Since I want to give you something of value, I decided to share things from a book I’m reading, The Pilgrim Church. Edmund Hamer Broadbent, a Plymouth Brethren travelling missionary, is the author. A native of Lancashire, England, he toured many European countries encountering and recording the stories of Christian groups whose desire was to assemble, worship, and be governed according to the standards of the Bible – that is, New Testament worship and governance alone.
Here is a picture of E.H. Broadbent – I’m sure it doesn’t do him justice, although he looks far happier and friendlier than many of the people in older photos I’ve seen.
Here are two excerpts from the hardback edition published under copyright by GOSPEL FOLIO PRESS, Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1999. The first is from the Foreword written by Dave Hunt:
“Edmund Hamer Broadbent (1861-1945) lived at a time when documents and books – many of them now lost or very rare – which told the true story of the Christian church could still be found. His scholarship is attested to by the scores of books in several languages available in his day, from which he drew much of the vital information he has passed on to us. The Pilgrim Church of which he writes so eloquently and accurately was persecuted to the death for a thousand years before the Reformation. The story has been almost lost to the present generation and desperately needs to be retold.”
The second is from the first chapter entitled “Beginnings”. As a Christian and a student of writing, I’m impressed beyond measure, even though I can’t agree with all that Broadbent says about the complete autonomy of individual churches.
“The New Testament is the worthy completion of the Old. It is the only proper end to which the Law and the Prophets could have led. It does not do away with them, but enriches in fulfilling and replacing them. It has in itself the character of completeness, presenting, not the rudimentary beginning of a new era which requires constant modification and addition to meet the needs of changing times, but a revelation suited to all men in all times. Jesus Christ cannot be made known to us better than He is in the four Gospels, nor can the consequences or doctrines which flow from the facts of His death and resurrection be more truly taught than they are in the Epistles.
“The Old Testament records the formation and history of Israel, the people through whom God revealed Himself in the world until Christ should come. The New Testament reveals the Church of Christ, consisting of all who are born again through faith in the Son of God and so made partakers of the divine and eternal life (Jn. 3:16).
“As this body, the whole Church of Christ, cannot be seen and cannot act in any one place, since many of its members are already with Christ and others scattered throughout the world, it is appointed to be actually known and to bear its testimony in the form of churches of God in various places and at different times. Each of these consists of those disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the place where they live, gather together in His Name. To such the presence of the Lord in their midst is promised and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given in different ways through all the members (Mt. 18:20; 1 Cor. 12:7).
“Each of these churches stands in direct relationship to the Lord, draws its authority from Him, and is responsible to Him (Rev. 2-3). There is no suggestion that one church should control another or that any organized union of churches should exist, but an intimate personal fellowship unites them (Acts 15:36).”
I hope you enjoyed reading this and saw God’s grace at work in the intellect of this dear brother in the Lord who is now with Him. I hope to continue to post excerpts from his book.