The Evil of Clericalism
Well, he seems to have strong views on some things. But don’t talk to me about clericalism. He may not have the title of pastor or minister, but he clearly runs his little meeting, and is very pleased with the way he has it!’
I am often asked about John Nelson Darby and his relationship with the so-called Plymouth Brethren. This is a subject I can speak of only with sadness, humility and ‘eating the sin-offering’
Darby was totally opposed to sectarianism, so anything that smacked of a humanly organised church was anathema to him. He did not ‘found’ the Plymouth Brethren as such.
When John Nelson Darby, a former clergyman himself, published ‘The Notion of a Clergyman, dispensationally the sin against the Holy Ghost.’ with its understandably provocative title, it was said that he was accusing every clergyman or appointed leader of committing the sin against the Holy Spirit. He was at pains to show that this was far from the truth.
Darby’s issue was that any human appointment, whether by delegation or election, substituted the direct sovereign action of the Holy Spirit, by that of man. This is the notion of a clergyman. The system is wrong. It substitutes man for God. True ministry is by the gift and the power of God’s Spirit, not by man’s appointment.
If the authority of the clergy is derived from man, it follows that anything that is of God, by the Holy Spirit must be condemned by the system and classed as evil. This, then, is the sin against the Holy Spirit in this dispensation.
“The Faith once delivered to the Saints”
In this paper John Darby notes that whatever God sets up perfectly, main ruins. This applies equally to the Church publicly. But it remains the Church, and it is for us to be faithful to the Lord whilst accepting our part in its public failure. We are in the last days and the Lord’s coming is imminent, so we are exhorted to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints