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CHRISTADELPHIANS, also known as Brethren of Christ and as Thomasites, religious sect founded in the U.S. in 1848 by a British-born physician, John Thomas (1805–71). Originally a member of the Disciples of Christ, Thomas organised his followers into loose societies and led them in preaching the need to return to primitive, biblically based Christianity. Until the American Civil War, these societies had no distinctive name. The name Christadelphians was selected when the group policy of conscientious objection to war service forced them to adopt a name.

Among the principles of the Christadelphians is the belief that the Old and New Testaments are divinely inspired. God will restore to immortality all who love him in this life, and others will cease to exist at death; there is no hell. Christ, the son of God, has the threefold character of prophet, priest, and king. The first office he fulfilled by his life and death on earth, and now as priest he mediates before the deity. As king he will return to earth and reign over all the world from Jerusalem. Christadelphians meet in local groups, called ecclesias, in which no distinction is made between clergy and laity. Ruling brethren serve without compensation. The sect has about 15,800 members in the U.S. and 20,200 members in Canada.

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Christadelphians, a millenarian Christian sect which believes that the Christian message principally concerns the Second Coming of Christ to Jerusalem, to establish a theocracy (government by God), and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. The Christadelphian Church was founded by John Thomas in 1848 in the USA, where it is strongest. It probably has about 60,000 full members in all.

Christadelphian /krstdelfn/ a member of a Christian sect founded in America in 1848 by John Thomas, rejecting the beliefs and development associated with the term 'Christian', calling themselves 'Christadelphians' (= brothers of Christ) and claiming to return to the beliefs and practices of the earliest disciples. The core of their faith is that Christ will return in power to set up a worldwide theocracy beginning at Jerusalem, and that belief in this is necessary for salvation.

Excerpted from The Oxford Interactive Encyclopedia. Developed by The Learning Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc. All rights reserved.