John Nelson Darby

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by agedman, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. agedman

    agedman
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    In the thread on John Darby's dispensation, I brought up that I hadn't read anything that man wrote.

    Subsequently, I spent a bit of time quick reading some of his writing, and challenged one source on that thread about a claim of heresy.

    Here is what I desire for this thread, and what I think is important.

    There are many of you members of the BB who are far more read on this topic, and I desire to use you for a resource. What do you have on this man, and what can be shown as documentation of truth or error he produced?

    Understand, that as I did on the other thread, I will attempt to look at what is stated, go to the original documents as available on the web, and agree or disagree and show why.

    Perhaps it would be considerate to not overlap "Dispensationalism" into this thread. Let's leave it to the other and deal more with topics such as the soteriology teaching, or some other aspect not considered in that thread.

    I am NOT in any manner attempting to support or not support, but want as much factual information so that I personally can determine the veracity of the charge laid by some of not only his day but following that he was heretical in teaching.

    I am a bit overwhelmed with the volume of reading his writings, so any banter back and forth on this man will be helpful.

    I want to thank all who will participate for any wisdom they share.
     
  2. Jerome

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    He was not Baptist, but Plymouth Brethren. This belongs in the Other Christian Denominations forum.
     
  3. agedman

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    Not so, Jerome.

    Because the discussion is not about "Other Christian Denominations." It is about ONE man's teaching that has been called heretical.

    It is seeking exactly what that man taught and such documentation as can be shown on that topic - which encompasses everything else other than eschatology - which is the subject of another thread.

    IF the discussion was about the "Brethren" then it would have been placed or moved to that forum.

    But it is not. It is about an individual who happens to have been involved in the Brethren, and has had tremendous impact upon Baptists.
     
  4. agedman

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    Was Darby an antinomianian? (is there such a word?)

    According to this resource by the Brethern, he isn't. HERE

    At least all that I have read so far is not indicating that he was.
     
  5. agedman

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    Definition of ANTINOMIAN. 1. : one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. 2. : one who rejects a socially established morality. (Merriam-Webster)

    What Darby had was a healthy opposition to a hierarchy of church leadership, a leadership in his day that was more often corrupt and holding greater to politics than the truth of Scriptures. No better than the RCC previous to the established, authorized, government supported, and politic filled group in which he was originally a member.

    What Brethren seem to be about is the studious and somber worship in which each believer is held responsible to the others for maturing and growth.

    That is what I have gleaned from the reading so far.

    There is a problem with the members of the BB not being in part antinomian. Do we not hold that salvation is by the Grace and Faith of God and not of any effort or merit of the believer to attain? What then is the moral law's value? Is it a judge or is it the guide?

    Does the moral law hold any strength as it pertains to salvation? It is that link when taken to extreme that antinomianism holds is non-existent.

    Is Darby correct in having such thinking as part of his basic doctrine, or did he actually state a view that was NOT antinomian, but more in line with that of typical Doctrines of Grace teaching?

    Did Darby hold that the Mosaic law in all the binding and covenants are not the rule of life, but rather serve as motivational and demonstrative examples of somber religious worship?

    Should members of the BB have any other information that will place Darby in a different light, then please post it. It needs to be actual words from the man. Not what others have said about what the man said.

    The words that would condemn him must ultimately be related to some monstrous Scriptural error that he held and taught to others.
     
    #5 agedman, Nov 29, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015
  6. agedman

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    I am not even beginning to scratch what Darby wrote. And I can see how some of his work, taken out of the context of what he was addressing can, as it is with most that have this happen, be skewed.

    In this matter, I have also run across great writing by a man named Benjamin Willis Newton. He and Darby were together each looking at the other as disciple and mentor, but after a time, broke fellowship. Typical of a very strong personalities, the battle soon becomes personal and driven more by personality than by the truth.

    Newton thought that Darby was placing too much emphasis upon the "rapture" (I do, too) and the separation/rejection of Jews during what is called a church age. Apparently, Newton (as I do, too) considers the church is all redeemed of all ages, manifesting to this earth as local assemblies who are responsible for the care and stewardship of the matters of faith and practice.
     
