"For whatever things were written before were written for our
learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to
be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you
may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also
received us, to the glory of God."
Romans 15:4-7 NKJV
Controversy and Confusion
surrounding the Brethren
Media rule #1:
Never let the TRUTH
get in the way of a good headline!
Sure, they may state somewhere in the small print that they are
referring to the EXCLUSIVE Brethren church, and might even point
out that they are not the same as the OPEN or Christian Brethren
church, but most people don't bother to read the fine print or
will not comprehend the difference. Ouch! That
Well YOU have
found your way to this page, so at least you will be able to
appreciate there are some MAJOR differences between the Exclusive
Brethren and the non-exclusive Open or Christian Brethren. You
will also see that there are a number of similarities due to a
common heritage, and that even the Exclusives are perhaps not as
bad as the media make them out to be. No surprise there!
Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will give
an excerpt from articles already on the internet that cover the
subject far better than I could and link to those articles for
you to build up a picture of the true nature of the Christian
Brethren, which is our main subject here, so that the confusion
will end and you may be able to share the truth of the matter with
friends and strangers alike.
The Open or Christian Brethren churches have
an amazing history and have been punching well above their weight
in the area of mission service throughout the world, and are
renown for the quality of Bible teachers and lay leadership and
volunteer involvement in church life and para-church
organisations. So grab a cuppa, relax and have a poke around these
reference sites to find out just who the Christian Brethren really
(Emphasis in excerpts added by Ed..
PLEASE NOTE: An article's reference here does not in any way
indicate an endorsement of their views or support for the
accuracy of its content, but is simply given for your research on
the free encyclopaedia - Open Brethren Excerpt:
The Open Brethren, sometimes called
Christian Brethren or "Plymouth Brethren", are a group of
Protestant Evangelical Christian churches that arose in the late
1820s as part of the Assembly Movement. They originated in England
and Ireland and now have many assemblies worldwide.
The Open Brethren form independent, autonomous assemblies and the
name, "Open," is given to them to distinguish them from "Exclusive
Brethren," with whom they share historical roots. The division
of the Plymouth Brethren into the Open Brethren and Exclusive
Brethren took place in 1848 and has been well documented. The Open
Brethren are committed to missionary work and hold that the Holy
Bible is the first authority in matters of faith and practice.
Each assembly (or congregation) is independent of the others in
doctrinal matters, yet there is a high degree of communication and
cooperation between those who share similar doctrine and practice.
Open Brethren assemblies vary from tight gatherings which only
extend fellowship to those who have first left the denominations
to very loose gatherings which receive any stranger without
question into fellowship. The buildings associated with the open
brethren are usually called, "Gospel Chapel," "Gospel Hall,"
"Bible Chapel," "Christian Assembly," or other similar terms...
Exclusive Brethren — Taylorites by Eryl Davies
...Open Brethren commended
I now need to emphasise that I am in no way referring to the Open
Brethren in what I write in the rest of this article. They are
themselves facing some contemporary issues such as the appointment
of a salaried ‘worker’ or even a pastor... Varying attitudes
are adopted towards these issues and one welcomes a new openness
on the part of many of these assemblies towards other Christians
and to co-operation in genuine evangelical activities.
What is also pleasing about Open Brethren is their commitment
to missionary work. It is estimated, for example, that one per
cent of the total number of members in Brethren assemblies are
serving on the mission field. By modern standards, this is in
excess of almost every Christian denomination. Operation World
reports that Brethren fellowships in Canada, USA, UK, Australia
and New Zealand together have 1223 missionaries. But, in addition,
there are many national workers as well as workers from other
countries involved in world mission. The position is that several
thousand members are currently working in mission. These facts are
encouraging and I repeat that I am in no way criticising the ‘Open
Brethren’ in this article...
Australia's religious communities : a multimedia exploration - The
Open Brethren in Australia
The movement has preferred not to see itself as a denomination
alongside other denominations. Many activities organised by
Brethren are seen as being for all Christians and are not
necessarily labelled as 'Brethren' activities. Today literature
such as Emmaus Roadworks (the Brethren Bible School Newsletter),
Spearhead (Gospel Literature Outreach) and Serving Together (the
publication of Christian Missions in Many Lands, the world-wide
name of the English speaking overseas mission work) tend to avoid
using the word "Brethren" and prefer to talk about Christian
assemblies. In many instances, congregations have also avoided
Brethren references, instead referring to 'Christian Centres',
'Gospel Halls/Churches/Chapels' or 'Communities' to express the
sense of fellowship. However, despite the movements
anti-denominationalism, the more conservative do not advocate
activities specifically organised as inter-denominational and
involving people from various denominations. Brethren have been
heavily involved in conservative evangelical non-denominational
bodies such as some Bible colleges and Scripture Union, they have
not generally participated in the organised ecumenical movement as
expressed through the Councils of Churches.
...Authors - Philip J. Hughes and Sharon Bond
...Acknowledgements - Ian McDowell has kindly helped
with the preparation of the Brethren Profile by providing written
materials, books and photographs and in reviewing the manuscript.
The authors are greatly indebted to Ian McDowell's previous
written work on the Brethren and his helpful comments on the
materials the authors prepared.
This excerpt was taken from the article 'Australian History - The
Open Brethren in Australia' which has dropped off the net.