Monday, June 30, 2008

J.N. Darby on the need for tolerance on the subject of baptism

John Nelson Darby wrote:

The ‘Record’ speaks of its objection to the ‘Brethren’s’ dogma on baptism. I do know what is its object in this; but I must be allowed to say, the ‘Brethren’ have no dogma on baptism. Had they, they would have given up their first principles, and I for one could not be among them: first, because they would be at once sectarian, united on a particular opinion; and, secondly, that I have no such dogma. I know well that many have Baptist views on this subject; but many, very many, have not: many are decidedly opposed to it; I for one.

J.N. Darby, A Letter on the Righteousness of God, in Collected Writings, vol.7, p.343


Peebs.Net said...


JND was an amazing scholar, a good Christian man and a powerful force in Plymouth Brethren history. He was also stubborn, a victim of his own imagination and a harsh unyeilding critic. Perhaps he did not expect his tract concerning Bethesda to result in the huge ripping fault-line that self-segregated him and his followers from all other Christians in 1848, but if it ever bothered him, later he would only ever allude obliquely to his sense of loss.

The moment Darby stated a position, his sheep followed. The 'Position' became the focus of the Assembly - Darby going so far as to set up 'a new table' whenever his rules were ignored.

Darby fathered a cult - a stunning statement, but nevertheless true. The prime minister of Australia stated publicly in 2007 - "The Exclusive Brethren are an extremist sect and cult". If Darby had not formed the closed table, taught the origins of the 'recovery of the truth' and gradually pulled in the walls of Separation - he would be remembered today as the brilliant academic and theologian he undoubtedly was.

Others building on his errors have formed one of the most vicious 'christian cults' in society today. It kills and maims those who stand against it. JND would reject such behavior should he be with us today, but perhaps too a tear or two might trickle down that once handsome Irish cheek when he realizes where some of his decisions led.

JND was human. He made mistakes. Due to his position at the helm of one of the most dramatic movements in the 19th century, he had a responsibility. He failed to lead his people to the promised land - they still circle in the wilderness - in multiple camps. Although his love for the Lord is beyond question, he placed his intelligence between the power of God to choose His own and JND's design for a new movement. In doing so, the Lords Table became Darby's Table and that was the moment the rot set in.

You may well decide to moderate this out - in fact I expect you to! It will not however change the facts that exist and the damage that has been done. In our role at Peebs.Net, we see the damage every day.

That is why we felt led to offer a Spiritual Health Warning - Be careful when following Darby's words - they can damage your church and your health.

Peebs.Net Team

Celestial Fundie said...

Not everybody who advocates separatism falls into extreme views.

Tyhe Raven/ Taylor cultish Exclusives are not the only followers of JND tpday. The Lowe/ Kelly/ Glanton Exclusives have not followed the same direction as the Taylorites.