"Gathering to His Name"
The Story of Open Brethren in Britain and Ireland

written by Tim Grass
Published in 2006 by Paternoster

A brief review of this book appears in the December 2006 issue of the NSW Assemblies Outreach magazine.

The following List of Contents is reproduced from the book in order to help readers appreciate the breadth and depth of the material covered in this 589 page 'treasure'.

Contents

List of Illustrations..................................................................................... xii

List of Tables............................................................................................... xiv

Forward by David Bebbington................................................................... xv

Acknowledgements................................................................................... xvii

Abbreviations............................................................................................ xix

Chapter 1

Introduction................................................................................................. 1

Part 1: 1825–1849:  A United Testimony

 Chapter 2

The Earliest Days......................................................................................... 9

2.1  Background............................................................................................... 9

2.2  Beginnings in Ireland............................................................................... 12

2.3  Radical Evangelicals at Oxford.................................................................. 29

2.4  ‘The Brethren from Plymouth’:  Beginnings in the South-West...................... 32

2.5  The Partnership of Craik and Müller at Bristol............................................. 43

 

Chapter 3

The Movement Spreads............................................................................. 49

3.1  Wiltshire and Bath................................................................................... 50

3.2  Hereford.................................................................................................. 51

3.3  London................................................................................................... 53

3.4  East Anglia............................................................................................. 54

3.5  The Midlands.......................................................................................... 56

3.6  Northern England.................................................................................... 57

3.7  Scotland................................................................................................. 60

Chapter 4

The Parting of the Brethren....................................................................... 63

4.1  Light or Life?............................................................................................ 63

4.2  Darby and Switzerland.............................................................................. 67

4.3  Division at Plymouth................................................................................ 68

4.4  Controversy over the Sufferings of Christ...................................................... 77

4.5  The ‘Bethesda Question’............................................................................ 79

Chapter 5

Distinctive Principles of the Early Brethren............................................ 84

5.1  Separation from the World........................................................................ 85

  5.1.1  The Social Make-up and Social Teaching of Early Brethren..................... 86

  5.1.2  Brethren and the Civil Order............................................................... 88

5.2  The Doctrine of the Church...................................................................... 89

  5.2.1  The Spirit and the Church.................................................................... 90

  5.2.2  The Church as a Heavenly Entity......................................................... 92

  5.2.3  Unity and Separation......................................................................... 92

  5.2.4  The Ruin of the Church........................................................................ 95

5.3  Church Order......................................................................................... 96

  5.3.1  The Emergence of Distinctive Patterns of Worship................................ 98

  5.3.2  Leadership and Growth...................................................................... 99

5.4  The Study of Biblical Prophecy................................................................ 101

  5.4.1  The Adoption of Dispensationalism................................................... 104

  5.4.2  The ‘Secret Rapture’......................................................................... 106

5.5  The Centrality of Mission?..................................................................... 108

  5.5.1  The Brethren – A Missionary Movement?........................................... 108

  5.5.2  Motives for Mission......................................................................... 109

  5.5.3  Thinking Radically About Mission.................................................... 110

Part 2: 1850–1914:  A Maturing Movement

Chapter 6

Evangelism and Expansion.................................................................. 115

6.1  The Extent of Growth........................................................................... 115

  6.1.1  The Overall Picture......................................................................... 115

  6.1.2  Growth Amid Opposition in Scotland and Ireland............................ 120

  6.1.3  Success in England and Wales........................................................ 128

6.2  Evangelistic Strategies........................................................................ 131

  6.2.1  Planting New Assemblies............................................................... 131

  6.2.2  Evangelistic Methods.................................................................... 134

6.3  Evangelistic Agencies........................................................................ 140

  6.3.1  Full-time Evangelists.................................................................... 140

  6.3.2  Evangelistic Organisations........................................................... 144

 

Chapter 7

The Development of the Open Brethren Identity.............................. 147

7.1  Means to the Development of a ‘Brethren’ Identity................................ 148

  7.1.1  Publishers.................................................................................... 148

  7.1.2  Periodicals................................................................................... 151

  7.1.3  Hymnody.................................................................................... 155

  7.1.4  Conferences................................................................................. 156

  7.1.5  Letters and Lists.......................................................................... 160

7.2  Doctrinal Distinctives....................................................................... 161

  7.2.1  The Person and Work of Christ..................................................... 163

  7.2.2  ‘Justification in the Risen Christ’.................................................. 164

  7.2.3  Sanctification............................................................................. 165

  7.2.4  The Law of God........................................................................... 167

  7.2.5  The Last Things.......................................................................... 167

  7.2.6  Brethren and Scripture................................................................ 171

7.3  The Emergence of Settled Patterns of Assembly Life and Worship......... 174

  7.3.1  Joining the Assembly.................................................................. 174

  7.3.2  A Typical Sunday....................................................................... 175

  7.3.3  Other Assembly Activities........................................................... 177

  7.3.4  Music........................................................................................ 177

  7.3.5  Leadership and Office................................................................. 178

  7.3.6  The Changing Role Played by Women........................................... 181

  7.3.7  Property................................................................................... 184

7.4  Reception, Fellowship, and the ‘Needed Truth’ Division.................... 186

Chapter 8

Open and Exclusive.......................................................................... 195

