Brethren Archive
24th July 1949

An Explanation and a Confession (Waverly, Iowa)

Mark said ...
I assume this and the other hand written letters that have appeared in recent days are for the purpose of research - for information only.

If they are authoritative and binding now I must abandon all association with the brethren with whom I have been in "practical fellowship" for most of the past three decades.
Monday, Aug 22, 2022 : 16:58
Mark said ...

I add a comment with regard to the following point: 

"Fourthly, we condemn ourselves for having participated in the allowance of irregular practices of intercommunion with our "Glanton" brethren—both before and since the 1923 Elizabeth conference. We understand that proper Scriptural fellowship should first be consummated between two such companies, before intercommunion could be in order." 

Scriptural fellowship is neither something consummated between two companies, nor is their concept of  "intercommunion" the communion presented in the New Testament. 

As was said right at the beginning of the "Brethren Movement" so-called, "It is not the formal union of the professing bodies that is desirable." (J N Darby, Collected Writings, Volume 1 page 24, Stow Hill edition.) Again, "It is not a confederacy of churches that I see in the word, but the unity of the body of Christ" (Ibid, page 162)

There is 'one body, and one Spirit' (Eph. 4:4), and it is a matter of gathering to the Lord's name alone - His Name not as a denominational tag - on the ground of the one body - for which it is necessary as outside the sects and systems. 

We can confess past sins of which we are guilty and enjoy fellowship with Christians who gather to the name of the Lord, simply as members of the one body of Christ on earth. 

This is not leaving out the important matter of separation from evil. If gathered to the name of the Lord, we must be in conformity to the One who is Holy and True. In the one body as Christ's body there is nothing of Adam or the flesh as fallen and inhered by sin - though the flesh is in each Christian individually of course.

In reality "separation from evil" must come first, not as the objective, but the starting point on the way to true unity. Scriptural unity is that of the one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, and Mr Darby's tract on this matter is most helpful. 

If there are outstanding issues let us confess them and repent of them before the Lord. Mutual confession certainly; but as to the notion that one company is "the primitive company" - "the original brethren" - as some claim - quite a number think that of themselves. 

Monday, Aug 22, 2022 : 22:05
Syd said ...
Mark, I presume that it's for historical and research purposes; what else 73 years later? But I don't know what the current status may be.

You're right about the unity of the Body of Christ - many members, but one in Christ. However, an assembly is also in view, not as part of the One Body of Christ, because there we find only individual members.

But as the expression of the Body in a locality, an assembly may be compromised. Such was the church where Diotrephes ruled and did not receive the brethren. Or the Lord's own pronouncement that He would remove the lampstand testimony of an assembly. If the Corinthian assembly did not put out the wicked person who leavened it, it could not continue to gather on the ground of the One Body until purged. But evil was recognised and dealt with.

Oh that the 'brethren" would have humbled themselves in the many cases of the past, and similarly dealt with evil, according to the Word of God.
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022 : 02:35
Mark said ...

That is fine if it is for research purposes only, but I suspect quite a number of brethren to this day will stand by the serious accusations made in it, a judgement once made never to be re-examined. 

Not for a minute do I suggest that evil if recognised not be dealt with. However, several of the complaints in the above "Explanation and Confession" are regarding those known as "Glanton" brethren among whom I am in "practical fellowship" as pointed out earlier. 

I therefore must question my place among them. 

Yet, I doubt if there is even one section of the "Brethren Movement" that has never been wrong over some doctrine, or been guilty of an ecclesiastical fault at some time. 

The sad thing is that it has resulted in the sheep of Christ's flock being scattered, harmed, stumbled, and some having just given up. Brethren have readily quoted Matthew 18 verse 20, but the Lord's teaching in the chapter as a whole has been completely ignored.

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022 : 07:02
Nick Fleet said ...
I'm not sufficiently familiar with the names of the localities and brothers (in the US) listed on the last page to be certain as to the subsequent history of that circle but it may be that the difficulties raised were settled during the exercises that resulted in the resumption of fellowship in the 1970s.
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022 : 16:19
Greg said ...
The leading light in this group is well disguised about halfway though the Baltimore names.
It's rather striking that neither he nor those who followed him have left anything of lasting edifying value for the people of God. This website has a pretty substantial list in the "People" section; it contains countless books, article and manuscripts. I search in vain for anything on this site from the hand of any of these signatories. Is there a lesson in that?
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022 : 18:16
Nick Fleet said ...
Greg, Ah, yes, I did notice one name that was familiar to me. Thanks
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2022 : 01:41
Jonathan said ...

Having identified this group, I do recall reading some reunion material during the period preceding the eventual 1974 reunion where the question of this group was raised, but it was reported and recorded that they did not want to take part in the process.

