<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Roger Stott

The Schism of 1959-60

Editor’s note: In 1960 the largest surviving branch of the Exclusive Brethren lost many members, who split off to form several other fellowships. The main reason was that they disagreed with new rules introduced by a leader called James Taylor Junior. Two rules in particular caused widespread dissent and are referred to by Roger below. One was that members of the sect were barred from memberships of professional associations such as the Pharmaceutical Society or the Law Society, which were legally required for some of them to practise their professions. The other was that members of the sect were not allowed to have a meal with non-members, or socialise with them, even if these non-members were their own spouses or close family members.

Dates

Date: 21.02.2005

Subject: dates

During the past few months several people have referred to the 'eating issue' on peebs.net (which was the first major legislation of JT Jr's reign over the EBs) as taking place in 1959. In doing this they may have been following Dick Wyman's EB Timeline where that year is given.

The eating issue was referred to several times in mid 1960 but it was not insisted upon as mandatory until the meetings in Horsham, Sussex from July 30 to August 1, 1960. The confrontation between JT Jr and Gerald Cowell happened in July 1959 but Gerald Cowell was not actually withdrawn from (according to my records) until July 1960. JT Jr's 'leadership' was not really established until early 1960 - many people date it to his giving an address at Park Street called 'The King and his Men'. I don't have a date for that but I would guess that it was around March/April 1960. I was there.

The real persecutions began with the application of the eating ministry and this began the creation of the Exclusive Brethren SS. (My first wife used to call them 'the hatchet men'.) But it all got much worse (and more organized) in 1963 when the Hales brothers burst on the scene. Anybody's memories/records conflict with this or confirm it?

Love to all
Roger

Date: 21.02.2005

Subject: dates

That is partly my point. The confrontation was in 1959 but the decisive events happened during 1960. A lot of people are muddled about this.

My own memory is that things hung in the balance through at least Spring 1960. A lot of us still felt that things could go either way.

Of course I am speaking from a UK perspective. But as my father was a trustee of the Stow Hill Depot we got a pretty complete picture.

Roger

Editor’s note: the Stow Hill Bible and Tract Depot was a publisher run by a trust, which published and distributed Bibles, hymnbooks, tracts and books of ministry for the Brethren.

Date: 21.02.2005

Subject: dates

Hi Gordon
The idea that EBs couldn't eat with people 'under discipline' (ie withdrawn from) goes back a long way before 1959. But the 'separate tables' ministry (that EBs couldn't eat a meal with ANYONE that they didn't 'break bread' with) was a new doctrine in the mid 1960s. There isn't any doubt about this. It had a vital (and destructive) effect on the new job I had just been appointed to. In early 1960 I was taken out to a meal by my prospective new employers. (3M Co - Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing). When - later in the year - I had to refuse to join in any socialising, they accused me of hypocrisy -'it was OK when you were trying to get the job, why not now?' Trying to explain that it was 'new ministry' was pretty damn difficult.

Love to all
Roger

Date: 21.02.2005

Subject: dates

There was a general tightening up of 'separation' from about 1957/8 onwards (in which one of the main ingredients was the leaving of professional associations, but it also included a clamp down on 'worldly activity'). Gerald Cowell (who has gone down in history as the good, gentle guy who was rudely confronted by JTJnr at Central Hall in July 1959) was one of the main leaders in this increased severity.

But my central point is that the 'eating issue' (sometimes referred to as 'separate tables') did not come up until well into 1960 and was not fully established for some months. The arguments about it went on well into 1961. (As Jill's comments seem to confirm.) The notes that I have from Horsham (July 1960) make it quite clear that what was being said about 'eating' was a considerable advance on anything that had been said before. Many orthodox Brethren could not get over the fact that Paul said 'If one of the unbelievers invite you, and ye be minded to go, all that is set before you eat . . ' (I Corinthians 10.27) -for them this made the new rule unscriptural. (JTJr's fatuous reply was simply 'why would you be minded to go?') But this was the sticking point for many in the second half of 1960 and early 1961 and quite significant numbers left the EBs over this specific point (including the Myttons). One of the main practical problems was that salesmen in fellowship were used to taking clients out to lunch and couldn't see how they could keep their jobs if they didn't.

It was the first 'big issue' in the new JTJr government and it began to establish the pattern: 'if he says it it must be right and you'd better just do it even if it seems to you to be against scripture'. In that sense it was an important turning point.

From one point of view as Gordon says none of this 'matters one wit'. That's the Henry Ford school of thought - 'history is bunk'. But another point of view is that if we are talking about specific events in our past we may as well get them right and not be sloppy about them.

Love to all
Roger

Date: 21.02.2005

Subject: dates

Hi Jill
You must have left during 1960. At the end of 1959 JTJr was still not firmly in the saddle and the issue of 'not eating with anyone not in fellowship' hadn't come up. The big issue in the latter part of 1959 was professional associations. When 'the eating issue' did come up it was definitely a new idea and a shock, with far-reaching implications for many in business or a profession, esp salesmen.

It didn't become mandatory until the latter part of 1960 and even then it remained blurred for a while. We were still a bit independent then and hadn't quite got used to the idea that we had to do everything that JTJr said pronto.

Love to all
Roger

Date: 21.02.2005

Subject: Dates

Deb said
What gives? - why did JTjr decide to make them concentrate so much on eating? Roger can you help on this one?


It seems so daft looking back now. At the time it was the first of many JT Jr edicts. His line was that 'eating with someone is an act of fellowship' and as the Lord's Supper is the symbol of our fellowship, it is wrong to have a meal with someone you don't break bread with. He made a lot out of the fact that the Book of Psalms begins with 'Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, and standeth not in the way of sinners, and sitteth not in the seat of scorners.'


The simple answer to what he was saying is (as I said earlier) in 1 Corinthians 10.27 where Paul clearly regards it as OK to go and have a meal with an 'unbeliever'. This was quoted incessantly but JTJr over-rode it. A lot of people went out of fellowship in late 1960 and early 1961 over that verse.


I have a list of the JTJr edicts from a diary that someone kept at the time. Other issues in 1960/61 were:


· Scottish fishermen forbidden to take part in 'fishing pools'

· Membership of most pension schemes and building societies forbidden

· Young boys encouraged to take part in meetings

· Married sisters forbidden to go out to work

· Chairs in meeting rooms to be arranged in circles

· Collection box at the Supper to be open

· Brethren Cambridge undergraduates told to leave the university. (There were five: Philip Spink of Blackburn, Denys Leflaive and Michael Nunn from Bristol, Neil Purdom from Croydon and Robert Record from Luton. I had graduated the year before so I was the last of the EBs to get a Cambridge degree.)

· All children to break bread by the age of 12

· Only those in fellowship to attend wedding meetings and fellowship meetings

· Hymnbook revised to exclude hymns by any who had been withdrawn from


And so it went on. It gives me the creeps to go over it again.


Love to all

Roger

Demographics

Date: 03.03.2007

Subject: Guestimate time

Hi Jill

If you take ex-EBs to mean 'those who left after the JTJr coup d'etat in 1960' I very much doubt whether the total number exceeds 16,000 and that is probably on the high side. The world wide total in the months following Aberdeen (which dwarfed all the other exits) was somewhere around 8-9000. Subsequent exits have been tiny by comparison and even a fairly constant flow of a few dozen wouldn't add to up to all that much.


