Brethren Archive
circa 1933

Reply to "An Open Letter" by A.J. Pollock

by D.L. Higgins

8 Pages
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Mark Best said ...

Since a comment on this "Reply" and other pamphlets relating to the sonship of Christ has just recently appeared, though I cannot read a word of it (!), I shall at least take the opportunity to comment on what Mr Higgins wrote concerning the "eternal Personality of our blessed Lord" on page 6. It is accepted therefore that the Lord is an eternal Person, but the question that has to be asked is, "Who is this Person?" 

To deny that the Lord was the Son before the Incarnation is to deny who He is. Who is He? He is the Son. He is eternally that Person. There was no change as to His Person, who He is, when He became a Man. 

If I might take up this question and answer it in a way somewhat differently to the way others have, I suggest that if Mr Darby's 'Synopsis' is consulted on Psalm 2 verse 7, then the closing verses of Matthew 1, the central verses of Luke 1, and the opening verses of Hebrews 1, not to mention on Colossians 1, matters raised concerning the sonship of Christ would become clear. 

A similar wrong notion concerning the Lord as the Word is pressed in the PS on pages 7 to 8. This time it is the denial that He was "the Word" before He 'became flesh' (Jn. 1.14 Darby Translation). 

On this DLH misses the real significance of the name "the Word" by which the Apostle John introduces the Lord Jesus. The Greek word from which it is translated is 'logos', and in that language, 'logos' means rather more than the English noun "word" as we would ordinarily understand it. Several concepts, including “reason”, come within its range of meanings. The word "logic" comes from it. 

With this in mind, the 'Logos' is not merely a designation of the Lord Jesus. To follow John’s reasoning, the Lord is 'the Logos', and He must be that ‘in the beginning’, since as being of this character, He is the One through whom all things have come into existence. 

Who can miss the comparison between John 1 and Genesis 1? There we read that God said, 'Let there be light, and there was light' (Gen. 1.3). In the Septuagint, the verb "said" is 'eipen', the 3rd person singular 2nd aorist active of the Greek verb 'lego', from which the noun 'logos' is derived. 

Elsewhere we read, "By the word [the dative of 'logos' in the Septuagint] of the LORD were the heavens made" (Ps. 33.6). "For he spake [the verb from which 'logos' is derived], and it was done" (Ps. 33:9). 

Here again, it can be seen that "the Word" - the 'Logos' - attaches even in the beginning, and as such, to the One through whom all things have received being.

The verbs and their tenses need to be carefully noted. Taking some key expressions: 'en arche en ho Logos''panta di'autou egeneto''kai ho Logos sarx egeneto'.  Respectively, "In the beginning was [continuous in the past] the Word." "All things through Him came [at a point in time] into existence." "The Word became [at a point in time] flesh."

The Lord Jesus Christ never became the Word. The simple words of John 1 verse 14 are enough to prove wrong the notion that He became the Word on becoming incarnate. The Bible says what it means and means what it says. 

Please, as Mr Darby did, distinguish between Christ, the Son of God as Man begotten in time, and what He is eternally as the only begotten Son. Psalm 2 and Luke 1 are about the former; John is concerned with the latter.

Without this, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is compromised. 

Mark Best 

Sunday, Dec 17, 2023 : 05:50
Syd said ...
If anyone is interested in reading more about how D.L.H. explains and defends his beliefs on the Person of Christ, his tract “Thoughts on the Names by which God is Known” will supply this. In particular, the section, “The Father” on page 17 of the tract, includes much of his remarks in his “Reply” on this page.

I find it a good policy to read someone fully, and so to judge with better discernment where and how he has perhaps departed from the truth contained in Scripture.
Monday, Dec 18, 2023 : 03:30
Mark Best said ...


I suggest from its internal evidence, that D.L.H.'s. tract, “Thoughts on the Names by which God is Known” was written before June 1929. 

At a quick read through, it seems sound, certainly where he writes, "The full truth of the Godhead is now revealed, God is in the light, and three distinct Persons stand out in the perfect unity of the Godhead. God is one in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons in absolute equality as in the Godhead." 

After 1929, however, he would have had to fall into line with J.T.Snr. or leave. But, where to? Glanton? That would have been especially difficult for D.L.H. in having earlier written a booklet with the title "The Glanton Crisis Explained". 

Monday, Dec 18, 2023 : 23:36
Roger Holden said ...

But D.L.H.'s. tract, “Thoughts on the Names by which God is Known”, as available on this web-site, carries the publishers name as Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot, 22 Paternoster Row, London. The Stow Hill Depot was not established here until 1931, two years after JTJr denied the eternal sonship. Note the use of the term ‘divine Person’ on pg.18.

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2023 : 00:30
Mark Best said ...
J T Snr I think.

As to "divine Person" and "divine Persons" on page 18, even though I would not quarrel with such expressions in other circumstances, I can see the point now in the context.