On a more trivial note, there are some Keillors on this list, at least two who were uncles of Garrison Keillor who became a well-known radio raconteur in the US, who often integrated stories inspired by his upbringing among the 'Sanctified Brethren' into his shows.

Thursday, Aug 25, 2022 : 04:26
GIMEL said ...
In relation to the paper from Waverley, Iowa, dated July 24, 1949, it may be noted that
Brothers Charles Borleis and Ross W. Croswell were also signatories to the Baltimore letter of June, 1928.

In response to Greg’s somewhat ungracious comment regarding the Ames brethren, of whom it is apparent little is known, it may be remarked that the names of several prolific writers born in the nineteenth century are not amongst those listed in this website. There may not have been well known writers among the Ames brethren, but there were those who went on quietly, preaching the Gospel and ministering to the few, ofttimes in the islands of the Caribbean. One brother, Albert J. Adolfson, produced for many years a very acceptable weekly paper for children. These dear brethren will all now be with the Lord.

In the Waverley, Iowa paper there is one point which is inaccurate: Glanton brethren never supported F.E.R. Indeed, around 1890 J.S.O., J.A.T. and J.C.T. were the ones who took to task F.E.R. at the beginning of his departing from the truths taught by brethren. The supporters of F.E.R. went with ‘London’ in 1908. (See the section, “The Root of the Matter” in Hear the Right by W.T.P.W.)
Monday, Sep 5, 2022 : 20:51
Rodger said ...
Both JAT and JSO wrote and circulated letters in support of FER:

While after the separation, from which brethren became distinguished as “Glanton,” these brethren seemed to have a mixed opinion of FER, and tended to downplay mention of him, as late as 1940 Thomas Oliver began A Scripture Quarterly with a long extract from FER:

Hamilton Smith also ended his paper on the Son of God with a quote from FER (pg. 30):

There are also quotes from FER in Precious Things produced by FA Hughes in the second half of the twentieth century.

Whatever benefit we have received from these brethren, we must acknowledge that they considered themselves to be personally edified by the teaching of Mr. Raven.
Tuesday, Sep 6, 2022 : 01:55
Mark said ...


I had always regarded Hamilton Smith as a reliable and sound teacher, and have much enjoyed reading his writings. Along with other leading brothers among those known as "Glanton" brethren, he made his stand for the eternal sonship of Christ when it was denied elsewhere. 

At this very moment, I am looking at my copy of his booklet "The Son of God" opened at page 30, and can see a number of statements in quotation marks, but the source is not indicated. From what you have said it would appear that they come from the ministry of Mr Raven. 

Even so, I am puzzled why it should be, that in the context of the whole of Mr Smith's booklet, I cannot in turn be "personally edified" by them.

Monday, Sep 12, 2022 : 22:19
Rodger said ...
Definitely, Mark. I am not implying that you cannot be edified. I was simply pointing out that if any of our brethren consider themselves to have been built up in the faith by the ministry of any of the so-called “Glanton brethren,” they must recognize that often their instructors were themselves instructed by FER (even sometimes directly quoting him!), from whom many of our brethren expect to get nothing but harm.

The idea (above) that “the supporters of FER went with ‘London’ in 1908” is not correct.

There are quotes from FER in Hamilton Smith’s commentary on Ephesians as well.
Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022 : 01:43
Mark said ...


Thank you for your clarification on this matter. My concern is the statement in the "Explanation and Confession" above regarding the "Glanton" brethren who "had never acted to clear themselves, after having supported Mr. F. E. Raven, our intercommunion with them brought us into this defilement also." 

According to the signatories I ought not to be in the "circle of fellowship" in which I am at present. Hence, to heed their letter, what to do and where to go now? 

It seems to me that a comment by Mr Raven in the Witney Meetings in 1888 snowballed, and in the mind of some ever after, he never once said a right thing.

His statement at Weston-Super-Mare, "Becoming a man, He becomes the Logos," is obviously wrong, though there is an explanation in the volume of his letters. But then, so is that of Christ, "He emptied Himself of His deity," said by William Kelly. 

What a pity that when one one teacher made a blunder it can be explained away and excused, but for the other, never! 

This shows the party spirit which existed among "brethren" then, and that by strict adherence to a certain leader deemed infallible, sadly still does. 

How lamentable that while on the one hand "brethren" have resorted to Matthew 18 verse 20, on the other they have failed to act on the Lord's teaching, indeed instruction to us, in the rest of that chapter!