That's the best I can guess at with the evidence I've gathered over the last 35 years.


Love to all

Roger

03.03.2007 02:13 pm

Guestimate time

But I was counting from 1960. Otherwise you would have to go back to at least another 8 or 9 divisions stretching back to the 1880s. There certainly were not thousands who left in the early 1960s. I was closely in touch with all that and the numbers were relatively small. There may have been the odd smaller meeting who left as a whole but mainly it was just famlies who left. Otherwise the disruption would have been much greater. And it wasn't.


This does often get exaggerated but I think you will find that my 16,000 figure is pretty close.


Love

Roger

03.03.2007 02:19 pm

Subject: Guestimate time

Hi my dear old Phil

Thanks for the hug. The 'Exclusive' tag was first used at the massive Bethesda split in 1848. But they used the word 'Close' as well. As far as I can make out the pairing of 'Open' and Close' Brethren and 'Open' and 'Exclusive' Brethren were used more or less equally but the use of the word 'Close' gradually receded (except among the Open Brethren). They still use both. (But they came to call themselves 'Christian Brethren' for many years rather than 'Open Brethren'.


Love to all

Roger

Date: 03.03.2007 02:45 pm

Subject: Guestimate time

While this subject is up I do want to reassert one aspect of this history that still seems to be drifting into wrong definitions. To talk as if there was a REAL continuity between the Exclusive Brethren of the 1950s and the JTJr barbarism of 1960/1 onwards is to completely misunderstand Brethren history. There was a bewildering, tectonic change at that point. (I am just writing this part in my novel at the moment and I call the new section of the book 'The Bewitching of the Brethren'. )


Before 1960 there was plenty wrong with the Brethren, small-minded, legalistic, humanly stunted and still clinging to the stupid idea that 'there can only be one right collective Christian position and we are it'. But in human terms they were not very different to quite a few other strict protestant companies. If you were at ease with the set of beliefs life was quite comfortable and there was a lot of kindness and a reasonable amount of tolerance. And JT Snr was about as different from JT Jr as it is possible to be. He was a sensitive and gifted teacher who almost never interfered in administrative matters and always asserted that the truth is in the body of the Brethren.


The bullying vulgarity that took over the Brethren with the JT Jr years was completely new. And meetings in those earlier years were about the Bible and Christian teaching (boring to many of us maybe but focussed and pious) and JT Snr used to say that if the Brethren laughed in the meeting 'the power went out of the meeting'.


To give the impression that there was continuity (rather than abrupt and catastrophic change) between the 50s and 60s is to lose the whole point of the story of the Exclusives.


Love to all

Roger


One slight modification: in the two or so years before 1959 there was a bit up of a tightening up on the rules of separation (mainly to do with professional associations). But this was still happening in the 'old atmosphere' of EB-ness and was led more by Gerald Cowell and Stanley McCallum than JT Jr. And it wasn't violent or bullying.

Date: 04.03.2007 08:36 am
Subject: Guestimate time

Frustratingly, I lost my email connection again (completely) on Saturday morning first thing and have only just been able to reconnect (0800 Sunday morning).


I was going to add one fairly hard piece of evidence about numbers who left 1960-1971. My father was a trustee of the Stow Hill Depot (EB publishing house) and in 1960 he and and I were involved directly in discussions with the Charity Commission about the division of the assets of the Depot between the Taylorites and those who left. We always took the line that the Taylorites had defected from the orthodox teaching of the EBs and contradicted many of the founding principles of the movement. But in the end the Charity Commission said they had no basis to take this into consideration and they divided the assets (stock of books, value of buildings, capital etc) entirely on the basis of numbers. In doing this they did take into account that others had left during the 60s and it was not just the outflux at Aberdeen. The division of assets was massively in the Taylorites favour. I can't be sure of the exact proportion but it was roughly 3.7: 1 (which would represent approx numbers of 37,000 Taylorites and approx 10,000 leavers) My father and John Welch then set up a smaller publishing depot for the leavers in Worthing with the smaller share of the assets.


As to what Jill says, about unhappiness in the Brethren during the 60s, I don't discount it, I was unhappy and oppressed myself. But for me the vast majority of the Brethren where I lived (and moved about quite a bit) were a relatively settled and harmonious group and as someone said going out of fellowship was a huge thing and very few people contemplated it voluntarily until the immense provocations and bullying began in 1960-1.

What happened after the Mytton family left was immeasurably worse and more frightening (unless you had managed to allign yourself with the new thinking and behaviour -which a very surprising number did) than anything that happened up to then.


Incidentally that 'allignment' I refer to -the way that ordinary decent kind Brethren suddenly developed a new toughness and ruthlessness and joined in the 'revolution' (and who may have some difficulty in admitting to it now) is one of the fundamental mysteries of that period.


Don't think for a moment that I am trying to turn the pre-JT Jr years into a golden period. It's just that most people (having accepted the crushing of the human aspiration and imagination and gone along with the 'life-denying' -as opposed to 'life-celebrating'- ethos of Darbyism) did have quite a warm and kindly way of life within it. Those who were at odds with it (pre-60) did tend to stand out a bit and there weren't very many.

I went out and looked at the eclipsed moon at 2330 last night. Above the Old Mill the sky was unbelievable. The stars were brighter than I have ever seen them and the moon, brushed half golden, was in the constellation of Leo with Venus and Saturn standing beside it with the bright star Arcturus. It was like looking into the heart of an ancient myth. Matthew and I just stood together with our arms round each other and gaped and wondered. I wouldn't have missed that for anything.

Love to all
Roger

05.03.2007 04:16 pm

[Feeb] The Jt Jr 'eating issue'

Once again we were cut off from the landline yesterday (a recurring underground fault) very convenient at a time like this so I am just getting back on emails this morning.


Let me try to clear up the eating issue once and for all. It is often referred to as if it were introduced in 1959, but in fact it was a year later.


When JT Jr challenged Gerald Cowell at the Central Hall meetings in Westminster in July 1959 the issue was professional associations - ie Brethren having to leave their jobs as lawyers, engineers, pharmacists etc because to practise they had to belong to the relevant society. This continued to be the main preoccupation through the first half of 1960. There were certainly other references to a general tightening up of the rules of separation but 'eating with outsiders' was not an issue at that point. And JT Jr was by no means established in power. Gerald Cowell was still in fellowship until July 1960.


What happened in July 1960 was an entirely new development. Whatever the practice in the past about eating with those withdrawn from (absolute no no), eating with relatives (varied, some did, some didn't), eating with ordinary people outside the fellowship (not common but it happened, especially in a schoolchildren setting), eating with business people in the course of business and going to company meals etc (very common and widespread with Brethren business and professional men), now there was a total blanket ban introduced on the basis that if you didn't break bread on Sunday morning with them, you couldn't eat a meal with them because eating is 'an act of fellowship'.


