[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






A 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, Cumbria, CA3 OQS, Price £19.99.






Since W. Blair Neatby’sHistory 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.  Newton broke with Brethren in 1847 before their first great division.  Hence, as he was never either Open or Exclusive, he is usually dealt with in brief.  Hitherto we have been indebted to Mr G. H. Fromow’sTeachers of The Faith and The Future’ for in-depth information on Newton, his life and theology, but Dr. Burnham has done much to redress the balance.  He uses all possible sources in a masterly fashion to place within small compass the Christology, understanding of Ministry, Church Order and Prophetic Truth set forth by, what was then, the infant movement.



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 Newton’s personal character after the views of Darby and Newton became irreconcilable.  The latter charge was declared quite unfounded by a body of independent brethren who investigated them, as Burnham fully shows: as to the former charge we refer our readers to Mr Fromow’s book ‘Teachers of the Faith and The Future,’ Chapter 28 – ‘A Statement and Acknowledgement and a Humble Letter,’ especially the words of G. H. Lang therein quoted.  Commenting on Newton’s ‘Confession’ he said:-



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 Exeter College, Oxford.  It shows how the grace of God can preserve from pride, by enabling one to humiliate himself publicly over public failure.  A very needed and yet encouraging lesson for us today.  Mr. Newton’s failure shows that scholarship of the highest order does not render a teacher infallible.  Hence, we should not slavishly follow any man, however eminent or godly.  This applies as fully te J. N.  Darby amid Mr. Newton’s other opponents as to himself.  While ready to learn from all, and thankful for all true knowledge, we must follow the Lord and His Word only.  But still more emphatically do these remarks apply to not following men uneducated and untrained in the difficult problems of theology, for such are still more likely to miss the way.  We must not worship education, and much less ignorance.  Brethren to-day should remember that the group of men whom God chose that He might commence by them this powerful spiritual movement formed a brilliant galaxy of classical and theological talent and acquirement.”


- (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 TregellesThrec 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.  Newton on Ministry, Church Order, Prophetic and Dispensational Truth and God’s Plans for Israel and the Church faithfully reproduced.



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?”


- (TregellesThree 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 read what Newton actually wrote on any given subject.  It would be best if those interested in the Prophetic Word were to become ‘noble Bereans’ who, with all readiness of mind daily search the Scriptures whether these things are so (Acts 17: 11).



*       *       *











Dear Brother



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.


I no longer meet with Brethren, that is to say, of the Plymouth type.  It took many years for the ‘penny to drop’ vis-a-vis their teachings, which are too far fetched to be real.  Indeed, they are too good to be true.  The whole thing from the overdone perfect standing of the believer, the eternal security linked with it (apart from responsibility of any kind), the exemption from the Great Tribulation by guaranteed Rapture of every last one to the certain share of each in the Kingdom of the 1000 years ( Rev. 20 ) makes them the most exalted and privileged among all God’s people.  Their attitude to the reception of other believers on the ground of LIGHT not LIFE is, I think now, all wrong.  (Romans 14: 1 might have read ‘Him that is strong ... receive’ as far as most are concerned: however, G.H. Lang and other excellent individuals among them protested).  As my Grandmother, a Methodist, used to say of them, ‘if there is a razor edged text in the Bible, it is always for somebody else’.  Albeit, I owe so much to them and they have produced so many good teachers.  I give thanks also for the many godly people I met among them.  There is no doubt the initial movement advanced the cause of Christ, promoted Bible knowledge and spread prophetic truth far and wide.  How they have fallen, you no doubt know.


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.”]