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Christadelphians

Christadelphians. A Christian sect founded by John Thomas (New York, c.1848), but with adherents in Britain. Originally called Thomasites, the name Christadelphian (‘Brother of Christ’) was adopted during the American Civil War to justify objection to military service. Rejecting ministers and churches, and with no overall organization, the core belief is millennialist, with Christ expected to return and rule from Jerusalem; the Bible is regarded as infallible, the doctrine of the trinity is rejected, baptism is seen as valid only by immersion, and the unconverted will not be raised from the dead.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Christadelphians

Christadelphians (krĬs´tədĕl´fēənz) [Gr.,=brothers of Christ], small religious denomination founded in the United States in 1848 by John Thomas. Its members live by the Scriptures and await the second coming of Jesus on earth, who, they believe, will establish a theocracy with its center in Jerusalem. There is no ordained ministry. Christadelphians do not believe in the Trinity or the existence of hell. They do not vote, hold public office, or participate in war. There are about 6,500 members in the United States and 50,000 members worldwide.

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Christadelphian

Chris·ta·del·phi·an / ˌkristəˈdelfēən/ • n. a member of a Christian sect, founded in the U.S. in 1848, that claims to return to the beliefs and practices of the earliest disciples and holds that Christ will return in power to set up a worldwide theocracy beginning at Jerusalem. • adj. of or adhering to this sect and its beliefs.

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Christadelphians

Christadelphians. Christian denomination founded by John Thomas (1805–71), a physician in Richmond, Virginia, who broke away from the Christian Church of Alexander Campbell in 1844. The name Christadelphians (‘Christ's brethren’) reflects Thomas's claim to return to the beliefs and practice of the earliest disciples. Christadelphians take no part in politics, voting, or military service.

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Christadelphian

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Christadelphians

CHRISTADELPHIANS

Brothers of Christ, a sect founded by Dr. John Thomas (180571), an English physician who came to the U.S. in 1832. At first he associated with the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ), but disagreed with them on several doctrinal points (see campbell, alexander; christian church). He severed his ties with Campbellism in 1834. Between 1844 and 1847 Thomas developed his own theological system, which he maintained was that of primitive Christianity. Branding all existing churches as apostate, he won a few converts in the U.S., Canada, and England. The name Christadelphian was adopted during the Civil War.

Christadelphians reject the doctrine of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus Christ. They deny eternal punishment and the existence of a personal devil. They believe that Christ will soon ascend David's throne in the Holy Land, gather the 12 tribes of Israel, and rule the world for 1,000 years. Baptism by immersion is considered the sole valid form. Only those who have heard and accepted what the sect considers divine truth will receive the gift of immortality; no others will be raised from the dead. Members of the sect try to disassociate themselves from the secular community; they do not serve in the armed forces, vote, seek public office, join labor unions, or indulge in wordly amusements. They are also opposed to smoking, divorce, and marrying outside of the sect.

Local congregations, called ecclesiae, follow a congregational polity. They employ no salaried clergy; each congregation elects its own "serving brethren" for three-year terms. They handle all liturgical and administrative duties. Christadelphians usually meet for worship in private homes or rented halls. Local congregations hold a weekly communion service on Sunday. They emphasize the study of the Bible and sometimes sponsor public lectures to interest outsiders. The sect maintains no foreign missions, seminaries, or schools, except for a few summer Bible schools. Christadelphian congregations do not recognize an overall ecclesiastical authority; they may join other ecclesiae in loose federations.

Bibliography: b. r. wilson, Sects and Society: A Sociological Study of the Elim Tabernacle, Christian Science, and Christadelphians (Berkeley 1961). c. h. lippy, The Christadelphians in North America (Lewiston, N.Y. 1989).

[w. j. whalen/eds.]

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