The meetings in question were at Horsham in Sussex, July 30 -August 1. This was a critical turning point because it gave JT Jr the opportunity to insist on something that really did stir up a dust. To a huge number of Brethren what he was saying was contradicted by scripture 'If one of the unbelievers invite you and ye be minded to go...' When this was brought up, all he said was 'why would you be minded to go?' So his peculiar style of confrontational government began. Instead of engaging reasonably with discussion he simply asserted. It was an ideal issue for this purpose and it is not entirely fanciful to say that the infamous concept of the MOG began over this issue. Henceforth the MOG would assert and his growing gestapo would enforce and all those reasonable people who wanted to reason the matter out were dismissed as 'religious' and 'natural-minded'. Previous Brethren leaders had never behaved remotely like that.

Not having a terribly good day today. Very weary and listless and am now going for a sleep.


Love to all

Roger

06.03.2007 05:49 am

The Jt Jr 'eating issue'

I think we are missing the point. Of course there were painful rulings about eating with relatives etc before 1960. My point was that the meetings in Horsham at the end of July 1960 first laid down the absolute principle that you could not eat a meal with ANYONE who was not breaking bread with you. The principal impact of this was on those in business and it led to a lot of people losing their jobs. (It also had a huge impact on fisher Brethren, many of whom sold their boats because it was impossible to eat separately from 'worldly crew'.) And to a great deal of argument and opposition on the grounds of 'If one of the unbelievers invite you and ye be minded to go, everything set before you eat, making no enquiry for conscience sake/' which seemed to directly contradict this blanket new ruling.


When the 'eating issue' is referred to in the context of JT Jr history it is that new departure at Horsham which is designated and not all the fragmentary (and variable) previous rulings. And it was a huge turning point because it unleashed all that extremist unreason that became so characteristic of the new regime.

I have some detailed notes of the Horsham meetings in July 1960 and it is clear that it was a new move and that it created a bit of a storm straight away.


Love to all

Roger

The Schism of 1970

The Decline and Fall of the Exclusive Brethren

This paper was written by Roger Stott in December 1971 while he was still a member of the non-Taylorite branch of the Exclusive Brethren. It was written for a Brethren readership, and argued for a thorough reappraisal of Brethren teachings and practices. It was duplicated and circulated mainly in South Africa, which is where this, apparently the sole surviving copy, was found by the late John Gibbs. - Editor.

Between July and September 1970 about eight thousand people left the so-called Exclusive Brethren because the majority were condoning, filthy and blasphemous behaviour in public by the then leader, James Taylor Junior of New York, at Aberdeen at the end of July. (Grossly immoral behaviour in private the same weekend was also being justified and even given symbolic significance.)

In the months that followed, the majority of the 8000 tried sincerely to face the issues raised by these happenings. How was it possible for so many relatively sane and decent Christians to find themselves in such an absurd and guilty position? For most of us it was like waking up from a prolonged bad dream. If we were honest we had to admit that, like Agur, we had been ‘more stupid than anyone’ and had lacked ‘a man’s intelligence’ (Proverbs 30: 2). Much more serious, we had supported (and in some cases, promoted) a cruel and vicious system which had brought great discredit on the testimony and caused much suffering amongst innocent believers.

Unfortunately this early period of basic reappraisal was followed by a tendency to minimize the extent of the evil and many of the more prominent men began to stress that enough had been said about the past and that we should now get on with more positive matters. This would have been good if the past had been righteously faced and judged and reparation made where possible, but in many cases it was an attempt to escape from heavy responsibility. At the time of writing (December 1971) this escapism is very marked in certain cities.

For myself I feel that the reappraisal has hardly begun. It should be obvious to all that the ‘J.T.Jr period’ must be repudiated as a whole. It is a matter of historic record that the man drank to excess from before 1959 and we know from scripture (even if we have no moral sensibility ourselves) that such a man would not be taken up in service - 1 Timothy 3. It is of course inevitable that during the 11 years many right things should have been said, but these were mixed up with new and ‘strange doctrines’ which constituted a major departure from the basic truths (and spirit) of Christianity.

We must go back to the harsh and tyrannical application of the ’associations’ ministry and see that a spirit was introduced then, together with an extreme way of applying scripture, which paved the way for all that followed. The concept of ‘unequal yokes’ which was brought in then (and which is still held by most of the 8000) was the result of over-emphasis on one particular scripture. Before the J.T.Jr era the scripture in question was clearly understood to have its bearing upon marriages and certain other matters such as business partnerships. To bring under this heading such matters as professional associations, (which - as J.T. Senior used to say, are formed for the protection of the public) and pension schemes etc, is surely to come within the range of the rebuke in Luke 11:42 - ‘But woe unto you, Pharisees, for ye pay tithes of mint and rue and every herb, and pass by the judgement and the love of God’. Indeed it is in many respects the spirit and outlook of the Pharisee which we can see increasing over the years.

From ‘associations’ we moved to ‘eating’. It is, unhappily, necessary to refer to this because some of the ‘Aberdeen Brethren’ regard this teaching as basically right, although possibly taken too far. The truth is that the ‘eating is fellowship’ doctrine is directly contrary to scripture. When the matter was first raised in 1960 many righteous persons drew attention to 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 10:27 and were summarily withdrawn from for doing so. The scriptures remain however and show to any straightforward reader that Paul did not regard it as abnormal for a Christian to eat with a non-Christian. (If any further proof is needed, Paul’s behaviour on the island of Melita - Acts 28 - is surely sufficient.) Of course our primary model must be the Lord Jesus Himself; this was ruled out at the time by saying that it was all before His death and that things must be different afterwards. But Peter, in referring to His public period of ministry up to His death says, ‘Christ also has suffered for you, leaving you a model that you should follow in his steps’.

But all this is only the first stage. It is essential that we should clear away the evil teachings of the 1960s but when we have done that we have an even more important question to face. What made us so weak and ignorant that we allowed these things to be imposed upon us (and then in many cases joined in the imposing ourselves)? I believe the answer lies in a proud, sectarian spirit which has been a long time developing amongst us.

Since the early part of this century it seems that there has been a steady waning of personal piety and devotion to Christ, and, in its place, a growing emphasis on ecclesiastical status. The emphasis has been on knowledge rather than affection, physical separation rather than sanctification, good meetings rather than good works. The result of all this was a tacit assumption (sometimes voiced openly) that we were the only company of believers in the whole of Christendom with whom the Lord and the Spirit could be identified collectively and an attitude of gracious condescension to all other believers. (There was no great difference between this outlook and the later assertion by J.T.Jr that ‘we are the church’.)

This growth of collective status was a contradiction of the strongly individual basis set out in the ministries of JND and FER - JND Synopsis on 2 Tim 2: ‘The unity of the assembly is so precious, it has such authority over the heart of man, that there was danger, when failure had set in, lest the desire for outward unity should induce even the faithful to accept evil and walk in fellowship with it, rather than break this unity. The principle therefore of individual faithfulness, of individual responsibility to God, is established and set above all other considerations.’ Extracts from FER Volume 18 (74): ‘I think we ought to take individuality much more to heart . . . there is a strong disposition to build something up . . . simply building a sect. (70) . . . Any true position at the present time is essentially individual and anything outside of that is false (70) I have great difficulty in regard to the collective action in the existing state of things because I am so afraid lest in it we are arrogating to ourselves a position that does not belong to us.’

