Tuesday, 19 July 2016

More Moggy Nuggetts

the Lord has given us absolute control, and expects us to be able to use it rightly . BDH Vol. 24.95 (reading)


  1. The remark was a quotation of something John Hales is supposed to have said, and quite probably did say. Control was one of John Hales’s favourite topics. He really loved control.

    Here is what he said in Vol. 24 page 260
    “the Lord is expecting recognition and submission to absolute authority. Isn't any question of my opinion or my thinking. Oh, you say, that's too severe, that's too demanding. Well, I don't think so. . .”

    Here is a bit more of what BDH had to say about it on the page you quote. This was in Armidale on 19th December 2003.

    “I was struck by a remark of our brother, I think he said something like this, that the Lord has given us absolute control, and He expects us to be able to use it rightly.
    . . .
    Well, that's the authority for it. Said the Lord has given us absolute control, and He expects us to be able to use it rightly. That means that we've got absolute authority to insist on certain matters in regard of the assembly.
    . . .
    Parents should understand that they can get access to authority, absolute authority. It's in Christ, as we see here, absolute power and authority, but it's vested, it's vested in the assembly.”

    This is a very dangerous notion. If someone or some institution thinks it has absolute, God-given authority, there is no limit to the damage it can do. Absolute power absolutely corrupts.

    The Bible and Gospel trust claims copyright of most of the quotations shown above.

  2. There seems to be something in the human psyche that welcomes authority and likes submitting to it, or at least likes the idea of other people submitting to it. B. D. Hales often says so, and he should know, because he depends on it. He says things like,

    “B.D.H. Oh, I'm sure that's right. The idea of tyrannical teaching, whether it would become attractive to us.
    . . .
    M.G.C. So do I need to find authority attractive?
    B.D.H. Yes, that's right.
    . . .
    it would be that I understand authority, I'm not just conscious of the obligation to obey it, but I understand it, I come to love it actually, I come to love authority.
    . . .
    An assembly person is a person that loves authority.
    . . .
    You prove it, you prove it, you prove by submission and surrender and respect, and a love for authority,
    . . .
    That’s a beautiful expression, conveying the idea of authority.
    . . .
    It's a wonderful relief to break through from being difficult, and to find the joy, and not only the joy, but the power in being submissive.
    . . .
    R.A.S. So it's really the only way that the position will go through, if Paul has a free hand. We've seen that, we should have seen that, shouldn't we?
    B.D.H. Yes, we have, we've seen it, and we've seen persons submissive to it, and very, very attractive, very effective.
    . . .
    B.D.H. Yes, that's good, that's very good. You see, they came under authority, and they saw the attractiveness of it,
    . . .
    But you find authority attractive, you finally prove it as a very effective successful way through here, to find someone that will just give you instructions. And I think what you said—what did you say? Do it without even thinking, or something, did you say? Yes. Well, if you know it's right, you just do it, you don't delay, you don't let the doubt of my own natural thinking or self-will hold me up.”

    These are not the most extreme things BDH says about submission, but these are examples to show how he thinks, or wants his followers to think, that submission to the minister, to the ministry, to the local assembly, to the Brethren, is attractive, and that you come to love it.

    But when you look at the extreme ways in which this submission is described, it is very far from attractive. Other passages of ministry, too numerous to list here, call for unconditional, unquestioning, unthinking submission to authority. If you don’t understand it, don’t oppose it: just obey. You are to surrender unconditionally to someone else, some despot, and let him dictate your deeds, actions and even your thoughts. You are to be humble enough to let some else tell you where to live, what to study or not study, where to work, whether to marry, what to wear, what to read, what to say and what to think. That is not attractive to anyone who respects the dignity inherent in every human being. It is not even acceptable. It is what the law would call undue influence, and in some jurisdictions it could be classified as criminal.

    BDH’s ministry about submission sometimes makes me wonder if masochistic feelings are part of the cement that holds Brethren dictators and submissives together. In his ministry, along with his relentless emphasis on submission and its attractiveness, you will find mentions of bondmanship, discipline, domination, the joy of subjection, obedience, chains, padlocks, being hit, being hurt, total unconditional surrender, love of authority and one person owning another. Some of these concepts are used only in a metaphorical sense, but the submission is all too real, and the idea of learning to love it reminded me of the sinister final paragraphs of Orwell’s 1984.

    The Bible and Gospel trust claims copyright of most of the quotations shown above.

  3. All of this would link beautifully with the thought of the autonomy of the local assembly (not!) as described by Mr Grimshaw.

    1. Among the Taylor group, the autonomy of the local assembly was abolished in 1968.

      Jim Taylor instructed the brethren in Glasgow to withdraw from the entire Hamilton Meeting, except for one particular member. So on Thursday 13th June 1968 the Glasgow assembly did as it was told, without stating what facts or principles were involved, without establishing that the Hamilton Brethren had done anything wrong. At the meeting the decision was presented simply an act of obedience to Jim Taylor. It was a rubber-stamping job.

      Out of about a thousand brethren present, I was the only one who spoke up against this way of making decisions. Being in a minority of one, I couldn’t do much more than register my objection.

      However, two good things came of it: it let me realise that the Brethren’s light had finally gone out; they were now a fully-fledged cult in every sense of the word, and it led to the emancipation of the Brethren in Hamilton. It was traumatic for them at the time, but it was all for the best in the long run. They were spared the degrading and defiling ministry of 1970.

  4. Ian
    Hamilton was and is an example of "absolute control" in operation. It is of course not the only example. James Taylor junior withdrew from people over the telephone and before and following Aberdeen (July 1970) instructed local assemblies to withdraw from individuals he wanted removed.
    Such behaviour has been a continuing characteristic of subsequent EB leaders, who to demonstrate their so called authority had individuals whom they perceived as possible rivals removed from fellowship often on trivial or trumped up charges.
    For Mr Grimshaw to portray the Exclusive Brethren assemblies as autonomous is a complete distortion of how that cult is structured and functions. During a fairly recent conversation with some young men who were engaged in "street preaching " it was made very clear that they considered BDH's "ministry" to be authoritative. In other words he has the absolute control mentioned in the heading of this blog.