Christadelphian History

by Matthew J. Slick

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, Gods 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.