Charles Henry Allan Bennett (8 December – 9 March ) was a . Herbert Charles Pollitt (July 20, – ), also known as Jerome Pollitt. The Plymouth Brethren are a conservative, low church, nonconformist, .

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The Plymouth Brethren are a conservativelow churchnonconformistevangelical Christian movement whose history can be traced to DublinIrelandin the late s, originating from Anglicanism.

Kenneth Grant

Plymouth Brethren generally see themselves as a network of like-minded independent churches, not as a denomination. They would generally prefer that their gatherings be referred to as “assemblies” rather than “churches” but, in the interests of simplicity, this article uses both terms interchangeably. The movement refused to take any denominational name to itself, a stance that some still maintain.

The title “The Brethren,” however, is one that many of their number are comfortable with, in that the Bible designates all believers as “brethren”: Brethren assemblies as their gatherings are most often called are divided into two major branches: Both of these main branches are themselves divided into several smaller streams, with varying degrees of communication and overlap among them.

The best-known and oldest distinction between Open and Exclusive assemblies is in the nature of relationships among their local churches. Open Brethren assemblies function as networks of like-minded independent local churches. Exclusive Brethren are generally connectional and so feel under obligation to recognise and adhere to the disciplinary actions of other associated assemblies.

Thus for Exclusive Brethren disciplinary action normally involves denying the individual participation in the breaking of bread or Lord’s table. Generally, this is a Sunday morning service of prayer, singing, teaching, and taking communion, with important assembly-related announcements given at the end. Exclusion from it is a major issue. Discipline among Brethren may also involve formal social ostracism or “shunning” to varying degrees, dependent upon which kind of Brethren group it is.

For instance, people placed “under discipline” may be asked not to attend any group functions which are purely social, and people may decline to eat or even shake hands with members who are under discipline.

One practical result of this among Open Brethren is that, should a member be disciplined in one assembly, other Open assemblies aware of that disciplining would not automatically feel any binding obligation to deny that person participation in their breaking of bread service, as long as their leadership does not consider whatever caused the disciplinary action a serious issue.

A numerically small movement known as the Needed Truth Brethren emerged from the Open Brethren aroundpartly in an attempt to address the problem of making discipline more effective. Reasons for being put under discipline by both the Open and Exclusive Brethren include disseminating gross Scriptural or doctrinal error, in the eyes of the fellowship, or being involved in what is deemed sexual immorality including adulteroushomosexualor premarital sex.

Being accused of irregular or illegal financial dealings may also result in being put under discipline. In Exclusive meetings, a member under discipline in one assembly would not be accepted in another assembly allowed to break bread or play an active teaching and worshipping roleas one assembly generally respects the decisions made by another assembly.

Exclusive assemblies are also much more adherent to the shunning or shutting up of the offending party, using as guidance instructions given in Leviticus In extreme cases, members may be asked to shun or divorce members of their immediate families as described in Ngaire Thomas ‘ book Behind Closed Doors. Another less clear difference between assemblies lies in their approaches to collaborating with other Christians.

Many Open Brethren will hold gospel meetings, youth events, or other activities in partnership with non-Brethren Evangelical Christian churches.

More conservative Open Brethren—and perhaps the majority of Exclusive Brethren—tend not to support krohli outside their own meetings. Since the formation of the Exclusives inthere have been a great number of subdivisions into separate groups, but most groups have since rejoined, with the exception of the separatist Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. This group is informally known as “Jimite” from their following of James Taylor, Jr at the division inand they are also referred to historically as the Raven-Taylor-Hales Exclusive Brethren.

This group practices extreme separation, and other Brethren groups generally accuse it of being a cult. Most other Exclusive groups Closed Brethren prefer not to be known by any name and are only given such designations by non-members.

