Brethren Archive

Charles Andrew Coates

Born: 7th December 1862
Died: 7th October 1945

Intro, Biographical Information, Notes etc:

Cecil Weston said ...
One of my most favorite. Love his commentaries on the 5 books of the Pentateuch and Revelation.
Friday, Oct 27, 2017 : 02:41
Kyle Yoakum said ...

Although C. A. Coates was associated with the more exclusive of the "Brethren" (Ravenites, later Taylorites), he is one of the best "Brethren" authors who knew the Lord deeply. He didn't just preach objective doctrine, but spoke from a deep knowing of Christ Jesus Himself.

Sunday, Jun 27, 2021 : 01:35
Paul Allison said ...
Mr.Coates was a co-reviser of the 1932 hymn book and was a supporter of J.Taylor but maybe at the end of his life he had differences. It is reported that J.T. did not attend Mr.Coates' funeral and the PBCC do not publish any of his ministry but they do publish ministry of P.L. (Percy Lyon) who was a contemporary and a close friend of my father from early days. Some interesting stories of the latter could be written.
Monday, Aug 9, 2021 : 13:51
Roger Holden said ...
The PBCC do still publish CAC, see their web-site It is true that there is no evidence of JT being at CAC's funeral despite the fact that he was in the UK at the time. of CAC's death. If differences had developed it was since 25 September 1940 where he still speaks highly of CAC in a letter: "We think much of him and rejoice that he is preserved". It is thought that a reference by JT to the Lord being with us "in view of our loss" at a meeting at Cranleigh on the day of CAC's death is a reference to that. JT was in Portsmouth the weekend after. There may have been travelling problems to prevent him getting to Teignmouth. At meetings in Paignton 1946 JT responded positively to a reference to CAC.
Tuesday, Aug 10, 2021 : 18:46
lance said ...
I do not believe that there were any 'differences' between JT and CAC - in fact young people to this day are actively encouraged too read CAC's outlines!
Wednesday, Aug 18, 2021 : 17:52
kyle yoakum said ...
Lance, what do you mean there were no differences between Coates and Taylor Sr? Do you mean in doctrine only? I see a vast difference in character and spirituality. Coates seemed to have a walk with the Lord and when I read his works, I sense he knew the Lord deeply. Taylor SR, on the other hand, just does nothing for me.
Thursday, Aug 19, 2021 : 00:51
Nick Fleet said ...
There was a long-held tradition among Glanton brethren (which I heard from many sources over the years) that there was a cooling of relations between CAC and JT Sr at the end. Apparently, CAC told JT, "don't ever come here again smelling of whisky!" In addition, there is the documented visit of FA Hughes and GA Lucas with CAC in which they state that CAC had changed his views on the eternal Sonship question and regretted ever putting his hand to defending JT's 'new light'. I also have a number of emails from a relative who reports much the same outcome when his father visited CAC at Teignmouth in the 1940s.
Saturday, Aug 21, 2021 : 03:09
Rodger said ...
Where is GAL and FAH’s visit documented, Nick?
Saturday, Aug 21, 2021 : 03:58
Paul Allison said ...
It is interesting that GAL and FAH should visit Mr. Coates while they were still in the Taylor fellowship and were both regularly taking meetings in the English Midlands. Clearly they had not taken on JT's ministry as to the Non-Eternal Sonship. It was only several years later that both became associated with the Glanton brethren.
I hate to see Mr Raven's name coupled with JT's. They had nothing in common. FER was a humble self-effacing man who, at the end of his life, said that he never expected anyone to take on what he ministered, they were entirely his own thoughts. How different from the Taylor regime where all that he said had to be read, accepted and practised at the risk of being withdrawn from if not so, New York became the 'Rome' of the EB and notes of readings were compulsory reading. The only difference today is that Sydney has become 'Rome'.
FER was the subject of a relentless witch-hunt by some who had an almost idolatrous affection for Mr. Darby and did not think FER was eligible to take his place, something FER himself had no thought of doing. With JT came the notion of a world leader in a capital city whose every word was to be obeyed, giving infallibility to the leader. More objectionable than most is the title Elect Vessel, a title only once given by the Lord Jesus to the First of the Apostles, namely Paul.
The compulsory drinking of whiskey (or whisky) is surely a sign of the apostasy. I remember visiting my parents in 1971 not long after Aberdeen and, on opening the wine-cupboard to find half a bottle of whisky, belonging to a man who had never tasted anything stronger than cider or a small glass of ginger wine at Christmas, A further sign of the apostasy is their giving up of all the precious assembly principles that were painstakingly recovered by the early brethren JND, GVW, JBS and others. I truly believe that
Brethren, as a valid witness to the world ended in 1882
Sunday, Aug 22, 2021 : 17:21
Nick Fleet said ...
I'm not sure GA Lucas ever linked up with Glanton brethren? I know he ended up with Open Brethren. Some of us attended a BAHN conference a few years ago where a brother there mentioned that GAL had been an elder at his brethren assembly.

As for FA Hughes, he left the Taylorites in early 1951 (see GH Brown's 'The Departure ...') and was subsequently associated with Glanton brethren. Many have mentioned him with much appreciation.
Sunday, Aug 22, 2021 : 21:51
Paul Allison said ...
The story going round at the time was that GAL went to the Glanton Breaking of Bread and to the Open Brethren Gospel. FAH was affectionately known as 'Mr.Eyebrows'.
Monday, Aug 23, 2021 : 06:38
Nick Fleet said ...
It is good to now have available the report of FAH about CAC's later views. To this could be added the testimony of my uncle about his father's visits to CAC. However, it is covered in various emails to me and would need some extracting and pulling together before being a useful summary.
Sunday, Dec 19, 2021 : 21:59
Martin Arhelger said ...

