Sunday, May 21, 2006

Early influences on Christadelphianism (2)

I commenced this series of messages over two months ago, intending to write about the people and movements which influenced John Thomas and the early Believers in the formulation of Christadelphian doctrine.

I put this 'on hold' for a couple of months for two reasons:
  1. An opportunity arose for me to visit the Atlanta Bible College and the Church of God General Conference headquarters, and spend some time in their archives. These archives contain some rare books and periodicals from the nineteenth century and I was privileged to look at some of the early literature of the movement which gave birth to Christadelphianism.
  2. I had heard about a book by Peter Hemingray called "John Thomas: His Friends and His Faith" and after ordering a copy I waited until it arrived to see if there was any information which would add further light to my own research, or which might even prove some of my conclusions to be wrong.

Peter Hemingray's book arrived, coincidentally, soon after I returned home from visiting the archives of the Atlanta Bible College. It is an excellent, well-researched, interesting work and adds some valuable information not found in the earlier biographies of John Thomas. It confirms that I've been on the right track about the development of John Thomas's views and the reasons for his split from some of his 'friends'.

In the next few posts I plan to briefly summarise some of the main influences on the formation of John Thomas's views. It will show that John Thomas was part of a broader movement of believers who had been trying to restore first century Christianity and, in the process, 'discovered' the truth about the Trinity, the mortality of the soul, and the coming kingdom of God. John Thomas did not start this movement. He was not the 'discoverer' of any of these beliefs. He was part of a movement. For some reason he choose to break from the movement and the people whose ideas he had learned and start his own denomination. I also hope to explore some of the reasons why he did this and why 'Christadelphianism' came into being as a seperate denomination.

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