Brethren of Christ
First century patterns
Christadelphians as first century patterns
A small religious body of true Believers
The Christadelphians are a small religious body who have attempted to get back to the faith and character of the early Christian church.
We have been in existence for nearly 150 years. The name "Christadelphians" comes from two Greek words and means "brothers in Christ".
Col 1:2; Heb 2:11
In the same way, “Christian” has become inexpressive, as the definition of a true believer. A Christian, in the first century, was one who received the doctrine of Christ as apostolically expounded, and who made the commandments of Christ the rule of his life. In our day, it means an inhabitant of Christendom, without reference to individual faith or practice and some people even do accept only certain dogmatic believers as Christians . We escape this confusion by adopting another name, which Jesus applied to his disciples. He called them “My brethren” (John 20:17; Hebrews 2:11) — therefore, brethren of Christ. As the English form of this name would be acknowledged by thousands who do not fulfil its conditions, it is convenient to accept it in its Greek form (Anglicised) — CHRISTADELPHIAN — which none will own to but those who endorse its implied testimony, that no one belongs to Christ who does not believe the Gospel of the Kingdom, and obey the commandments of Christ.
The Apostolic Ministry
To make the communities of Christ’s brethren effective for their objects, Christ, by the Spirit, appointed and qualified a variety of officials, in the first century, whom Paul enumerates as Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers. To these were given the ability to work miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversity of tongues. Their appointment by the Spirit made them the responsible overseers of the one body, whom the members were bound to obey.
This ministration of the Spirit, and this presence of divine authority in the ecclesias or communities, continued during the days of the apostles, and the generation next ensuing. After that, an apostasy arose in the apostolic community, after the analogy of the case of Israel, in their first settlement of Canaan; who “served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that out-lived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord that he did for Israel” (Judges 2:7). The apostasy prevailed more and more, as the Apostles, by the Spirit, predicted would be the case (2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2:17), until all trace of primitive truth disappeared, and the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn from all association with an empty Christian name. Whatever genuine profession may have existed since then, has not been honoured by a return of the Spirit’s witnessing and governing presence.
Revival of the Apostolic Faith
In these days, when the times of the Gentiles are nearing their end, and the era of the Lord’s return has approached, there has been a revival of the original apostolic faith, through the agency of Scriptural study and demonstration. This work has been perfectly natural in its proximate features (see The Life and Work of Dr. Thomas), but thoroughly spiritual and apostolic in its results. It has been unaccompanied by any visible manifestation of the Spirit, such as characterized the apostolic era, but is nonetheless the evolution of the Spirit’s work in its individual and collective achievements. There is no reason to expect any recurrence of this manifestation of the Spirit until the Lord’s actual reappearance in the earth. On the contrary, there are reasons for believing the divine programme to be such that it cannot take place.
In this situation of things, there are problems which did not embarrass the operations of the Gospel in the first century.
People come to a knowledge of the truth, here and there throughout the world, by means of the published literature of the Truth, which has gone widely abroad.
What are they to do on attaining to this knowledge? They are members of the various religious bodies around them: shall they continue in their accustomed association? Reason itself would answer this question even if there were no Scriptural guidance. How can a man continue in association with a body with whose sentiments and objects he has ceased to have sympathy? The Scriptures prescribe that which impulse would dictate: to “come out” (2 Corinthians 6:17), to have no fellowship (Ephesians 5:11), to withdraw (2 Timothy 3:5). It is impossible that the truth could grow or live in the theological communions of the day.
The Brethren of Christ are located in many countries throughout the world with large groups of Christadelphians in the United Kingdom and Europe, Australia and New Zealand, North America, South East Asia and Africa. Like the early Christians, we meet in homes, rented rooms and, in some cases, our own halls.
Acts 1:13-14; 2:46-47; 18:7; 19:9; 28:30
A lay Community
The Christadelphians are a lay community patterned after first century Christianity. Each congregation is called an "ecclesia" (the New Testament word for church). There are no paid clergy or church hierarchy. Members of each congregation are addressed as 'brother' or 'sister', and all are involved in organising the activities. All members contribute their time and energy voluntarily in service to God. A strong common belief binds our brotherhood together.