If C. A. Coates (CAC) ever repented of his fundamental error about Christ, there is not a single reference to it in his writings that survive today. CAC is no longer among us. But his writings are. And these writings still contain his errors without any retraction. So we must still warn against CAC’s writings.

CAC's own words were: "If we are not clear as to the Person of the Lord we shall not be clear as to anything." (An outline of Luke's Gospel, p. 16). Well, CAC (that is: his writings) definitely were not right as to the person of Christ - and he was not on other themes, too. I try a short summary which is by no means complete. (By the way: It will be seen that most of these errors were held already by F. E. Raven.)


1) Error as to the Lord’s humanity:

a) "It is not that He [Christ] is God AND man (which makes a dual personality) but God in Manhood." (Outline of Matthew's Gospel, p. 148). This is a repetition of F. E. Raven’s error.

b) “A divine Person came into a new condition, as becoming Man, but His Person remained unchanged and unchangeable.” (Outline of John's Gospel, p. 27)

c) “It shows, too, how entirely He has taken the place of man, because His spirit was Himself.” (Outline of Luke's Gospel, p. 292)


2) Denial of Christ’s Eternal Sonship. This is perhaps the error most known of CAC:

a) "Remarks on a pamphlet by A. J. Pollock, entitled 'The Eternal Son'" (passim)

b) CAC’s letters (consult the index of CAC's letters under the subject "Sonship of Christ"). Example: page 201 (July 1931): "If any Scripture could be adduce which attaches the title Son to Him as in absolute Deity, and with no reference to His meditorial Glory, it would settle the matter at once. But I must confess that, after considering this subject carefully and prayerfully for 30 years, I have not been able to find one."

c) “An outline of the Books of Chronicles”: p. 86: "Satan would connect His sonship with His deity. Scripture always connects Christ's sonship with His humanity and so brings us into it." [There was no "humanity" of Christ before incarnation. Thus CAC does not believe in a pre-incarnate Sonship of Christ!]


3) Denial that Christ was the “word” in past eternity:

Many references are in “An Outline of John’s Gospel”. Some examples: “The expressions 'eternal Word', 'everlasting Word', have been used with pious intent to assert the eternal character of the Person, but they tend to obscure the difference between what He is as 'the Word', expressing God to men in fulness of grace and truth, and what He was, and is, in the inscrutableness of eternal Deity. “ (p. 9) “There is no statement in Scripture that He was ‘the Word’ in eternity, but the One whom we know now as ‘the Word’, the One who has become ‘the Word’ to us, was ‘in the beginning’.” (p. 23). See also page 2, page 6 etc.


4) Error as to eternal life:

"Rem. [by another]: There has been much help on eternal life in this very matter. [Answer of] C.A.C.: Yes. Fifty years ago [written 1940-42, thus referring to 1890-1892] there was very great help. It was brought out very clearly that eternal life is connected with earth and comes in contrast to death and sin." (An outline of the Books of Chronicles, p. 232) The reference to Ravens new doctrines which he issued about 1890, is obvious; it is NOT what the bible (and J. N. Darby) taught but so called “new light”.

In several places CAC speaks of the land of Canaan as a picture of Eternal Life, implying that we do not have Eternal Life save when we enjoy it (e. g. Deuteronomy, p. 165 and Numbers, p. 282 and 386.) This is somewhat a repetition of Raven's errors against plain scriptures which show that every believer HAS GOT Eternal Life, e. g. Joh 5,24. In "Numbers", p. 127, CAC tells us about "new spiritual experience" since former days and names as examples "eternal life" and "the truth of the Lord's Sonship".


5) Unsound mysticism:

a) "We do not get spiritual gain so much by hearing and reading as by meditation. Many read their daily chapter, but get little from it because they do not meditate." (An Outline of the Book of Leviticus, p. 120): )This is similar to some of Raven's utterances, who said: "I do not care to be an expositor of Scripture but rather an exponent of what Scripture reveals. (...) It is waste of time and playing with the things of God and with people to occupy them merely with the letter." (Letters of F. E. Raven, New Series, p. 252-253). In the same book Raven said: "I was an ardent student of Scripture at one time, but I do not think I got things in that way ..." (p. 311).

b) “It is important for us to see that the bible without the saints is no good. Rem. [by another] It has been said the Bible cannot love you. C.A.C.: In the Bible you get the letter of the truth, but the substance of the truth is in the saints;” (Miscallaneous Ministry on the New Testament - Cor. - Col., p. 518)

c) "A beloved servant of the Lord said he always received things by the spirit, before he found them in Scripture." (Miscellaneous Ministry on the Old Testament, p. 421)

d) "As a young believer I ventured to say to J.B.S. {Stoney}: 'Do you believe that the Lord will come in your life-time?' He looked very grave and said, 'I think not, I think He would have told me.' He was near the Lord, and he felt assured that the Lord would have told him." (An Outline of Luke's Gospel, p. 37).


