Christadelphians: About the Movement

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INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTADELPHIANISM[1]https://carm.org/introduction-christadelphianism

Christadelphianism is a relatively new religious system. It claims, like many other non-Christian cults, to be the authentic Christian Church with authentic Christian doctrines. However, it denies the Trinity doctrine as well as the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. In addition, it states that the Devil is not a real person but is, instead, our natural tendency to sin. It also says that Jesus was a created being who had a fallen nature who himself needed to be redeemed. I say these things upfront as an introduction to Christadelphianism because we need to understand what the heart of this group is. Again, it is not Christian.

There are, however, disagreements within the camp of Christadelphianism. Several Christadelphians have pointed out to me that there are differences of opinion within their sect regarding the fallen nature of Christ. Nevertheless, they all deny the deity of Christ and this is enough to put them outside the camp of Christianity. A Jesus who is not divine cannot save anyone — especially one that needs to be redeemed himself.

In my opinion, Christadelphianism is a dangerous cult because it brings people to eternal damnation by teaching a false God and false gospel. It deviates from the central doctrines of the Christian faith sufficiently to make them non-Christian.

I would like to add that many years ago I had the opportunity to spend five months attending a Christadelphian Church during their midweek Bible studies. The people there were very warm and friendly. They freely allowed me to present the “opposing view” to their Bible study group on a regular basis. I was impressed by this. They also were very knowledgeable about scripture and listened intently to what I had to say. I found them to be polite and well studied and I enjoyed my time with them. However, they still denied the essential doctrines of the faith even when I “stumped” them in doctrinal matters. Though I remember them with fondness, I am saddened to know that they have chosen to deny the true and living God.

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WHAT DO THE CHRISTADELPHIANS TEACH?[2]https://carm.org/what-do-christadelphians-teach

Though they acknowledge many truths found in the Bible, they deny many others.

They believe the Bible is the infallible and inerrant word of God. (The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach, p. 82)

They teach there is only one God. (Isaiah 43-45 NASB)

They teach that Jesus had a sin nature (What They Believe, p. 74)

They teach that Jesus needed to save himself, before he could save us. (Christadelphian Answers, p. 24)

They teach that Jesus will return and set up his kingdom on earth. (What They Believe , p. 268)

They believe that there has been an apostasy and that Christianity is a false religious system. (A tract titled “Christendom Astray Since the Apostolic Age, Detroit Christadelphian Book Supply)

They believe annihilation of the wicked. (What They Believe, p. 187).

They believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. (What They Believe , p. 71,72, 207-210)

They believe that it is possible to lose one’s salvation. (What They Believe , p. 212)

They deny the doctrine of the Trinity. (What They Believe, p. 84-87)

They deny that Jesus is God in flesh. (Answers, p. 22)

They deny that Jesus existed prior to his incarnation. (What They Believe , p. 85,86)

They deny the person-hood and deity of the Holy Spirit. (What They Believe , p. 115)

They deny the substitutionary atonement of Christ. (Answers, p. 25; What They Believe, p. 71)

They deny salvation by grace through faith alone. (What they Believe, p. 204)

They deny immortality of the soul. (What They Believe , p. 17).

They deny that a person exists after death. (What They Believe, p. 17)

They deny the existence of hell and eternal punishment. (What They Believe, p. 188-189)

They deny the existence of the fallen angel Lucifer as the devil. (Answers, p. 100)

As you can see, the Christadelphians deny some essential doctrines of Christianity; namely, the deity of Jesus and salvation by grace.

Like so many other cult groups that claim to be the restored truth, they have their own interpretations of the Bible that deviate greatly from orthodox Christianity.

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CHRISTADELPHIAN HISTORY[3]https://carm.org/christadelphian-history

Christadelphianism is a religious movement begun by Dr. John Thomas who was born in London England on April 12, 1805. In 1832 he immigrated to the United States. On the way to New York, his ship encountered several terrible storms that threatened shipwreck and death. Dr. Thomas promised God that if he were delivered, he would devote his life to the study of religion. He made it to America and kept his promise.

