Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 04:2 (Winter 1995)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Kenneth Alan Daughters

My People: The History of those Christians Sometimes Called Plymouth Brethren. By Robert Baylis. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1995. 336 pages. $19.99.

An Assembly elder recently told me that he can’t stand reading Brethren history. The stories of the various divisions get him down. I must confess that I read all the volumes on the history of the Assemblies that I can get my hands on. I have been encouraged by the accounts of men who have committed themselves to the authority of Scripture in every area of life, including church life. The stories of the divisions I read are a salutary warning of the danger of indwelling sin in the best of God’s people.

Until recently one of the gaps in Brethren historiography was a full account of the Brethren in North America. Mr. Baylis’ survey is a good step in the direction of filling that void. The author has had an eclectic professional career. He has served on the staff of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, taught English literature in high school, run a Christian bookstore in Berkeley, California, operated a travel business, and been involved in commodity brokering. His family has been connected with the Assemblies since the 1880s, and he has been a lifelong Californian. He has authored a number of other volumes including Pilgrims’ London and Europe on Purpose. It is obvious that the present volume was written as a labor of love for those in the Assemblies.

The book is divided into four parts: (1) British Origins, (2) Pioneering Days in North America, (3) The Golden Age of Independent Brethrenism, and (4) The Brethren in the Space Age. There is an excellent selection of photographs from the Jack Hozack Collection, an archive of historical photos of conferences, street meetings, evangelists, etc., as well as letters and other memorabilia of an historic nature. There are also a series of appendices including quotes about the Brethren, bibliographical sources, a roster of all commended workers in North

America from the early days to the present, and selections from workers’ reports gleaned from various Assembly magazines over the past 120 years. For more detailed analyses of the early days one must consult older works, but Baylis’ work does provide a helpful introduction. He begins with brief discussions of the early leaders, the first assemblies, eyewitness accounts of meetings, and Brethren hymnody. He gives a nice survey of the cardinal principles of the early Brethren and implies that Open Brethren and not the Exclusives have continued the original principles. He admires the greatness of J. N. Darby, but objects to his “Jehu-like zeal” in dealing wit...

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