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  7. OldRegular

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    If you believe that the CHURCH consists of the redeemed of all time {I do also!} then why are you worrying about DARBY?? It does not make sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  8. agedman

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    Well, you were the one that actually started me on this project. So I blame you! :)

    I knew literally nothing of the man, his teaching, or of his character of life.

    I found he was a popular, head strong, opinionated, and intellectual. I don't like the way he treated others that disagreed with him, and especially on the place of the rapture. I doubt that we would have gotten along very well. He was not gracious with opposition.

    But the catalyst to do a great reading of his writing was to prove that in fact he was at least close to being heretical. Again, it was your insistence on the matter, that I needed to be able to verify or show was in error. Not from what others stated, but from the actual writing of the person - first source accounts.

    The trouble is the huge volume of material, and the amount of time I have.

    I have asked that the BB membership that are more schooled in the work of Darby to assist in pointing out what may be questionable or errors of doctrine. But I really need first hand statements and not what some one said about what he said. For that way, I can state without question the truth of the matter.
     
  9. OldRegular

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    YOU forgot that he had a new revelation about Isiah 32 and came up with the pre-trib-rapture!
     
  10. agedman

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    So did Russell have a "revelation" that developed preterist views.

    You ask "...why are you worrying about DARBY?"

    Because I knew nothing of the man, what he actually taught, and what was his conduct with others.

    I want specific first hand accounts that when discussions that either bring up Darby, or some aspect of his teaching, I can essentially say, "I agree with him on these points ...., but I disagree with him on these points ..."

    But, it isn't enough to disagree with him in matters of eschatology because of his chart. Other views have aspects in them I don't agree with, too. That doesn't make him or others necessarily evil or heretical.

    However, if I can find such intent (error) in his writings that contain the doctrines of faith that are more soteriological-ly based, then that is a matter of grave concern.

    But, I really do not expect to complete the task. It is too exhausting to read exhaustively all that man wrote. :)
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    Some who throw around that term would say that anyone who would not see us as still being under the yoke of the 10 Commandments qualify for that term!
     
  12. John of Japan

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    Can you source this idea that he had a "revelation"? I haven't found it in my sources.
     
  13. John of Japan

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    I'm going to post here a lecture outline about Darby I've just finished preparing for my class next semester in "Dispensational Theology." The formatting will largely disappear when I post it, but hopefully it will be a help.

    Lecture 4

    John Nelson Darby



    INTRODUCTION: John Nelson Darby was largely responsible for the modern theology of dispensationalism. While others before him believed in and taught that there are dispensations, he was the first to systematize the theology and teach it that way. As such, he is a primary target for those who hate and oppose dispensationalism. Therefore, we should understand what we can about this seminal theologian.


    I. The Life and Ministry of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

    A. Darby was born in London and educated at Trinity College in Dublin.

    B. Graduating with a law degree, he practiced it for a while, but then abandoned law to serve God in the Church of Ireland. Interestingly enough, the same was true of C. I. Scofield, who later on spread dispensational doctrine extremely effectively.

    C. Darby trusted Christ as Savior in 1820 or 1821, he was not sure. He left the established church in 1927 when he began to have doubts about established religion.

    D. “Darby wrote voluminously on a wide range of subjects, including doctrinal, controversial, devotional, practical, apologetic, and metaphysical” (Who Was Who in Church History, by Elgin Moyer, p. 112). However, his writing style was turgid and difficult to read.

    E. Beginning in the 1860s he visited America and began the Plymouth Brethren movement there, with many churches being started.

    F. “He was a hymn-writer and edited the hymnbook generally used by the Brethren” (Moyer, p. 112).

    G. “Darby translated the New Testament into both German and French, as well as doing an English translation. He also assisted in translating the Old Testament into both German and French” (ibid). His translations are still available in software packages and on the Internet.


    II. Darby the Plymouth Brethren Founder

    A. This branch of the Brethren movement had their largest congregation in Plymouth, England, hence the name. It was lead by Darby among others.

