R. A. Huebner
A short discussion (adapted) on some history of those so-called ‘brethren’
Excerpted from a transcript of Informal Meetings held in Vermont, October 21-22, 1995
You know, even with Mr. Raven – you will find it in this book here – Mr. Kelly said, “No doubt there will be brethren to denounce me for my language.” But he did not spare. He said, “Mr. Raven had a mission from an unclean spirit.” And I agree with him; I believe that too. Somebody can criticize me. I do not care; I believe that. He called it new light – Mr. Kelly said, “It’s the light of death!” and “Smoke from the pit!” And he went on like that throughout a book called, “FER’s Heterodox.” That’s what it is. And I’m convinced that the fogging of minds is in that system of Mr. Raven’s. He is one of the most wicked men that have arisen in church history. Now, that’s another story. I do not want to get side-tracked on Mr. Raven right now. But, yes, it’s an awful thing to think that among brethren gathered to the Lord’s name, that a thing like this could come.
There was a big, what we call, a big powerful meeting in Greenwich sheltering Mr. Raven, and a little assembly down there at Bexhill – they stood for the Lord! Finally, a letter of commendation with a brother came down and we are pretty sure that Greenwich was doing this deliberately to foment some trouble because they figured Bexhill would take this action. Bexhill refused the letter of communication (of commendation) and wrote back to Greenwich that they could not be in fellowship with them any longer as they were sheltering Mr. Raven. So they would call me a Bexhillite, because I praise God for Bexhill. It does not matter how big and powerful Greenwich was, it was wickedness, and that is what it was. The scripture tells us, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1:10-11). Bexhill determined they were not about to become forced. These brethren walked with Mr. Raven for nearly two years until they finally came to their heads. When it was confirmed… Finally, the Lord allowed it to be brought out…See, and the brethren were waiting…
Things Made Manifest
“But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light” (Ephesians 5:13).
Mr. Darby spoke about having patience in the midst of evil. You know what they talk about in the secular language? Something called the critical mass? I do not know if you have ever heard of that term. A bunch of things come together, and all of a sudden there is, like, a critical mass. Or, like in chemistry, all of a sudden you are pouring things in, and a precipitation starts, and then all of a sudden, Whoom! all of this white stuff starts coming out, and building up at the bottom. All of a sudden! You’ve reached that point. And waiting on God, things come to light. We had that experience in 1985 and 86. It was asked then, why things had not been made manifest. It was two weeks, and all of a sudden, a fence-straddler suddenly came out in support of evil that was being done.
Now, I’m going to pass on something to you about some of those things. This is not known, because it is known to me privately. Our dear brother, J. G., who is now with the Lord, he moved. Subsequently, he tried to put pressure on us to rescind what we believed had been done in the name of the Lord Jesus (and he did too at that same time). We did not feel that we could go back on what the Lord showed us to do at that time. Afterward, he says to all of us to rescind the action, when he perceived all along what was being done from the beginning. He confessed that there were those who had intended to force faithful brethren to bow to their will to go on with evil. And this is another reason why all of these kinds of troubles arise amongst the Lord’s people; human will has gotten into divine things, and there is a state that comes about, and God addresses that state. That doesn’t appear, necessarily, all at once on the surface, what it was about, but when some of the heat and fire subsides and the smoke subsides, and it is looked at carefully, you can see what the hand of the Lord was in that particular thing, and what He was doing.
A Repeat of Tunbridge Wells (1903-1909)
Then a young brother who got off the path, but he was gathered to the Lord’s name at the time, in Gasport, NY, wrote to the brethren out at Illinois. He wrote to the principal brethren there (I have a copy of the letter), and he asked them some questions. And they came to a point where they said that in 1903, Tunbridge Wells acted in independency. Very convenient! So desperate were they all to fix blame on us, that they were ready to go to that extreme, and then they could get off the hook. Once they did that, they said in 1909, a letter went out from Tunbridge Wells, and they corrected their independency of 1903. Well, we have the letters from Mr. Sibthorpe and signed by the other brethren that were there – they never changed their mind about one step with the Lord that they took, except that maybe they should have been more firm yet. And that was an untruth, gotten up, to the embarrassment that at the bottom and in principle what happened in 1986 was a replay of what happened with Tunbridge Wells. It began to get around – everybody started looking at that, and yep, they were the same principles involved. That’s the way it goes with these terrible divisions.
The Lord is disciplining us as gathered to His name because we have not walked in uprightness and holiness before Him – collectively, as individuals and in our family – and a state comes in. Mr. Blount wrote a paper after the Raven division lamenting the state (he stood against Raven, too, and thanked God for Bexhill), but he lamented the state of the saints in general that God found it necessary to address that state. And he owned that state before God – that this was the hand of God upon His people. That’s what brings division about.
The History of Jeroboam
What? All we have to do, actually, to get light on it from God’s word is to read about the division under Rehoboam and Jeroboam and study that a little bit and see what was involved there, and why did God do that? And then you know what Rehoboam wanted to do? He wanted to get the army of Judah up and go and take them and reunite the kingdom. And the prophet came to him in the name of the Lord and said, “This thing is from me.” And he wasn’t permitted to go and do that. Why? Because God’s hand had come upon Israel because of the sins starting with Solomon that he had allowed, and it kept getting worse and worse and worse.
Now let me tell you something that comes to mind about something Rehoboam said, and I don’t personally think it was quite justified for Rehoboam to open his mouth this way considering his own conduct in the whole thing. Yet, what he said was true. He wrote to them and said, “We have the pure table.” And people do not want to hear that. “We have the pure table.” I didn’t think it was well for such a man to have said it, but God has recorded these things in His Word, and this came out of his mouth, and the fact was true. Where was the pure table? It was not in Dan, it was not in Bethel, it was down there at Jerusalem, where God had put it, even though Rehoboam had not conducted himself rightly. Well, you see, every time these things happen, of course, we want to start climbing on brethren and say, “You know, if you had not done this,” or, “If you brethren over there had done that,” and this and that and the other thing, “why then this wouldn’t have happened.” All that went on in Rehoboam’s day? In Jeroboam’s day? What did the prophet say? “This thing is from me.” This is not to excuse things that have been done wrong by anyone. That is not my point. But the first and principal thing that we have to see in all these kinds of difficulties is the hand of God – “This thing is from me.”
God is speaking to a state, and He is addressing it. And He doesn’t want us to go on united that way in evil if His presence is there. If His presence is not there in the Catholic church, it can get as big as it wants! And you know, if separation from evil is a false principle, we have just denounced the whole reformation. What grounds did Luther have for leaving the Catholic church if there’s to be no such thing as separation from evil? Why should he have left the Catholic church? You see? The minute that principle, which is supported by the Word of God, is denounced, we might as well all be back in Rome. You see? The protestant reformation would never be justified. But that is a principle in God’s dealings with His people.