianity was in its earliest days, entirely unpolitical. The best representatives in our time are the Christadelphians..." If the Church had the political power today that it had during the times of the above-mentioned groups, the plight of the Christadelphians would be identical.
Christadelphians are not found in public office, nor on juries nor in armed services -- they aren't demonstrating or manifesting civil disobedience to get public attention. They are patiently waiting for the fulfillment of the Biblical promise of the return of Jesus Christ from heaven to change the political structure of the day (Acts 1:11). They firmly believe their lot and role in this present day is one of a stranger and sojourner no matter what the country of their residence. However, with the coming of their Lord, they expect with his approval to be of those who will be elevated to be kings and priests on the earth (Revelation 5:10).
Throughout most of the noncommunist world, Christadelphians can be found. They meet regularly on the first day of the week for a service in which the death and resurrection of their Lord is commemorated. They meet mid-week for a Bible study and usually some other time in the week for a Bible based talk to which the public is invited. Sunday school and young-peoples activities figure prominently in their weekly routines.
In Christadelphia personal Bible study is stressed. There is no central authority dictating what is to be studied, or how it is to be interpreted. Churches or "Ecclesias" as Christadelphians prefer to call them, are relatively independent of each other. A common statement of faith on first principles binds the ecclesias together. No binding statements, however, demand that all ecclesias act the same way on matters such as "birth control," abortion and interpretation of non-fundamental parts of the Bible.
On matters of authority Christadelphians are rigid. No modern day prophets, personal revelations or other books are considered as authorities alongside the Bible. They do not bury their heads in the sand on these issues. They regularly challenge the Atheists, the Evolutionists and the compromisers to public debate.
The Christadelphians believe in being 'born again,' but according to the Bible's standard -- not by today's 'instantaneous' methods. They believe rebirth involves knowledge and understanding as well as emotion to get started and much more of the same to keep going (1Peter 1:23; 2:1,2). They believe rebirth requires a change in one's attitudes, such that a convert's speech and behavior become beyond reproach.
The literal resurrection of the body to judgement and then to everlasting life on earth is the Hope of Christadelphians. They teach man's greatest enemy is his own nature and, to find acceptance by Jesus Christ, each person must with God's help learn to discipline themselves according to God's word.
The Christadelphians carefully substantiate their beliefs from the Bible while reproving ideas whose roots are obviously of pagan origin. They contend the idea that man has an immortal soul (see article: The Immortal Soul Myth) to be a belief mutually exclusive to the resurrection of the dead. The belief in a triune God, a fallen angel devil, eternal fire torture, are a few other beliefs that the Christadelphians contend are not Bible based, but founded on compromise and tradition. They believe that the vast majority of Christendom in adhering to such pagan beliefs become subject to the words of Jesus, "but in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9).
The Christadelphians acquired their name during the American Civil War when the government of the United States demanded that all such groups be registered by name. Although the name is unique, it simply means brethren in Christ (Colossians 1:2; Hebrews 2:11). Their beliefs are Bible-based, similar to those of the protestors of past centuries and have not changed since the group was named.
F. Abel (Ontario).
Republished from the Bible Magazine.