Updated comment on The Exclusive Brethren web site in May 2009:-
A few comments regarding the above web site appear called for.
(1) The obvious mistakes in the PDF articles which I pointed out in 2005 have not been corrected.
(2) A link to a web site on the right hand side of the home page only leads to an unused site.
(3) The pages for education and schooling; business and employment still have the message “Coming Soon”, though it is now four years since this wording appeared. It is true that some information on these subjects appears elsewhere on the site, but if this is all the site owners want to say then one would have expected them to remove these pages.
The writers of the site seem confident that they are prospering. This may well be so financially and numerically, but one can discern no evidence that they are prospering spiritually. What evidence there is today suggests that a good many of those breaking bread are not in the gain of the Gospel let alone anything else. It is true many Christian missions have the Gospel and not much more, but that is better than having a head knowledge of assembly truth without the Gospel in a real way. Keeping persons in the fellowship who do not really know the Lord can only drag down the spiritual condition of the company: “The young... have been brought up in connection with the assembly, and have come in without much exercise or opposition, and they, it may be unwittingly, bring the world in with them, and if we do not look out we shall be swamped by it.” (F. E. R. New Series, Vol. 14 page 235). From what is said on page four of the web site the young (children) come in without any exercise at all ! It is worse than numerical reduction (John 6, particularly verse 66). See my article: The Many and the Few on my other web site.
Apart from what is on the web site I have before me a letter to the Evangelical Times apparently in 1999. It is signed by three brothers only one of which I have known personally. He in fact taught me to drive a car.
The letter is critical of two articles in the aforesaid paper. The information on which the articles were based is said to be disaffected persons. However, one cannot attribute all criticism to a relatively few such persons because a very large number of brethren, particularly in Scotland, which was near the epicentre of the moral earthquake, disassociated themselves from Mr. Jim Taylor because of what happened at Aberdeen. There are as a result a number of relatively large splinter groups. It must be considered that by the early seventies almost all those who were ministering brethren in James Taylor Snr’s time were no longer walking with Exclusives. Some had been taken to be with the Lord before 1960 and did not count, such as Fred Hemmings and Percy Hardwick. Others were taken after they left the followers of Jim Taylor, such as Edward Hemmings and Gerald Cowell. Those that repudiated the course of Jim Taylor in 1970 such as Mr. Ephgrave were not world bordering persons, but persons who until then that had been Mr Taylor’s ardent supporters. What about the Mason brothers for other examples ?
1. As to Plymouth I have no doubt that Mr. Darby was right to make a stand against Mr Newton. Had he and others not done so Brethren would have become like what they are now, a company following a leader whose word and conduct mustn’t be challenged. Further, as to Mr. Newton’s teachings as to Christ’s sufferings before his atoning sufferings on the cross, it must be acknowledged that Jim Taylor also taught what was wrong as to Christ’s sufferings after He had died and when he was in paradise (Luke 23:43). I have considered the matters I am speaking about in detail in my books which are available to persons that are seriously interested without charge if they contact me. See this website, front page.
2. As to Mr. Raven: he was by no means infallible, but I do not think that either he or those who supported him were heretics. The whole of orthodox Christendom (Catholic and Protestant alike) is to this day leavened with the creeds of the Church of Rome and Mr. Raven went at least some way to getting the matter corrected. Mr. Stoney said: “None of us is a Romanist. Yet there is not one of us who has not been leavened with it.”(New Series Vol. 2 page 398).
3. As to the Spirit’s voice today: it will certainly be in accord with the Scriptures. However, we need to be clear that there will be no new doctrine that is true propounded today though our understanding of what is in the Scriptures may be learned more exactly (Acts 18:26). It will not be new doctrine based on a so-called authoritative interpretation of difficult passages. The Spirit may use persons to draw attention to particular parts of the truth as necessary at any one time.
4. One could say a lot as to this paragraph, but I will content myself with drawing attention to the fact that videos can be good, bad or indifferent. Some have educational value for example, whereas others may be pornographic. Similarly one can have tapes which are good, bad or indifferent. However, these are not apparently banned, because for many years they have been used to record readings and addresses.
5. As to leaders, it should be noted that the passages quoted (1 Thessalonians 5:12; Hebrews 13:7) speak of leaders in the plural, not of an overall leader for there is none save Christ Himself. However, from ones personal experience it was clear that Exclusives got into a state where the pronouncements of Jim Taylor could not be challenged without it being likely that the objector would find himself excluded from fellowship. Mr. Stoney once said: “Clericalism is the assumption of rule in a teacher” (New Series Vol. 2:122). Mr. Raven did not impose his views on anyone: “No one is bound by anything I have said except myself, for no one is called on to receive it... I am not ashamed to put out my convictions... but they have no authority over anyone else ” (Letters page 196).
6. As to alcoholism, it was common knowledge in the early 1960's that Jim Taylor habitually drank whiskey and it was said that others drank whiskey to be like Mr Jim ! As to adultery, I recollect that not so long ago an American president said: “I did not have sex with that woman”, by this I think he meant: “I did not do anything that could have given her a baby”. I think in that sense what he said was true. I suspect it was also true that Jim Taylor did not do anything that could have given the woman in his bed a baby, at least I have never heard that she had one by him. However, is that justification for having any married woman in my bed if she is willing ? Leaders are supposed to be models for the flock (1 Peter 5:3). What Mr. Jim Taylor did, if it was right, any man can do. If we say they can’t then we clearly go against Scripture. However, let us look at Scripture. Ephesians 5:3 speaks of: “fornication and all uncleanness”. Scripture often in this way includes a sweeping up clause so that we cannot escape on a technicality. Thus we have “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Is smoking a sin ? If we do it, do we come short of the glory of God? Further, Christ when here spoke of persons committing adultery in their heart (Matthew 5:27/28). Often in the Old Testament we have the thought of persons lying together (e.g. 1 Samuel 2:22). Note: it was priests that were doing this. Incidentally, the case of Abishag a Shunamite (1 Kings 1:3/4) will not help to justify Jim Taylor’s conduct because she was not a married woman. The woman in John 8 was taken in the very act, committing adultery (verse 4). However one does not have to be taken in the act in every case in order to be condemned. As to Jim Taylor, in view of his age and the state of his health (he died not long after Aberdeen) he was probably incapable of copulating. About the time I reached his age I ceased to be able to copulate.
Finally, as the writers of the letter say we can commit all into the hands of the Lord, the righteous judge. This is better than going to a court of law in this world. See my other web site: Should a Christian go to law for redress ?
The article commented on can be read at the time of my writing on http://www.caic.org.au/biblebase/brethren/taylorites.htm.
I have now before me the piece entitled The Aberdeen Issue - 1970. It appears in Appendix 2 in Roger Shuff’s book “ SEARCHING FOR THE TRUE CHURCH” but I can’t trace it on the Internet. I have therefore shown it here after my comments. It has apparently been in circulation amongst Exclusives since 1988.
To me this piece is about the worst I have seen from Exclusives. Usually they appear to confine their comments to telling us how good they are and ignore where possible things they would prefer to sweep under the carpet, such as Aberdeen ! However, when they do, as here speak about Aberdeen, what we get is assertions. Detailed facts hardly appear.
It is stated that Jim Taylor ate very little and drank even less. When he did drink, what did he drink ? Was it only whiskey or did he drink such things as tea, coffee, soft drinks and water ? We are not told, but it is common knowledge that we need adequate liquid refreshment for health reasons.
It is asserted that Mr. Taylor “was consistently in full control, not only of every faculty, but also in every situation.” This really only makes matters worse, because one can regard a person when acting in an unseemly way, if not in his right mind, as deserving of some sympathy. This does not apply to a person who is of sound mind.
The Exclusives in their article appear to be doing everything they can to exonerate Jim Taylor and to condemn those who took issue with him. It is said that “Mr. Taylor’s chief accuser was later proved to be both morally perverted and a liar”. They do not say who the accuser was, what the lies were or what the moral perversion was. One assumes from other sources that they are speaking about Stanley McCallum. I would say that I hold no brief for him. However, I have never heard that he was brought before his local assembly and given a hearing there. This is essential. After all, “we shall all be placed before the judgment-seat of God... So then each of us shall give an account concerning himself to God” (Romans 14:10 and 12). Were charges against Mr. Taylor ever considered in assembly, or was Mr. Taylor immune from such arraignment as Benjamin Newton claimed to be (See J. N. Darby’s Narrative of Facts particularly pages 36, 46, 50, and 51; also Letters Vol.1 page 120) ? Should we exclude persons from fellowship without giving them a hearing ? (Consider John 7:51 and Acts 25:16) Are we to be less just than the world ?
