28 September, 2007

Answering Common Questions About the Christadelphian community.

Are Christadelphian doctrines and practices unique?

No. They were common to the following Christians and many others:
  • Balthasar Hubmaier. (Switzerland, 1527.)
  • Conrad Grebel. (Switzerland, 1530’s.)
  • Ludwig Hatzer. (Switzerland, 1536.)
  • Rudolph Martin. (Poland, 1546.)
  • John Assheton. (Germany, 1548.)
  • The Brethren. (Venice, 1550.)
  • Small Protestant groups. (Transylvania, 1562.)
  • Joachim Stegman. (Poland, 1633.)
  • Ferenc David. (Romania, 1579.)
  • John Biddle. (England, 1655.)
Joachim Stegman: “The argument of Christ (Luke 20:34) wherein he proves the future resurrection of the dead, would be fallacious if before the resurrection they felt heavenly joyHow could it be said of the godly of the old covenant that they ‘received not the promise’ (Hebrews 11:40) if the soul of every one presently after death, even without body, felt celestial happiness?”

Conrad Grebel: “Baptism means a dying of the old man, and a putting on of the new. Christ commanded to baptise those who had been taught, and the apostles baptised no-one except those who had been taught.”

Ludwig Hatzer: “The Father alone is the true God; Christ is inferior to the Father and of a different essence; there are not three persons in the Godhead.”


Are Christadelphian doctrines and practices identical to those of the 1st Century Christian communities?

Yes. The very earliest statements of doctrine and practice are in perfect accord with the Christadelphian faith. By contrast, the beliefs of mainstream Christianity cannot be found in their entirety until long after the 1st Century AD.

Consider:

The Apostles’ Creed (AD 67)
I believe in God, the Father Almighty.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
Who was born by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary;
Was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried;
The third day he rose from the dead;
He ascended into heaven; and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Spirit;
The Holy Church;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body.
The Didache (Dated Between AD 60 & AD 80)
1:2-4 The way of life is this. First of all, thou shalt love the God that made thee; secondly, Thy neighbor as thyself. And all things whatsoever thou wouldst not have befall thyself, neither do thou unto another. :3 Now of these words the doctrine is this. Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies and fast for them that persecute you; for what thank is it, if ye love them that love you? Do not even the Gentiles the same? But if ye love them that hate you, ye shall not have an enemy. :4 Abstain thou from fleshly and bodily lusts. If any man give thee a blow on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also, and thou shalt be perfect; If a man impress thee to go with him one mile, go with him twain; if a man take away thy cloak, give him thy coat also; if a man take away from thee that which is thy own, ask it not back, for neither art thou able.
[...]

3:7 But be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth.

[...]

7:1 But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living (running) water.

[...]

8:2 Neither pray ye as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth; give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debt, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever and ever.

[...]

14:1-2 And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. :2 And let no man, having his dispute with his fellow, join your assembly until they have been reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be defiled;

[...]

16:6-7 And then shall the signs of the truth appear; first a sign of a rift in the heaven, then a sign of a voice of a trumpet, and thirdly a resurrection of the dead; :7 Yet not of all, but as it was said The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.
Sample of Scriptures Found in the Didache:
  • Law of Moses
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7, 24 & 25
  • Romans 1
  • I Corinthians 8, 11 & 15
  • Galatians 1
  • I Timothy 1 & 3

Did Dr Thomas reject mainstream Christianity in order to set up his own religion and enjoy the benefits of leadership and authority?

No. Dr Thomas instituted no hierarchy, set up no leaders, took no money and gained no political profit from his work. This contrasts strongly with most modern churches and also with the Mormons, Christian Scientists, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, to name just a few.


Did Dr Thomas claim to have a comprehension of the Bible superior to that of all his contemporaries?

No. Nor did he claim to have a new revelation or guidance from the Holy Spirit, unlike many Christians today.

Dr Thomas was simply a regular man with a consuming passion for the Word of God. He studied hard, gained great benefit from the Scriptures and made mistakes, just as we all do. Moreover, he explicitly affirmed that his own work should always be tested by its readers and rejected if it should be found to fail.

In Elpis Israel, he wrote:
...as I have said before, no interpretation of prophecy in relation to the past, or present, is worth any thing which is not in harmony with facts.

My interpretation must be tried by the same rule, and if it will not stand the test, then let it fade away into everlasting forgetfulness; but if it prove to be correct, I have no apprehension that it will be lost.

Facts, then, I remark, are in strict accordance with the exposition given, as I shall briefly point out.

Do Christadelphians defer to the writings of Dr Thomas as an authority greater than the Bible?

No. Just like other Christian denominations, Christadelphians have their own exegetes who compose their own commentaries, expositions and study material. Any person who is competent in the study of the Word may freely contribute to this work.

Notwithstanding this, the Bible is our sole authority.


Do Christadelphians believe that you will not be saved unless you are a Christadelphian?

No. We do not claim to be the only group with a correct understanding of the Scriptures, nor do we deny that other individuals not associated with us hold true Bible teaching.

Christadelphians have always maintained that anyone who believes the same things that we do (whether they belong to our community or not) will be saved. It’s not about what name you go by, but what doctrines and practices you accept. When questioned on this issue, Brother Michael Ashton (current editor of the Christadelphian magazine in Birmingham, UK) answered:
"We do not claim to be the only group with a correct understanding of the Scriptures, nor do we deny that other individuals not associated with us hold true Bible teaching."

(As quoted in Barrett’s Sects, ‘Cults’ and Alternative Religions, 1996.)
It is a misrepresentation, therefore, to say we believe that only those bearing the name “Christadelphian” will be accepted by Christ at his return. I am perfectly convinced that those faithful Protestants of the Reformation era will be rewarded with eternal life for their good service to God.

Nevertheless, we can have no fellowship with those whose doctrines are contrary to our own (as the apostle Paul warns us in Galatians 1.) Salvation can only be granted to those who worship God in spirit and in truth, confessing their sins and asking forgiveness.


Why don't Christadelphians serve in the military or take part in politics. Are they pacifists?

Christadelphians are not pacifists - we are disestablishmentarians, believing in a full and proper separation of church and state.

Jesus emphasised the necessity of this separation when he wrote:
Matthew 6:24 "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
The apostle Paul likewise:
II Timothy 2:4 "No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier
----
Source:
Evangelion, Bible Truth Discussion Forum

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