The concept of ‘salvation in the assembly’, although it was introduced in a guarded way and primarily related to the church before the breakdown, was taken up in such a way that it was assumed that, for all practical purposes, the Exclusive Brethren were the assembly. Sixty-four years later this outlook caused many to stay in what they regarded as ‘the right position’ even when they were appalled at the evil in it.

This gradual abandonment of the individual basis of fellowship at the present time was accompanied by the development of ‘the Levitical system’ which in the end became a ruthless instrument of J.T.Jr’s will. But even in earlier years it had already begun to divide Brethren into clerics and congregation. In the later stages any individual exercise which deviated from the official line was condemned under one of several headings: ‘independent’, ’natural mind’, ’open’ or ‘worldly’.

If we are to be in the testimony rightly now we must face all this honestly. At present there is far too much emphasis on keeping the 8000 together and far too little of the ‘personal faithfulness’ which JND refers to. We often speak of ‘using diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit’ when we may mean ’compromising to keep our present fellowship intact.’ In fact, as FER points out, the unity of the Spirit includes all true believers and we are just as responsible to other Christians in this way as we are towards those we break bread with at present.

I do not think we will make spiritual or moral progress until we recognize how Pharisaical our outlook has been. We have been so busy thanking God that we are not as other men, so busy pointing out the ‘faults’ in other companies of believers, that even now, when our folly is manifest to all, we have still retained an unconscious tendency to condescend to other believers. Our pride in the light and knowledge that we believe we have is so great that we are often unable to acknowledge and appreciate the ‘faith, hope and love’ of others - and what else can compare with these great primary matters? The great disaster of the Ephesian assembly has overtaken us: We have assumed to be the only company understanding and enjoying ‘the mystery’ but we ‘have left our first love.’ Our only way out is by repentance, and the kind of lowliness which is prepared to learn all over again. Most of our fancied ‘wealth’ has turned out to be ‘sounding brass or a clanging cymbal’; let us be prepared to make the full acknowledgment: ‘I am nothing . . . I profit nothing.’ It is only as we become ‘meek and lowly in heart’ that we shall find how the damage of these terrible years can be repaired.

I have felt for some time that we need to identify ourselves with the ‘robbers’ of Luke 10. How many have been stripped, how many wounds have been inflicted, how many persons left in a half dead state as a result of our activities? Now, instead of trying to justify ourselves, we ought to be discovering the great ‘neighbour’ principle of Christianity so different to the cold, aloofness of the proud

Pharisee (or Exclusive Brother?). Let us accept the Lord’s final word in that section: ‘Go thou and do likewise.’

Roger M. Stott, 129 Goldstone Crescent, HOVE, Sussex, England


"If we walk in the light..."

This article was written by Roger shortly after a major split in the Exclusive Brethren in 1970, while he was still a member of the Non-Taylorite Branch of the sect. It was written from a scriptural perspective and was intended for Brethren readers as an explanation of why the schism occurred. His father Robert edited it, and it was circulated by his father and A. J. E. Welsh, accompanied by a transcript of a notorious Saturday afternoon Bible Reading Meeting in Aberdeen, transcribed by Roger from a tape recording. - Editor

In the weeks following Aberdeen hundreds of Brethren all over the world were forced, under threat of withdrawal, to declare "100% support for J.T.Jr." and only a small proportion of these had any clear idea of what they were supporting. Most of the leaders (either wittingly or under duress) joined in a conspiracy to distort or suppress the facts. There were, however, over 400 witnesses present at the Aberdeen meetings and almost all of these have cleared themselves from the evil by withdrawing from iniquity.

Fearing further exposures G. R. Maynard said in a recent Alan Price publication (Readings at Nostrand Avenue and other Ministry No. 2, September 1970) "Whatever you may hear or whatever may occur now or in the future, whatever may come in .... remember that upper garment, because you will need it, I believe, more and more in the coming weeks and months to cover the position related to the Lord's servant." In the same publication E. W. Storr absolutely forbad any enquiry as to what had been happening. He said, "When these matters come up are you going to try and find out what the truth is? Are you going to question "What is truth?" You had better do what you have been told...You had better listen to what is said here and not try to investigate for yourself." Thus the precious truths of 2 Timothy 2 were openly abandoned, and the flood gates opened to the worst forms of evil.

Over against this darkness are the words of J.N. Darby, "The principle therefore of individual faithfulness, of individual responsibility to God, is established, and set above all other considerations; for it has to do with the nature of God Himself, and His own authority over the conscience of the individual... The direction is plain, and precious when we find ourselves in similar circumstances. Individual responsibility can never cease." J.N.D. Synopsis 5:140/141.

It must be clearly stated that those who condoned the degrading and depraved conduct of the Aberdeen meetings have forsaken the pure line of the faith once delivered to the saints. The necessity for separation from evil thus exposed carries its own sorrow. In facing the same exercises as to the publishing of evil, J.N.D. said in 'The Narrative of the Facts' that "it is a very serious thing indeed to separate from Christians, and indeed the saints have in some sort, a right to know why it has been done. It may be very humbling to the saints concerned; but I do not think this is an evil. The strongest motive by far - the one which weighed with me - was the dislike of publishing evil. I never should have done it, but left it to the Lord, had the trouble occasioned by it stopped the activity of the evil. What overcame this motive with me was, that there was just as much activity as before in the evil, and the same unblushing unscrupulousness as to truth."

Prominent men who supported James Taylor Jr. were well aware of the untruths that have been the order of the day. The discrepancies between J.T.Jr's account of the events in J.A. Gardiner's house and the account of the woman concerned, are well known. His public denial of the use of the phrase, 'son of a bitch' at the Aberdeen meetings is disproved by the evidence of the tapes, which show that the expression was used over twenty times in one reading. Those who have handled J.T. Jr. tapes for the past few years know that the charge of the Aberdeen tapes having been faked is certainly not true. Besides, there are over 400 witnesses to the accuracy of these tapes. The charge that the Brethren in Aberdeen acted unconstitutionally is rebutted clearly by the letters published here. They have acted in a way that is entirely consistent with Scripture and with the truth of the recovery. The facts as to the happenings in Aberdeen relating to J.T.Jr. were placed by the Aberdeen Brethren in New York, where they belonged. On the other hand J.T.Jr. and those who supported him violated almost every principle governing assembly action in an attempt to prevent the true facts from reaching the Brethren. Witnesses were withdrawn from to prevent their being heard, whole local companies were declared out of fellowship when the nearest meeting had endorsed their action. Persons who have raised any questions as to these matters were summarily withdrawn from, in some instances over the telephone and in car-parks. The inquisition was "Are you 100% with J.T. Jr.?", thus making a man a test of fellowship and a standard of moral behaviour. In Brighton when J.T.Senr. was quoted as having said that principles and not persons are invariably the issue, there were loud cries of "Rubbish, rubbish, J.T.Jr. is the issue."