There is another point to consider. When did the offences of Stanley McCallum take place, if they did ? If it was a significant period of time before 1970 and it was known about by a person or persons, why were matters not taken up with him before 1970 ? Were the brethren knowingly going on with unjudged sin, because they were afraid to question him while he was in favour with Jim Taylor ? Was the problem the fear of man (Proverbs 29:25) ? I make no judgment here as to whether there was any truth in the charges against him.
They tell us that Robert Gibb went into Jim Taylor’s room at 1:30a.m. to attend to him. Why go to him at such an hour if he were not ill ? He had been taking medication apparently. May not this have had a beneficial effect on him and accounted for him being restful ?
As the writers of the article say “Mr Taylor Jnr’s commission, as he said, was not exactly to stress the doctrine of the truth, but to apply the doctrine to the practical detailed circumstances of everyday life.” Note here the use of the word commission. Who gave him his commission ? If it is said it was the Lord, what proof have we of that ? Mr Raven nor any of earlier leaders made such claims, though I have no doubt they felt they had the Lord with them in what they were teaching and doing. Note here what Jim Taylor’s father once said; “ There is a great need of maintaining the balance between the objective and subjective. Wherever the desire for leadership exists the former is sure to be made much of and no doubt this is because the latter is necessarily wanting; if it is present we are content in obscurity” (Letters Vol. 1 page 97). Was Jim Taylor content in obscurity and was there a real subjective element in his ministry or was it just rules which I or anyone else could make up !
The writers of the article speak about an “ambush”. What do they mean by that ? Do they mean that there were those who were lying in wait to catch him in compromising circumstances. That there was a divided state amongst Exclusives before 1970 I have no doubt and that there was likely to be a split sooner or later. I predicted this in August 1969 (See my piece “THE DAY IN WHICH WE LIVE - Where Brethren’s course will lead them” page 35). Events showed that I was right. Many no doubt did not take issue with Jim Taylor earlier through fear and/or inertia. The thought of being out of fellowship is a fear as my father once quoted: “I feared a fear, and it hath come upon me, and that which I dreaded hath come to me” (Job 3:25 ). He went on to say, in effect, “ you will never fear it again”.
Quoting Titus 1:15, as the writers of the piece do, will not help their case as the passage speaks of things, not of words and actions which is what we are dealing with in the case of Jim Taylor. Was Mr Taylor’s language pure ? Was what he said in the Aberdeen meeting such as one would expect in the temple of God ? I expect if Exclusives were known to be listening to stand-up comics in a theatre they would have been “visited” to say the least, but in a meeting which begins and ends with hymns and prayers can such language be justified ? “If anyone corrupt the temple of God him shall God destroy” (1 Corinthians 3:17).
It is said that Mr. Taylor behaved as he did to provoke a reaction. Does that justify it ? See Romans 3:8, “Let us practise evil things, that good ones may come”. My own brother attended meetings with Mr. Taylor before Aberdeen where his behaviour was not much better. Have the writers of the article considered all this or have they shut their eyes to it ? What I believe is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New is Isaiah 6:9/10. It appears in all four Gospels and the Acts in whole or in part and in some form. There is also a reference to it in Romans 11:8, and although not specifically mentioned the thought is there in 2 Corinthians 4:3/4. Are Exclusives turning a blind eye to all the evidence which would demonstrate that Jim Taylor was not the pure man that they like to think he was ? I knew a married brother who was in trouble because of his behaviour with a Sister. The word went round that he had committed adultery. However what he said was that in the sight of God what he did was adultery, not that he had physically committed it. We must remember that “there is not a righteous man upon the earth, that doeth good and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). This applies to myself, Mr. Stanley. McCallum, Mr. Jim Taylor and everyone else.
