A REVIEW of "REJUDGING THE QUESTION." by William Rhodes Lewis. "In a general way we can afford to leave our reputation in the hands of the Lord, and leave Him to bring to confusion, as He certainly has done in this case, those who traduce us. But it is well for the sake of the third and fourth generation, who otherwise would only have the ex-parte statements of those who are determined that "the sword shall continue to devour," that there should be still available a succinct and fair account of the origin of the division of 1848, especially as the records available years ago have long been out of print. We are thankful, therefore, that Mr. Hoste has been able to bring out this pamphlet. It is written in no bitter spirit, and we can hope, with the Lord's blessing, that if may be used to remove scruples on the part of an increasing number who are begining to doubt whether, after all, the barrier erected over 80 years ago, should still be allowed to divide people of God." Bath, April 16th, 1932. W. R. LEWIS. "The Believer's Magazine" 1933
Mr Hoste's main source of information regarding "Bethesda" appears to be Henry Groves' "Darbyism, Its Rise, Progress and Development" as made evident from the footnotes on several pages. However, it is not the most reliable source for research, since Groves expresses throughout his bitter feelings towards JND, even if Mr Hoste personally had none.
The problem for "Open Brethren" is their concept of local "autonomy and independency" as supposedly being the only alternative to central government, the assumption being that "Exclusive Brethren" are bound by the latter.
The "church doctrine" expressed in "The Believer's Magazine" nowadays has errected a barrier which divides the people of God, not in the same way as the division of 1848, but, as that which Mr Lewis taught, more generally, in dividing the people of God into those who are in "churches of God" (in which only they are by their understanding of the term), and the rest, the vast majority, who are not.
Mr Hoste makes an attempt to explain what he means by the word independency, but it is not simply independency of gatherings which attaches to the word nowadays, but the notion now is that being in "an assembly" is distinct from being in "the church which is [Christ's] body."
Many OB today may have moved away from an allegiance to Bethesda, but their teaching regarding the assembly is very different from the way in which Mr Darby understood it.
I add that I esteem highly my brethren in the "open" meetings generally, but with their system I cannot agree.
That the "exclusives" are divided I humbly confess, but this is not the result of centralism, but, in not a few cases, brothers acting with undue haste, and, sometimes, the result of personality clashes.
Even so, there is no such body as "The Exclusive Brethren." There is 'one body, and one Spirit' (Eph. 4:4), and that embraces every true believer in Christ in the world.
The issue is a complex one.