6) Other false doctrines, for example errors as to the assembly:

“But if, in a certain place, the saints are all found in the national system, or in sectarian bodies, I cannot see how they can be spoken of as the assembly of God in that place . . . I know that it has often been said that all the believers in a place make up the assembly of God in that place. But this is looking at the matter very abstractly, and it does not carry us beyond what any pious person in the sects would say, and the practical result of holding this idea is that exercise is set aside, and believers made content to remain where they are. I do not see that Scripture contemplates the local assemblies of God in any such a vague and intangible way.” (Letters, p. 296 [year: 1941])

Martin Arhelger, Germany

Monday, Dec 20, 2021 : 02:56
Rodger said ...
I would personally be interested in seeing that summary, if you are willing to compile it, Nick.
Monday, Dec 20, 2021 : 02:58
Steve Noble said ...
Martin's list of charges against CAC might satisfy the lazy reader but they would be thrown out in a court of law. A Christian teacher charged with transgression needs to have his doctrine brought to the bar of the Word of God. The charges presented are essentially theological since hardly any reference at all to Scripture is made. I might add that I am far from being an apologist for CAC.
Tuesday, Dec 21, 2021 : 02:01
Martin Arhelger said ...


good to hear that you are no apologist for CAC.

My remarks were not written for a human court but for those who know the faith which was once delivered unto the saints and by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Take my no. 3 (CAC's denial that the Lord was the "word" before incarnation): It is obvious that reference is made to Joh 1:1 and 1:14. To say that He was NOT the “word” (logos) before incarnation (which CAC does, in fact) is in evident contradiction to these two verses: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (verse 1) and “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us . . .

(By  the way: Once again CAC sadly repeats the evil error of F. E. Raven, who said: “Becoming a Man, He becomes the Logos.”, see his Ministry, vol. 10, p. 117).


Tuesday, Dec 21, 2021 : 04:45
Nick Fleet said ...
But there is a sense in which that is so: "God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in [the person of the] Son" (Heb 1:1,2). God spoke to men through the Lord Jesus in a way which was not the case until He came here in Person. In that sense the Lord became the Logos as a Man, but I agree that He was that from eternity. Scripture often takes up different aspects - "In the beginning" (John 1) is 'from' eternity, "In the beginning" (Gen 1) is in time from creation but "That which was from [the] beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we contemplated, and our hands handled, concerning the word [Logos] of life" (1 John 1:1) is from the time of the Lord's earthly ministry.
Tuesday, Dec 21, 2021 : 19:33
Mark said ...

In was in the course of a Bible Reading that the comment was made of Christ that “Becoming Man, He became the Logos.”

This statement as it stands is completely wrong. However, Mr Raven wrote, “My impression is that in John 1 the apostle is speaking by the Spirit of One who had been commonly known and designated among them as “the Word” (see Luke 1:1), and that the point was to identify as God the Person so known and designated… I hardly understand the idea of ‘Word’ save as ‘expression’ though the thought or mind to be expressed may have long been there. Hence it is when Christ comes into the place of testimony that He is apprehended as the ‘Word’ though personally divine and ever existent. A prophet had the word, He is it (see Hebrews 1:1, 2) but, of course, I may be mistaken and am in no way disposed to press the matter.” (Letters of F E Raven, New Series, page 148.)

Again, “From Luke 1:2 it appears to me that ‘the Word’ was what Christ was in the apprehension of the apostles, and John speaks from this standpoint… But all this hangs on incarnation, the introduction of John’s gospel gives the real genealogy of ‘the Word’.” (Ibid, p. 149.)

Again, “If, as I judge from verse 14, John is writing from the apostle’s apprehension, and the term ‘Word’ conveys what Christ was in their thought, there the passage is simple enough. The One commonly known and designated as ‘the Word’ is traced back to His true source, “He was with God and was God,” and being such, He became flesh. It is, in a word, His genealogy.” (Ibid, p. 151)

Thus, according to Mr Raven, it was to the apostles that Christ became ‘the Word’ as they had beheld Him, and could only behold Him, as having become Man. It was when incarnate, and not before, that He could be recognised as the Word by the apostles.

I can see to some extent the point made, but am not very happy with this explanation, since it goes against the verbs John uses, and the tenses of the verbs, which are found in the earlier part of chapter 1. It is obvious even in English that the opening of the chapter echoes Genesis 1, and this is yet more apparent if the opening verses of John 1 in the Greek New Testament are compared with those at the beginning of Genesis 1 in the Septuagint.

There is also Psalm 33 verse 6 to consider, especially in the Septuagint where the word used in the phrase ‘by the word of the Jehovah were the heavens made’ is ‘logos’. Hence, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ (Jn. 1:1), ‘all things through Him became’ (v. 3 – to keep to the same verb in the same tense as the verse in question), ‘and the Word became flesh’ (v.14).

I just add that the assumption that certain teachers have been always right and others always wrong is naive and simplistic. For instance, William Kelly, generally a sound teacher, nevertheless wrote, “But we find another thing: if He emptied Himself of His deity, when He took the form of a servant, when He does become a man, He humbles Himself and becomes obedient as far as death.” The word “if” here is the “if of argument,” and no explanation, though attempted, can excuse the blunder.

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 01:54
Jonathan said ...
John's 'beginning' is from eternity, as is evident from John 1. So also 1 John 1.
Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 02:40
Nick Fleet said ...
Well, in John 1 it is "in" the beginning but "from" the beginning in 1 John 1 and what follows there describes what the Apostles did, "heard", "seen", "contemplated", and "handled".
Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 03:39
Syd said ...
I think, as Martin says, some discernment is needed in view of "expositions" above.
But Mark, the reference to Kelly's "blunder" is uncalled for. It is quite well-known and published that the attack on Kelly for this was unjustified and taken completely out of context. Kelly wrote in the same piece: "But it was the joy and triumph of divine grace that He who was God, equally with the Father, when about to become a man, did not carry down the glory and power of the Godhead to confound man before Him, but rather emptied Himself; contrariwise perfection morally was seen in this."
And Jonathan, the difference in the "beginnings" is: John 1 - "IN the beginning" (eternity past); and 1 Jn 1 - "FROM the beginning" (the Word incarnate). Nick above is right.
Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 03:44
Martin Arhelger said ...