The behaviour with the woman in question was in direct violation of Paul's ministry. The language in the Aberdeen meetings was abusive, blasphemous and corrupt and the gestures unclean. Paul's ministry condemns this conduct in at least twenty passages. The Lord put into New York evidence which had been refused by many as to Aberdeen, and subsequent events in New York proved the utter shamelessness of this course of evil. The alerting of the consciences of many of the Brethren in that City furnished a basis for a righteous judgment in New York to be arrived at, on the principle that separation from evil is God's great principle of unity. Those who supported J.T.Jr justify his behaviour on the ground that the man of God is pure and can do things which would be corrupt for us to do. This comes very near to an old heresy, anti-nomianism, the assumption that a Christian is not bound by the moral law. As to making a difference for the man of God, F.E.R. has a firm answer. "The principle on which the apostle walked is the principle on which we have to walk, and there is no other true principle. God had not one rule for the apostle and another for us." When Paul wrote to Timothy (the only man in the New Testament called a 'man of God') he said, 'Be a model of the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.'"

Nor is this all. The departure from the influence of the headship of Christ led to the recognition of an earthly head whose directions were regarded as 'law'. And so a system developed which looked for its sanctions and restrictions to J.T.Jr., without whom none could lift up hand or foot in the whole world. This in turn gave place to the bold assertion, that "we are the church". In regard of this J.N.D. says, "If any Christians now set up to be the church, or did any formal act which pretended to it, I should leave them, as being a false pretension, and denying the very testimony to the state of ruin which God has called us to render ..... I think it of the last importance that this pretension of any body should be kept down; I could not own it a moment, because it is not the truth". He adds, "If, on the contrary, the Spirit of God does not sanction the body, he who leaves it will get into the power and liberty of the Spirit by following Him. That is the real way to look at it ..... If the Spirit of God, by any faithful person, moves in this, and the evil is not put away, but persisted in; is the Spirit of God with those who continue in the evil, or with him who will not? Or is the doctrine of the unity of the body to be made a cover for evil? That is precisely the delusion of Satan in Popery, and the worst form of evil under the sun."

This is the snare from which those who have judged the J.T.Jr. system and separated from it have sought to escape. "I would not have stayed in it,” says J.N.D., speaking of an earlier system, "if I were to walk alone and have no church at all to the end of my days. But God has ordered it otherwise, and given exceeding peace and quietness to those who have through grace delivered their souls from it. I have no doubt a direct power and delusion of the enemy was there, from which we have been rescued by the Lord's goodness, and are in the blessing and liberty of the Spirit of God, though poor and feeble ..... This has been one of the happy features, the subdued, happy gracious spirit of those who have left: we are in another world as to our minds."

Thus history repeats itself, and 1970 has become the year of release from a system where man had replaced Christ, where persons took precedence over principles, and where conscience had become valueless. This produced the narrowest of sectarian outlooks: that only those who actually break bread with them are represented in the loaf at the Lord's Supper. Let J.T. administer here the needed rebuke, "We certainly include in our affections every saint. The apostle does here in principle in saying, - 'The Lord knows those that are his.' We include all the saints in our hearts in the breaking of bread. The others are just as precious to Christ as we are. The sorrow is that they are not available to us. You go on with those that are available." (From "Righteousness and the Pursuit of it", J.T. N.S. Vol 9 p.505.)

Much has been said about 'leaving a right position', or 'the pure line from J.N.D.' In days of breakdown the only 'position' that the Spirit of God recognises is a moral one, based on 2 Timothy 2:19 "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord withdraw from iniquity." Thus in establishing the righteous assembly judgements at Aberdeen and New York in the consciences of Brethren in many parts, the Spirit of God has ensured the continuity of the pure line of the truth. This has not been the establishment of a 'separate table' but the preservation of the basic principles of the recovery as represented in the three great ministries of J.N.D., F.E.R. and J.T.

Nevertheless, amongst those delivered, there is the remembrance of the clarion call as to separation from the world in 1959 and the many other subsequent matters on which the anointing has been clearly evident. Honour is not withheld where due. This but highlights the tragedy of what has happened. The recent death is a sorrowful reminder that "God is not mocked".

Those to whom the Lord has mercifully granted sight feel that this calls for a walking softly and humbly and dependently, for the rest of their days.

November 1970, Robert Stott

The following comments of Roger, written much later, refer to the above article.

Subject: They can't have it both ways, or can they?

Sat Aug 06, 2005

Hi Hannah
Just for the historical record - I wrote the piece you quote. My father made a few small changes to it and we decided that it should go out under his name. And yes, I did transcribe the Saturday meeting but it was also checked through by three people who had been present.

Sat Aug 06, 2005

No of course I don't mind Hannah. I'm glad to see it being publicized. I did a lot of careful research before I wrote it and I think the quotes from previous leaders are particularly telling.

Of course the Roger Stott who wrote that in 1970 was a very different person, with very different convictions from the Roger Stott of today. I don't agree with him but I have a sort of respect for him!

Sun Aug 07, 2005

Who said God was boring? I said the line from the quoted hymn was boring. Gods are not boring. There are at least half a dozen in the OT/NT and they're all completely different and change from page to page. If you want to know how unboring gods are, read John Donne, Gerald Manley Hopkins and of course R.S.Thomas:

Am I too late?
Were they too late also,
those pilgrims?
he is such a fast God,
always before us
and leaving as we arrive

Read John 3 again and the replies to Nicodemus. Those who think they have God defined and pinned down are the most ignorant of all.

Subject: Transcripts of Aberdeen meetings.

Wed Nov 16, 2005

I'm not sure that there is any more that I can say to validate the Aberdeen transcript - other than the notes I supplied to you with it and which are published in the intro in your library. I'd be very happy to confirm to anyone (and to swear in a court of law) that I carried out the transcription myself from the original tape.

Unfortunately that tape was stolen from me in a very underhanded and dishonourable way by some members of the Frost fellowship in Hampton. They got my mother to ask to borrow it and (through her) gave an absolute guarantee that it would be returned. As soon as they had it they refused to return it on the grounds that 'I had no right to it'. Yet another example of the highly dubious moral standards so often evidenced by any group that continues the ludicrous (and probably heretical) idea of Darby/Taylor 'separation'.

I think they resented the fact that some excerpts had been played during the interview with me on the original BBC Everyman programme about the EBs which was broadcast in autumn 1976 under the title 'Doctrine That Divides'. (Now that I think of it it was the Anno Domini series then, it changed its name to Everyman soon afterwards.)

To anyone of my generation or up to 10 years younger, the tape is self-authenticating. No one who has actually listened to it, friend or foe, has ever had any doubt that it was genuine.

Date: Mon, 09 Aug 1999

This is in reply to John Besley. I think it was the JTJrites who invented spin doctoring. The facts about Aberdeen were simple and clear and there were plenty of witnesses. In Scotland, where they couldn’t be hushed up, virtually everyone left. By the time they reached the greater distances they had been ‘spun’ in such a way that people were able to accept them. In England about fifty per cent left, in Australia (at the time) it was less than two per cent. In New York the numbers would have been negligible except for the fact that JTJr (coming back from Aberdeen) couldn’t keep his hands off any available female. Even then only about fifty per cent left. (We had a first hand account of all that from Billy Peterson.) The booklet ‘If We Walk in the Light...’ set all the available facts out very clearly. A small part of it is on the Wyman site.

