Other information on Plymouth Brethren beliefs, including the Doctrine of Separation, views on government and service in war.
The PBCC believe that every true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, every genuine converted person, will be in heaven and our true brethren in Christ.
The principle of separation is practised by all people, nations and religions in some form or other.
The Bible refers to it in many passages – from Genesis chapter 1, where God divided between light and darkness, right through to Revelation chapter 22, where there are those who are within and those who are without.
The Lord Jesus said as to His disciples “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” John 17 v14. The world in this sense refers to the system of sin and lawlessness under the domination of Satan.
As a Church, we wholeheartedly seek to dedicate our lives to this principle. We choose to follow the teachings of Jesus as set out in the Gospels and taught in the Epistles of the New Testament. Refer passages such as Matthew 16 v24-26, Mark 10 v28-30, 2 Timothy 2 v19 and 2 Corinthians 6v14-18.
Separation represents a moral distinction between what is right and what is wrong, what is righteous and what is unrighteous. Christians as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are exhorted to “refuse the evil and to choose the good” Isaiah 7 v15.
We make a commitment to eat and drink only with those with whom we would celebrate the Lord’s Supper – that is the basis of our fellowship.
This does not mean that we hold ourselves as superior to our fellow men, women and children. We live and work harmoniously alongside them, in the mainstream of society.
Our practice of separation does not preclude interaction in the broader community.
We help our neighbours and they help us. We care for and protect their property and they do ours.
We appreciate the good that we receive from many of our fellow citizens, and welcome the opportunity to fulfil our responsibility in the community. Our attitude is to do good to all, as opportunities arise.
Brethren are non-partisan, believing that any given government (no matter the political party or individual candidates) is brought to election by the will of God. Whilst there is continual and consistent prayer for good government we do not vote as a matter of conscience. In most countries where voting is compulsory, there is exemption from voting on conscientious grounds.
Thus, while we do not vote, we still pay attention to the politics of the countries we reside in, and as with all Christian Churches, the Plymouth Brethren do on occasion take a moral stand concerning the compatibility of legislation and policy with the teachings of the Holy Bible. On these occasions we actively lobby our representatives, exercising our individual democratic rights as citizens living in a free society.
In times of military conscription, members of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church were involved in both World Wars, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, serving alongside non-brethren soldiers for their respective countries. The Brethren took the ground of being recognized as non–combatants as distinct from conscientious objectors. They experienced reproach especially during WW1 for refusing to carry arms, but time and experience proved there was great courage in going into the front lines unarmed to rescue the wounded.
Brethren have served in many places including the jungles of Papua New Guinea, the deserts of North Africa, the beaches of Dunkirk, the Normandy landings, Korea and Vietnam. They have served at the front line as stretcher bearers as well as in classified Secret Signals units. One was the 2 I.C. at one of the largest Army Hospitals in Australia.
Examples of the appreciation of their work included an award in WW1 for valour in their service including the Military Cross. In WW2, even though imprisoned at Changi, one was mentioned in despatches for his service to other POWs. In the tensions of the Cold War in Europe, one of the Brethren was designated ‘Soldier of the Year’ twice in succession.
EXTRACTS FROM NATIONAL ARCHIVES AUSTRALIA
F. KINGSLEY NORRIS (D.G.A.M.S.)
DIRECTOR-GENERAL AUST. MEDICAL SERVICE –
AUST. ARMY 1942-43 FORCES
Casualties and sickness had woefully thinned the ranks of my medical personnel, and in reply to many signals at last an additional Field Ambulance, which included a company of “conscientious objectors”, had been allotted to us……
….I discussed the situation with the C.O. and decided to move his Ambulance across to Soputa where the crisis of the battle had been reached and our casualties were mounting.
Bearers from among the “conshies” were ordered into the battle and not one hesitated. Some were killed, others wounded, and as I watched them I did not see one man or any stretcher squad having brought out a casualty pause before returning.
Just as the men at Mons transmuted that base word contemptible into the gold of glory, so did “conshie” become a noble word of respect and regard. This incident at Soputa was one of the most inspiring examples of moral and physical courage I have experienced.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.