1) I am aware what Raven and Coates wrote and said about the „word“ in Joh 1. See what they make of John 1:1: “In the beginning was, what was in the apprehension of the apostles the Word, and what was in the apprehension of the apostles the Word was with God, and what was in the apprehension of the apostles the Word was God.” This does not disserve a refutation! This is completely against the sublime, majestic and at the same time sober Gospel of John.

2) At the same time FER’s and CAC’s twisting of scripture robs us of the true meaning of “word” (λόγος) in Joh 1:1, 14. “He is the expression of, the whole mind that subsists in God, the Logos.” (JND) “The Son of God was the One through whom everything expressed by God came forth.” (GVW) “λόγος” does not imply men to whom is spoken and it is not only the expression (this would be  ῥῆμα)  but “what the mind is as having a thought” (JND).

3) Heb 1,2 (“God . . . at the end of these days has spoken to us in [the person of the] Son”) is wonderful and great truth but Joh 1,1 is far wider. The Son of God was the word (λόγος) even before there was an angel or a man.

4) As to the “beginnings” in Scripture - the context must decide:

- Joh 1:1 speaks about the past eternity (that is: go back as far as you can think and Joh 1,1 is already true)

- Gen 1:1 speaks about the beginning of creation,  

- 1. Joh 1:1 refers to the incarnation of Christ and His manifestation down here.

(I think Nick Fleet and Syd will agree with this.)

5) Even if WK had been the greatest false teacher of all time, that would not take one whit away from the false teachings in CAC’s “ministry” (so called).

6) I have only heard so far that CAC is said to have repented of his denial of eternal sonship. Has he ever retracted the other errors I mentioned above? (Taylorists deny that CAC retracted the non-eternal-sonship theory. The late Edwin Cross also was not convinced of CAC’s retraction, as he told me about 25 years ago. I don't think we can get a final certainty on this.)

7) Let me repeat: Neither WK's alleged heresy nor CAC's retraction to heresy changes a single letter in CAC's books.  And these writings are what we have today.

If CAC really recognised that the doctrine of non-eternal sonship was wrong, and if he really realised the seriousness of this error, then I can only believe that he could not have wanted his writings, which still contain this false idea, to be studied further.

Martin Arhelger

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 04:09
Mark said ...

Syd, I was not dismissing WK by regarding him unsound. Far from it. In fact, I stated the exact opposite, viz. that he was "generally a sound teacher;" and would now add of his giving in the main expositions of the highest quality. Even so, the sentence, quoted precisely, as it stands is plainly wrong, despite all the other correct statements of his on the subject found elsewhere.

Indeed, this was the very same strategy Mr Raven’s supporters were criticised for when they produced true statements he had made in order to prove that he did not hold the errors he was charged with.

The example chosen was simply to demonstrate that no teacher is infallible, and the sooner the tendency of adherence to certain teachers, no matter what, is abandoned, the better. 

"The best book to read is the Bible." 

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 06:57
Jonathan said ...
Thank you for your comments. I do respectfully disagree with the contention that 'beginning' in 1 John relates to the Lord's coming into the world, or indeed the start of His ministry (certainly not). John is linking IMO what he had experienced and known in time (the Word, the Son) back into eternity. JND's comment (which I had not read, or at least knowingly read recently) explains the force of it (my asterisks are added).

"Verse 1. "That which was from the beginning … which we have seen with our eyes … and our hands have handled of the Word of life." It is the testimony of eye-witnesses, the apostle's language suited to the circumstances of the saints, who were at that time threatened by the heresy of the Gnostics. These latter laid claim to development; they said, The Gospels have given us the truth in germ, and now we possess the development of it. *Not so, replies the apostle of God, we possess that which was in the beginning*, and it is great and perfect enough to admit of no development. The heretics denied also that the Christ had come in flesh. John affirms the contrary in saying: we have seen Him and have handled Him."

John Darby, Notes on 1 John

No need to reply further on this point though, as it is moving away from CAC. On the thrust of that, I do entirely agree with Martin Arhelger's comments.
Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 07:57
Nick Fleet said ...
I think it ought to be stated that much of CAC's writings now available were only published after his death and never revised by him. His early commentaries on the OT (published by Morrish) were widely available and are generally very sound but the later KBT books should be read with discrimination. Given the circumstances at the time of JT's prominence it is unrealistic to expect CAC to have published any written 'retraction'. However, there was definitely a cooling of relations between CAC and JT and that must have had some cause. Maybe Edwin wasn't convinced by the testimony of FAH and GAL but he does at least refer to it in his article on CAC as a hymnwriter. Having heard what my uncle reported of his father's conversations with CAC (and also from another source) I see no reason to doubt it. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." (2 Cor 13:1)
Wednesday, Dec 22, 2021 : 19:51
Syd said ...
Coates, Raven, et al, will surely draw attention again in the future. It’s not a bad thing, because hopefully, brethren will be wise, discerning and kind—we will all give an account one day, and we don’t want to slight a true servant of the Lord, whoever he may be; and we should remember them who have spoken unto us the Word of God. Some thoughts if you don’t mind:

