Christadelphian Church
The Christadelphian Church was founded by Dr. John Thomas (1805-1871) in about 1840, although the name was not given to his followers until 1864. The word 'Christadelphian' means Brothers in Christ. The Christadelphian church has anti-Trinitarian Socinianist and pacifist Anabaptist tendancies. There are Christadelphian congregations throughout the world.


Early History
John Thomas M.D., born in London in 1805, was the son of a Dissenting minister who was also called John Thomas. When he was young his family moved frequently, as his father served various congregations: in London, a short but eventful stay in northern Scotland, back to London, and Chorley, Lancashire. John Thomas (junior) was a very disciplined student: he taught himself Hebrew before starting his medical studies at the age of 16, while the family was in Chorley. His family moved back to London, but John Thomas (junior) stayed in Chorley at his medical studies. After two years, he moved to London, joining his family and continued his studies at the Guy’s and St. Thomas’s hospitals for a further three years. He trained as a surgeon and had a keen interest in chemistry and biology, publishing several medical articles for The Lancet (the British Medical Journal), one of which argued in favour of using corpses for the study of medicine (it was illegal in England to dissect them at that time).


Journey to the United States
Like many people of that era his father decided to emigrate to America and the young Dr John Thomas decided to go with his family. More than that, he offered to go on ahead and prepare for the family's move. An opportunity arose to further his career and travel to America ahead of his family: he accepted an appointment as ship's surgeon on the 'Marquis of Wellesley' which left from London on 1st May 1832 bound for New York. The ship immediately sailed into stormy weather that lasted the whole voyage. In the passage the ship lost the top of the main-mast and heavy seas caused much damage and washed everything moveable off the deck. The ship eventually ran aground off the coast of Nova Scotia and was raised up by the waves on numerous occasions, each time the keel struck the rocks with such force that crew and passengers were convinced the ship would break up. Fearing he was about to die Thomas prayed. He made a vow to dedicate his life, should he live, to religious study and learning the truth about life and death. The wind changed direction and the captain’s efforts to turn the ship back out to sea were successful: after one final bone-jarring grounding, the ship floated free. Thomas never forgot his vow and spent the rest of his life devoted to Bible study, determined to understand the true message of the scriptures.


 Influence of Alexander Campbell
The Marquis of Wellesley docked in New York and Thomas travelled on to Cincinnati, Ohio where he discovered the teachings of Alexander Campbell. After further bible study he joined the Restoration Movement in October 1832. He was baptised, becoming a Campbellite evangelist and travelled around America preaching, until eventually settling down as a preacher in Philadelphia. Here he met Ellen Hunt and they were married on the 1st January 1834.  Ellen was not only his wife but became his lifelong companion and constant support throughout the trials of faith that persisted throughout his life.

Dr Thomas wrote articles for and was editor of the 'Apostolic Advocate' which was first published in May 1834. His studies during this period generated the foundation for many of the beliefs that became Christadelphian. However, disagreement over doctrine surfaced: Thomas believed that the Bible taught the requirement for candidates to demonstrate knowledge of the scriptures before baptism and that there would be a general resurrection when Jesus Christ returned at His second coming. 
Alexander Campbell did not. Because of these differences Dr Thomas was disfellowshipped in 1837, some of the Campbellite congregations agreeing with his views and leaving with him. At this time the Millerite and Adventist movements were growing and in 1843 Dr Thomas was introduced to William Miller, the leader of the Millerites. He admired their willingness to question orthodox beliefs and agreed with their beliefs on the second coming of Christ and the founding of a millennial age upon his return. Thomas continued his studies of the Bible and in 1846 travelled to New York where he gave a series of lectures covering thirty doctrinal subjects that later formed part of his book Elpis Israel (The Hope of Israel).


The Christadelphians
Based upon this new understanding of the Bible, Thomas was rebaptised in 1847 and the groups of congregations (and individuals) who shared his beliefs continued to grow. In 1848 the movement became international when he travelled to England in order to preach what he now saw as the true gospel message. On his return to America, Thomas moved to New York City and began preaching there. He made a point of including the Jewish community because Dr Thomas had come to believe that Christianity did not replace the Law of Moses, rather it fulfilled it. He believed that Christians must, though faith and baptism, become the people of Abraham.
Instead of having a system of clergy, all the brethren took equal responsibility on a rota to take on the role of presiding and speaking during their meetings. Thomas and those who shared his beliefs were known at this time as the 'Royal Association of Believers' and they used the term "ecclesia", a Greek word meaning church, to describe each congregation. When the American Civil War broke out, Dr Thomas became concerned that the war had placed believers upon opposing sides. The movement as a whole considered that the war required them to make a stand for what they believed in as conscientious objectors. However, in order to be exempted from military service, believers had to belong to a recognised religious group that did not agree with participation in war. So in 1864, Dr. Thomas changed the name to Christadelphian which comes from Greek and means ‘Brethren in Christ’. It was during that war that Dr Thomas worked on the three volumes of Eureka, which explores the meaning of the Book of Revelation.

In 1868 Thomas returned to England where he travelled extensively giving lectures on the Gospel message and meeting with Christadelphians in England. At this time he found extensive support and help from Robert Roberts who had been converted during Thomas's previous visit to England. Dr Thomas returned to America making one final tour of the Christadelphian congregations prior to his death on 5th March 1871. He is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.
Christadelphians see John Thomas not as a prophet, nor a type of messiah: he was a man determined to find out what the Bible taught and was able to inspire others to do so too. He wrote several books, one of which called Elpis Israel (means 'Hope of Israel'), sets out the fundamental principles believed by Christadelphians to this day.


Links
Christadelphians International.
Christadelphians UK
Christadelphians Asia Pacific
Christadelphians in Pakistan
Lincoln Christadelphians a typical UK fellowship

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