Upon arrival, he joined the Campbellite group also known as the Disciples. He was baptized and began to study. He studied greatly and soon found himself at odds with the Campbellites and left. Many from the Campbellite group followed him. This is the beginning of the Christadelphian movement, though it wasn’t called that yet.

In 1834 Dr. Thomas started a magazine called “The Apostolic Advocate.” This is where he really began to disseminate his teachings. He was greatly interested in prophecy and devoted much effort to understanding biblical eschatology.

In 1839 Thomas moved to Illinois and in 1842 he became editor of a magazine called “The Investigator.” Five years later, he started another magazine called “The Herald of the Future Age.” By this time he was living in Virginia.

In 1848, near the time when Christadelphianism was founded in America, he returned to England to speak on his brand of religion and found the soil there fertile. To this day, England has the largest number of Christadelphians. While in England, he wrote the book called “Elpis Israel” which means “Hope of Israel.” It is a thorough work of his beliefs discussion creation, God’s law, sin, death, immortality, religion, the coming Kingdom, and a host of other subjects. He then returned to America.

The Christadelphians do not believe in participating in war. So, when the Civil War broke out, they refused to go. In order to be recognized as a religious group that did not believe in fighting, they needed a name. Dr. Thomas gave them the name “Christadelphian” which, in Greek means “Brethren of Christ.”

In 1862, Thomas returned to England again and found that his book “Elpis Israel” had helped to bring about congregations that followed his theology. He lectured extensively and helped to anchor Christadelphianism in England. He returned to America again.

Thomas visited England one more time in 1869 after writing the book “Eureka.”

On March 5, 1871 Dr. Thomas died in New York. He is buried in Brooklyn.

Thomas was a tireless worker who sought to study and discover God’s true meaning and doctrine of the Bible. Unfortunately, despising the counsel and wisdom of those more learned than himself, he sought to single-handedly “rediscover” the true gospel which, in his opinion, had been lost from the earth. Like so many others in the 19th century, he began a religious movement that really is a development of his personal beliefs. Therefore, the Christadelphian religion, like Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science, is merely another erring religious system begun by a single person who claimed to know more than anyone else about the Bible.

It is a non-Christian cult.

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IS CHRISTADELPHIANISM CHRISTIAN?[4]https://carm.org/is-christadelphianism-christian

No, Christadelphianism is not Christian. Like all cults, Christadelphianism denies one or more of the essential doctrines of Christianity: Jesus is God, the physical resurrection, and salvation by grace. In this case, it is the deity of Christ and salvation by grace through faith that are the problems with this group.

In regards to Jesus, it teaches that….

Jesus had a sinful nature (The Christadelphians, What They Believe, by Harry Tennant, The Christadelphian, England, p. 74 – this is a Christadelphian book.)

Jesus needed salvation, (Christadelphian Answers, ed. by Frank G. Jannaway, The Herald Press, p. 25 – another Christadelphian book).

Jesus is not God in flesh (Answers, p. 22).

That Jesus’ atonement was not substitutionary (Answers, p. 25; What They Believe, p. 71).

Baptism is necessary for salvation (What They Believe, p. 71,72, 207-210)

Primary importance is what the Christadelphians say about Jesus. They deny He is divine in nature.  According to John 1:1 NASB; John 1:14 NASB, John 8:58 NASB (with Exodus 3:14 NASB ), and Col 2:9 NASB, Jesus is God.

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth,” (John 1:1 NASB; John 1:14 NASB).

 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am,”(John 8:58 NASB ). With,  “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you,” (Exodus 3:14 NASB ).

 “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” (Col 2:9 NASB).

Furthermore, Jesus said in John 8:24 NASB, “I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins.” Also, John the Apostle said in 1 John 4:2-4 NASB, vs.2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; vs.3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”  You can see that denying that Jesus has come in the flesh (that He is God in flesh per John 1:1 NASB; John 1:14 NASB), is the spirit of antichrist.

Since we are justified by faith (Rom 5:1 NASB; Eph 2:8-9 NASB), it is crucial to have the proper object of faith.  All Satan has to do is to get someone to believe in a false Jesus and the person is lost (Matt 24:24 NASB). A false Jesus cannot save and only the true Jesus reveals the true God (John 14:6 NASB; Luke 10:22 NASB; John 17:3 NASB). Since Jesus is actually God in flesh (John 1:1 NASB; John 1:14 NASB; John 20:28 NASB; Col 2:9 NASB; Phil 2:5-8 NASB; Heb 1:8 NASB), it follows that those who deny His divine nature – and ascribe a sinful one to Him as the Christadelphians do – cannot have the true Jesus and are, therefore, serving a false God.

Second, the Christadelphians deny the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. They say that He did not take our place on the cross and that He did not bear our sins. This is in direct contradiction to Scripture. 1 Pet 2:24 NASB says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” Instead, they teach a kind of representation that was not effective to remove sin and say, “Christ did not die as our substitute, but as our representative,” (Answers, p. 25).

Additionally, in Answers, page 24, it says, “But it is equally true that, being ‘made sin for us‘ (2 Cor 5:21 NASB), he himself required a sin offering…” In other words, they are saying that Jesus Himself also needed to be saved.  This is absolutely unbiblical and heretical and needs to be labelled for what it is: false doctrine.  Jesus was without sin (1 Pet 2:22 NASB), the exact representation of the nature of God (Heb 1:3 NASB). Since God is sinless and Holy, so is Jesus in nature and essence.

Furthermore, the Christadelphians, by having a Jesus who has a sin nature, cannot have a proper sacrifice by which their sins have an atonement.  According to the Old Testament, the sacrifice for sins had to be without blemish (Deut 17:1 NASB).  Having a sin nature would be a definite blemish which would invalidate the sacrifice.

Third, the Christadelphians add a work to salvation. They say that baptism is part of the saving process.  But, baptism is not necessary for salvation.  Instead, it is a representation of the inward reality of regeneration (1 Pet 3:21 NASB), a covenant sign of God’s work upon the heart (Col 2:11-12 NASB).  Gal 5:1-12 NASB speaks of the grave error of some people who thought that they needed to partake in some part of the Law (circumcision) to be saved. Paul quickly denounced them with very strong words (Gal 5:12 NASB ).

Additionally, Rom 5:1 NASB says that we are justified by faith, not by faith and baptism.  Rom 3:28 NASB says we are saved not by the works of the Law; that is, not by anything that we do. Since our righteous deeds are filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6 NASB), we must completely rely upon the grace of God for our salvation – which is by faith in Jesus who is God, the creator, in flesh.

The Christadelphian religion is a false religion. It is definitely not Christian.  This is not to say that there are not decent people who intend to serve God honestly and truthfully.  But sincerity does not bridge the gap between God and man.  Only the blood of the real Jesus does that, not a false Christ with a sin nature who himself needed salvation.

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ANSWERING A “REFUTATION” OF “IS CHRISTADELPHIANISM CHRISTIAN?”[5]https://carm.org/answering-refutation-christadelphianism-christian

It is quite a complement when the groups I tackle on CARM attempt to answer the charges of them not being Christian. Following is one of the papers found on Christadelphian website that attempted to refute the CARM paper titled “Is Christadelphianism Christian?” The Christadelphian article is located at biblebeliefs.net

I will respond to the “refutation” of my paper. His comments are in brown. Mine are in green.


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

The C.A.R.M. has an interesting approach to the condemnation of various cults. A religious system is either ‘Christian,’ and therefore able to save despite minor errors, or ‘non_Christian,’ which cannot save because of major errors. The Christadelphians, they say, are non_Christian. The Christadelphian faith cannot save.Why not? The mind behind the C.A.R.M. has taken it upon himself to conjure up the ‘Three Essential Doctrines’ of Christianity. Any group which denies any one of these doctrines is non-Christian. These three doctrines are: Jesus is God, the physical resurrection, and salvation by grace through faith.

C.A.R.M’s Response:

No cult member considers himself to be false. But, Christianity by definition states Christadelphianism to be false. The Essential Doctrines that I have on my website are not “conjured up” by me or anyone else. These essentials are essentials proclaimed by the Bible. I have merely brought them to peoples’ attention. For this Christadelphian author to state that I have conjured them up tells me that he did not read the article where I give ample biblical references establishing their essential nature.


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

Now where did the C.A.R.M. get the idea that these are the three essential doctrines of Christianity? Certainly not from the Bible. The Bible teaches that the gospel is ‘the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ’ (Acts 8:12 NASB).

C.A.R.M’s Response:

Again this person fails to cite the scriptures that I have listed in that article. Therefore, I will briefly list them here:


1.0: JESUS IS GOD IN FLESH

1.1: 1 John 4:2-3 NASB: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

1.1.1: The above verse needs to be cross referenced with John 1:1 NASB; John 1:14 NASB (also written by John) where he states that the Word was God and the Word became flesh. In 1 John 4:2-3 NASB, John is not simply stating that Jesus existed, for that would be too obvious. Rather, he is dealing with the issue of Jesus incarnation.

1.1.2: Likewise, Jesus said in John 8:24 NASB: “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.

1.1.2.1: “I AM” is a phrase God used to describe Himself in Exodus 3:14 NASB.


2.0: SALVATION BY GRACE

2.1: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Eph 2:8-9 NASB). “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace,” (Gal 5:4 NASB).


3.0: THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

3.1: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith,(1 Cor 15:14 NASB). “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins,” (1 Cor 15:17 NASB).

3.1.1: To deny the physical resurrection of Jesus is to deny Jesus’ work, sacrifice, and our future resurrection.

3.1.2: These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead (in the same body He died in — John 2:19-21 NASB), then your faith is useless.


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

The C.A.R.M. says that Christadelphians deny the essential doctrine that Jesus is God in flesh. Christadelphians believe that Jesus was made of the same fallen, no_good substance that composes the rest of humanity: sinful flesh. Because of this, they follow a false Jesus, and ‘they are then damned’ according to the C.A.R.M. However, never did Jesus preach that we have to believe he is God _ it is not an essential doctrine. In fact, it is not a doctrine at all. The Old Testament teaches One God and Father of all, not One God, a Father, a Son and a Holy Spirit. The New Testament must teach the same thing, since God does not change. I am aware that I am arguing without Biblical backup: this is because I do not want to repeat what is said in the Trinity section of this website. If you want to see proof that Jesus was made of sinful flesh, go there.

C.A.R.M’s Response:

The Bible does not teach that Jesus had a sinful nature. It teaches that Jesus was sinless (1 Pet 2:22 NASB). He was both God and man at the same time. Col. 2:9 says, “for in Him dwells all the fullness of deity in the bodily form.” John 1:1 NASB; John 1:14 NASB says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and dwelt to among us.”

As far as Jesus not teaching that we needed to believe that He was God, we simply need to look at His own words in John 8:24 NASB where Jesus said, “unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” Again, Jesus uses the title “I am” in reference to Himself. Of course, many cultists state that Jesus was simply saying that He was the messiah. But, note that in John 8:58 NASB, Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am.” At this, the Pharisees picked up stones to kill Him, but Jesus fled. Then in John 10:30-33 NASB, they again picked up stones to kill Him and the reason they gave for trying to kill Him was because He being a man made himself out to be God (John 10:33 NASB). When Jesus said “I am” He was equating to Himself the very name of God found in Exodus 3:14 NASB where God says to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.”


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

The C.A.R.M. also speaks of one doctrine of Christadelphians as ‘absolute heresy’ and ‘demonic doctrine.’ This is the doctrine that Jesus Himself had to be saved. Why is this doctrine demonic? Jesus’ mother required atonement for giving birth to him (Luke 2:24 NASB) which would not have been necessary unless she was bringing forth a fallen creature.

C.A.R.M’s Response:

The reason the Christadelphian doctrine is so bad is because it denies that Jesus Christ is God and states that Jesus was a sinner who needed salvation. That is blasphemy.