    B. Darby’s ecclesiology rules various groups of the Plymouth Brethren to this day.

    1. “They recognized no division of clergy and laity, insomuch as they held that they were ‘a priesthood of all believers” (Handbook of Denominations, 6th ed., by Frank S. Mead, p. 69)

    2. “Plymouth Brethren hold that the true church includes all regenerated believers. There are no specific requirements for membership, but all candidates are expected to give satisfactory evidence of the new birth” (ibid).

    3. One of the branches, the Plymouth Brethren I, continues to follow Darby. It practices closed communion even with other Brethren members, and “does not accept members from other groups unless and until they renounce all affiliation with those groups” (ibid, p. 70).

    C. Though the Plymouth Brethren are certainly not Baptists, there are many similarities, since they do their best to follow the New Testament in their faith and practice. At a minimum, they are far closer to the Biblical model than the Anglicans which Darby left. We should honor their love for the Bible while disagreeing with them on ecclesiology.


    III. Darby the Dispensational Theologian

    A. A number of the teachings of Darby were innovative for the time, and changed millenialism for the better while laying the groundwork for dispensational theology: a secret rapture, a parenthetic church age, distinguishing clearly between the church and Israel, etc.

    B. “Darby believed that when it appeared in the Bible, the new covenant always referred to Israel and consequently had nothing to do with God’s heavenly people. Chafer followed Darby as closely as possible, but had to recognize that the New Testament did speak of a ‘new covenant’ which was in force for the church in this dispensation” (Progressive Dispensationalism, by Craig Blasing and Darrel Bock, pp. 28-29).

    C. Darby was also influential in founding the Christian Zionist movement, which lobbied for the return of the Jews to their Promised Land. This was a direct result of Darby’s dispensationalism, which taught that God’s promises to the Jews were still in force.


    IV. The Character and Legacy of Darby

    A. The brilliance of his theology is hard to deny. The fact that so many today
    seek to disparage him shows his influence.

    B. Unfortunately, his manner was such that he often offended people, and
    this is what some commentators on his life and ministry focus on.

    1. In a dispute with another leader, Benjamin W. Newton, “Darby first accused Newton of attempting to dominate the Plymouth meeting, to impose his will upon a group of special followers, and to create a separate sect; but within a few months he added a charge of heresy in respect to the doctrine of Christ. Although there was a good deal of truth in these charges, the vindictive and violent manner in which they were brought and the persistence with which they were pursued…create the impression that Darby was unable to tolerate rivals to his leadership” (The Roots of Fundamentalism, by Ernest Sandeen, p. 61).

    2. Darby was quite dismissive of any group but his own. “Darby, in combination with all the Plymouth Brethren, believed that the church could not be identified with any of the denominational and bureaucratic structures which historically had made and presently were making that claim. The true church, the bride of Christ as Darby often referred to it, could only exist as a spiritual fellowship” (ibid, p. 62).

    3. “Like many of the millenarian scholars of his time, Darby had little patience or respect for other students of prophecy. His intolerant nature combined with confidence in the direction of the Holy Spirit to prevent Darby from appreciating how much his theology reflected the millenarian tradition from which he attempted to separate it” (ibid, p. 67).

    4. Darby and his followers sometimes gained converts from good people in established evangelical churches rather than winning the lost, and for this they were justly criticized.

    C. In spite of the negative aspects of his ministry and character, Darby is to be
    commended for his insistence on a premillennial and pretribulational secret
    rapture of the church. More than any other millenarians of his day, he was
    responsible for the spread of these blessed premillenial doctrines.

    D. Also, his development of dispensational theology prepared the way for the
    stand fundamentalists take for the literal interpretation of Scriptures and
    against covenant theology.

    E. Again, he was quite fundamental in doctrine and believed in ecclesiastical
    separation, so in this way also he prepared the way for modern
    fundamentalism. “Darby made his greatest impact in the United States,
    however, outside of the Brethren congregations in a few large cities…. It is
    in just these centers that dispensationalist theology had the most effect
    upon American denominations and won its foremost champions among
    denominational leaders” (ibid, p. 74).

