Some twenty years ago, one of my research interests was history, in particular church history and including the history of the Plymouth Brethren, resulting in works like “Coleman Street’s Children” and “Who are the Brethren”. That interest remains, although my writing efforts have shifted (check out my website to see how). Up to eight years ago, when my assembly closed, most of my church life was in association with the PBs (Open, middle of the road section) and I was keen to know more about its history and origins.
There were many influential figures in the emergence of the Plymouth Brethren, notably one John Nelson Darby, who may well have been its biggest influence, even among Open Brethren types who he disassociated from in 1848 over the “Bethseda question” (see here for a slightly biased account). Last week, I attended a webinar that was organised by the Brethren Archivists and Historians Network (BAHN), titled “When and Why did J. N. Darby Address his Roman Catholic Brethren?”, led by Professor Crawford Gribben, some of whose writings can be found on the Internet, and attended by some I knew as scholars of Brethrenism from the past when I was more involved. It was partly because of my interest in what made Darby tick that led to my presenting two Darby related papers, when back in the day I went to BAHN conferences:
That interest remains, evidenced by my attendance at the webinar. My recently published book “Prophets of the Bible” came about partly because of my Brethren mentor influence, in particular in End Times prophecy, many of which held many of Darby’s views on eschatology. Part of my present writing interests arises out of my being a watchman on the wall, e.g. “Great Reset, Great Awakening and Great Deception” and that touches on Bible prophecy and, strangely enough, the influence of J.N.Darby, which true to my understanding of the man, still attracts both strong supporters and bitter opposers.
I have often said (a bit tongue in cheek), I am more a fan of Darby’s ecclesiology (e.g. his church in ruins notions), which clearly many of his US fundamentalist fans are not into with their well-defined church structures, rather than his eschatology, which they are (while I am a Pre-Millenialist and do NOT believe Israel has been replaced, I do not subscribe to the Pre-Trib Rapture idea and, because I began to see where it led in terms of making parts of the Bible as non applicable to the Church, starting when I was an enquiring teen, some Darbyite dispensational notions).
It seems to me, in the light of the extraordinary happenings going on around us, begging the question where all this will lead, I have found many Christians don’t care or adopt the que sera sera school of thought or are so taken up by the official narrative they may even welcome what may be coming, influenced by media, politicians and the elite of society. Of those who are concerned:
- The anti Great Reseters (who are often anti Great Awakening), while deploring what this will amount to, e.g. global enslavement, believe what we are witnessing is all ushering in the reign of the Antichrist with the true church being raptured (i.e. out of it), the Great Tribulation, Israel coming into its own and Christ returning to planet earth in glory and set up His millennial kingdom, much of which in accordance with Darby’s eschatology teachings.
- The pro Great Awakeners who see this as the antidote to what the tiny evil cabal are pushing, i.e. the Great Reset, whose plans are arguably currently being exposed and will receive their comeuppance at the hand of the White Hats and ushering in a 1000 years of peace, not so dissimilarly to the Post- Millennialism that Darby vehemently opposed.
- The mix and matchers (the group I find myself more drawn to) who believe we will see a mix of Great Reset and Great Awakening and also a lot of Great Deception, who see us all going through at least some Great Tribulation, prior to meeting Christ in the air and onto His 1000 reign following the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and after that the Final Judgement and the alternatives such as the Lake of Fire and the New Heaven and the New Earth, but opting out of getting involved in this world’s affairs is not an option if we are to love our neighbor.
- An assortment whose views of End Time prophecy are varied, may reject both Great Reset and Great Awakening ideas (but not Great Deception given Satan operates both as the Prince of darkness and an angel of light) with some, who have given Darby much thought, being strongly anti-Darby in their views, more so than what I have seen up to recently.
One article, I have come across is: “John Nelson Darby, Freemasonry & the Pyramids”. There are others I recall, e.g. linking Darby with his ancestral home, Leap Castle, Satanism and Freemasonry. I noticed an interesting Wikipedia article on Leap Castle. Most recently, I came a video titled “Darby’s Haunted Castle: Jeremy and Rick Wiles Discuss Rapture Origin”. The introduction reads: “They will discuss the origins of the false teaching known as the rapture and how it has infiltrated the West’s churches and seminaries. Rick will unpack the history of John Nelson Darby and the haunted castle he lived in, “Doctor” Cyrus Scolfield, and how Zionism ties in with this false teaching”. As a Darby fan, albeit not all of his teachings and ways, I find these examples hard to stomach but not to be ignored.
What I have written is not meant as an academic treatise but rather a personal account of J.N.Darby on my own spiritual journey, some negative but a lot positive too. In my book, I reflect on one tiny example of Darby’s teachings, that of the unprofitable servant (Luke 17:10) and the importance my early PB mentors (and Darby) attached to being faithful. While how world events will pan out may be a matter of contention, we know that Christ is returning and we can take comfort in God’s Word. We do indeed live in interesting times but we know the final outcome and need to hope in God.