Roger

Tue, 28 Aug 2001

On the 'facts of Aberdeen': my father and I put out a small booklet towards the end of 1970 which was called 'If we walk in the light . . .' This contained the transcript of the Saturday 'meeting' (which I personally transcribed from the original tape) and a series of letters giving the gory details of all the surrounding events. There were letters from James Alec Gardiner, JT Jr, David Waterfall, Jim Lovie, Ernest Cary, Eric Burr, Robert Stott, Billy Petersen, Roger Stott, W. R. Mason, and three with multiple signatures - the first two signed by Elliot Hoyte, Donald Pfingst and Bufton Parker and the third by W. K. Rosenberry, J. N. Castle and A. F. Widtfeldt. It added up to 62 pages. I've still got a copy. The final article in the pamphlet (which I co-wrote with my father although it went out over his signature only) is on Dick's site at http://www.cloudnet.com/~dwyman/robertstott.html. It makes me cringe now and -written several months after Aberdeen -shows how slowly we got the poison out of our system.

Incidentally Ray - the weekend of Aberdeen your father was taking 3 day meetings on the south coast of England (I think it was Bournemouth) and my father was present. When your father was summoned to Aberdeen as the scandal broke on the Saturday evening, he asked my father to take over the reins at Bournemouth for the Sunday. Now -all these years later- the sons of JAG, JT3 and Robert Stott come together in very different circumstances. It's weird really.

Love to all

Roger

Mon, 28 Oct 2002

Subject: re a visit....please help

Dear Lydia

I think Jill is right, they are trying to hustle you into a discussion before you are ready. The fullest account I know of the events at Aberdeen is the booklet 'If we walk in the light . . .' which was put out by my father and me in November 1970. It contains the verbatim notes of Aberdeen Saturday afternoon and a series of letters from people like James Alec Gardiner (in whose house the events took place), James Lovie, David Waterfall, Bufton Parker, Ernest Cary, Eric Burr, Arthur Widtfeldt, Willie Mason, Billie Petersen as well as other material.

I have a copy of this but as it is my last surviving copy I am reluctant to let it out of my hands. (I have so often lost irreplaceable documents that way.) It's difficult to copy because it is half A5 format and there are over 60 pages. I don't know whether anybody has any suggestions as to how it could be copied?

I know that it presents a clear and unbiased account of the events of July 1970. Since that time there has been so much said that is inaccurate and propagandist, but I was in touch with most of the people who contributed to the pamphlet and we were all very aware of the fact that it was important to be strictly factual and to avoid any speculation.

Just to cover your immediate query about Aberdeen, I will quote the passage from James Alec Gardiner's letter of 30 July 1970:

The afternoon session was short and we were home early. Mr Taylor went straight to his room and Mrs Ker followed him through a short time afterwards. S.McCallum and the Lovies arrived. We sat round talking and had a meal. JTJnr and Mrs Ker did not put in an appearance and I felt that I had to find out what was happening in my house. (Note: JAG has already give an account of how much time Mrs Ker had been spending in JT Jnr's room and the fact that he and his wife were concerned about this - his wife had seen Mrs Ker coming out of JT Jr's bedroom at 6 am on Friday morning.)

I went through to Mr Taylor's bedroom and found Mrs Ker undressed and in bed with Mr Taylor. He had on his pyjama top which was open down the front. I remonstrated with Mr Ker and asked him to get his wife out of there and had asked Stanley McCallum to come back to the bedroom with me and witness the situation. Stanley McCallum and I both witness to the fact that JT Jr and Mrs Ker were in bed undressed together.

S.McC. asked JT Jr if this was right and he said "Yes."

S.McC pointed out that it was unsuitable, uncomely and not morally right.

JT Jr said to him "The devil is in you and I have to get him out. You've been wrong all your life."

Stanley McCallum said "What would Rene say?"

His reply was "I suppose you will tell her."

Stanley McCallum and the Lovies then went away. Ker was fully consenting to what his wife had done and I decided that to protect my house I had to put the Kers out. Mr Taylor insisted that he was going out with them and said "She is my woman." We prevented him from leaving with the Kers; this was because we wanted to protect him. S.McC., Jim Lovie and Bob Gardiner had gone to Glasgow to get James 3rd off the 1.20 am flight. JT Jr became very difficult, calling me "bastard", "son of a bitch", and to all "go to hell".

I had to send for Dr Bill Thomson who had been attending to him for the past 3 to 4 weeks. JT Jr became very quiet when Dr Thomson arrived and he was given an injection and some tablets. Dr Thomson said that medically he was a very sick man, but the moral side is a matter for the priests.

A few notes. 'Rene' was JT Jnr's wife. James 3rd his son. I spoke face to face with Dr Bill Thomson a few days later at Park Street and he told me that JT Jr was suffering from a severe degree of alcoholic dementia, 'one of the worst he had seen'.

All this was dressed up afterwards by the eb politburo as a brilliant ambush which exposed those who were not true followers of JT Jr. But even this Orwellian doublespeak ignores the fact that in the days following Aberdeen the Taylor gestapo all over the UK were asserting that 'the Man of God is pure and cannot sin' and saying also that if he wanted to take their wives to bed with him they would be happy for him to do so.

I hope that may be helpful. It's somewhat sickening to be going over these sleazy and pathetic events again, but I don't want anyone to deceive you as to what actually happened. If I can help further I'd be happy to.

Love Roger

Sun, 10 Nov 2002 15:47:53 -0000

Subject: Help !!

Hi Dave,

I can't offer proofs in the time available but I can give you what I know to be true, on the basis of having had it confirmed by several eyewitnesses. Many of these are still alive and would give sworn statements if necessary. I can also give you extracts from letters of the time.

1. This was a trap set up by J.T.jr. To root out those who were a) against him and b) "going on with corruption" including amongst others the owner of the house where J.T jr. was staying and Mr Cowell.

This is just a piece of threadbare 'spin' put together after Aberdeen. 'The owner of the house '- James Alec Gardiner- can confirm all the events that happened in his house and the desperate physical state of JT Jr. Stanley McCallum was accused of ‘corruption' afterwards and people queued up to discredit him. I've never known the full rights and wrongs of that story but I suspect that it was one of many 'frame-ups'.

2. J.T.Jr. was not under the influence of alcohol

They don't even believe that themselves. He was in the last stages of alcoholic dementia and barely coherent in the meeting or the house. I spoke with Dr Bill Thompson (who had been attending him and who was summoned to the house just after JT Jr was caught in bed with Madeleine Ker) and he said that it was one of the worst cases of alcoholic dementia he had ever seen. How JTJr's lieutenants can say that he wasn't drunk and keep a straight face I'll never know. This lying (under oath) is so stupid and primitive that it is difficult to take it seriously.

3. Although he did have sisters sitting on his lap he didn't touch them in inappropriate places.

Talk to the sisters he fondled at Preston the weekend before. There are dozens of witnesses. And when he returned to New York the NY Brethren stood by him and defended him until he started fondling their wives and blaspheming and making explicitly sexual jokes in the meeting. Then at least half of them withdrew from him for corruption. William Petersen and Edgar Maynard sent a letter to my father on 5 October 1970. For two days JTJr's wife Rene left her husband and spoke extensively with several Brethren about her husband's behaviour. The letter says:

Mrs Taylor gave much information as to Mr Taylor's conduct to several Brethren. Because her public remarks since have been used to offset facts, what she revealed is given (in part) as follows: "During Mrs Ker's visit to New York the conduct between Mr Taylor and Mrs Ker was fully and extensively resumed, as in Aberdeen. Mrs Taylor felt 'torn' as to this; when the interviews, taping and photographing by the Press took place she remained secluded. Mr Taylor said he was Paul, and had rights to "my women" as Paul, rights which others did not have. Mrs Taylor "obeyed" Mr Taylor by approaching certain of these by telephone. Her attitude in all this was to be transparent with her husband, and to try to "see" things in the light of scripture. As to his drinking, she had promised never to reveal again his rate of alcoholic consumption since his hospitalization in July 1965. Currently he had no thought of accepting supervision medically."

