We recently started a new apologetics series to look at the Christadelphian cult. It began during the mid-19th century by English physician John Thomas. Dr. Thomas emigrated to the United States and joined the Disciples of Christ (started by Alexander Campbell). Thomas eventually began preaching independently and founded Christadelphia. One of his disciples, Robert Roberts, helped organize the new religion in the UK and U.S. Roberts believed the truth of Scripture had been lost for eighteen-hundred years until Thomas rediscovered them. That was a similar claim of other cult groups of the 19th century (e.g. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Britannica.com lists Christadelphians as a Protestant religious group, but I disagree. Christadelphia is most certainly a cult that teaches false doctrine. We are doing what the Scripture requires of Christians when they hear false teaching —
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. Colossians 2:8-10
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts 20:28-31
As I mentioned in the first part of this series much of Christadelphian theology is false teaching, but I’m focusing on four specific areas of their teaching for this current study:
- Jesus is not God
- Jesus didn’t exist before being conceived in Mary’s womb
- Jesus’ death was not a replacement sacrifice for us
- People have to work for their salvation
We addressed the false teaching of Jesus not being God in the first part of our series. We turn now to the Christadelphian teaching that Jesus did not exist before being conceived in Mary’s womb.
Christadelphian False Teaching About Jesus
Let’s begin by demonstrating that this is what Christadelphians teach. Our desire is not to put words in the mouths of cultists, but to carefully hear the words coming from their own mouths. All we have to do is compare their words to the clear teachings of Scripture and we see the error clearly. I’m linking to the full Christadelphian articles below so you can see that I am not taking their beliefs out of context.
To present that Jesus was born more than a man, or that he existed as a person before Eve, Abraham and David, is to reject the clear presentation of God’s purpose to these people of faith. The Christadelphian Faith
… he began to exist on the day he was “begotten.” Like all sons, he is preceded by his Father … How Jesus came to exist is explained in simple terms in the Gospel of Luke … The narrative of his birth tells us that he came into existence because the “Holy Spirit (the power of the Most High) came upon Mary” his mother … It is quite illogical to assume the pre-existence of “God the Son” first, and then to interpret John’s “Word” in that sense. The Christadelphian Journal
Jesus Christ – was born of the virgin Mary, who was an ordinary woman of human nature. Jesus did not pre-exist nor was he the second person of the trinity. He was the Son of God, conceived by the power of God but inheriting a human nature from his mother. Christadelphian Beliefs
The idea of a pre-existent “God the Son” in heaven changes the vital experience of Jesus as the independent, responsible Son of man who was also Son of God, and so takes away the true significance of his life and his death as the atonement for sin, achieved once for all. Who Are The Christadelphians?
I disagree completely with the position of the Christadelphians that Jesus did not exist before His conception. Not only did Jesus exist before His birth to Mary, I believe Jesus existed from eternity. Why do I believe that?
Jesus is Eternal
Jesus claimed to have existed with the Father from before creation.
And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. John 17:5
The Christadelphians are calling Jesus a liar by saying He didn’t exist before being conceived in Mary’s womb. Jesus said He had glory with the Father “before the world was.” That means Jesus existed before the creation of the heavens and the earth.
Jesus also claimed that He and His Father “are one,” and that He would give eternal life to His followers. Oneness with God would imply that Jesus is Eternal. Being able to give His followers eternal life would also support that belief.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.’ ‘Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?’ The Jews answered Him, saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.’ John 10:27-33
Notice that the Jews understood immediately Jesus was claiming to be God. The Jews knew that no human being who had existed only since conception in his mother’s womb could be God because God exists from everlasting to everlasting (1 Chronicles 16:36; Psalm 41:13; Psalm 90:2). The Jews understood that Old Testament teaching well and knew Jesus was claiming to be the Eternal God. They took up stones to kill Him “for blasphemy.”
The Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus Christ is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, which would certainly support that He existed before His conception in Mary’s womb.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Colossians 1:15-17
… and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:9
The Apostle John also wrote that Jesus is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. John 1:1-3
The writer of Hebrews also claimed that Jesus created the worlds.
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Hebrews 1:1-2
Taking God at His Word, we can safely say that Jesus Christ existed before His conception in Mary’s womb. He would have to have been in existence before the creation of the heavens and the earth in order to be the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
As we know from the Old Testament writings, God created the heavens and the earth. That’s more evidence for Jesus being the Eternal God – Self-existent from Eternity. If God created the heavens and the earth and Jesus Christ created the heavens and the earth, Jesus is the Eternal God and existed before conception in Mary’s womb.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:25-28
Christ Jesus In The Old Testament
We also see the Pre-Incarnate Christ in many places in the Old Testament. This means He existed before His incarnation (John 1:14). Here are OT verses that point to Christ Jesus. The Pre-Incarnate Christ is sometimes referred to by the title of the Angel of the Lord, the Angel of God, and Commander of the Lord’s Army.
- Genesis 1:26 (“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”)
- Genesis 16:7-14 (“Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur … Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.’ … Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”)
- Genesis 18 (“Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him … And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? … So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.”)
- Genesis 22:11-18 (“But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ … And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me … And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’ Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”)
- Genesis 31:11-13 (“Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, ‘Jacob.’ And I said, ‘Here I am.’ … I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your family.’”)
- Exodus 3:2-6 (“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed … So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.”)
- Exodus 14:19-23 (“And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them … Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.”)
- Exodus 23:20-23 (“Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.”)
- Numbers 22 (The Angel of the Lord, Balaam, and the donkey)
- Joshua 5:13-15 (“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’ So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant? Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.”)
- Judges 6:11-25 (“Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord. So Gideon said, ‘Alas, O Lord God! For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.’ So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.”)
- Judge 13:2-24 (“When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, ‘We shall surely die, because we have seen God!”)
- Zechariah 3:1-5 (“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’ Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.”)
- Psalm 45:6-7 (“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”)
- Isaiah 9:1-7 (“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God.”)
- Micah 5:2-5 (“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”)
Notice that Micah prophesied that the coming Ruler in Israel (Messiah/Christ) would come out of Bethlehem and that His goings forth “are from of old, From everlasting.” The Old Testament prophets were clear in their understanding concerning the pre-existence of Christ. Christadelphian teaching about Jesus Christ is false teaching.
We will continue to sound the alarm about the Christadelphian cult in the next part of our new series. Specifically, was the death of Jesus a replacement sacrifice for us? Christadelphians say He isn’t. I believe He is. Both cannot be true, so we’ll find the truth together in the next part.
If you have family or friends who are being influenced by Christadelphians, please invite them to read through this series. They can subscribe to the Faith & Self Defense blog via email and receive notifications for each new post.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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