A BOOK REVIEW AND LETTER
[The following writings are presented as a tribute to a dear friend and brother in Christ - now gone to be with his Lord. I have had the privilege of meerting Jack Green and his wife Christine at their home and having several telephone conversations with them over the years.
Jack knew G. H. Lang’s daughter Mary, and was instrumental in helping Lewis Schoettle to republishing most her father’s writings.
I am informed that the following ‘Book Review,’ was one of several which he produced for ‘Watching and Waiting’.
The ‘Letter to a brother in Christ’ he gave to me with several others, which were not to be disclosed for public reading.
The following one had his permission to be used on ‘the website’. - Ed.]
A Book Review
By. JACK A. GREEN.
Story of Conflict: The Controversial Relationship Between Benjamin Wills Newton
& John Nelson Darby, by
Jonathan D Burnham, published by Paternoster Press, P 0 Box 1047, Waynesboro,
Georgia, 30830-2047, U.S.A. Also
obtainable from Authentic Media, P 0 Box 300, Carlisle,
Blair Neatby’s ‘History of the Plymouth Brethren’ (1901) there have
been several studies of the movement’s beginnings and, recently, a number of
biographies of Darby: this fresh
publication is one of the few attempts to give full attention to B. W. Newton as well.
The details regarding J. N. Darby are so well documented, we here concentrate upon what will be of most interest to readers of ‘Watching and Waiting’: The early life, the illustrious academic career of Newton in Oxford; his spiritual quickening at University; his emergence from the political and social upheaval of the days of his youth to take his place among many other eminent persons in the spiritual awakening at Oxford in the early 19th Century; his secession from the Established Church and his rise to become the leading Elder and Teacher in the largest Brethren Assembly in England - all this and more is unfolded in interesting and detailed fashion. In addition, we are furnished with many interesting facts regarding Mr Newton’s public and private life between his leaving Brethren in 1847 and his death in 1899, at the advanced age of 91.
We are pleased to see the impartial and delicate
manner in which the author deals with the
charges of Christological Heterodoxy and outright attack on
“If it he asked why so thorough a confession and withdrawal
did not end the controversy, the answer must be that Mr. Newton’s opponents had ceased to
walk in love, and therefore carnal influences, such as bitterness, ambition, a
party spirit, overcame them. A solemn
warning to us today. It is to he remembered that this humble document was the
work of a distinguished scholar and theologian, a Fellow of
- (G. H. Lang’s ‘Departure,’ page 112).
It is of great importance to note relative to this whole controversy that the original misstatement by Mr Newton was as to RELATIONS in which the Lord Jesus stood. NOT HIS PERSON. His being God and Man in One Person, His all holiness and sinless sacrifice were never for one moment in question. Nothing would clear up this controversy quicker than to perceive the difference (see Tregelles ‘Threc Letters…’ page 24).
Readers of ‘Watching and Waiting’ will he pleased to pass on
from those ugly incidents which marred so the early history of the Brethren to
see the views of B. W.
Everyone who reads this book will not agree with every conclusion, of course. We have doubts about the underlying reasons given for the conflict at Plymouth in the 1840’s (see page 204): it is our own experience of bitter opposition and misrepresentation from those holding Darby’s views, no matter how Scripturally and lovingly opposed, the intoxication of hero worship of great teachers and the self-satisfaction this brings which causes us to agree with the words. of the great and good Dr Tregelles:-
“You appear to be so perfectly aware that the opposition to Mr Newton arose entirely from his prophetic views being disliked by Mr Darby, that I need not insist on the point. Out of this sprang all the charges against Mr. Newton, and the endeavour to condemn him on every possible ground. Had he accorded with Mr Darby on Prophecy, we should never have heard his voice raised against him as to Ministry or Church Order; his writings would not then have been scrutinised with severity, in order to glean matter of accusation. I might ask whether the writings of his opponents would stand such an ordeal?”
- (Tregelles ‘Three Letlers...’ page 71).
It was thus from the very time these new views were first urged. The reviewer would pose this question: why is it that this School has been, and is, so intolerant? This is a general statement which holds good despite many gracious exceptions. Could it be that there is a fear that to abandon their ‘ex-cathedra’ position would end in debate with an open Bible, with exact exegesis sweeping the theory away?
This work deserves wide recognition and with the
slight reservations mentioned we heartily commend it to readers of ‘Watching and
Waiting,’ and prophetic students of all schools. One good result this fine study could bring
about, would be that after 150 years of claim and counter claim Bible students
* * *
A LETTER FROM JACK A GREEN
TO A ‘BROTHER’ IN CHRIST.
Thank you for your letter of 30th of Oct. I found the contents quite a surprise! How anybody from outside Brethren could have produced so masterly a work, with so much accurate detail is quite amazing to me - and I spent many years in the so called ‘Open Brethren’!!
I too was Church of England once: I left that Church, in which I was brought up, in 1956, the year after my conversion. Alas, it has slipped so badly; it seems to me so rapidly in recent years. There are grave moral issues, it is very clear, confronting the members, not merely theological ones.
I write, however, in the knowledge that none of us is clear of the unfaithful attitude of modem Christendom. We all have situations which trouble us: it ill becomes one to be ‘holier than thou’. It is so good to read of your firm convictions regarding the foundations of the faith and of your loyalty to Christ, the incarnate Son of God. Most refreshing.
longer meet with Brethren, that is to say, of the
Yes William was a first class scholar and able theologian. I know friend Cross is to bring out a biography on him some time. I look forward to that but think he will hard put to it to better your own effort. By the way, I have no links to Edwin and ‘Kelly’ B’n apart from being a customer! For what it is worth, I rate E.C. quite an able, moderate man.
I do not know how I can help for my powers are more limited then of yore. Perhaps it will suffice to know how highly I value your labours?
Let me wish you well for the future, which is in good hands. ( Jn 3: 35 JND’s NT) *
Yours in the LORD,
[* J. N. Darby’s Translation of John 3: 35: “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things [to be] in his hand.”]