There are some movements with strong Brethren connections that are less easy to classify. The Assemblies Jehovah Shammah of Indiafor example, are usually regarded as Open Brethren because of their general willingness to work and worship together with other Evangelical Christians, and because their foreign connections tend to be with Open Brethren. The ecclesiology, however, has more in common with that of the Exclusive Brethren; founder Bakht Singh maintained tight control over the movement until his death in Both Open and Exclusive assemblies generally maintain relations within their respective groups through common support of missionariesarea conferences, and the travelling ministries of “commended workers”, “labouring brothers”, and itinerant evangelists.


Some Exclusives hold to household Baptism as opposed to believers Baptismwhich is practised by the Open Brethren. All assemblies welcome visitors to gospel meetings and other gatherings, with the exception of the Lord’s Supper.

Many Exclusive Brethren and some of the more traditional Open Brethren feel that the Lord’s Supper is reserved for those who are in right standing before God. Fellowship in the Lord’s Supper is not considered a private matter but a corporate expression, “Because we, being many, are one loaf, one body; for we all partake of that one loaf” 1 Corinthians The majority of Christians known as Exclusive Brethren are not connected with the Taylor-Hales group, who are known for their extreme interpretation of separation from evil and their belief of what constitutes fellowship.

In their view, fellowship includes dining out, business and professional partnerships, membership of clubs, etc. The group called the Raven Brethren named for prominent Exclusive leader F.

Raven seceded from the Raven-Taylor-Hales group and are less strict and isolationist. Exclusive Brethren groups who are not affiliated with PBCC prefer being referred to as Closed rather than Exclusive brethren to avoid any connection with these more strident groups. Terminology which sometimes confuses Brethren and non-Brethren alike is the distinction between the Open assemblies, usually called “Chapels,” and the Closed assemblies non-Exclusivecalled “Gospel Halls.

The Gospel Halls regard reception to the assembly as a serious matter. One is not received to the Lord’s Supper but to the fellowship of the assembly.

Herbert Charles Pollitt – Wikipedia

This is important because the Lord’s Supper is for believers, not unbelievers. Some Chapels, on the other hand, will allow practically anyone to participate who walks in and says that he is a Christian, based on the newcomer’s profession of faith. Such assemblies are said to have an “open table” approach to strangers. Gospel Hall Brethren, on the other hand, generally believe that only those formally recognised as part of that or an equivalent assembly should break bread. Most Closed and some Open Brethren hold that association with evil defiles and that sharing the Communion meal can bring that association.

Their support text is from 1 Corinthians The Gospel Halls tend to be more conservative in dress; women do not wear trousers in meetings and always have their heads covered, while in most Chapels women may wear whatever they wish, though modesty in dress serves as a guideline, and many may continue the tradition of wearing a head covering. Apart from a few mostly small exceptions, such as the Churches of God, Open Brethren churches are all independent, self-governing, local congregations with no central headquarters, although there are a number of seminaries, missions agencies, and publications that are widely supported by Brethren churches and which help to maintain a high degree of communication among them.

Adding to the confusion over labels, many Exclusive Brethren have more recently sought to distinguish themselves from their most extreme sect, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, by rebranding themselves as “Closed” rather than “Exclusive”. This is mostly because of widespread negative media coverage of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the most hardline branch of the Exclusive Brethren and the only numerically significant Exclusive group in either countrywhich most Open Brethren consider to be a cult with which they do not wish to be misidentified.

The origins of the Brethren are usually traced to DublinIreland where several groups of Christians met informally to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together in —8. Their guide was to be the Bible alone. An important early stimulus was in the study of prophecy which was the subject of a number of annual meetings at Powerscourt House in County Wicklow starting in Lady Powerscourt had attended Henry Drummond ‘s prophecy conferences at Albury Park and, inDarby was espousing the same pre-tribulational view of the future as the charismatic Edward Irving.

The two main but conflicting aspirations of the movement were to create a holy and pure fellowship on one hand, and to allow all Christians into fellowship on the other. Believers in the movement felt that the established Church of England had abandoned or distorted many of the ancient traditions of Christendomfollowing decades of dissent and the expansion of Methodism and political revolutions in the United States and France.