8.1  Looking Across the Fence................................................................. 195

  8.1.1  Exclusive Critics of Open Brethrenism.......................................... 195

  8.1.2  Open Critics of Exclusivism......................................................... 197

8.2  Developments within Exclusivism...................................................... 199

  8.2.1  Further Controversy over Christ’s Sufferings................................ 200

  8.2.2  ‘The Ramsgate Sorrow’: Darby and Kelly part Company................ 201

  8.2.3  Controversies over Christian Experience: Grant, Stuart, and Raven.. 204

  8.2.4  Glanton: Local and Central Responsibility................................... 205

8.3  The Growth of Concern for Reunion.................................................. 206

  8.3.1  The Plain Field Conference of 1892............................................... 206

  8.3.2  The Reunion Meetings of 1906-7.................................................. 207

8.4  Exclusive Accessions to Open Brethren............................................... 210

 

Chapter 9

Brethren and their Critics............................................................... 213

9.1  The Critics...................................................................................... 213

9.2  The Issues Raised........................................................................... 217

  9.2.1  Theological Issues...................................................................... 217

  9.2.2  The Church, its Ministry and Order............................................ 219

  9.2.3  Proselytism.............................................................................. 220

  9.2.4  Schism...................................................................................... 221

  9.2.5  Lack of Outreach....................................................................... 223

  9.2.6  Christian Experience................................................................. 224

9.3  The Impact of Criticism.................................................................. 226

 

Chapter 10

Brethren and the Wider Religious World.................................... 229

10.1  Responses to Evangelicalism....................................................... 229

  10.1.1  Maintaining Separation......................................................... 229

  10.1.2  Brethren and 'Holiness' Teaching............................................. 234

  10.1.3  Brethren, Revival, and Revivalism.......................................... 236

  10.1.4  The Appearance of Pentecostalism.......................................... 239

10.2  Responses to other Theological Developments.............................. 241

 

Chapter 11

Brethren and Society................................................................... 244

11.1  Social Concern.......................................................................... 244

11.2  Education................................................................................. 247

11.3  Involvement in Society............................................................... 249

  11.3.1  Separation........................................................................... 249

  11.3.2  Brethren in Business............................................................ 252

  11.3.3  Pacificism and War............................................................. 254

11.4  Science................................................................................... 254

11.5  Culture and Leisure.................................................................. 258

 

Chapter 12

The Brethren Movement as a Missionary Agency...................... 262

12.1  Maintaining Interest and Channelling Support............................ 262

  12.1.1  The Emergence of Facilitating Bodies..................................... 262

  12.1.2  Missionary Conference and House-parties.............................. 266

  12.1.3  The Missionary Study Classes............................................... 267

12.2  The Impact of Brethren Missiological Thinking.......................... 270

 

Part 3: 1914–1945: Holding the Torch for Evangelicalism

 

Chapter 13

Growth and Decline..................................................................... 277

13.1  The Impact of Post-War Social Change....................................... 277

13.2  Effective Evangelism................................................................. 278

13.3  ‘Two by Two’: Brethren Evangelists............................................ 285

13.4  Where Did the Movement Grow?................................................ 287

  13.4.1  Growth.............................................................................. 288

  13.4.2  Decline............................................................................... 290

 

Chapter 14

‘Whither Are We Drifting?’: Changes in the Brethren Ethos.... 293

14.1  Open and Exclusive.................................................................. 293

14.2  The Influence of Trends in Evangelicalism.................................. 295

14.3  Involvement in Interdenominational Agencies............................ 301

14.4  Cohesion, Separation, and the Beginnings of an Identity Crisis..... 303

  14.4.1  Challenges to the Tradition................................................... 303

  14.4.2  Centralising Tendencies....................................................... 307

  14.4.3  Conferences and Holidays.................................................... 309

  14.4.4  Magazines........................................................................... 311

 

Chapter 15

Brethren and the World............................................................. 315

15.1  Social and Economic Thinking Among Brethren......................... 315

15.2  Some Brethren Businessmen..................................................... 318

15.3  Practical Action....................................................................... 319

15.4  Political Involvement............................................................... 320

15.5  Cultural Engagement............................................................... 321

 

Chapter 16

Brethren in Two World Wars................................................... 324

16.1  Brethren in World War I.......................................................... 324

  16.1.1  Periodical Coverage........................................................... 324

  16.1.2  Debates over Pacifism........................................................ 327

  16.1.3  The Impact on Assemblies.................................................. 330

16.2  Brethren in World War II........................................................ 332

  16.2.1  Preparation for War.......................................................... 333

  16.2.2  After War Broke Out.......................................................... 334

  16.2.3  The Impact on Assemblies.................................................. 335

  16.2.4  Planning and Questioning................................................. 340

Chapter 17

Overseas Mission and Home Identity...................................... 342

17.1  The Growth of the Work.......................................................... 342

17.2  Maintaining Interest.............................................................. 343

17.3  Missionary Study Classes........................................................ 344

17.4  The Fear of Centralisation....................................................... 345

17.5  Involvement with Other Missions............................................ 349

 

Part 4: 1945  Onwards:  Change — and Decay?