(1) Coates’ writings prove that he was in error concerning, eg, the Sonship. I’m not sure what was the first sign. Before Barnet (1929), in his Outlines of Romans (1926), he wrote: “We know from Colossians 1 that the Fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell in Christ, and to effect reconciliation by Him, ‘in the body of his flesh through death’. This is a statement of wondrous character, such as can hardly be found elsewhere, or in relation to any other subject. The Fulness of the Godhead—the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit—has undertaken this great work. It has been effected by the Son of the Father's love.” This statement seems to support the divine glory of the Son in the eternalness of the Godhead, but later he writes contrary.
His exposition on Romans appears quite sound; it is practical and meditative—easier to read and understand than, eg, Darby, Kelly. I am not trying to promote Coates, but to those who relegate all Coates’ writings to the trash can because of his known error (s), I trust that it is not a call to all to do the same. Be discerning.

(2) How quick we sometimes are to find fault – all of us. Many of those earlier brethren made mistakes, but were helped. When Mackintosh (CHM), in the words of Darby, “overstepped the bounds of a scripture statement,” he was defended and helped. Darby said: “I distinctly affirm that the charge against Mr. Mackintosh was an unfounded calumny.” Imagine if many dumped CHM because of his “blunder.” His writings found acceptance worldwide.
Who knows if Coates retracted at the end? If the testimony of Ouwenweel concerning F.A. Hughes' report that Coates “deeply regretted his utterings on the Sonship of Christ,” and if Hughes' own words on this matter are rejected by some doubters, then it’s a matter of your own conscience before God. Yes, Coates’ erroneous writings unfortunately remain, but those we mark as such, and reject.

(3) I do appreciate the brethren who are able to direct users of the website to sound doctrine amid the plethora of its resources, and to warn against the false - I appreciate your effort. Thanks Nick for your insight.
Thursday, Dec 23, 2021 : 03:20
Mark said ...

If brethren had read what Mr Darby taught on the sonship of Christ in the volumes of his “Synopsis of the Books of the Bible” on Psalm 2 verse 7, Matthew 1 verses 18 to 25, Luke 1 verses 26 to 35, Hebrews 1 verse 5, as well as a footnote around 2 Samuel 6 going into chapter 7, and possibly elsewhere, they would have spared themselves the confusion.

Thursday, Dec 23, 2021 : 19:06
Syd said ...
You are right Mark, but I suppose we should keep in mind that there were, and now are, those who would differ from Darby, and the many others who held to the truth of the eternal sonship at that time. I think that many Christians were, and still are influenced by great scholars like Adam Clarke (18th century). He wrote: "As long as I believe Jesus Christ to be the Infinite Eternal I AM, so long I suppose I shall reject the common notion of his 'Eternal Sonship'; not only because it is an absurdity and palpable contradiction, but because I cannot find it in the Bible. On His Godhead, the foundation of the salvation of my soul is laid: everything therefore that derogates from that, I most cordially reject." This is profound - one can see why many would accept his belief - but profoundly false when the eternal Sonship of Christ is rejected. Never was His equality with the Father in the eternity of the Godhead ever in doubt according to the Scriptures.
Friday, Dec 24, 2021 : 16:20
Mark said ...

As to Adam Clarke and his view of Christ’s sonship, it was thought by J T Snr and his supporters that they had new light on it. However Mr Darby was well aware in his day of those who denied the eternal sonship of Christ, and condemned them. “I have not the Father’s love sending the Son out of heaven, if I have not Him as Son before born into the world.” (The Collected Writings of J N Darby, volume 25, pages 230 to 231.) So it was not “new light” after all.

The line of thinking that new things are perpetually coming to light led ultimately to the doctrines of J T Jnr, and continues in that calling itself the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. One wonders what JND would think of that! It is a pity that those who came out of that system cannot spot where things started to go wrong. And this is not said as sarcasm, but in love and affection for them.

The error of Adam Clarke and others who hold the similar view is that “son” always implies inferiority to a father. This was one of the main arguments put forward in CAC’s “The Personal and Mediatorial Glory of the Son of God.” Yet, such thinking is not that of the Jewish mind, and indeed the Jews thought that when Jesus called God His own Father that He was making Himself equal with God. John 5 verse 18, especially in the Darby Translation.

Friday, Dec 24, 2021 : 18:36
Syd said ...
Thanks Mark; most helpful.
Friday, Dec 24, 2021 : 21:06
Mark said ...

The other argument from Adam Clarke is that a father precedes a son. The problem is that it is thought that to hold to the eternal sonship of Christ, it is necessary to think in terms of the eternal generation of the Son of God. This is the result of applying Psalm 2 verse 7 to Christ in His eternal sonship, i.e. as one with the Father in the Godhead, and confusing that of which we read in Luke’s gospel with that in John’s.

As said earlier, read Mr Darby, and the distinction between Christ as the Son of God born in time on earth (Ps. 2:7; Lk. 1:35) from that which we refer to as His eternal sonship (Jn. 1:14, 18, 17:24) and the matter is made somewhat clearer – I say “somewhat” in that we cannot really enter into the full knowledge of the Father and the Son, certainly not as they are known to Themselves (Matt. 11:27). 

This, of course, is a very large subject. As to Christ as the Son of God begotten in time according to Psalm 2, it is in relation to Israel and the nations; but as the eternal Son, as made known in His prayer to the Father of the Father’s love for Him before the foundation of the world, He declares the Father’s name (Jn. 17:26; 20:17). This is for us in the church, a blessed circle of love given character to by the love of the Father for the Son. How blessed we are indeed!