To get away from the sectarianism of dissenterspeople in the movement wanted simply to meet together in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ without reference to denominational differences.

Early meetings included Christians from a variety of denominations. The first meeting in England was held in December [5] in Plymouth. Bythe assembly in Plymouth had more than 1, people in fellowship.


The term ” Darbyites ” is also used, especially when describing the “Exclusive” branch where the influence of John Nelson Darby is more pronounced. Many within the movement refuse to accept krkuli name other than “Christian”. InDarby returned from wlister extended visit to Switzerland where he had achieved considerable success in planting churches.

Returning to Plymouth where Newton was firmly in control, he disagreed with some details in a book that Newton had published concerning the tribulation that was coming. He also objected to Newton’s place as an elder in the Plymouth meeting. But several attempts to settle the quarrel in the presence of other brethren failed to produce any clear result.

A fierce exchange of tracts followed and, although Newton retracted some of his statements, he eventually left Alisyer and established another chapel in London. After investigation of the individual, Bethesda defended their decision, but Darby was not satisfied. He issued a circular on 26 Augustcutting off not only Bethesda but all assemblies who received anyone who went there. This defined the essential characteristic of “exclusivism” that he pursued for the rest of his life.

The Exclusive Brethren have suffered many subsequent splits. McDowell records at least six. But both sides continued to expand their congregations, alistee the opens expanding more rapidly than the exclusives, perhaps due to the opens’ emphasis on faith missions. Itinerant preachers carried both the open and exclusive brethren to North America after the middle of the 19th century. One of the most defining elements of the Brethren is the rejection of the concept of clergy.

Their view is that all Christians are ordained by God to serve and therefore all are ministers, in keeping with ,rouli doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The Brethren embrace the most extensive form of koruli idea, in that there is no ordained or unordained person or group employed to kfouli as minister s or pastors.

Brethren assemblies are led by the local church elders within any fellowship. In the words of Darby, these gifts in Ephesians 4: Men who become elders, or those who become deacons and overseers within the fellowship, have been recognized by others within the individual assemblies and have been given the blessing of performing leadership tasks by the elders.

An elder should be able and ready to teach when his assembly sees the “call of God” on his life to assume the office of elder 1 Timothy 3: Brethren elders conduct many other duties that would typically be performed by “the clergy” in other Christian groups, including counselling those who have decided to be baptized, performing baptisms, visiting the sick, and giving spiritual counsel in general.

Normally, sermons are given either by the elders or by men who regularly attend the Sunday meetings—but, again, only men whom the elders recognize as having the “call of God” on their lives for that particular ministry. Visiting speakers, however, are usually paid their travel costs and provided for with Sunday meals following the meetings.

Open and Exclusive Brethren differ in how they interpret the concept of “no clergy”. The Open Brethren believe in a plurality of elders Acts This position is also taken in some Baptist churches, especially Reformed Baptistsand by the Churches of Christ.

It is understood that elders are appointed by the Holy Spirit Acts Generally, the elders themselves will look out for men who meet the biblical qualifications, and invite them to join them as elders.

In some Open assemblies, elders are elected democratically, but this is a fairly recent development and is still relatively uncommon. Officially naming and recognizing alistet is common to Open Brethren cf. kroulii

Charles Henry Allan Bennett

Traditionally, only men are allowed to speak and, in some cases, attend these decision-making meetings, although not all assemblies follow that rule today.

The term “Elder” is based on the same Scriptures that are used to identify ” Bishops ” and krojli in other Christian circles, [15] and some Exclusive Brethren claim that the system of recognition of elders by the assembly means that the Open Brethren cannot claim full adherence to the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the most hardline of all the Exclusive Brethren groups, has developed into a de facto hierarchical body which operates under the headship of an Elect Vesselcurrently Bruce Hales of Australia.

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