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Community house of the Christadelphians in Esslingen am Neckar

The Christadelphian Churches are a community of Christians who strive to base their faith and life solely on the Word of God as found in the Bible . The term "Christadelphian", as the believers call themselves, is derived from the Greek words "Christos adelphoi" and means "brothers in Christ". Other terms used are Original Christians (former self-designation in German-speaking countries ), Broeders in Christ .


Most of the members of these churches are found in England , North America , Australia, and South Africa . In Europe there are parishes not only in England and Germany but also in Belgium , the Netherlands , Poland and Russia .

The German community was, among other things by the influence of lectures by Ludwig von Gerdtell between the First and Second World War and was first called Urchristengemeinde . There are now communities z. B. in Esslingen am Neckar , Oberhausen , Mönchengladbach , Iserlohn , Hamburg , Kirchlinteln and Siegburg .

With regard to the numerical distribution, there are different and sometimes contradicting information depending on the source. According to information from the Evangelical Information Center , there were 109 congregations with 2,755 baptized members in North America in 1936; in 2006 there were still 83 congregations with 1,850 members. According to an estimate by the BBC , there are currently around 50,000 members in 120 countries, 6,500 of them in the USA. According to the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, there are 90 unamended and 80 amended churches in the United States today . Both directions are said to have 850 churches worldwide in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Southeast Asia and Europe.


The individual parishes are largely independent ( congregationalism ) and have no full-time clergy. They are in contact with one another, but have no central administration or shepherds. The parishes are called ecclesia .

The German Christadelphians publish the magazine Prüfet alles , which appears every two months. (See also: List of Christian Magazines )


John Thomas

The founder of the Christadelphians is John Thomas (* April 12, 1805 , † 1871 ), a doctor who emigrated from England to the USA and who previously belonged to the Disciples of Christ . On the crossing to the United States, because of a storm, he made a promise to God that he would devote the rest of his life to studying the Bible and exploring the meaning of life. After his baptism in October 1832 and a period as an itinerant preacher, he became a preacher in Philadelphia . Around 1844 Thomas founded his own churches after being excluded from the Disciples of Christ . In 1864 he gave his parishes the name Christadelphians . His main work is " Elpis Israel " (1849).

Robert Roberts (1839–1898), who was born in Scotland, played a key role in the formulation and further development of their beliefs, especially through his programmatic writing " Christendom Astray " (1884).


Like many other Christian communities, especially those from the Adventist tradition or the 19th-century revivalist movement in the United States have grown up, the members of the Christadelphian communities at an upcoming believe kingdom of God on earth and hope for the bodily resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ .

They are baptized as adults ( baptism of faith ). The first baptism in Germany took place on April 30, 1899.

For their daily study of the Bible, they often use a Bible reading plan based on Robert Roberts' Bible Companion , with the instructions of which they read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice each year (three sections daily from different parts of the Bible).

The Christadelphians differ from many other Christian communities in their rejection of all religious doctrines, which, in their opinion, do not agree with the original testimony of the Bible, but arose after the contact of early Christianity with the Hellenistic world . So they reject the doctrine of the Trinity of God, the idea of ​​an immortal soul and the view of a pre-existence of Christ . You are Nichttrinitarier , representatives of Ganztodtheorie , Socinians and do not believe in the existence of evil, fallen angel named Satan or Devil . They understand the term " Satan ", based on Hebrew , as a general synonym for "adversary", with a positive ( 4 Mos 22.22 f.  EU - this angel is called "Satan" in the original Hebrew text) or negative meaning ( e.g. an envious, slanderous person as accuser of Job in JobEU - "sons of God" are according to this interpretation an assembly of believers), and " devils " as personification for sin and persons or governments acting contrary to God. According to the understanding of the Bible, the term demons is not used to denote evil spirits, but diseases, especially those of a spiritual and spiritual nature .

They regard Jesus Christ as the "second Adam ", a man begotten by God who performed miracles with divine power, but inherited from his mother the human, sin- prone and therefore mortal nature, although he himself has always remained free from sin. As a central (but only future) element in God's plan and foresight, he already existed before the creation of the world and before his birth ( 1 Pet 1.20  EU ), but not as a real spiritual being (the complex Greek term " logos " in Joh 1.1 ff.  EU in its meaning “consideration”, “plan / project”, “purpose”). Through his obedience to death on the cross (as a representative of the people, not as their representative), he conquered “sin in the flesh” and was accepted into heaven by God as the only person.

As annihilationists , they consider the belief in the existence of a hell to be unbiblical. Furthermore, they do not take part in political elections and reject (although they are not fundamentally pacifists , but rather understand it as biblically required of them not to interfere in "the affairs of this world") for themselves any form of violence, which also makes them staunch conscientious objectors (For which, for example , they accepted prison sentences in Great Britain during the First World War and were finally able to obtain some exemptions through petitions to Parliament ). Christadelphians are therefore not allowed to work in professions (e.g. police ) that may require the use of force. They interpret the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 as the fulfillment of God's promises. According to their teaching, this state will also play an important role at Jesus' return.

The Christadelphians reject the theory of evolution as incompatible with God's word in the Bible. Many of them are young earth creationists , but there are also old earth creationists among them. They leave the decision to the decision of conscience made on the basis of personal study of the Word of God.