Friday, Dec 24, 2021 : 22:40
Martin Arhelger said ...

J. N. Darby was well aware of Adam Clarke’s doctrine and wrote in 1847 that he knew Clarke’s doctrine “for many years”. The original letter of JND is printed in the French magazine “Messager Evangelique” 1898, p. 199-200. I give a machine-made translation by DeepL. The letter is also in “Letters of J. N. Darby Supplement From the French”, volume 1, p. 127-128 (but they couldn’t print it without giving hints to letters of James Taylor senior perverting what JND said!)

“1847. To P[ierre] S[chlumberger]

Beloved brother, 

I am returning your notes. I have not received anything about the Publican and the Pharisee. As to the doctrine of which you speak, I have known it for many years. The great Wesleyan doctor Adam Clarke was imbued with it and other things too. I am grieved that dear R. has fallen into it. It dries up the soul; this dear brother is too much of a thinker with the Word; the latter seems to me, and is, perfectly clear on this subject; not only in Hebrews 1 and Colossians 1, which you quote, but it is said again that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. We know Him in the incarnation, but He whom we know was with the Father before. "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world."(John 16:28.) The Father's love, in giving His Son, changes its character completely, and it must be observed that, if there were no Son, there was no Father.  If the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, was it only since He was incarnate that He was sent? Undoubtedly, what is born of the Virgin is Son here below, because of his begetting by the Holy Spirit, and as Son in his incarnation, he always takes the position of receiving everything. But it is no less true that the Father sent the Son; God gave his Son. It is the Son who is the Creator. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30); it is indeed in His divine nature that He said this, and could not be otherwise. John 5 makes it clear that it is in His divinity that He speaks as Son. John 8:38, and many other passages confirm it; I do not quote them, because one might seek to weaken their force; but John 16:28, is clear. Especially as the end of the sentence determines the meaning of the word, "come into the world." To me the beginning of the 17th, is perfectly clear, for it is the Son who speaks.  

May God enlighten our brother. It is good, dear brother, to go through the trial; but God arranges everything as He sees fit. {This refers probably to Schlumberger’s wife Louise Schlumberger nee Berthoud (1812-1882) who was sickly many years of her life} - Greetings to all our friends. 

Yours affectionately

[J. N. D.]”

It is remarkable that this French letter was printed in Mai 1898 and in October of the same year F. E. Raven publicly denied eternal sonship in America (FER: Letters, p. 146 - 147).

By the way: J. G. Bellett’s well-known book "The Son of God" was expressly written for the help of saints amongst whom the doctrine attacking the Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ was prevalent. Happily it was used to their deliverance. (see A. J. Pollock: The Eternal Son, Footnote on page 51).

What Raven introduced since 1898, Taylor spread in 1929 and Coates defended in the 1930th was not “new light” but old darkness.  

Martin Arhelger


Saturday, Dec 25, 2021 : 06:14
Martin Arhelger said ...

I add the French Original for those who can read it:




A Mr P. S.  

Bien-aimé frère,  

Je vous renvoie vos notes. Je n'ai rien reçu sur le publicain et le pharisien. Quant à la doctrine dont vous parlez, je la connais depuis bien des années. Le grand docteur wesleyen Adam Clarke en était imbu et d'autres choses aussi. Je suis peiné que le cher R. y soit tombé. Cela dessèche l'âme; ce cher frère est trop penseur avec la Parole; celle-ci me paraît, et elle l'est, parfaitement claire à ce sujet; non seulement en Hébreux 1 et Colossiens 1, que vous citez, mais il est dit encore que le Père a envoyé le Fils pour être le Sauveur du monde. Nous le connaissons dans l'incarnation, mais Celui que nous connaissons était avec le Père auparavant. «Je suis sorti d'auprès du Père, et je suis venu dans le monde.» (Jean 16:28.) L'amour du Père, en donnant son Fils, change complètement de caractère, et il faut bien remarquer que, s'il n'y avait pas de Fils, il n'y avait pas de Père. Si le Père a envoyé le Fils pour être le Sauveur du monde, est-ce seulement depuis qu'il est incarné qu'il a été envoyé? Sans doute, ce qui est né de la Vierge, est Fils ici-bas, à cause de son engendrement par le Saint-Esprit, et comme Fils dans son incarnation, il prend toujours la position de tout recevoir. Mais il n'en est pas moins vrai que le Père a envoyé le Fils; Dieu a donné son Fils. C'est le Fils qui est le Créateur. «Moi et le Père, nous sommes un» (Jean 10:30); c'est bien dans sa nature divine qu'il l'a dit, et ne saurait l'être autrement. Jean 5 montre clairement que c'est dans sa divinité qu'il parle comme Fils. Jean 8:38, et beaucoup d'autres passages le confirment; je ne les cite pas, parce qu'on pourrait chercher à en atténuer la force; mais Jean 16:28, est clair. D'autant plus que la fin de la phrase détermine le sens du mot, «venu dans le monde.» Pour moi, le commencement du 17e, est parfaitement clair, car c'est le Fils qui parle.  

Que Dieu éclaire notre frère. Il est bon, cher frère, de passer par l'épreuve; mais Dieu arrange tout, comme il le trouve bon. — Saluez tous nos amis.  

Votre bien affectionné.

Saturday, Dec 25, 2021 : 06:17
Rodger said ...
Any idea who “dear R.” is?
Saturday, Dec 25, 2021 : 11:53
Mark said ...

