The Agora
Who Are the Christadelphians?

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Serious Bible Study

Christadelphians continue with their daily devotions as they have for generations. In our homes, apart from our morning and evening prayers, the Bible is very much in evidence. There are likely to be at least as many copies of this book in the home as there are members of the family who can read; and each copy is probably well used.

It is our widespread custom to read the Bible every day, using a reading plan which enables us to systematically read the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice, each year. It is the same all over the world, wherever Christadelphians are found. Many, of course, read more widely than this, and study specially for the duties they have as teachers and preachers, but the daily reading discipline is the minimum with which a "good Christadelphian" is content. [See Lessons, Bible Companion (with Prov), and Bible reading, daily.]

Apart from this reading, we may attend one or more evening Bible classes each week. Every Sunday, we hold a service which a visitor might find similar to the "Communion" of other bodies, but which Christadelphians refer to as the "Memorial Service" or "Breaking of Bread". Here, all our members partake of bread and wine, and here, too, the Bible is publicly read, followed by a talk or "exhortation" based on the Bible. Attendance at this service is the focus of our religious life. [See Lessons, Memorial meeting, importance, and Memorial meeting, significance.]

In short, we are people of the Bible. Of course, we are not alone as such: there are other people and religious bodies who read the Bible, and give it prominence. In fact, there is probably no sect which does not give some attention to the Book, although we believe there are few who read the whole Book as consistently and as thoroughly as Christadelphians. Whenever reading the Bible helps anyone to develop faith and a closer relationship with God, we can only give God thanks. But Christadelphians maintain that, at least as important as reading the Bible, is understanding its message and having a healthy respect for its authority and power in our lives.

So the way we look at the Bible is important, also. It is, for Christadelphians, the "Word of God", containing all that is necessary for salvation: that is, its message is given by God, with His authority behind it, and it is not subject to human criticism (see Lesson, Bible inspired). Here, regrettably, we begin to part company with other churches. To varying degrees, most churches tolerate a view of the Bible as largely a human production, not wholly reliable on matters of fact, nor wholly reflecting the mind of God on matters of doctrine or morals. While it is not for us to question that these other views are honestly held, Christadelphians are determined to hold ourselves apart from them. The Book, to us, is "given by inspiration of God" (2Ti 3:16), and its authors "spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pe 1:21). We do not doubt its infallibility.

Nor can we agree with the opinion that there are authorities in addition to the Bible, to which we must look. Christadelphians oppose the Roman Catholic contention that the Pope and his Council, in specified circumstances, are infallible and therefore must be trusted and accepted in matters of doctrine or Bible interpretation. We refuse to set the Bible side by side with the Book of Mormon, as the Mormons do, or with Mrs. Eddy's "Science and Health", as the Christian Scientists do, or with the "inner light" of the heart, as the Quakers do, or with the presumed revelations of departed spirits, as do those Spiritualists who also claim to be Christian. Christadelphians publish and circulate their own writings to defend the Bible and to explain its teaching, of course; but our constant advice is that the reader should test these writings by the Bible. Christadelphians do not claim that the Bible can only be understood in conjunction with our writings, as some other exclusive churches do.

If this consideration by itself isolates us from the biggest of all denominations, as well as a variety of smaller ones, it is an unfortunate but unavoidable price of our belief. And that is only part of the price: there are other points of the Christadelphian faith which set us apart even from the many earnest evangelicals who look upon the Bible in much the same way as we.

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