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Brethren Doctrine

In no uncertain terms the Brethren proclaimed the Scriptures to be absolutely inspired by God and the sole authority for faith and practice.  It was mainly through Darby's ministry and writings that the sovereignty of God, election, assurance, acceptance, and unconditional eternal security were built into the movement's foundation.

Darby strongly emphasized the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at the time of new birth, coupled with the truth that believers are baptized into the one Body, the Church.


The original and sustaining motive of the Brethren was to gather and worship in freedom "according to the New Testament pattern," as they understood it.   They taught the priesthood of all believers, therefore had no pastor, but depended upon the Holy Spirit for their leadership.  Their ministry was shared by those men gifted and trained for that purpose by the Spirit. 

The center, or focus, of the Brethren assemblies was the weekly service of worship and remembrance focusing on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and partaking of the Lord's Supper as the Lord commanded.

Body Life

The unity of the church as the Body of Christ was the Brethren burden during the first twenty years.  They saw themselves as being led by and in union with the Lord Jesus Christ as their Head in heaven. Their basis for gathering as a local church was as the Body of Christ on earth. Each local assembly was inter-related to every other one that gathered upon this basis throughout the world.  None was independent of the other, and none was considered to be the Church of God in itself, but each assembly represented the Church in its particular locality.

The decisions and actions of each assembly were applicable to all assemblies. It was a matter of the unity of the one Body. Many of these ecclesiastical developments became a part of the movement through the itinerant ministry of J.N. Darby.


The theological system known as dispensationalism owes much of its development to J. N. Darby. While elements of dispensationalism can be traced back to the early days of the church, Darby was the one individual who systematized Biblical Dispensationalism; C. I. Scofield made it accessible through his Reference Bible; and L. S. Chafer taught it on the seminary level. To find out more about Dispensationalism click here.

This system is integral to the identification and prophetic truths developed by Darby.


All Christian growth is related to the believer's identification with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection according to Romans 6 to 8.

Darby was the instrument the Lord used to unfold the scriptural teaching of these truths. In 1875 the Keswick conferences were started which made these identification truths available beyond the Brethren assemblies. Keswick and all of the major teachers of this truth in the 20th century owe much of their insight directly to J.N. Darby. To find out more about Identification Truths click here.


Again, it was chiefly through Darby that the Lord chose to give a systematic clarification of the believer's Rapture prior to the Tribulation, as well as the Lord Jesus' glorious return to earth with His saints to establish the Millennial Kingdom.

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