I quote from that said earlier by Paul Allison: "FER was the subject of a relentless witch-hunt by some who had an almost idolatrous affection for Mr. Darby and did not think FER was eligible to take his place, something FER himself had no thought of doing."

It is most unlikely that “dear R” is Mr Raven, since Mr Darby’s letter is dated 1847. That it was printed in the French magazine “Messager Evangelique” in 1898 possibly is a response to Mr Raven’s visit to North America that year. 

However, if Mr Raven denied the eternal sonship of Christ in 1898, he had certainly changed his mind since 1895. Then he had said: "He is always the eternal Son. He could not be anything else. The question is whether you look at Him on God’s side or on ours. On God’s side He is the eternal Son, a divine Person of the Godhead; as such we have no part in Him. On our side He is Son as man, to bring us into sonship. The point in John 5 is, the Son quickens; in chapter 6 we appropriate Him. In chapter 5 He is on the divine side; in chapter 6 He is on our side. But it is the same Person. The eternal Son was ever there, and there could be no difference between the eternal Son and the Son born in time except as to condition. 'In the days of his flesh,' scripture says. He is Son of God in the sense that he has come out to reveal the Father, and also Son as the firstborn among many brethren. It is that Person takes that place." (Ministry of F E Raven, Volume 18, pages 265 - 266.)

Yet, it would appear that Mr Raven had not changed his view by 1898. This is what he said in that year: "I have previously spoken of the 'Mediator,' and of the 'Son of God,' the latter as a name inherited by Christ in becoming Man. Christ is the eternal Son, who became Man and inherited a more excellent name that the angels, as stated in Hebrews. (Chap. 1)" (Ministry of F E Raven, Volume 11, page 383.) 

Please notice the number of times Mr Raven used the expression “eternal Son,”  of which he is frequently accused of denying. 

As to the letter mentioned, it is found on pages 146 to 147 in the volume of FER’s letters. However, it was not written by Mr Raven as the preceding note by the editor explains. It was put there more than likely to give substance to the later teaching of James Taylor who would even have us believe that Mr Darby had reservations about the eternal sonship of Christ towards the end of his life. In fact, that to which J T refers was written in 1827, and therefore early in Mr Darby’s life.

Just one thing: this page is about Charles Andrew Coates. That which started this off was with regard to whether or not CAC at the end of his life removed his support of J T Snr. in relation to incarnational sonship. Yet, somehow, comments on Mr Raven have appeared in it. As said at the beginning, “FER was the subject of a relentless witch-hunt by some.” It would seem that he still is.

This website is an excellent primary source for research into the “Brethren” so called. We may well denounce past errors, but, importantly, we need to deal with the issues we are facing today. 

Saturday, Dec 25, 2021 : 23:47
Samuel said ...
Rossier (either JB or HL)would hardly have had doctrinal instability along the lines of what JND is correcting here?
Monday, Dec 27, 2021 : 05:00
Nick Fleet said ...
Don't think anyone has suggested it was Rossier. Whoever "dear R" was, he was someone known to JND before 1847.
Monday, Dec 27, 2021 : 18:33
Martin Arhelger said ...

1) „dear R.“ is certainly not F. E. Raven, who was born in 1837 and was 10 years old when Darby wrote this letter in 1847. Henri L. Rossier is also out of the running because he was only 2 years older than FER. HLR’s father is possible but improbable. I presume that “R.” is a man from France (or perhaps Switzerland or Germany) who is not known to us.

2) Neither
a) FER’s denial of eternal sonship (1898 or later) nor
b) CAC’s retraction of that doctrine (1945?)
can be proven with historical certainty. But a) has a more convincing evidence, because there is a contemporary letter by J. S. Allen written on October 14th 1898 - three days after the Rochester Conference (which was on October 11th 1898). I don't think we have any corresponding evidence for CAC's alleged retraction.

3) James Taylor wrote in 1929: “it was Mr. Raven who first mentioned the questionableness of the application [of “Son” to Him before incarnation] I have mentioned. This was in my hearing—when he was in America in 1902. The remarks were not published, as far as I know, but they are well known by many.” (Letters of James Taylor, Sow Hill-edition: Vol. 1, page 260; BGT-edition: vol. 2, page 69.) 1933, he wrote: “As to Mr. Raven - whom the Ayr paper quotes in support of eternal sonship - it is well known that his mind became altered as to it. Besides myself, there are many witnesses to his refusal of it, say from 1898 to the end of his service.” [FER died in 1903] (Letters of James Taylor, Sow Hill-edition: Vol. 1, page 394; BGT-edition: vol. 2, page 280.)

4) In several other cases, there can be no real doubt that JT and CAC have repeated the errors of FER. This is most clear in FER’s, CAC’s and JT’s denial of the Lord’s real humanity. Maybe I will find the time to write something about it soon. I dare say that this false doctrine about the Lord's humanity is even worse than the denial of His eternal sonship (which is truly bad enough).

Martin Arhelger


Monday, Dec 27, 2021 : 22:17
Steve H said ...
Firstly, I have previously just used the name "Steve", but I see that someone else has recently used that name, so this, and any subsequent comments by me will be "Steve H" (unless someone else chooses to use that name!

If questions were asked, for healthy, lively discussion, things would be so much different, but when people have been so dogmatic about a whole range of issues, not expecting (tolerating) any questions or challenges, is it any wonder that the brethren movement has become so divided, with numerous, very small splinter groups?

