The Modern Brethren
The brethren today, called by the Greek name
"Christadelphians" or "Brethren in Christ" (cp Col 1:2; Heb 2:11), trace their
modern history to the pre-Civil War era. It was in the mid-19th Century that an
English physician, having decided to emigrate to America, set off as ship's
doctor on a sailing ship. Dr. John Thomas had shown no particular interest in
religious matters when he began his medical career in the 1830's, but an event
was soon to happen that would change that, and alter the entire course of his
Most Atlantic crossings were routine affairs by this time, but
on Dr. Thomas' voyage, the ship met some unexpected bad weather and almost sank.
For the first time, John Thomas faced the reality of his own mortality and
discovered to his dismay that he had no certain idea of what lay in store for
him beyond death. In the midst of the storm at sea, he vowed that, if he
survived the crisis, he would not rest until he found a satisfactory
The ship weathered the storm, arriving late but safe in the
New World, and John Thomas kept his vow, beginning a life-long search for the
For a time, Thomas associated with a small sect that showed
some promise of helping him find his answer. But soon it became evident to the
doctor that many of the doctrines they taught were inconsistent with the Bible.
Dissatisfied with "popular" teachings, Thomas found nowhere else to turn but to
the Bible itself. And, having come to the source of Truth at last, he devoted
the remainder of his life to a careful independent study of the
What he found led him to the unavoidable conclusion that the
Christian church had strayed far from Divine teaching in the 19 centuries since
the days of Christ and his apostles.
Despite their relatively recent beginnings, the
Christadelphians (the name John Thomas suggested for those who came to share his
beliefs) are not a new sect in the same sense, for example, that Mormons are:
the founder of that group claimed to have received some new revelation from God.
John Thomas made no such claim -- nor do Christadelphians who have come after
him. Thomas' beliefs were the result of a careful and thorough study of the
Bible alone -- nothing more! He was in no sense "inspired", nor did he claim to