#44 Christadelphians


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What the heck is a Christadelphian?  Those were my sentiments exactly.

At the very last minute on Sunday morning, I hurried online to search for a religious sect I haven’t yet reviewed.  I figured at this point I’d stumbled across pretty much every religion out there, but then the Richmond Christadelphian Chapel mysteriously popped up in my search results.  And so, for prayer #44, I made my way to this sanctuary I’d never heard of prior.  Unfortunately, I was already 10 minutes late so I was disappointed to see that after driving 25 miles from my home, grabbing my Bible and rushing to the front of the church, there was a small note attached to the double doors which read, “We apologize, but we are meeting in the Southside of Richmond at the Kroger Center due to refinishing our floors.” Determined to not miss church this week, I made a mad dash to the car and put the pedal to the metal.  15 miles later I met the Christadelphians to worship in a small meeting room at the Holiday Inn Kroger South.  Being that I was almost a half hour late, there was really no way to sneak in inconspicuously.  So without trying to be discreet, I boldly walked into the overly crowded room and found the one empty seat available and made myself comfortable.  The speaker was studying something in the Old Testament.  It seemed rather in depth with a power point slide up on the wall which displayed several Bible passages.  This looked like just the type of study I could sink my teeth into so I was bummed that I’d missed most of it. 

After a few minutes of listening to a sermon we sang a couple worship songs and then the service quickly came to a close.  I admit, the Christadelphians didn’t get a fair shake since I missed the bulk of the sermon.  I’m disappointed about that. And apparently the church has no preachers, or pastors, but instead, members of the congregation are responsible for running the service every week so it would have been great to experience.

When I got up to leave, I was greeted by a gentleman who explained to me why they were meeting in the hotel instead of the church and asked that I come back in a few weeks when I could worship in their sanctuary.  I told them I would try to make it and apologized for showing up so late. 

Then, another person came over to me to thank me for coming, then another, then another, then another, then another, then….. I was quickly brought back to the same exact spot I was in the Jehovah Witness service.  Me, standing in the middle of a group of people who all looked at me as if I was a prize that needed to be won.  I stood there, Bible in hand, nonchalantly looking for a break in the hedge they had formed around me.  Finally, a nice younger lady who was probably about my age encouraged everyone to give me some much needed space, “Okay guys.  Let’s give her some breathing room.”  She smiled.  Then while taking a few steps backward she said “Sorry about that.  I know this can be overwhelming.”  I laughed it off and told her I understood all too well.  I then admitted that it wasn’t the first time that had happened to me when first coming to a new place.  She then told me that most of the congregation shared the same last name so it’s always really obvious when there’s someone new.

After a few people questioned me about where I was from and whether I’d be back, I made my escape and started toward my car.  Right before opening the driver side door I was stopped by just one final person who hurried across the parking lot while waving his arms in the air, “Wait.  Wait.  Would you like to come to lunch with us?”  I didn’t hesitate for a minute.  “No.  No, I don’t.  I’m just doing a project where I’m going to a bunch of different churches.”  When I got in the car I thought about how my comment might have come across.  I guess I didn’t want there to be any room for interpretation.  I was just a spectator and not interested in joining the team.

It quickly became clear to me that it was a blessing that I was nearing the end of the 52.  I think I may have officially had all the first time visitor experiences I can handle for one lifetime.

Some fascinating things I learned about the Christadelphians:

The Christadelphians have no central leadership. The highest level of organization is the ecclesia (i.e. local church) which is typically led by a rotating selection of the more mature members.

They believe Jesus is the Son of God, but certainly not God Himself. This is to be rejected for the following inescapable reasons, and many more:

  • God is one. There can only be one true God. It is undeniable that Jesus referred to himself and the Father as separate. To fly in the face of this the most fundamental of Biblical teachings, in any way, is to venture out onto very thin ice.
  • Mortality and immortality are mutually exclusive characteristics. God is immortal, and cannot die. Jesus died. If you alter this, all Scripture is inexorably weakened.
  • Jesus always very clearly pointed out his subservience to God; in power, teaching and life itself. To assert their equality is untenable.

The Christadelphians believe that the God of the Bible is one, the Father alone (1 Cor. 8:6). God stands alone and unrivaled in the universe, the source of all good and evil (Is. 45:5-7).

We reject the idea that the devil is one of Gods' angels that was permitted to rebel in the very heavens (thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven) and now wrestles with God for control of the world.

We reject the idea that the Holy Spirit is a person.

The Christadelphians believe that the covenant of God with Abraham laid the framework for our hope. To Abraham and his descendants was promised the world as an inheritance (Genesis 26:3-4 [to Isaac], Romans 4:13, Psalm 37). Hebrews points out that Abraham received nothing, and that the covenant will be fulfilled in the resurrection (Heb. 11:39-40). We believe then that the literal earth, restored and renewed, is the inheritance of the Abraham and his descendants in faith. While awaiting this inheritance, all await resurrection in the sleep of death, where there is no consciousness (Psalm 146:3-4, Ecl. 9:10).

We believe that God will establish a Kingdom on earth at the return of Christ. This kingdom will be a restoration of the kingdom of David, with Jerusalem as its' capital, in fulfillment of II Sam. 7.

Israel, as the literal descendants of Abraham, will always have a place in the plans of God. This is not through any particular righteousness of theirs, on the contrary, both the Bible and history have shown them to be a stubborn and willful people (much like us all). However, God is bound by his promise to Abraham his friend to care for his descendants for ever. Those who believe in Christ, the seed of Abraham, join the ranks of his descendants, but do not replace the people of Israel. (Rom 11:1, 11, 25-29; Jer 33:25-26)

The Christadelphians believe that baptism is the outward sign of a repentant and contrite heart, of a person convicted of their sinfulness, and desiring redemption. We believe that through baptism you participate symbolically in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, and thereby attain forgiveness of sins.   

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  • Cecelia Dowdy

    Cecelia Dowdy February 05, 2011

    Interesting post. I first heard about the Christadelphians through the newspaper! They’d placed an ad in our small local paper, advertising a Bible study on a week night in one of the public buildings in my small town. When I saw the ad, I wondered who they were and then I looked them up online. Needless to say, I didn’t attend the study because their beliefs did not sit too well with me. Kind of reminded me of the days when I was involved with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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