As to the Aberdeen meeting just considered it is asserted that “Other strong statements were always qualified”. No examples are given. What is needed are proofs. These are conspicuous by their absence.
Talking about material prosperity connected with those who rejected Jim Taylor in 1970 is at best the pot calling the kettle black. Exclusives have by all accounts plenty of money. They build meeting rooms, finance law suits and more recently use money for political purposes. I have a relative in the Exclusives who, I have been told by his natural brother, has a multi-million pound business.
What is so serious is the assertion that what Mr. Taylor did the Lord laid on him. What he did was evil and to say what they do makes the Lord the source of the evil. It does not justify what Mr. Taylor did, but if it were true, would condemn not only Mr. Taylor but the Lord Himself. Christianity itself is undermined by such arguments. It would make the Lord minister of sin. Far be the thought (Galatians 2:17). “Woe unto them who call evil good” (Isaiah 5:20).
Have not the Exclusives become like the Pharisees who built the sepulchres of the prophets and adorned the tombs of the just saying that they would not have been partakers with those that killed them, while they themselves were doing similar things (Matthew 23:29). They slew the Lord and Stephen for examples. Study the ministry of Darby, Stoney, Raven, Coates and Taylor Snr. It will soon be realised that Exclusives have gone right off the rails. It is not a question of further light on Scripture, but practice which is not in accord with the teaching of the above men. Around 1960 Exclusives were straining out gnats (objecting to pension schemes and the like), whereas in 1970 they swallowed the camel (justified behaviour which in earlier times would have been a basis for exclusion from fellowship) (Matthew 23:24).
The last clause simply emphasises the pride the Exclusives have in their position. They think they are it, whereas the only way they can get right is to give up their pretension and get right one by one. Consider what Mr. Raven said: “We are in danger of being blinded by the light” (New Series Vol. 1 page 27) and “we have come to think too much of ourselves (New Series Vol. 10 page 202). If that could be said over one hundred years ago, what is the state of Exclusives now ? Consider Isaiah 5:19-25.
Finally, one would draw the Exclusives attention to Jeremiah 15:19. Here are persons (plural) who are to return to an individual; not the other way round.
The Aberdeen Issue — 1970
It would appear that some person or persons persist in circulating distorted and untrue reports relating to Mr. Taylor Jnr. personally, and in particular, to his service rendered in Aberdeen in 1970. These wicked assertions relate primarily to three main charges; namely, that Mr. Taylor Jnr. was under the influence of alcohol; that he acted unsuitably in the meetings themselves using blasphemous language; and that he acted corruptly in the house at Aberdeen. The first charge has to he based on false assumption, the second on ignorance of what was afoot, and the third on a false imputation. All three are unequivocally refuted by the signatories of this statement, based on first-hand witness as being among those who were present at the meetings and/or in the house, some of whom attended on Mr. Taylor personally throughout his visit to the U.K.
These reports emanated originally from persons named by Mr. Taylor Jnr. at the time as criminals, persons who appear to have been motivated by self-promotion and some of them guilty of practices of the most corrupt nature, proof of which emerged later. Many souls, alas, who believed these circulated reports remain darkened and confused having given up the light they once cherished. Others with leanings toward open principles willingly embraced them as a conscience sop for wanting an easier way, which they chose, and as events have proved.
In view therefore of the continuing potential damage to souls by these evil communications, it is felt by some present at that time that an accurate account should be given of all the events and what led up to them, in clear perspective.
It is felt needful to deal with the three main charges in some detail. Firstly, as to being under the influence of alcohol, the testimony of every householder who entertained Mr. Taylor, along with all who attended on him personally during his visit to the U.K. in July 1970, was that he ate very little and drank even less—nothing at all at times. Despite therefore what some persons assumed, it can be unequivocally witnessed to that he was consistently in full control, not only of every faculty, but also in every situation.
Secondly, as to the use of unsuitable language in the assembly, it could not he disputed that Mr. Taylor used the strongest language possible to provoke a reaction. It brought out resistance and an unsubdued state - though outwardly concealed. If his expressions were examined carefully, however, it is clear that they were scriptural. Other strong statements were always qualified.