The institution of marriage is very important to them because it is the image of Christ's connection with his community. Divorces are to be avoided at all costs. The only reason for divorce permitted according to Mt 5.32  EU is adultery , but if possible one should also give priority to forgiveness here (according to Mt 6.12 ff.  EU ). If possible, marriages should be concluded between brothers and sisters in faith. In their opinion, the husband has the position of the (spiritual) head of the family; they justify this with Eph 5,22-25  EU .

The use of any symbols of faith (e.g. cross ) and images of Jesus or representations of God are also rejected , since Christadelphians consider all of this to be rooted in paganism and not in accordance with the Bible. Christadelphians also use secular symbols and therefore refuse to salute the flag, for example .

Otherwise, according to their understanding of the Bible, Christadelphians strictly adhere to the laws of the state in which they live, as long as they do not contravene divine commandments in their eyes.

Because of their self-image, Christadelphians have no interest in ecumenical endeavors.

As a rule, three meetings are held each week , two on Sundays and one on another day of the week. Usually the Memorial Meal takes place on Sunday (bread and wine as symbols ), in which only baptized Christadelphians are allowed to actively participate, but non-parishioners can also attend the lectures. In addition, prayers are said, songs are sung, and notices relating to the community are made. A “Sunday school” for children and young people is also common. The third meeting on any other day of the week is largely reserved for Bible study . Spiritual tasks such as giving lectures in the congregation or taking responsibility for the Memorial are reserved for men; women, on the other hand, can be active in the Sunday school of the congregation or take an active role in meetings of female congregation members that serve to strengthen faith and togetherness play. In addition, they take on many supportive and logistical tasks relating to the smooth flow of community life, such as organizing catering at special events or maintaining the community hall.

In the event of a violation of an elementary principle of belief, members are informed by the responsible persons of the respective assembly; In the event of a lack of repentance and / or continued misconduct, their community membership is withdrawn . The consequences of such a measure are, on the one hand, the prohibition to take on activities in the assembly in any way or to actively participate in the memorial meal in the symbols of bread and wine, and on the other hand, a more or less clear distancing on the part of the other assembly members from the excluded. Christadelphians, however, are not officially obliged to avoid all social contact with persons who have been disfellowshipped . They are still allowed to attend the meetings. Once repented, nothing stands in the way of a resumption.

The unamended direction assumes that only those who died “in Christ” (that is, baptized) will be resurrected and, provided they have remained faithful to the commandments of God, will have eternal life. The rest remain unconscious in the state of death. The amended direction takes the view that all who are responsible will be raised from the dead at the Last Judgment . “Responsible” are those who have heard the message of the gospel. In doing so, the righteous would be judged on the basis of their works and given eternal life. The wicked, in their view, will be wiped out and cease to exist. Those who are not responsible for never hearing the gospel would not be resurrected.

The community expects its members to talk about their faith, at least in their personal environment, and to bear witness to it, in order to draw the attention of other people to themselves and, if necessary, to “convert” them and induce them to be baptized. Public lectures are also held and stands are set up in public places where their (free) writings are offered. Former Christadelphians and dropouts, on the other hand, have set up various networks to answer questions (from their point of view) and to keep in touch with other people who have dropped out.

Christadelphians during National Socialism

With the transfer of power to the National Socialists , the German Christadelphians, who at that time only had around 60 members, were targeted by the local Gestapo because of their practice of conscientious objection and their view that God still adhered to his Old Testament covenant with the Jews . The brothers Rudolf Merz (1914-2004; 1937 imprisonment and subsequent admission to psychiatry ), August Merz (born in 1913; imprisonment, then admission to Sachsenhausen concentration camp , liberated in 1945 ) did not obey their summoning orders and consistently refused to do military service ) and Albert Merz (born in 1911; arrested in 1940, sentenced to death in February 1941, executed on April 4, 1941 in Brandenburg prison for “ decomposing military strength ”), victims of the Nazi justice system . Other members of conscription age were employed in "war-important companies" (in baker's mills and in the fire brigade ) and therefore "indispensable". In addition, there were repeated house searches , interrogations and a ban on assemblies (bypassed by the community members).

Web links

Commons : Christadelphians  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Evangelical Information Center (ed.): Information sheet. 48th year, No. 3 and 4, Rüti ZH 2011, p. 23.
  2. Evangelical Information Center (ed.): Information sheet. 48th year, No. 3 and 4, Rüti ZH 2011, p. 23.
  3. (accessed on: March 23, 2012).
  4. (accessed on: July 12, 2012).
  5. Evangelical Information Center (ed.): Information sheet. 48th year, No. 3 and 4, Rüti ZH 2011, p. 22.
  6. Evangelical Information Center (ed.): Information sheet. 48th year, No. 3 and 4, Rüti ZH 2011, p. 23.
  7. Evangelical Information Center (ed.): Information sheet. 48th year, No. 3 and 4, Rüti ZH 2011, p. 21.
  8. Evangelical Information Center (ed.): Information sheet. 48th year, No. 3 and 4, Rüti ZH 2011, p. 23.
  9. ^ The General Structure of Christadelphian Meetings
  10. (accessed on: July 12, 2012).