Rom 12:4-8; 1Cor 12:4-27; Gal 3:28
In the apostolic ecclesias, the Spirit of God, by the hand of the apostles, or other Spirit-endowed persons, nominated and appointed such special brethren, in virtue of which appointments the rest of the body were bound to yield a ready submission to the rule and authority so established. Such ruling brethren were appointed to permanent office. Under this institution, the brethren were saved the trouble of election, and the confusion more or less incident in our times to the absence of authority. In our day, until the Spirit speaks again, we can have no such privilege; and it is worse than useless to profess a possession we lack. Our wisdom lies in recognising the true nature of our case, and making the most of the unprivileged circumstances of a time succeeding to a long period of divine absence and ecclesial chaos.
The only practicable basis of order in the circumstances existing in our dispensation is that of mutual consent, expressed in the process known as voting, which literally means voicing, or speaking your mind. If God would speak, as in the day of the Spirit’s ministration, there would be no need for man to speak; but, as God is silent at the moment, there is no alternative but to make the best appointments we can amongst ourselves, aiming in all things to come close to His mind and will, as expressed in the written word.
The principle of government by consent can only be practically applied by listening to the voice of the greater number, technically described as “the majority
As in Jesus time and just afterwards the disciples discussed between each other and arrangements were made by consent. The principle of democracy is a practicable alternative in the absence of the voice of authority. And it is a principle that may work out beneficent results if subordinated to the commandments to Christ, which are all-prevailing with his true disciples.
Offices and appointments in the house of Christ
One principle ought to permeate all appointments in the house of Christ, and that is the one laid down by Christ, when speaking of the exercise of authority of one Gentile over another; he said, “It shall not be so among you. He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief as he that doth serve.”
The appointment of brethren to certain offices is not the appointment of men to exercise authority, but of men to serve, like the apostles tried to serve Jesus. For this reason it is wise to speak of them all, in whatever capacity, as “serving brethren”. For the same reason it is inexpedient to employ any technical term around which ideas of personal importance are liable to gather, or which have a tendency to create a cold officialism and obscure the family relation in the Truth. “The committee”, for example, or “the executive”, ‘‘registrar’’, etc., is an abstraction which is liable to do this. It is wise to attach the term “brother” or “brethren” to every office. It may sometimes seem uncouth or redundant; but this is more than compensated for by its wholesome effect in helping to preserve the family unity of the body of Christ. It keeps in view the fact that official brethren are only brethren performing an office, in this world, for the good of the rest, and to some extent shuts the door against the corruption which generated the apostasy and developed the clerical usurpation.
Serving Brethren, not Rulers
All official brethren are serving brethren; but there are necessarily different sorts of serving brethren, such as managing brethren, presiding brethren, doorkeeping brethren, etc., but ALL are brethren. It is important to keep this feature constantly in the front. Christ places it there: “One is your master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren”. This feature, with many other beautiful features originally appertaining to the house of Christ, has disappeared from the religious systems around us bearing the name of Christ.
Having returned to it, the Christadelphian community tries to hold on to it. There is no authority nor hierarchy, only service.
The spirit of the appointments involves this. The ecclesia does not appoint masters, but servants. In principle, the ecclesia is the doer of everything; but, as it is impossible in its collective capacity to do the things that are to be done, it delegates to individual members the duty of doing them in its behalf.
If Paul was careful to recommend that candidates for spiritual appointment in the early ecclesias should have certain eligible qualifications, much more needful is it that regard should be had to these qualifications in appointments in a day like ours, when we are not privileged with the visible indications of the mind of the Spirit.
Bible our only guide
We accept the Bible as our only guide and believe it to be the inspired word of God and we are aware that we ourselves bare our own responsibility. We must determine our behaviour and attitudes in all aspects of our lives. Membership is extended to those with similar beliefs after being baptised (fully immersed in water).
Then we ought to keep the Commandments of God sealed by the New Covenant by Christ Jesus.