Thirdly, as to the charge of corruption in the house at Aberdeen, it must be said that this was the highlight of the ambush which had been referred to warningly, but ignored. The scripture that was central to the whole issue was Titus 1 verse 15: "All things are pure to the pure but to the defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure: but both their mind and their conscience are defiled".
Mr. Taylor's chief accuser was later proved to be both morally perverted and a liar. A further charge was made in the house by a doctor then in fellowship, supposedly attending Mr. Taylor, that he was sick, senile and mentally ill. This charge can be refuted absolutely. After it was made by the doctor the first signatory of this statement went into Mr. Taylor's room at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, 26th July 1970, to attend to him, and found Mr. Taylor both alert and restful and ready to converse, which left no doubt that he was not only in full control of himself in both mind and body, but of the whole situation. Further proof, if needed, came when he left to go home. He walked through to the room where all were sitting, looking each straight in the eye—some for longer than others. Then he stood bolt upright in the midst, with hands behind his back, for some considerable time to be seen by and/or questioned by one and all. No one ventured.
The same persons who charged Mr. Taylor, along with other leading men at that time, united in pursuit of their nefarious work by organising a fellowship meeting the following day (Monday) at noon in Glasgow at which Mr. Taylor's chief accuser took the leading part. The result of that meeting was far-reaching. The power of darkness and its accompanying authority overtook many. The large number affected in Scotland is proof of this. A number of responsible persons also set themselves, gaining notoriety in the process, to circulate as widely as possible the so-called "facts of Aberdeen", the effects of which were however largely negated by persons who stood true to their instincts
To see events at Aberdeen in true perspective they would have to be viewed in the light of the background labours of the other distinctive leaders in the recovery, namely Mr. J. N. Darby, Mr. F. E. Raven and Mr. J. Taylor Snr. The initiative was never lost by any one of these men at any time, however seriously they were assailed, resulting in the truth's pure light being retained unadulterated,—Paul's light as to Christ and the assembly being the light intended to govern all Christians in this dispensation. Mr. Taylor Jnr.'s commission, as he said, was not exactly to stress the doctrine of the truth, but to apply the doctrine to the practical detailed circumstances of everyday life. This, from the outset of his ministry, built up a resistance against him especially among those who preferred a popular gospel with all the eternal benefits it
confers, without accepting the current responsibilities required. This resistance, however, largely went underground and finally showed itself in the build-up of a levitical hierarchy affected by material prosperity and, in some instances, secret corrupt practices of the worst nature. Mr. Taylor Jnr., detecting these developments, went on with a sense of what the Lord had laid on him, to undertake the drastic measures required. This eventually culminated in the meetings in Aberdeen in July 1970 and also the extension of the strategy of ambush in the events that he initiated and controlled in the house that weekend. The Lord was in the whole way of His servant resulting in the whole incubus of presumption mingled with corruption being exposed.
The Lord has justified Mr. Taylor's personal sacrifice in that under the direction and influence of Mr. Symington, the state of life among the Brethren continues with ever increasing fervour in accord with all the cost and labour that has gone into the recovery. Many returning persons and families bear testimony to this. On the other hand those who rejected Mr. Taylor Jnr. (not to be unduly critical of them) appear to have lost their bearings in regard to the truth of the recovery and have reverted to worldliness in varying degrees. Any, however, through God-given repentance to acknowledgment of the truth—see 2 Timothy 2, verse 25—may by washing their robes establish their right to be reincluded in the recovery which, under divinely provided leadership, continues and will continue unimpeachable till the Lord comes.
1. Robert Gibb 5. John White
2. John Scott 6. James A. Flett
3. James Graham 7. David Taylor
4. Alan Ker [Notarised] Edinburgh 11 January 1988
This and the preceding page 1 certified in true copy,
This two-page letter has circulated among the Taylor Brethren since 1988 and it is this version which is reproduced here. It also appeared on the website http://www.exclusivebrethren.net/aberdeenx.html, though in this version the names appended to the letter were omitted.
Addition March 2011.
Source of the following quotations in the ministry of Mr James Taylor Senior can be supplied to anyone interested. As to what I have said above as to drink and money one would mention for consideration the following:-
“Belshazzar... had turned to wine”
“Everything in Christendom to-day, in mere religious circles, is based on money.”