Tuesday, Sep 13, 2022 : 16:03
GIMEL said ...
About fifteen years ago a brother informed me that Dr Oliver had deliberately quoted F.E.R. in his first ‘Scripture Quarterly’, partly out of mischief (T.O. was a complex character), partly to see if anyone recognised that it was from F.E.R.

From a paper that was in the public domain, H.S. wrote of F.E.R.,

“As regards many of his active opponents we feel the truth of the remark made by the late C.H.M., namely that he was ‘ignorantly misunderstood and wilfully misrepresented’; as to his partisans we fear he was blindly followed and zealously imitated. He himself felt the unchristian bitterness of his opponents’ attacks, and deprecated the pestering zeal of his partisans.

This by no means implies that we agree with all he said, or the unguarded way in which at times he expressed himself. We fear too that in his later ministry, in his desire that the saints should enter experimentally into truth, he weakened the consciousness of the absolute relationships in which grace has set us. We would however judge of his ministry, as of F.W. Grant’s, in the light of Scripture profiting by what we find to be according to the truth and leaving what we fear is defective.”

To suggest that Mr Hamilton Smith was a supporter of Mr Raven is incorrect. Many of those who were in fellowship with him were not so magnanimous.
Thursday, Sep 15, 2022 : 04:44
Rodger said ...

That is a very interesting extract, Gimel! Are you able to point out or supply the original document? I would be very interested in reading it.

According to another document on this site, Hamilton Smith is reported to have said: “I should prefer to stand apart from all brethren altogether than throw overboard FER… Next to JND, I know of no one amongst brethren who has ever thrown so much light on scripture.”

It is worth noting that, while Mr. Smith would quote from FW Grant and FE Raven (among others) in his commentaries, he only identified the quotes taken from Mr. Grant. 

Thursday, Sep 15, 2022 : 11:38
Mark said ...

These last two comments are helpful. That by GIMEL concerning the "paper that was in the public domain" in which "H.S. wrote of F.E.R." seems to present a balanced view of the matter.

I have read also elsewhere the statement which Roger has mentioned.

Enough has been said on the page regarding Mr Raven to show that his opponents were not necessarily right themselves, indeed some of their expositions were erroneous.

We find ourselves even now having to contend with the aftermath of all this, the result of undue confidence in, dependence on, and loyalty to party leaders.

The derogatory remarks written, some amounting to railing against Mr Raven, were completely out of order. This however could be done with impunity by anyone cocooned in the safety of their "circle of fellowship" as a result of the party spirit which had become evident by the 1880s.

Thursday, Sep 15, 2022 : 19:25
Syd said ...
I think we’ve been this way before – defending or accusing Raven; then giving opinions of various parties aligned one way or another. I think of believers not privy to the Raven controversy, desiring to learn from the past, especially from those “who spoke unto you the Word of God” (or later did not!).

The more I hear about Raven and his error (or anyone else for that matter), the more motivated I am to search his writings to judge first-hand what he wrote or said. Why? Because today some still hold to teachings of Raven which are false. Also, I must be careful to search the Scriptures, and weigh his beliefs in those balances. This website contains enough material for this purpose, and to point others in that direction—examine for yourself.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Raven matter, historically, and even in the present time. As Mark correctly observes, when there’s “loyalty to party leaders” (1 Cor 3), believers will go astray; led by the leader who often assumes that position, and some “new light.” There is not a single matter, affecting an individual believer or a local assembly, that is not addressed in the Word—God knew that the professing Church, in the hands of responsible men, and as co-labourers, would decline as it has, yet He still holds us accountable. But, the Church Christ is building, will not fail.

Darby, Raven, Kelly, BW Newton, Mackintosh, etc, all failed, but I can at least try to discern from each one’s writings where he erred from Scripture. Another may not agree with my assessment, but that is their issue. And, if there is agreement among many witnesses concerning the error of one—that is most helpful. Scripture never allows an errant “truth.”
Friday, Sep 16, 2022 : 20:38
Steve Noble said ...
It is always an excellent principle to " search his writings to judge first-hand what he wrote or said". With respect to Raven, that preferably means reading what was published during his lifetime, not years afterwards, and certainly not relying on quotes from his opposers (possibly taken out of context). I have, for example, some reason to doubt the accuracy of the new series of his ministry (published in the 1960's I think), and believe that the old Morrish volumes are more reliable. I also think it would be good if there was some sort of access to that ministry on this website - it is an incomplete historical archive if one of the most dominant figures in the movement is excluded. Just my personal opinion of course!
Friday, Sep 16, 2022 : 23:38
GIMEL said ...
In 1909 Grant brethren from North America, two of whom were P.J. Loizeaux and S. Ridout, travelled to the U.K. to establish what the Glanton brethren held in relation to new birth and eternal life. On this subject no general agreement was reached. In some areas, however, there was a local uniting of brethren, which led to a measure of confusion.

