C H R I S T A D E L P H I A N R E S E A R C H
Sources of Information
In investigating the Christadelphian community it helps to have sources of information and to be aware of the varying biases and weaknesses various sources may have. The best advice in obtaining truth is to seek information from multiple sources and explore different perspectives. In particular probe any incongruities or areas where you find the answers that you have been given are not fully satisfying and be aware of any “walls” you encounter. Sometimes the areas which people don’t want to discuss are the very ones which need investigating.
Here are some considerations of differing sources which may help and the biases they may have:
The Internet and Christadelphian Websites
A natural starting point today would be the internet where a search on the term “Christadelphian” will currently bring up 320,000 results. These range from major Christadelphian sites to those of minor schisms to those of a local church youth group. Since there is no central leadership, no one website is authoritative.
It is worth noting that such listings will usually not list other Christadelphian websites from differing fellowships and may even not list those which slightly differ in persuasion or approach. A Central Christadelphian list for instance will often not list Berean Christadelphian sites. One preaching committee may not accept another arm. It is also noticeable that many of the smaller divisions focus more on the historical origins of the community.
Christadelphians are also well represented on Facebook (29/12/16):
(to view you will need to first join Facebook )
- Christadelphians Worldwide 3204 members.
- Christadelphians 2838 members.
- Carelinks Ministries 2018 members.
- You Know You Are A Christadelphian When: 1474 members.
- Christadelphians in Fellowship 1258 members (closed group for those who hold Christadelphian beliefs as baptised members of a congregation).
- Uplifting Christadelphian Discussions 1431 members.
- Christadelphians for Unity 988 members (closed group, posts only visible to members).
- The Christadelphian Bible Prophecy Channel 788 members.
- Christadelphian - “In the Beginning” 671 members.
- Christadelphian Fraternal & Study Evenings 669 members.
- Intra-Christadelphian Doctrinal Discussions 589 members.
It is worth noting that Christadelphian Facebook groups and forums often contain former members and those who wouldn’t be considered “in fellowship” in the offline world. They generally end up more liberal than offline as a result, often discuss more controversial topics, and aren’t always representative of how things work offline.
And a page:
Very detailed with articles refuting the historical Christadelphian position of a literal 7 day creation. Also on Google Plus
Contact with Christadelphians
You may be investigating because you have a friend or relative who is a Christadelphian and they can offer you some insights into the community. In fact they may invite you to visit a Christadelphian meeting and share thoughts. The perspective they share with you may be one that is designed to try to convert you and present a favourable perspective. It is however a valid source of information that is an aid to gaining some insights.
Lists of congregations can be found at:
- Christadelphia Worldwide has a global coverage and includes those of two groupings, the Amended and Unamended (mostly in the US and Canada).
- This is your Bible has a comprehensive list with global coverage - looks like Central ones.
- Berean Christadelphian congregations.
- Dawn Christadelphian congregations only, although pretty hard to tell it from the site.
- Companion Christadelphian congregations.
There are other minor groupings, but they are insignificant.
Contact with Former Christadelphians
Former Christadelphians have practical experience of what it is like to be a Christadelphian and will have insights which will not be mentioned by existing Christadelphians. After all there are reasons why people leave and are disfellowshipped which may have caused them to struggle, to feel bitter sometimes and to even over-emphasise certain negative aspects.
Unlike existing Christadelphians they don’t however have a church that can be visited and some want to avoid any connection whatsoever.
As a site written by a former Christadelphian you are already using an available resource. In addition there are ex-Christadelphian sites listed on the link section of this site and you are welcome to join support groups on the former Christadelphian section of this site. You can also become a site member for informational updates and contact me directly with any questions you may have.
A good source of information for finding out about what Christadelphians believe, but tend to have very limited information about how the community works in practice.
Some book sources:
It should be noted that in some editions of early Christadelphian works parts which don’t fit current understandings have been edited out by some Christadelphian publishers.
The most extreme example is probably Christendom Astray, a book proclaiming all of Christianity astray. I have a 1984 edition of “Christendom Astray” published by “The Christadelphian magazine” which follows an amendment made in the 1951 edition where an entire chapter called “Evidence that the End was near” was removed because prophetic expectations have not matched what has subsequently followed. In this case it is mentioned in the foreword and states the reason is because “an adequate treatment would have required a rewriting of the chapter.” The part in question used a book, Chronikon Hebraikon, written by John Thomas on chronology as the basis of his failed prediction Christ must return by 1910 at the latest.
In “Brethren Indeed?” which can be purchased from the Endeavour Magazine, Ruth McHaffie also suggests (p17) that John Thomas’ works were “adjusted conscientiously by Robert Roberts” to “subject them to editorial revision to harmonize them with the matured apprehension of the truth he finally reached.” She states that “This did not meet with all-round approval in the community,” and the criticism was made by 19th century contemporaries that as a consequence it was “impossible to tell whether a particular sentence is what the doctor wrote, or what his reviser thought he ought to have written.”
Ruth McHaffie also suggests (p18) that when Charles Walker was editor of the Christadelphian “he too, felt it expedient to make a little modification - this time to soften Robert Roberts’ crude vocabulary.”
