Brethren Archive
The Year 1942

Some facts, not so well-known, regarding Tunbridge Wells

by Benjamin Moore

Pamphlet attempting to justify the bullying of Charles Strange, and the nasty behaviour that followed, at Tunbridge Wells
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Douwe Scheepsma Szn said ...
Your note Tom: "Pamphlet attempting to justify the bullying of Charles Strange, and the nasty behaviour that followed, at Tunbridge Wells" clearly shows how you look at the decision(s) made at Tunbridge Wells. I too had that (KLC-)perspective, but had to change my mind about it. Up till 1909 'brethren' accepted the following well-known decisions: 1881 Ramsgate, 1884 Grant, 1885 Stuart and 1890 Raven, which all caused unfortunately divisions! Since the many reunions after that, all these assembly decisions were 'weakened' by them in division, to clear the way for their reunion.
As far as I saw you normally try to be more or less objective on your website, so why not here?
Principally I don't object to giving an opinion (believing it is Biblically based) and your opinion here. I even object to a website by a Christian trying to be objective about the history of the 'Brethren Movement'. As far as I believe one can't be neutral concerning certain leaders and groups. In that case I have problems with your website and also with, although I respect you and Michael Schneider (one of the brothers behind as Christians, as brothers in Christ. I trust I have made my point clear.

Your brother by grace,
Thursday, Jun 4, 2020 : 23:52
Tom said ...

Well yeah the website aims to be an archive rather than merely a display of material I personally agree with, as much as that is possible within the bounds of what one's own conscience will allow. Still everyone, including me, is free to express their opinions and views on things (again subject to constraint above). Fair enough the text I put in the description would have been better off in the 'comments' section. As for me, I don't accept Ramsgate, Stuart, or Grant decisions, in fact I don't agree with the concept of 'Assembly Decisions' at all, and think it is a dangerous fallacy, as particularly the early history of those known as TW Brethren shows very clearly. As to the matter with Mr Strange, I have seen, and experienced myself the 'ecclesiastical bullying' that is alas so prevalent in Exclusivism, so I will never knowingly miss an opportunity to point it out! Others are free to put forward different viewpoints as you have done.

Friday, Jun 5, 2020 : 04:37
Brian said ...
I was shocked to read that Mr Strange was later put out of fellowship by those who had formally supported him including Mr Lowe. I didn't read this information in any of the histories I have seen. Do you have any further information about this point clearly of great significance to the validity of the original TW judgment.
Monday, Oct 16, 2023 : 04:14
Mark Best said ...

I agree with Tom that this "website aims to be an archive." 

Anyone doing their research properly will seek out primary sources rather than rely on later secondary sources which usually contain opinions and not just the facts. As can be seen several times in this letter, the judgement arrived at with regard to Mr Strange was made at 41 York Road, Tunbrdge Wells, yet interestingly, the gathering would no longer be recognised as a "Tunbridge Wells" meeting. 

When Napoleon Noel wrote his "History of the Brethren" in the 1930s there had been even then among the "TWs" six or seven divisions. So which of these "TW" groups is the one which has all along always made the right decisions? 

Thursday, Oct 19, 2023 : 20:07
Steve H said ...
I would question if there is any Christian group anywhere (Brethren or other) "which has all along always made the right decisions?"
Friday, Oct 20, 2023 : 01:20
Mark Best said ...

Yes, Steve, my point exactly; but there are not a few brethren who think they stand in a line of decisions, all of them correctly made from their point of view, culminating in an ability to claim that they alone are on the divine ground, gathered together to Christ's name, having the Lord's table in their midst. 

Friday, Oct 20, 2023 : 18:20
Thomas said ...
Responding to Mark Best,
Who is more biased than Napoleon Noel? Divers weights and divers measures in his assessment of ‘brothers — and brethren’ .
Monday, Oct 23, 2023 : 18:07
Mark Best said ...

I do not claim for a minute that Napoleon Noel is not biased. Indeed, I suggest that every brother among the "Plymouth Brethren" who has attempted to write a "History of the Brethren" has done so with the assumption that the bit they are in is the right one. 

