Christadelphians and Christianity.
Background of the Christadelphians
The Christadelphians have been with us since about 1848. They rose up after the Mormons, but prior to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh-day Adventists. A man named John Thomas founded the group. The Disciples of Christ denomination attempted to discipline this man for his “strange doctrines,” but the discipline was not accepted by him. John Thomas drew off his own followers under their original name, the Royal Association of Believers in New York, now known as the Christadelphians.
John Thomas’s book, “Elpis Israel”, (Hope of Israel), and his successor’s book, “Christendom astray from the Bible”, by Robert Roberts, formed the basis for the group’s belief.
Views on the Godhead
The Christadelphian publication, Key to Understanding the Bible, page 13, reads under “The Godhead”; “God is one, not three. He has revealed Himself as the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and of all who are related to Him in faith”. God is therefore believed to be only God the Father. Christians do believe that there is only one God. However, whereas we agree that the Father is called God, the Son, Jesus Christ, is also called God and so is the Holy Spirit. Therefore these are manifestations of the one God of scripture.
The Father called Jesus “God” in Hebrews 1:8.
Prophecy called Jesus “God” in Matthew 1:23
The disciples called Jesus “God” in John 20:25-28
Christadelphian view of Jesus
Again we quote from Key to Understanding the Bible, page 14: “Jesus Christ is not God the Son, but is the Son of God, begotten of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. He was a man of our race, identical in nature with all mankind.” Jesus Christ is therefore presented by the Christadelphians as being the Son of God only, having no existence prior to his birth to Mary and being only a man by nature. However, the Bible plainly teaches the pre-existence and eternal nature of Jesus Christ. For example, John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. Verse 14 continues, regarding Jesus “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.
The Word, Jesus Christ, was plainly there “in the beginning”. In fact, He was before all things according to Colossians 1:17, which chapter of the Bible portrays him as creator of all. The prophecy of Micah is of special interest. Micah 5:2 reads “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
The key word here is translated everlasting or eternity. This is the Hebrew word olam. This word is never used for any creature or product of creation. It is only used for God. This same Hebrew word is used for the Father in Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God”.
The eternal nature of Jesus Christ is also evident in 1 Timothy 1:17, which says of Christ “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen”. Jesus Christ did function on this earth as a man to perfectly redeem us, but this did not detract from His eternal deity. Colossians 2:9 says of Christ, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily“. All is all. Full is full. Jesus Christ, even in the flesh never ceased to be truly and fully God.
Christadelphian view of Satan, the Devil
Under the heading “Devil” and “Satan”, in the Christadelphian publication, Key to Understanding the Bible, on page 15 we find: “Devil� its general meaning is sin or lawlessness, whether manifested individually or politically. It also applied to the unlawful lusts and tendencies of human nature which invariably lead to sin. It is not a supernatural being. Satan is a Hebrew word signifying adversary, enemy, or accuser.” Christadelphians therefore reduce the Devil to our own sinful lusts, and make every adversary in the Bible a “Satan”. Both views are in error, as we shall see.
In Zachariah 3:1-2, we see Satan standing before the angel of the Lord, and God Himself speaks to Satan, rebuking him. Was God rebuking His own lustful thoughts? Ridiculous! Likewise Jesus carried on quite a conversation with the person of Satan, the Devil, in Matthew 4:1-11. Jesus, who was perfect, certainly did not have a sinful nature talking to Him! He was speaking to a real personage, Satan the Devil. Jesus went on to call him the “father of lies” and a “murderer” in John 8:44. These are titles for a real person, not abstract feelings. Christadelphians need to know that there is a real person in the world called Satan, the Devil, and he delights in having people denying his existence, for then they never gain the mastery over him.
Christadelphian view of Salvation
According to the booklet “Christadelphians” by L. Hutchins, a Christadelphian gains salvation by:
1. Accepting the gospel preached by Jesus Christ and his apostles, as interpreted by Christadelphians;
2. Being baptised by total immersion;
3. Obeying the commandments of Christ.
The Bible, on the other hand, promises us salvation by grace alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 puts it this way, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”.
We as Christians should have good works, but they are the result of a salvation, not a condition for a salvation.
A parting thought
No doubt they will be sincere Christadelphians reading this, as well as Christians, so I want to add this personal note: I understand so well how many hours you may have given to your fight, always striving to improve, for I was once in the group similar to yours. I was a Jehovah’s Witness for 15 years before the Lord set me free. Friends, do not stumble over salvation by grace alone, because it seems too easy. First off, begin by praying an honest prayer to God, asking Him to reveal the truth to you through the pages of the Bible alone.
Set aside your Christadelphian publications for a time and really seek Jesus Christ through the pages of the Bible, and personally in prayer. You will find out that He is far different from what you have been taught. Nevertheless, do not stop seeking Him until you find Him.
After all, if you have the right Jesus Christ, you are right for all eternity. But if you have the wrong Jesus Christ then you are wrong for all eternity.
Used by permission of MacGregor Ministries, PO Box 73, Balfour BC V0G 1C0 Canada. To more fully understand the matters raised in this article, we recommend the following books: Unmasking Christadelphianism: The Hopelessness of “The Hope” From Christadelphianism to Christ The Rise of the Cults (which investigates the connections between the Christadelphians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists and related groups.) These and other related resources may be found atwww.jubilee.org.nz/shop