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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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?