About three years after the Great War, an approach was again made by the Grant brethren to the Glanton brethren. It was in 1923 that Mr Christopher Knapp wrote to brethren in this country regarding this exercise. To this letter Mr Hamilton Smith replied.

[In answer to Rodger’s comment, the remark attributed to Mr Hamilton Smith I have not heard of or read. His letter to Mr Christopher Knapp, mentioned above, was shown to me many years ago, in the days before photocopying and personal computers, and the only part copied was in relation to the thorny subject of F.E.R. As the correspondence between Mr Knapp and Mr Smith was on behalf of the Grant and Glanton brethren respectively (note Mr Smith’s use of “we”), carbon copies were sent to other assemblies and thus, in a previous post, was written, ‘was in the public domain’. It is not known if these letters are in archives there or here.]

In 1923 a Memorandum was drawn up in Elizabeth, N.J., to further a uniting of Grant and Glanton brethren, but this was unacceptable to many assemblies on both sides of the Atlantic.

The editing of Napoleon Noel’s History by William Knapp, the brother of Christopher, gives the impression that, like his brother, he did not have a favourable view of Glanton and other brethren, in that, In the second volume, he allowed to stand Mr Noel’s personal interpretation on matters, which were contrary to the facts. A manifest example is found on page 513, repeated on page 627, where Mr Noel asserts that the revision in 1903 of the Little Flock Hymnbook was to make it conform to the teaching of F.E.R. Mr Frank Wallace, when arranging the 1978 ‘Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs’, had to assure his Lowe-Kelly counterparts that this was patently untrue. In his preface, T.H.R. states clearly the reason for the new edition. The contributions of T.H.R. himself add considerably to the value of the 1903 Little Flock. How often one or more of his hymns are sung at the breaking of bread, happily, for older brethren, having the same numbers in both the 1903 and 1978 editions.
Wednesday, Sep 21, 2022 : 04:04
Rodger said ...

Very informative, GIMEL. Thanks for filling in some more historical details. It would be good if the Knapp-Smith correspondence could be located and added to this archive!

The above-mentioned quote from HS is found in this document:

Wednesday, Sep 21, 2022 : 11:48
Mark said ...

Personally I find the contents of the document in the above mentioned link unsettling. 

I agree with Mr Dronsfield on page 21: "We will all renounce the errors that Raven is alleged to have taught." Notice the words "alleged to have taught." It is a pity that his opponents were unaware of their own errors. 

As to that found on page 8, "William Kelly wrote, perhaps more extensively even than F. W. Grant (certainly more abrasively) against F. E. Raven's perversion of Scripture." This is an understatement to say the least. The language used by WK against him was extreme. 

All this is the sad outcome of party spirit, and those in every party, persuaded by their leading teachers, think they alone are right. Meanwhile, while their leaders quarrel, the tender lambs of Christ's flock are scattered. 

As I said earlier, I hope all this is simply for information only, otherwise what am I to do?

Thursday, Sep 22, 2022 : 03:45
Syd said ...
Again, I say that what we have here historically is informative, but is of course also there for the purposes that any reader may seek, and that personally. What am I to do given the sad record of division, schisms, fault-finding, sacerdotalism, some being lords over God’s flock and declension found in the early Church?

The record of the Church in the NT is about 1800 years earlier than the sad events of Plymouth, Bethesda or the 1890’s, and the years following. But then, before Paul’s departure, “all in Asia turned away from him,” and so onwards we find the Church in decline until our day. Calvin wrote, “The sadder the desolation into which the Church has been brought, the less ought our affection to be alienated from her.” Darby and many others agreed with this sentiment, and sought to be faithful to what God had brought into being according to His counsels. So should we, exactly as the Word teaches, instead of being woeful, disheartened and uncertain.

We are able to see how assemblies and believers of the early NT Church, and those of the “brethren movement” (as one example of professing Christianity), departed from the Word, and rather to “hold fast the form of sound words.”
Friday, Sep 23, 2022 : 21:08
Simon said ...
Having gone through all the comments it’s quite interesting and very informative also. I thought that the “brethren “ hold the sound doctrine but in practice I’m afraid I can’t say it. Took the claim verse for Mathew 18:20 and completely left out the remaining as stated above when the trouble arose. Currently now the “Open brethren “are zealously focused for gospel outreach and completely left out the assembly principles. I went through the list of meetings and what I found was that only few meetings among the so called “closed brethren “had the gospel outreach program. But the great commission included both the gospel outreach and the doctrine.
Saturday, Mar 25, 2023 : 03:39

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