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

The C.A.R.M. also says that Christadelphians deny the essential doctrine of salvation by grace through faith. I quote, “Christadelphians add a work to salvation. They say that baptism is part of the saving process. But, baptism is not necessary for salvation. Instead, it is a representation of the inward reality of regeneration (1 Pet 3:21 NASB ), a covenant sign of God’s work upon the heart (Col 2:11-12 NASB ).” These are flowery words with no real meaning: inward reality? A covenant sign of God’s work upon the heart? You should note that when you are writing and put a Bible reference in brackets at the end of a sentence, it is supposed to back up what you have said. However, the two references they quoted have nothing to do with inward realities or the heart. What does Col 2:11-12 NASB say? Speaking of Christ, “In whom ye also are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:” In the context Paul is explaining that the traditions of men such as circumcision are obsolete (v. 8). Writing to the Colossian believers (mostly uncircumcised Gentiles) he tells them that through the circumcision of Christ, they have put off the sins of the flesh, and can be redeemed. What is this ‘circumcision of Christ’ that is required to put off sin? Read on _ verse 12: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” When a person is immersed in water, they are figuratively buried and risen with Christ. Through this act of faith, we can obtain resurrection from the dead, since God raised Christ from the dead and we are being ‘buried with Christ.’

C.A.R.M’s Response:

Baptism is a very important part of Christianity. All Christians should be baptized. But, baptism is not an essential requirement of salvation. We can see this when we look at the whole of scripture which tells us that we are justified (made righteous) by faith (Rom 5:1 NASB), not faith and something we do (Rom 4:5 NASB); that people are saved before baptism (Acts 10:44-48 NASB; that baptism is not part of the gospel which saves (1 Cor 15:1-4 NASB); and that Paul came to preach the gospel and not to baptize (1 Cor 1:17 NASB ). For more on this please read “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?”


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

I should also speak of how the C.A.R.M. condemns baptism as the works of the Law. Paul speaks frequently in his epistles about how the works of the Law were not necessary to be saved anymore. The Law had waxed old as a garment; it was a schoolmaster to teach the Jews about the coming Messiah. This is all fine and good. Now look at the C.A.R.M.’s major stretch of reasoning. Rom 3:20 NASB tells us that “by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his [God’s] sight.” This is the Law of Moses, which at this point had become obsolete. But the C.A.R.M. says, in other words, we are not saved by anything we do. Where did that come from? We are not saved by the Law of Moses: we are saved by grace through faith. And as Col 2:12 NASB told us, baptism is the operation of our faith! Baptism is necessary for salvation.

C.A.R.M’s Response:

I do not want to get into a dissertation on baptismal regeneration and its error. My previous mention of the article “Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?” is worth reading here.


CHRISTADELPHIAN:

C.A.R.M.’s conclusion to this section is that Christadelphianism is a false religion. They are sincere, but “sincerity does not bridge the gap between God and man. Only the blood of the real Jesus does that.” I agree, sincerity cannot save us. However, the C.A.R.M. has not shown us that Christadelphianism is a false religion.

C.A.R.M’s Response:

The fact that Christadelphianism denies that Jesus is God in flesh is sufficient to make it a non-Christian cult. Faith is only as good as who you put it in. The Christadelphians have a “savior” with a sinful nature who himself needed to be saved. This sinful version of Jesus cannot save anyone.  The true Jesus needed no savior. The Christadelphians do not have the true Jesus and because of that their faith is misplaced and in vain.

Dear reader, do not be deceived by the Christadelphians.  Jesus is God in flesh. It is only God who can save us from our sins.  We have a perfect and holy High Priest, Jesus.  He was sinless and will forever love us and hold us close to Him.  But, the Jesus of the Christadelphians, our older brother who had a sin nature, is false.  A false Christ cannot save.

Jesus said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect,” (Matt 24:24 NASB).


Acknowledgements: 

C.A.R.M https://carm.org/

References

1 https://carm.org/introduction-christadelphianism
2 https://carm.org/what-do-christadelphians-teach
3 https://carm.org/christadelphian-history
4 https://carm.org/is-christadelphianism-christian
5 https://carm.org/answering-refutation-christadelphianism-christian

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