Throughout the ages there have been groups of people who have tirelessly tried to keep the light of God’s Bible message shining. In centuries gone by believers were burned at the stake, drowned, or executed by those in authority who disputed their beliefs.
In more recent times, in 1805, a man called John Thomas was born in London, England. He led an unsettled life, at times preaching to congregations in the British Isles, then for a number of years he studied and obtained a doctorate in medicine. In 1832 he emigrated to the USA, and as a result of a very rough voyage and the real possibility of death, he felt compelled, when he reached land, to satisfy himself on the truth of what lay beyond death. He joined the Campbellite Church of Christ, but following some years of increasing dissent from their beliefs, he began his own magazines, the last one being “The Herald of the Kingdom and the Age to Come”, promoting what he firmly believed the Scriptures of the Bible taught. Gradually a group of people was formed who saw relevance in what he believed. John Thomas wrote a number of books that are still considered to be of great value in helping to understand the Bible. One popular title was Elpis Israel [“The Hope of Israel”].
John Thomas encouraged another member in England, Robert Roberts, to produce a magazine, “The Ambassador of the Coming Age” which later changed to “The Christadelphian” (which means “brothers and sisters of Christ” in Greek). This name of Christadelphian was informally adopted for the group before it was later accepted as a means of identification when they sought exemption from military service on conscientious grounds.
John Thomas made several trips back to Great Britain where the number of followers increased rapidly. He died in 1871, leaving behind a group of people who were sincere and dedicated Bible followers. Robert Roberts also wrote books that are still important today, e.g. “Christendom Astray” (originally called “Twelve Lectures”), and “The Visible Hand of God”. In 1849, a member from Edinburgh, Scotland, a Mr Coghill came to Australia, and in 1854 a member from England, a surgeon named S G Hayes, came to New Zealand, both bringing their beliefs with them. S Hayes left behind a small group when he returned to Jersey in 1864. So Dunedin, New Zealand was the earliest place for these beliefs to be established with a group of adherants, outside North America and England, and it was followed closely by Sydney, Australia only about 3 years later. Christadelphians continue in Australasia, and hold firm to the teachings of the Bible that are so valuable to them.
To Christadelphians, the Bible is not only a set of beliefs, but also a whole way of life. Because we believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God—as applicable today as when originally written—it is taken very seriously and this is reflected in the regular daily reading of both Old and New Testaments. Christadelphians take their beliefs from those of Jesus Christ and the apostles of the first century. Unfortunately, since that time, churches have modified beliefs and introduced traditions from other cultures.
For Christadelphians, Scriptural teachings of the Bible are reflected in the moral standards of members, such as the importance of marriage and the family unit, and the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all aspects of life. There is disapproval of divorce, abortion, and homosexuality.
The Christadelphians do not have a paid clergy or an authoritative body or person. Each group consists of lay preachers and voluntary workers, all working towards their hoped-for reward of eternal life at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth to set up his kingdom. Acceptance of Biblical beliefs and baptism (by which is meant complete immersion in water), and a commitment to serve the Father and Jesus Christ, are the requirements for membership. New members of the Christadelphian faith are always welcome, and members are always ready to explain the reasons for their choice of path through life, and to help others towards sharing their hope.
There are groups of Christadelphians in the main towns and cities of Australia and New Zealand as well as very many countries in the world.