The letter ends:

'From all the foregoing the so called 'spiritual mystery' and 'special humanity' was but the cloak of the enemy. A mind sickened by excess was his device to introduce corruption into the assembly. Vile practice, being defended, was to become doctrine. The insanity was now collective, and spreading. . . An attempt to see Mr Taylor was refused; he named others that he would not see also. The assembly was appealed on Saturday morning, 22 August. Rather than submit to priestly care, Mr Taylor 'withdrew' from a brother without witness and led his party from the room."

Faithfully in our Lord Jesus

W.T.Petersen

The foregoing is fully established. Brethren in this city are prepared to witness to those concerned according to God.

Edgar T. Maynard

A further letter from the nearest meeting to New York, Plainfield NJ, was sent to James Alec Gardiner on 17 September 1970:

Beloved Brother

On August 22, an overt act of evil, fully witnessed to, was brought before the Brethren in New York, The perpetrator, Mr James Taylor Jnr, refused to acknowledge or judge this evil, and walked out of the meeting, followed by a considerable number of Brethren. Those that remained, about one hundred, desirous of maintaining a holy place for the Lord, acted as in assembly and withdrew from the guilty person. 2 Tim 2:19.

The next Lordsday, August 23rd, an announcement, privately prearranged by a few brothers in this city of Plainfield, given out at the commencement of the assembly time, linked the Brethren here with the evildoer and those prepared to go on with him in New York. Thus precedence was give to following a man instead of maintaining allegiance to Christ and the principles that govern the house of God. This forced those who desired to maintain the truth to immediately act in the light of 2 Tim. 2:19. Therefore 24 Brethren protested the announcement and withdrew, refusing to be linked with unjudged evil. "But let a man prove himself, and thus eat of the bread and drink of the cup." (I Cor. 11:28)

Very soon after having withdrawn from the evil, the Lord very graciously opened our eyes to see that the prime issue in His mind was not the overt act in New York, serious and condemning as this was, but what occurred during the course of the meetings in Aberdeen on July 24 and 25. The witness of those attending these mettings and the tapes, part of which some of us have listened to, bear out conclusively that serious evil was current. Blasphemous speaking (irreverent and jocular use of God's name 'El') and vile language was extensively used. (Leviticus 24: 15-16 and Colossians 3:8.) This is abhorrent to God and must be completely rejected by every lover of the truth.

If the position in Aberdeen was to be protected and maintained according to divine principles it became necessary for those walking in the light of the assembly to immediately meet this thrust of the enemy. The faithful in Aberdeen rose to it, and in assembly repudiated these meetings. This judgement was ratified by the assembly in Peterhead, which is your nearest meeting. This action shoud then have been endorsed in every assembly universally, if we had carried out the truth laid down at the time of the Glanton issue.

The Brethren in this city, who have withdrawn from unjudged evil, have expressed our full support, in assembly, of the action taken in Aberdeen pertaining to these meetings. Therefore, as lovers of Christ and desirous of holding things for Him, we have commenced breaking bread, declaring ourselves as in fellowship with you and others taking similar ground. 'But if we walk in the light . . . we have fellowship with one another." I John 1:7.

We are supplicating God that the consciences of the Brethren universally might be aroused as to what has come in and in fidelity to Christ take a stand against it.

Affectionately in the Lord Jesus Christ

(Signed) P.W.Coombes, Keith Adamson, Cyril F. Dadd, Robert Dadd,

Gunnar Hesterman

4. He didn't blaspheme during the meeting

He did blaspheme: the proof is in the tape.

5. He (Stuart) claimed to have a sworn affidavit signed by seven "brothers" as to the true course of events at Aberdeen.

When I said that I did not believe that the testimony of others from many parts of the country, including many who had been at Aberdeen, was false and could be so different to what he would have me believe his answer was to point out that the Soldiers at the tomb were paid to say that Christ had not risen from the dead and that this was still believed by the Jews to this day.

What a transparently stupid parallel!

Before I left he gave me a copy of the affidavit. It is titled "The Aberdeen Issue - 1970

The first paragraph sets out the three main "wicked assertions"

1. J.T.Jr. was under the influence of alcohol.

2. He acted unsuitably in the meetings using blasphemous language.

3. That he acted corruptly in the house at Aberdeen.

Paragraph two states that these reports emanated originally from persons named by T.T.jr. 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.

Paragraph four states "the testimony of every householder who entertained J.T.jr. Along with all who attended on him personally during his visit in July 1970, was that he ate very little and drank even less - nothing at all at times."

Paragraph five deals with his language in the meeting and states " .... It could not be disputed that Mr. Taylor used the strongest language possible to provoke a reaction. It brought out resistance and an ubsubdued state - though outwardly concealed. If his expressions were examined carefully, however, it is clear that they were scriptural. Other strong statements were always qualified.

Paragraph six deals with the charge of corruption in the house in Aberdeen and states that " it must be said this was the highlight of the ambush which had been referred to warningly, but ignored." It goes on to say that "Mr Tylor's chief accuser was later proved to be both morally perverted and a liar." It also states that "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."

It then goes on to make several other statements as to the evil among the Brethren in particular the meeting taken on the Monday and was signed by seven "brothers" and dated 11th January 1988.

The only names I can make out are Robert Gill (or Gibb), Alan Ker, John White, James A Flett, David Taylor. After the signatures it says "Edinburgh 11th January 1988, This and the proceed page certified a true copy. Notary Public, Edinburgh. There is also a seal.

As I intend to go and see my Mother again on Monday I would love to have some answers to give him as to this if anyone can help. I do need answers that can't be refuted. Am I right in thinking that J.T's son had to come over to fetch him home?

Yes. JT3 was taking three day meetings at Southampton that weekend and my father was there. When JT3 was summoned to Aberdeen my father took over the three day meeting for the final day.

And was Mr Cowell ever proved to be involved in "practices of the most corrupt nature?

You're talking about Stanley McCallum. There are conflicting reports about this. He was supposed to have had sexual relations with several young brothers in Detroit. I have been told that this was a frame up, but I have no proof of this. If he was framed it would be consistent with the shrill campaign of vilification which went on against any who took a stand against JT Jr and his supporters. It was common to refer to what happened after Aberdeen as 'the clearing out of the rubbish'. (I was proud to be part of that rubbish.)