This would include such as E H Broadbent in his "Pilgrim Church" and F Roy Coad for the "Open Brethren". Similarly, Napoleon Noel for the "Kelly-Lowe-Continentals" and such as A J Gardiner for the "London party" among the "Exclusives". I simply cite examples. 

One question at present concerns the Lord's table. Who among those of the "Brethren Movement" can claim that they are not in division? 

The notion exists in the minds of some that they are not, all the others being in divided groups, or in an amalgamation of such groups. They regard it that they alone are truly gathered together to the Lord's name, and since there is but the one Lord's table, it is found in their midst. 

More than that - so the reasoning continues - there being only one Lord's supper, which must be on the Lord's table, only those saints in their company therefore actually eat the Lord's supper. The rest do not; they only think they do! 

So, who is more biased that Napoleon Noel? All that can be said is that he refused such pretension, and I suggest rightly so! 

Monday, Oct 23, 2023 : 21:41
Brian said ...
In reply to Mark
I agree that the resulting thinking of there only being one table in a place has become sectarian, but I do find that the fact that Mr Strange was later judged as out of fellowship by the Lowe part very informative as to how it has become easy to disregard assembly decisions.
Sunday, Oct 29, 2023 : 23:41
Mark Best said ...

Brian, as I have been given to understand and have already mentioned, the brethren at 41 York Road, Tunbridge Wells, in a later generation owned that the decision regarding Mr Strange as wrong. 

I notice that there is a tendency to use the term "assembly decision" and it raises the question as to whether or not such a "decision" made by an assemby in fact carries the authority of heaven. It is a serious matter to claim "a decision" has been made in the Lord's name. 

It is not simply a question of "assembly decisions" but of a judgement truly having been passed in the name of the Lord, i. e., knowingly acting on His behalf and as that of which He approves. Such a judgement, and such only, will have been bound in heaven. 

All assembly judgements arrived at in the Lord's name are indeed to be respected and are binding everywhere. At least that is the principle. However, are all assemblies in the world to be bound by a decision made by an assembly which can be clearly seen as unjust? 

The matter is not a simple one, but "brethren" might not be in the poor state they are in, especially here in the UK, if they had first sought the mind of the Lord before making a decision, claiming it to have been an assembly decision, and if that insufficient, then profess to have acted in His name. 

Tuesday, Oct 31, 2023 : 16:58
Syd said ...
The question of an assembly decision “carrying the authority of heaven” is, on face value, subjective, is it not? But the report of those who have examined an assembly matter, like Chloe’s house did (1 Cor 1:11), is objective, proper and right—meaning of course that it has been diligently enquired of, searched and found to be true (Deut 13:14). Then as a gathered assembly, in the name of the Lord Jesus, the decision is made by the assembly. Thus, by faith, and spiritually speaking, it most certainly should be taken as bound in heaven, and then acted on. But as always, whose facts, reports and evidence are valid, and whose judgement of these is right?

Mark, you’re right about the poor state of many assemblies—the “Brethren” generally speaking. The archival evidence of this website shows us as much. It highlights the lessons never learned over a century and more—begin with self-examination; examine the matter against the Word; pray in humiliation seeking the mind of the Lord, and waiting upon Him. There is nothing lacking in Scripture to show how an assembly should act.
Wednesday, Nov 1, 2023 : 22:51
Mark Best said ...

There seems to be a pattern with regard to the divisions among brethren which is that some persons in a gathering leave over an issue. The rest worldwide then have to decide who is in the right, and with whom then to be in "practical fellowship", and in every case, some remaining in fellowship with the one and some going with the other. 

Aspects of this can be seen in each of the so-called Ramsgate, Reading, Montreal, and Bexhill divisions. It was the same throughout the last century and in that a quarter of a century ago. 

We are now left with an array of gatherings of various persuasions particularly in the UK, and when numbers have diminished, many now literally 'two or three', some with but the one brother, not to mention individuals now isolated and that numerous gatherings have come to an end. 

Gospel testimony in many instances has ceased. 

Of concern is that few seem to care.

Thursday, Nov 2, 2023 : 17:25

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