Who are the brethren? Where do they come from? What do they believe?

The brethren history began in the early 1800’s among radical evangelicals, who broke from the Church of England. They were generally dissatisfied with the church officials and were looking for a pure spiritual renewal.  The Brethren have continued to be a ‘movement’, because although there are several assemblies with similar tendencies and beliefs, they have generally resisted taking an official name or denominational headquarters, and do not have to do with each other. You can read more about it here.

The brethren’s beliefs is founded on the principle of Dispensationaliam. This is the belief the history of Christians and God is divided into eras, or dispensations. God offers humanity a path for eternal salvation by following his calling. Each dispensation has ended with humanity failing  to fulfill their calling. Members currently believe they are in the Dispensation of Grace. The chart below shows the different dispensations.

It is a complicated movement because there have been several disagreements between the leaders, resulting in splits and several different types of brethren. For this brief discourse, I am going to concentrate on the group of brethren initiated by James Nelson Darby (1800-1882), because the branch referred to in Three Sisters Exclusive claim him as their founder.

This group follows a rigid code of conduct and have very little to do with anyone else, even other Christians. They adhere to Biblical teaching, but only use their founder’s translation. The group, as a whole, is made up of numerous smaller assemblies spread across the globe. Each local assembly has a designated leader who answers to the area leader. Each area leader answers to the continent’s leader, who then reports to the universal leader, or ‘man of god’. This chain of command can get quite cumbersome as no local leader would make an assembly decision without first finding out what the ‘man of god’ thinks he should do. These assembly decisions can be anywhere from determinations in business or marriage, to member discipline or monthly conventions.

The brethren group known as the closed or exclusive brethren, declare they are living pure lives for Christ, hence their need to separate themselves from the corruption in the world. They base this on certain scriptures in the Bible and are quite diligent in their convictions. Generally, their only contact with the rest of the world is through business. They are convinced they are walking the straitened road that leads to glory. An interesting fact to note is their ‘straitened road’ consists of large comfortable houses, top-of-the line transportation, and an abundance of very wealthy businesses.

Epistles have been written regarding the brethren. My intention here was just to provide my readers with a little background information.

Questions and comments are welcome.

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