Bill Petersen's letter (quoted above) says 'the insanity was now collective and spreading . . . I believe that JTJr's defenders are, even now, in the grip of a kind of wilful delusion. (I've always compared it in my own mind to the way that ordinary decent Germans came under the spell of Hitler at the Nuremberg Rallies and turned into brutal thugs who lied and cheated their heads off.) People I had known all my life lied and distorted things so outrageously after Aberdeen that it was difficult to know where to start in refuting them They wouldn't listen anyway. They had this mantra "The man of God is pure" and they kept saying it. John Railton (who was the gestapo chief in Brighton) kept insisting in the meeting that if Mr Taylor want to take his (John's) own wife Eunice to bed with him, he (John) would feel honoured. That 'collective insanity' was one of the most baffling and scary things I have ever encountered. We'd all been a bit insane under JT Jr's influence before Aberdeen, now suddenly those who supported him just 'flipped' into a dangerous kind of madness and (I sincerely believe) they are still in some kind of pathological state, almost dreamlike, where they have no proper sense of what is true and real and what is part of their sectarian fantasy.

Any help would be appreciated Roger, Geoff, anyone.

I hope some of that is helpful. Excuse any typos - I've done it in a bit of a rush.

Love

Roger

Reply to a Letter on Dick Wyman’s Web site

Let’s start with your pen name ‘C211’. Why aren’t you out in the open, able to say who you are? That’s the first indicator of the dishonesty of your little diatribe – anonymous indignation somehow doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

When I read your piece my first thought was of that horrible little man Joseph Goebbels who spent his life praising and justifying Hitler and his fellow thugs. And of the way George Orwell satirised and derided that kind of activity in his forensic depiction of 'double-think’ and ‘double-speak’ in ‘1984’. Your piece is deeply, fundamentally deceitful. It is also hypocritical. Down inside yourself you must know that you are talking nonsense; if you don't then the last remains of honesty and sincerity have been corroded away in you and you are in a psychotic state where the ‘real’ and the ‘normal’ have been replaced by dangerous fantasies and delusions. There is a way back from that state but it is not an easy one.

I carried out a detailed study of cults and their effects for BBC Television in 1983 and I learned a great deal about the damage that is done to the human mind and spirit by the activities of simplistic, authoritarian cults. The Taylorite Exclusives were not the worst cult in my study but the wreckage and misery they cause is nevertheless extensive and long-lasting. Jill Mytton's skilful research into the incidence of post-traumatic stress among ex-Brethren goes some way towards quantifying this.

Let's concentrate on the list of initials you began with: JND, FER, JT, JTJr, JHS, JSH and BDH. I read pretty well all of JND, FER and JT during the first 32 years of my life. I met JT several times and was at a number of his meetings. I knew JTJr quite well and went to his meetings frequently. I knew Jim Symington a bit and I knew John Hales well. (I was included in some of those notorious 'business meetings' run in Barnet and elsewhere by the Hales brothers.) I haven't met Bruce Hales Jr but I knew his uncle Bruce.

For any sane person the discontinuity between the first three sets of initials and the last four is absolutely obvious. The first three were serious men who developed an idea of Christian fellowship which became progressively narrower but which at least had some basis in biblical teaching even if some verses of scripture were given incomparably more weight than others. JTJr was from the start something of a buffoon. Instead of measured consideration we got erratic and unpredictable new byelaws which were usually blurted out when JTJr was in a semi (or completely) drunken state. He bluffed his way from one extravagance to another. Hundreds left in protest and a ruthless gestapo grew up to hound the remaining Brethren into compliance. All this ended (for anyone who had any vestiges of common sense) in the drunken excesses of Preston and Aberdeen in July 1970. Let us not be in any doubt at all what an absolute disgrace those last meetings were. JTJr was only semi-coherent through whisky drinking, he was mauling and sexually abusing any sister who came within his range, his language ranged from blasphemies to obscenities.

If you have enough honesty and clarity of thought to do so, summon up a picture of John Nelson Darby walking into that baying madhouse at Aberdeen on the Saturday afternoon in July 1970. Or FER. Or JT. Any of them would have been shocked and appalled and would have denounced the occasion as degenerate and depraved. (What JT would have said to his son is a fascinating speculation. I was at enough of JT's meetings to have a clear memory of the atmosphere that prevailed in them and I heard him say that when there was laughter in a meeting all the power went out of it. I don't think I ever saw JT angry. I have no doubt that in the situation imagined above he would have been incandescent. Whips of cords would have been the least of it.)

Someone gave me boxes of JHS and JSH ministry a few years ago. As a kind of archive I have kept them. In the original boxes - my bookcase space is too precious to waste on them. What little I have read of them has the same bullying, incoherent quality that I remember from JTJr's meetings.

I mustn't presume on Dick's hospitality any longer. I'll just say it once more. Between the first three sets of initials and the last four there is a great gulf fixed and the pretence that they represent a continuum is dishonest and stupid.

Roger Stott

Should we call the EB Christian?

Fri May 21, 2004 11:30 pm

I apply a very simple test here. If it had been possible to time travel - to go back to the 1860s and pick up John Nelson Darby, move forward to 1900 and pick up FER, move on to 1948 (which was the year I shook hands with JT Snr when I was 10) and pick up JT Snr and then take them all up to Aberdeen on that notorious July 1970 Saturday afternoon and usher them into the hall where that vulgar, blasphemous hullaballoo was going on, would those three men have recognized that cruel and stupid pantomime as having any of the hallmarks of Christianity? (I speak with some feeling here: I personally had the task of transcribing the original spool of the 'Aberdeen tape' and describing the foolish uproar that accompanied it. A strange and disgusting experience - having some affinities with the current prisoner abuse photos from Iraq.)

I think the whole 'recovery of the truth' that exclusivism claims was an obsessional illusion. But I have no doubt that those three men were Christians and that they genuinely believed they were right. They were pious men but like many others before them they mistook severity and a kind of sado-masochism for genuine 'Christian freedom and grace'.

But I don't have any doubt that they would have used the strongest possible language to condemn every aspect of that foolish and disgraceful occasion. Yet the man that was at the centre of that blasphemous foolishness was turned into a super hero by the EBs after 1970 and was routinely referred to as 'our beloved'. When he was actually (at that point in his life) a pathetic old drunk who sexually abused every 'sister' who came within reach.

Christians? 'Grace and truth' are the hallmarks and as far as I can judge the Halesians lost all contact with either of those qualities long ago.

[. . . and should we call American religious extremists Christians? The following comment was written as part of a discussion of an article written by George Mair for the inauguration of the peeb.net Web site.]

Mon Jun 14, 2004 8:22 pm

The problem for many of us Tim, is that we simply don't regard those born-again chancers that swarmed around the likeable but dishonest and destructive Reagan (supported apartheid, armed Saddam, funded the Nicaragua Contras illegally and should have been impeached, upheld all kinds of grisly and torturing dictators, put the US into debt that took a decade to clear) and that now swarm round the pathetic and risible George W as proper Christians at all. (How many of their evangelical leaders have been caught in flagrante delicto? I've lost count.) Our own JND fuelled a great deal of that fanciful fanaticism. In my days as a BBC documentary maker I came across these people playing at being missionaries in Brazil, Bolivia, Poland and several other places and I found their obscurantist over-simplifications quite simply horrific. They're not exactly the Taliban but they travel on the same railway line. And they do it with 'sincere' open faces and sentimental voices and they pretend to listen to what you say but they are deaf to everything except their own mantras. They assume a caring posture but they are actually cold and ruthless. And the damage they are doing in South America is immense.

blessings

Roger

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