For those who were brought up on the "Little Flock" hymn books, many hymns were changed to reflect the tone of ministry in force at that time.

It is interesting to note that the wonderful hymn "Thou art the everlasting Word..." used in the 1903 edition - and I am pleased to see included in "Spiritual Songs" 1978 - was changed to "Thou art the blest incarnate Word ..." (both versions) as early as 1932, and as far as I am aware has remained like that in all subsequent editions of Hymns (and Spiritual Songs) for the "Little Flock"!

Sadly, not all Hymnology is good Theology, including various carols so often sung at this time of the year.

Also, there are many mysteries, which mere mortal man will never understand, and I suppose the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit within the Godhead is one of those.

We all need to be sure of what we believe and why, and keep referring back to the Bible to test the validity of any new ideas.

When Scripture is silent, perhaps we should all be ultra cautious about we say and write.

Thankfully. the Gospel writers have told us what we need to know about Jesus coming to earth, and the reasons He came, and all four writers describe in considerable detail the end of His life on earth, but will we ever fully understand what happened during those hours of darkness on the cross?

We may not fully understand, but we can still be very thankful, worship and adore the One who redeemed us.

Every blessing ,

Steve H

Tuesday, Dec 28, 2021 : 08:00
Brad said ...
Thank you Steve H, those are very thoughtful words, and well put. Always trusting in Him that Is our Redeemer, Brad
Tuesday, Dec 28, 2021 : 09:38
Lukas said ...
Dear brothers,
could you tell me which profession (job) CAC had?
Which worldly profession did he learn / study in his youth?
Wednesday, Dec 29, 2021 : 21:07
Nick Fleet said ...
In 1939 he was described as "Draper Retired"
Wednesday, Dec 29, 2021 : 21:20
Roger said ...
It is not clear how long he worked as a draper. In the 1881 census, when he was 18, his occupation is given as ‘draper’, the same as his father. In 1891 his occupation is given as ‘evangelist unsectarian’, in 1901 ‘preacher (unsectarian)’, in 1911 ‘preacher of the gospel (unsectarian)’ suggesting that he was no longer working. Did he have private means so he no longer needed to work, perhaps left by his father who had clearly died by 1891? In 1891 the census describes his mother as ‘living on own means’, she was still alive in 1901 but had died by 1911. They moved to Devon between 1891 and 1901.
Wednesday, Dec 29, 2021 : 22:07
Hiereus said ...
Scattered Seed, Vol. 1904

“An Earnest Word” by C.A.C.

‘I want to speak to you of a glorious Man - the Lord Jesus Christ. God says “I drew Thee with the cords of a Man, with bands of love” (Hos. xi.4). An infinitude of love is brought out in the wondrous fact that He who was God — the eternal Son — has become Man. What a story it tells . . . who can tell the love of God . . . . Yes, Jesus was the Son of God.’
The following number of references to the Eternal Son by J.N.D. were found in a cursory reading of his writings.:

Collected Writings: 72; Synopsis 14 ; Letters 4.; Notes and Comments 5.

Tuesday, Jan 4, 2022 : 04:24
Andrew Eden said ...
Although CAC in his later years had issues with JT, many things CAC said, wrote and ministered were from the old guard, as he had learned them through his older brethren as we do with ours, among the assemblies after FER's death we do see a sense of the wanting to be the leader as JND was in those earlier developments of the movement by JT. It was quite encouraging to read CAC on the Exodus and Numbers. He didn't like that JT took "see" from the London meeting and yes moved it to New York. That became a problem and should have been dissolved. But back then, the London meeting was the center where many assemblies brought the issues at hand in Darby's day. But we can see how that process with men taking a leading role gets out of hand as we saw it in his son JT Jr. We must learn to get out of the way. We often step into the way the Lord is leading and as Peter at times did get into the way, we must take matters seriously when someone gets too much in the way.
Sunday, Dec 18, 2022 : 08:23
Jack said ...
On the day of CAC 's death the headlines in the evening newspaper were "A man like Jesus has died today in Teignmouth.
Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023 : 04:15
Jack said ...
It was reported that a London brother offered to drive JT to the burial of CAC which he declined.
A J Gardiner was free to go and gave a word.
Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023 : 04:36
ALLEGRE Jean said ...
Dear brethern
I'm French, and a very bad writer in english, sorry.
I read with interest all you wrote above this very important subject.
Perhaps it 's true that CAC, in a part of his life, was in a wrong way in this question, but he wrote so many good things on (?) Christ, explaining Scriptures , searching in them God's Glory, ... that I prefer consider that Lord's love was in his heart to give us the good things of the Gospel.
In Jesus
Sunday, Jul 30, 2023 : 04:45
L said ...
@Jack: "Jack said ...
On the day of CAC 's death the headlines in the evening newspaper were "A man like Jesus has died today in Teignmouth."
Do you have a reference for this? Interesting!
Tuesday, Nov 21, 2023 : 21:15
Andy Eden said ...
CAC is widely seen in the libraries used among the Kelly Grant Booth Brethren Assemblies, but not publicly mentioned in the meetings they attend. This is so with many of the brethren writers. Many of the writers of the brethren from the early years of the movement have brought so much understanding of the Word of God. Too bad they stay separated from each other based on peripheral matters in teaching. Many Open brethren hold many of these truths but differ on the "elder" and principles pertaining to the breaking of bread and reception. But as we see the many writers of the brethren still in print its precious to see the word expounded in the light of the Gospel.

Andy Eden
Maximum Security Prison Ministries.
Thursday, Apr 25, 2024 : 04:40

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