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Albury conferences

Albury conferences
   The Albury conferences were a series of private religious discussions among a small group of British Protestants between 1826 and 1830. They helped develop ideas that contributed to the pre-millenial and Pentecostal movements.
   In December 1826, Presbyterian minister Edward Irving (1792-1834), the pastor of the Scottish congregation in London, opened his home at Albury Park, a village in rural Surrey, to a group of some 20 individuals for an extended discussion of Christian eschatology. Included in the select coterie were Rev. Lewis Way, one of the founders of the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity. Among the Jews, Joseph Frey, one of its missionaries, Rev. Hugh McNeile, an Anglican who had written a book on prophecy, and banker Henry Drummond (1786-1860), not to be confused with his later contemporary of the same name who lectured on science and religion.
   These conferences were held annually until 1830, by which time Irving had published a number of books, including several on prophetic issues: For Judgment to Come (1823) and Babylon and Infidelity Foredoomed (1826). His multivolume collection of Sermons, Lectures and Occasional Discourses appeared in 1828, and a new Exposition of the Book of Revelation three years later. As his colleagues read his books and heard of the strange occurrences associated with him, he was rejected by the London Presbytery in 1830. His ideas were condemned by the ministers in Scotland in 1831.
   Apart from his controversial new ideas on eschatology, a form of what would later be termed PREMILLENNIALISM, by 1828 Irving had become convinced that the gifts of the spirit so evident in the biblical church had fallen away due to lack of faith and were ready to be reborn. In 1830, he learned of an outbreak of spiritual manifestations in a remote part of Scotland. Soon those attending Irving's church in London reported similar events, extraordinary "manifestations of the spirit" including speaking in tongues, prophecies, healings, and even raising of the dead.
   Irving, Drummond, and other supporters planned a new church that would follow what they saw in the Bible as the apostolic model. The fivefold ministry described in Ephesians (4: 11-14) suggested to them that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers should be ongoing officers in the church. These ministers were to help dispense the gifts of the Holy Spirit to church members. The return of the gifts of the spirit anticipated the return of Christ. A crucial feature of the new church would be the calling of 12 new apostles. The Catholic Apostolic Church was officially founded in 1832. The next year, the Presbytery of Annan of the Church of Scotland deposed Irving from the ministry; he died the following year.
   The Albury conferences and Irving's brief ministry were later seen as important steps in the emergence of premillennialism as a significant view among conservative Protestants. The spiritual manifestations at Irving's church were seen as precursors to Pentecostalism. The Catholic Apostolic Church left no provisions for replacing the original apostles; without apostolic leadership it dwindled into nonexistence in the 20th century. But before the church lost all of its apostles, some of the German members founded the New Apostolic Church. That church calls new apostles as old ones die, and has also radically increased their number as the church itself has grown. The New Apostolic Church is now a global community with more than 8 million members in some 190 countries.
   Further reading:
   ■ Arnold A. Dallimore, The Life of Edward Irving: The Fore-Runner of the Charismatic Movement (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1983)
   ■ A. L. Drummond, Edward Irving and His Circle (London: James Clarke, n.d.)
   ■ Edward Irving, The Collected Works of Edward Irving, ed. by Gavin Carlyle, 5 vols. (London: Alexander Strahan, 1864-65)
   ■ C. Gordon Strachan, Pentecostal Theology of Edward Irving (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1973).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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