    F. He led the way in opposing two heresies of his day, both of which are still
    common: the perfectionism of the Weslyans and the annihilationism of the
    Seventh Day Adventists.

    G. Perhaps the most famous adherent of the Plymouth Brethren has been
    Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951, a great preacher, author and pastor. Despite
    being one of the Brethren, he was called as pastor of Moody Memorial
    Church in Chicago, where he preached from 1930 to 1948, spreading
    dispensational theology there. Ironside was a close friend of fundamentalist
    leader John R. Rice, even writing the forward to Rice’s book, Bible Facts
    About Heaven.


    CONCLUSION: Though they are not Baptist, the Plymouth Brethren have always been quite fundamental. Though Darby is somewhat of a historical mystery, since little research has been done on his life, he clearly influenced such centers of dispensational theology as Dallas Theological Seminary, and such authors as C. I. Scofield and Charles Ryrie. His spiritual legacy is undeniable, and we owe him a debt of gratitude, and should give thanks to God for raising him up.
     
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  14. agedman

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    You may want to edit the date. :)

    That is for certain and sure!!!

    I am quickly finding that I will probably give up the reading "adventure" pretty soon.
    Do you have a comment to share on his translation work?

    Imo, the view Darby seems to take is anti Church of England type clergy and laity. Not so much of a "home pastor" of a local assembly. Or one that was the assemblies representative leader. He seems to not argue that there are "some pastors and some teachers" and I haven't read were he considers them blended as one, but he could have recognized that some are gifted in both. However, what he rebelled against is the chain of command superimposed by the hierarchy of cardinal, bishop and clergy such as the CofE has to this day.

    You may want to discuss this with the students to make certain that they get a clear understanding of the difference brought over from the Papists into the Church of England which is also continued reflections in most denominations to this day (Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran) including the SBC (as much as there are those who deny such, it still remains). Even among "fundamental" groups, they cling to loyalties and alliances by school or group. It seem part of the human nature to associate and within that there will always be those who desire to impose influence upon others.

    I am so glad that you point out this distinction. Not ALL dispensation folks are clones of Darby. Many dispensation folks have taken from a number of thinkers and (imo) Darby would be more than satisfied with the Scriptural view. He did seem to place the Scriptures as the single factor in his reasoning.
    I wonder if Spurgeon did not fall into this ditch when he relied upon others who were critical of Darby. There is an inconsistency his negative statements about Darby and what he himself taught. The teaching of Spurgeon and Darby are fairly consistent with each other. But that is my own reading, and not a line by line comparison. So that is yet to be firm footing.

    Warn the students under your care that taking a stand can hurt the truth IF the character behind the stand is unworthy of the character of the stand. Truth is truth. And Cor 13 declares that without love, no matter the ability to speak truth (angelic or human) the truth is dismissable as an irritation and painful noise.


    This is opposite of the view expressed of some posters on the BB.

    As your year progresses, perhaps there will be some significant aspect of the writing of Darby that you will share that either gives credence to the negative labels, or dispels such.

    Thank you for your contribution.
     
  15. Rippon

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    I want to address some of what JJ wrote.

    Darby was not the sole translator of "his" Bible translations. These translations were not based on the TR.

    I have have never heard of Plymouth Brethren 1.

    The exclusives or "Closed Brethren" are a distinct minority. But even they are splintered.

    The "Open Brethren" are in the majority. They too are divided up. The "Gospel Halls" group are a more conservative wing of the OB.

    There are Fundamentalists today who agree with Covenant Theology --though they are in the minority.

    Many of those who contributed to The Fundamentals were not dispensationalists.

    J.N. Darby was a strong Calvinist. I know that may sound like a contraction since he was a dispensationalist. But remember that A.W. Pink also was a dispensationalist. He didn't renounce it until the last 22 or so years of his life.

    D.L. Moody and J.N. Darby did not get along. Nevertheless, "Moodyism" (my neologism)adopted many eschatological principles of Darby.
     

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