The Agora
Who Are the Christadelphians?

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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 life.

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 answer.

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 Truth.

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 Scriptures.

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 be.

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