- The Christadelphians are a decentralized Protestant community deriving from 19th-century American revivalism that has spread throughout the world. Some of their doctrines depart significantly from the Protestant mainstream.In the 1840s, physician John Thomas (1805-71) of Richmond, Virginia, left the Churches of Christ (the revivalist Restoration movement that began on the American frontier) as a result of doctrinal disputes with church leader Alexander Campbell (1788-1866). Thomas came to believe that the Holy Spirit was not a third "person" of a triune God, but God's power; this led to a complete revision of his understanding of God and salvation. He also maintained that believers would remain unconscious from the time of their death until the general resurrection, at which time they would be judged and enter the kingdom. unbelievers, rather than being confined in eternal torment, would simply be annihilated.For a while, Thomas and his followers refused to give their movement a name. As supporters of pacifism, however, they needed some way to identify themselves in order to be considered for conscientious objector status during the American Civil War. The name Christadelphian means "Brethren in Christ."Their doctrinal divergence separated Chris-tadelphians from the larger community of Protestant and Free Church Christians, who published a considerable amount of anti-Christadelphian literature over the years. Opposition did not stop the movement, however, and it spread to Canada,En-gland, Australia, and New Zealand. Periodicals kept the autonomous Christadelphian congregations (called ecclesias) in contact. A split developed in the 1890s over issues of resurrection, resulting in two international fellowships. Most of the British Christadelphians maintained that among unbelievers, only those who had heard the Gospel and been called to repentance could be considered responsible, while unbelievers who had never heard of Christ would have a place in God's kingdom. Robert Roberts, editor of The Christadelphian, was the leading British exponent of this position, while J. J. Andrew championed the more conservative older position. Those who accepted Roberts's position became known as the Amended Christadelphians, and those who followed Andrew's lead were the Unammended Christadelphians. Efforts to overcome the division proved unsuccessful.The movement has no national or international headquarters, and is instead represented by periodicals and publishing houses, separate ones for each of the two branches of the movement. In the 20th century, the movement has spread beyond the English-speaking world, and ecclesias may now be found in more than 100 countries.Further reading:■ A Declaration of the Truth Revealed in the Bible (Birmingham, U.K.: Christadelphian, 1967)■ J. J. Andrew, Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, or, The Truth Concerning Jesus as a Prophet, Priest, and King Shown to Be Subversive of Popular Views (Sydney, Arthur Norwood, 1913)■ One Hundred Years of the Christadelphian (Birmingham, U.K.: Christadel-phian, 1964)■ Robert Roberts. A Guide to the Formation and Conduct of Christadelphian Ecclesias (Birmingham, U.K.: Christadelphian, 1922).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.