Chapter 18

Responding to Social Change.................................................... 353

18.1  The Fast-Changing Social Context............................................ 353

18.2  The Growth of Social Concern and Involvement
                     among Open Brethren..................................................... 353

18.3  The Burning Issues................................................................. 356

  18.3.1  Politics and Trades Unions................................................. 356

  18.3.2  Care of the Needy............................................................... 359

  18.3.3  Fiction and Football.......................................................... 361

 

Chapter 19

Open Brethren and the Religious World................................. 364

19.1  Open Brethren Involvement in
                                        Interdenominational Evangelicalism................. 364

  19.1.1  The Impact of Billy Graham................................................ 364

  19.1.2  Para-Church Agencies....................................................... 367

  19.1.3  Biblical Scholarship.......................................................... 370

19.2  The Impact of Wider Evangelicalism on Open Brethren............. 376

  19.2.1  The Reformed Resurgence of the 1950s and 1960s................ 376

  19.2.2  Longing for Revival.......................................................... 381

  19.2.3  The Charismatic and Restoration Movements.................... 385

  19.2.4  Changing Thinking on Ecumenism.................................... 394

 

Chapter 20

Re-inventing Open Brethren Identity...................................... 399

20.1  Open Brethren Agencies......................................................... 399

  20.1.1  Publishers and Periodicals................................................. 399

  20.1.2  Conferences..................................................................... 406

20.2  The Various Strands of Contemporary Open Brethren............... 414

  20.2.1  Increasing Polarisation.................................................... 414

  20.2.2  Conservatives................................................................. 418

  20.2.3  Progressives................................................................... 420

  20.2.4  What’s in a Name?.......................................................... 425

20.3  The Open Brethren Identity Crisis.......................................... 431

20.4  Exclusive Brethren and the Churches of God since 1914........... 434

  20.4.1  Exclusive Developments.................................................. 434

  20.4.2  The Churches of God........................................................ 438

 

Chapter 21

Internal Change....................................................................... 440

21.1  The Growth of Systematic Biblical Teaching............................. 441

21.2  Styles of Worship.................................................................. 444

21.3  New Patterns of Leadership.................................................... 448

  21.3.1  Reinventing the Full-time Worker..................................... 449

  21.3.2  Attitudes towards Training.............................................. 454

21.4  The Roles of Women............................................................. 455

21.5  Changing Patterns of Evangelism........................................... 457

  21.5.1  What Happened to the Gospel Service?.............................. 458

  21.5.2  Developments in Work among Children and Young People.. 459

  21.5.3  New Methods of Outreach................................................. 462

  21.5.4  Growth and Change in Regional Work............................... 465

  21.5.5  Attitudes to Mass Evangelism........................................... 467

 

Chapter 22

Decline – and Growth?........................................................... 469

22.1  The Overall Picture.............................................................. 469

22.2  Why Did People Leave?....................................................... 478

22.3  Responses to Decline.......................................................... 480

 

Chapter 23

The Open Brethren: Still a Missionary Movement............... 486

23.1  The Globalisation of Assembly Mission................................. 486

23.2  Fluctuating Interest............................................................. 486

23.3  Changing Patterns of Support and Service.............................. 489

23.4  Mission at Home................................................................. 495

 

Part 5:  Conclusion

Chapter 24

Conclusion: Open Brethren Today – and Tomorrow?......... 501

24.1  What has Happened to the Original Principles?..................... 501

24.2  The Scope for Further Research............................................ 504

24.3  Afterword: An Unfinished Story........................................... 506

 

Appendix 1

  Early Conferences................................................................... 508

Appendix 2

   A Brethren Family Tree.......................................................... 510

Appendix 3

  Relative Strength of Different Types of Brethren, by Region
  and County, 1892–1901 ...........................................................512

Appendix 4

  Number of Open Brethren Assemblies, 1887–2005.............. 518

Appendix 5

  Clerical Seceders in Britain................................................... 520

Appendix 6

  Writing your Assembly’s History.......................................... 526

Bibliography............................................................................. 529

 

General Index........................................................................... 573

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This page last updated – 31 December 2006
Copyright of this material belongs to the author, Tim Grass