Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #1 Dr. John Thomas

Concerning John Thomas, Frank G. Jannaway and William H. Boulton

From the 15th of January we shall be presenting a series hoping to give some answers being posed by some of our readers concerning prophecies.

First of all we want to make clear that several Bible Students in the past gave some interpretations or added notes to the interpretation of Bible verses, but never had the intention to have their sayings to be interpreted as prophecies. As such brother John Thomas and Charles Taze Russell never claimed to be prophets.

Dr. John Thomas the British medic who went to the New Word and started over there to preach the gospel, first as a member of the Campbellites.

First Meeting house of the Disciples in Brush Run, Pennsylvania, built in 1811 by the Christian Association of Washington

During the Second Great Awakening (1790–1840) of the early 19th century several preachers found it necessary to seriously research the Scriptures and not just to go to the standard known doctrines of the previous centuries. Dr. Thomas first being part of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement (or American Restoration Movement, under the leadership of Thomas and Alexander Campbell), was convinced that we had to go back to the beginnings of Christianity. For him, Christianity should be restored along the lines of what is known about the apostolic early church, which restorationists saw as the search for a purer and more ancient form of the religion. Though Thomas did not want to be seen as one following someone else than Jesus and not as such following Thomas and Alexander Campbell, the same as he did not want his followers to call themselves Thomasites, or taking him as a prophetic leader.

Pioneers in the great religious reformation of the nineteenth century, by J.C. Buttre; designed by J.D.C. McFarland. (between 1880 and 1890)
Clockwise, from top: Thomas Campbell, Barton W. Stone, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott

It was the American clergyman, writer, and founder of the Disciples of Christ and Bethany College, Alexander Campbell who had encouraged John Thomas to become an evangelist. It was also a time and place where many were looking for a connection with the first followers of Christ. This way several people moved or had some connection with different groups like the Hussites, Anabaptists, Baptists, Landmarkists, Puritans, Waldensians and seventh-day Sabbatarians.
In those groups there were also firm believers that Jesus was the son of God, and not a god son, like was the norm in the main churches. Those believing in Jesus the son of God wanted to relive in a studied fashion the life of the New Testament, going in the footsteps of the first followers of Christ.
By his intense study of the Scriptures, John Thomas also came to see the important role Jesus played in the history of mankind. His acceptance of Jesus as the son of God and putting aside the thought of the Trinity, clashed with the main churches and brought Thomas in a more difficult position as a preacher. Though he did not stop and continued to spread the idea of the redeemer Christ, who really gave his life for the sins of many. (God cannot die and as such in case Jesus would be God then He would have faked His death and fooled mankind.)

Thomas Campbell argued for a complete restoration of apostolic Christianity and believed that creeds served to divide Christians. It was the task of a believer to investigate his own faith and that people should be able to discuss their reading of the Bible and should be able to find agreement by standing on the Bible itself (from which they believe all creeds are but human expansions or constrictions). He believed that the Bible was clear enough that anyone could understand it and, thus, creeds were unnecessary. In the same way, Dr. John Thomas wanted that people came to see that they themselves could read and interpret the Bible, believing it is God Who gives insight. But Thomas was aware people had to have guts to dare to step away from the traditional Church doctrines. He also believed that God had given His Word so that mankind could find solutions and find out what happened in the past but also what was going to happen in the future. He was convinced enough signs were given in Scriptures so that we could form an idea of the past as well of things going to happen.

John Thomas his studies during the 1830ies and 1840ies generated the foundation for many of the beliefs he came to espouse as a Christadelphian and he began to believe that the basis of knowledge before baptism was greater than the Restoration Movement believed and also that many of the widely held orthodox “Christian beliefs” were blatantly wrong. Whilst his freedom to believe his unique beliefs was accepted, many objected to the preaching of these beliefs as necessary for salvation. This difference led to a series of debates particularly between Thomas and Alexander Campbell. Because Thomas eventually rebaptised himself and rejected his former beliefs and associations, he was formally disfellowshipped in 1837. Some people, nonetheless, associated with him and accepted his views.  going form one place to an other at several places little groups of Bible Students were formed, who continued in the way Dr. Thomas had encouraged them, by researching themselves the Scriptures, and by not just accepting all the common doctrines in which they had believed previously.

Thomas covered 30 doctrinal subjects which he presented in a series of lectures in New York in 1846. Those lectures became the base for his book Elpis Israel (The Hope of Israel)

Those who shared similar beliefs as the doctor became known first as the Royal Association of Believers and later as Thomasites and as Christadelphians (from 1864 onwards).

On 5 May 1868, Thomas returned to England. There he travelled extensively giving lecturers about the Gospel message.
It was there in London that the brothers William John (1847–1882), Arthur Thomas (1854–1938) and Frank George Jannaway (London 1859–1935) came interested in the doctor’s thoughts.

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Preceding

Looking at notes of Samuel Ward and previous Bible translation efforts in English

Next:

Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #2 Frank George Jannaway

Answers Concerning Prophecies and things future

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Additional reading

  1. The Bible: is it contradictory?
  2. Counterfeit Gospels
  3. God’s Self-Revelation
  4. First century patterns
  5. Different wineskins
  6. A vital question for believers
  7. Following a Person or a Belief
  8. Hardships for choosing to follow the real Christ
  9. Christianity what it is all about
  10. Jewish and Christian traditions of elders
  11. Demanding signs or denying yourself
  12. False teachers and false prophets still around
  13. Catholicism, Anabaptism and Crisis of Christianity
  14. Different approach in organisation of services #2
  15. Looking at older articles series over Russell on the previous Bible-scholar Association
  16. Old and newer King James Versions and other translations #4 Steps to the women’s bibles
  17. Concluding thought by the article series “Key to the Bible”
  18. Divine Philosophy
  19. Why not quoting more from well-known theologians
  20. About the Bible Students
  21. Brethren of Christ
  22. Christadelphian People – who or what
  23. Who are the Christadelphians
  24. Who are the Christadelphians or Brothers in Christ
  25. History of the Christadelphians
  26. John Thomas – Namesake and inspirer
  27. Thomasites
  28. Thomasites, Russelites – Christadelphians and Biblestudents
  29. Wanting to become a Christadelphian
  30. How to become a Christadelphian

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Related

  1. Unchilled by the Cold
  2. Question of the Day: “What can I learn from Joseph Campbell?”
  3. Evidence, Reason and Faith – Kel Hammond
  4. Gibbon for Bible Students – Geoff Henstock
  5. The Moon, Gods design – Stephen Hughes
  6. David a witness to the peoples – James Andrews
  7. God Christ Man Woman – Colin Byrnes
  8. To All Those With Anxiety
  9. Jesus Hates Religion. Spirituality vs. Religon
  10. Religion–A Personal Perspective
  11. The Joy of a Multi-Denominational Church Experience
  12. How Abortion will divide the church

3 thoughts on “Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #1 Dr. John Thomas

  1. Pingback: Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #1 Dr. John Thomas | Talmidimblogging

  2. Pingback: Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #2 Frank George Jannaway | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  3. Pingback: Concerning some writers of our series on prophecy #3 William Henry Boulton | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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