Chat Groups and Online Discussion Forums
Chat groups and online discussion forums are places where there can be a lot more honesty and openness about issues than may be found elsewhere, particularly with respect to how things work in practice rather than theory. Be aware however that different groups may have different biases and some may be more censored than others.
It should also be noted that on many forums you may experience aggressive behaviour or over-forthright discussion if you raise issues or questions. This can take the form of multiple disproving of anything you say, a lack of recognition of valid points raised and the dissection of posts. Unless you have a tough skin and can take criticism be wary because these groups can be very difficult to moderate.
Broadly accurate, but limited.
One comprehensive information source about the Christadelphians can be found on Wikipedia and I would like to share a few thoughts about Wikipedia as an information source.
Wikipedia is a free encyclopaedia. It has been set up as a collaborative project and anyone can add to or edit information. This would seem to make it open for errors of every kind, but in practice if blatant errors get put in, other people have a strong tendency to revert them. There are also a huge number of rules and regulations on how editing should be done and every major statement should have scholarly sources to back up those statements. In order to work therefore it relies upon a large enough number of people being committed enough to maintain it as an accurate information source. To solve the various difficulties that have emerged and define correct editing practice it has consequently evolved into a bureaucratic structure with a system of moderation to deal with disputes.
In practice to change Wikipedia in any way is to engage with all the other people editing it and by its nature that attracts those committed to maintaining certain perceptions. If the perception of existing editors is questioned by an edit they do not agree with, it tends to result in battles revolving around the rules and how they apply. The content of Wikipedia is therefore determined by the kind of folk who would have reason to be that persistent and the Wikipedia entries on Christadelphian topics are heavily maintained by Christadelphians. It is broadly accurate, but it is not unbiased and it will not cover every area as a result. It represents the status quo of the committed editors.
It does however offer information and sources which can help research and here are some direct links:
The main article on each topic is essentially a compromise position reached by the committed editors and to access extra information it is worth clicking on the DISCUSSION button at the top. This will reveal information that doesn’t reach the main page, either because it is irrelevant or because the consensus of the editors works to prevent it.
Clip about Wikipedia: Abby Martin Censored
Articles by Other Churches About the Christadelphians
These in general tend to be very uninformed and have many inaccuracies in my experience and few are well researched or comprehensive. There are, however a few good exceptions which are found in the Link Section of this site.
Scholarly Works by Outside Sources
As a fairly small, insular group the Christadelphians have attracted very little attention and there is hardly anything in existence. The lack of information in part is why this site has been and is being progressively compiled. The most well done would be “Sects and Society” by Bryan Wilson which is out of print, although second-hand editions can be purchased through Amazon. He wrote a very detailed sociological study of three sects, one being the Christadelphians giving a picture of the community in 1961.
Non Christadelphian Historical Sources
Vast archives of information available that could shed a lot of light on the origins and establishment of the Christadelphians. Since the community was framed around the activities of John Thomas in the Restoration Movement it is also recorded in their records and periodicals which are progressively being put online and made available. Since many other restorationist groups such as the Jehovahs Witnesses and the former Worldwide Church of God have links to this period too there is also huge potential for sharing information between groups with similar origins.
The big value here would be in clarifying the formative influences of the community better. Far from the Bible alone being his sole guide it seems more likely in many respects the founder of the Christadelphian whilst being fiercely individualistic was in many senses a product of certain beliefs he was exposed to such as his view of scripture and how it was inspired, his approach to Biblical exegesis, his belief in restorationism and his adventist focus. All of these were very prominent features of his times in nineteeth century America.
VIEW THE MIND MAP
PAGE VISITS FROM 16/09/13
THE TRINITY HURDLE
NOVEL: HOLY BIBLE
You lay a great stress upon facts throughout your letters, and are incessant in your demand that I should attend to them. This is good; but facts have to be rightly put together, and then you must have all the facts. I do not think you put the facts rightly together, and you leave out some, I am sure.
(Robert Roberts, a Christadelphian Pioneer, quoted
by Ruth McHaffie in Brethren Indeed)
The Spirit of liberty, based upon the law of faith, is the Spirit of Christ; and this spirit all the Sons of God are privileged to possess, and having it, to breathe. I claim the right of exercising this privilege, as well as my contemporaries; and I require of them that they should do to me as once they loudly required others to do to them…
(written by John Thomas, the founder of the Christadelphians, when he was against creeds in
The Apostolic Advocate magazine, August 1836)
(John Thomas, from Apostacy Unveiled, p. 137,
quoted in The Christadelphian Magazine, January 1906)
Must a man never progress? If he discovers an error in his premises, must he for ever hold to it for the sake of consistency? May such a calamity never befall me! Rather let me change every day, till I get right at last.
(from a letter written by John Thomas in 1848, quoted by Robert Roberts, in Dr. Thomas: His Life and Work)
Do what is right; be valiant for the Truth; teach it without compromise, and all lovers of the Truth will approve you. For all others you need not care a rush!
(from a letter written by John Thomas to Robert Roberts and published in The Christadelphian magazine, February 1866)