It is apparent that DLH supported J T Snr in his teaching that the "titles" Father and Son, and the relationships pertaining to them, only came into effect at the Incarnation. It just seems that he was somewhat vague and did not write about the matter in quite as straight forward a manner as CAC.

An earlier comment seemed to suggest that I had not taken an overall and balanced view of DLH's "Reply" in the light of what he had written concerning "The Father" in the other named tract, and was arriving at conclusions that were not valid.
Tuesday, Dec 19, 2023 : 02:11
Syd said ...

Thanks, brethren, for some insight into a little of the history behind these writings—I have not sought to follow this apart from a cursory view.

But to be clear, DLH is in some points confusing, but also I believe, quite wrong. The occasion is not now one of examining his writings in any detail, but what his “Reply” excludes, his “Thoughts on the Names by which God is Known,” reveals.

One example: DLH’s little exposition on the subjection and sovereignty of the Son, and for that matter, that of the Holy Spirit, is not supported by Scripture. He is right of course that the Son (God manifest in the flesh), took that place of lowliness and subjection to do the will of His Father. But he asserts that Mt 11:27 means the Son exercising His sovereignty. He appeals to the Greek word, boulomai. NO! The Son did not exercise His sovereignty. He subjected Himself to only do the Father’s will, and therefore according to Mt 11:27, He was thus minded or disposed to reveal the Father to whomsoever He, the Son, would (boulomai), only as it pleased His Father. No sovereignty here.

Then DLH is also confusing when it comes to the sovereignty and subservience of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Cor 12:11 the Holy Spirit sovereignly distributes gifts as he will (boulomai)— few would argue with this. But then he says that the Holy Spirit takes a "subservient" place in being sent by the Father and the Son into the world, to speak not "from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear” (Jn 16:13). For DLH it is—“In the mediatorial system of blessing two divine Persons are seen in wondrous movements of divine love, taking a subject place.”

A.J. Pollock’s objection to this unscriptural view of the “condescension” of the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the “Reply.”

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2023 : 16:54
Mark Best said ...


I agree with you that "DLH is in some points confusing, but also I believe, quite wrong." 

However, the system that was developing in the "Raven" meetings - I use this expression reluctantly as being that by which others were calling them - lay behind the "Glanton division" of 1908. 

After 1908, this had become so much more developed such that James Taylor (Senior) of New York was in a position to press his "new light" on those now known as the "London" as opposed to "Glanton" brethren who refused it. 

Hence, in June 1929 during a Reading meeting at Barnet, J.T. (Snr.) introduced that often referred to as "Temporal Sonship" or "Incarnational Sonship" and doubt was cast on the "eternal sonship" of Christ. 

It did not take long before Christ's eternal sonship was completely denied and the other leading teachers, including C A Coates and D L Higgins, quickly fell into line with it. There are persuasive letters written by J.T. to them and others in the "Letters of James Taylor, Volume 1". 

The hymn book was drastically altered to suit, and it became the condition that all must accept it, although, even if not all did, 'a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump'. That which blew apart the "Taylor" party in 1970 did not start with J.T. Junior in the mid to late 1950s but from much, much earlier. 

Tuesday, Dec 19, 2023 : 19:52
Steve Noble said ...
I am aware that these conversation threads often diverge from their original subject (so apologies!), but I wish to respond to Mark’s suggestion that what “blew apart the "Taylor" party in 1970 did not start with J.T. Junior in the mid to late 1950s but from much, much earlier” (and Mark seems to imply that the fault can be laid at JT senior’s door (1870-1953). I don’t think Mark goes back early enough. What enabled 1970 to take place was an idolatrous attitude to the leadership of a level such that JT junior’s immorality could be dressed up as spiritual behaviour. That kind of idolisation takes decades to develop. It certainly pre-dates JT Senior and had been present in nascent form among exclusives since at least the later years of JND. Now while this dangerous attitude to leaders was not confined to the Raven party, it was definitely facilitated among them by the entrenchment of the idea of successional leadership (JND>JBS>FER>JT etc.). The less-polite term for successional leadership is ‘popery’!
Friday, Dec 22, 2023 : 16:54
Mark Best said ...


I fully agree with you when you write of that being "present in nascent form among exclusives since at least the later years of JND." In using the expression "much, much earlier," I did not mean it started in June 1929, but, rather, that a system had already come into existence whereby J. T. was in a position to introduce among the "London Brethren" the "Temporal" or "Incarnation Sonship" doctrine, a doctrine which, in his denying that Christ was from eternity and is eternally the Son, impinges on the very Godhead - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

If there was not the Son as the Son before the Incarnation then there was no Father, something in which, by following J.T., C.A.C. and D.L.H. also were consistent, though consistently wrong. 

Sadly, many who have come out of that system over the years still hold this most serious of doctrinal errors. Others are indifferent to it. As once said to me when the question of reception was raised, "They might hold it as long as they don't teach it."

Friday, Dec 22, 2023 : 20:30

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