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Plymouth brethren

Plymouth brethren, Christian brethren, or Darbyites, began in Dublin in the mid-1820s when groups of young men, several from Trinity College, met for communion regardless of denomination. With no intention of starting a separate movement, they did exactly that, thanks to J. N. Darby (1800–82), a non-practising barrister who had recently resigned his Anglican orders. Growth in the 1830s was followed by predictable tensions in the 1840s, especially in Bristol and Plymouth. These culminated in the ‘Bethesda Question’ (1848), which divided brethren into open and exclusive sections. Henry Craik (1804–66), of Bethesda, Bristol, believed that all Christians should be welcome at the breaking of bread. Darby did not; for him, believers were called from the ruined church to witness against the errors of the last days. Thereafter Darby led the exclusives while men like A. N. Groves (1795–1853), the Exeter dentist who became a missionary to Baghdad and India, were associated with the open. Despite this division they remained similar in beliefs and structure: a world-denying pietism; the Bible as their supreme rule; an interest in prophecy and the Second Coming; believers' baptism; weekly breaking of bread; no set liturgy; no ordained ministry, though many full-time evangelists; a congregational polity with no co-ordinating organization. Despite their fissiparous tendencies, they spread steadily. In England and Ireland they attracted an educated membership with rather an aristocratic veneer. In Scotland, where they benefited from the revival of 1859–60, they spread in industrial and fishing communities, especially in the north-east. They also spread in Europe and the empire with missions (‘Christian Missions in Many Lands’) in central Africa, India, and Latin America. Popularly stamped with the exclusive image, reinforced in the 1960s when one exclusive section withdrew its members from universities and professional activities, their ideal atmosphere is better seen as one of spiritual and intellectual liberty set in a context of brotherly love.

Clyde Binfield

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"Plymouth brethren." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren, group of Christian believers originating in the early 19th cent. in Ireland and spreading from there to the Continent (especially Switzerland), the British dominions, and the United States. One of their notable leaders was John Nelson Darby; the members are sometimes known as Darbyites. They refer to themselves as Brethren, Christians, or Believers. In a reaction against the formality of prescribed ritual, the requirements of ministerial ordination, and other established conditions in the churches of the times, groups of believers began to meet independently in Dublin and elsewhere for spiritual communion. Associations were formed c.1828 in Dublin and c.1830 at Plymouth, England, whence the popular name Plymouth Brethren. Brethren hold differing opinions concerning baptism and expect the personal premillennial second coming of Christ. The Lord's Supper, as a commemorative act of worship, is observed once a week. Followers of different leaders withdrew from time to time from the main body to form new congregations. This tendency to divide was carried over into the United States and Canada by emigrants, who established new meetings of the Brethren there. In the United States there are eight separate divisions, some of the exclusive type, stressing congregational interdependency, and some of the open type, stressing the independence of congregations. Basically fundamentalist, the Brethren consider the Scriptures the only true guide. No officers are chosen to preside over the congregations; the privileges and duties of the ministry depend upon the personal gift of the individual member. Membership in the United States is c.98,000.

See study by F. R. Coad (1968).

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Brethren, Plymouth

Brethren, Plymouth. A movement within Christianity, so-called from the location of its first tract depot in England, although it had been founded previously in Ireland (1828). An early leader was J. N. Darby (1800–82). It sought to establish life and the Church on Biblical, especially New Testament, principles, and laid emphasis on the millennium and on separation from evil. There have been a number of divisions, notably between the Open and the Exclusive Brethren.

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"Brethren, Plymouth." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren a strict Calvinistic religious body formed at Plymouth in Devon c.1830, having no formal creed and no official order of ministers. Its teaching emphasizes an expected millennium and members renounce many secular occupations, allowing only those compatible with New Testament standards. As a result of doctrinal and other differences, a split in 1849 resulted in the formation of the Exclusive Brethren and the Open Brethren.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren Strictly Puritan sect of evangelical Christians, founded in Ireland in the late 1820s by J. N. Darby, an ordained Anglican. Their name comes from the sect's first English centre at Plymouth in 1831. In 1849 they split into two groups, the ‘Open Brethren’ and the ‘Exclusive Brethren’, and have since split further.

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Plymouth Brethren

Plymouth Brethren. See BRETHREN, PLYMOUTH.

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