LIFE group discussion guide: settled

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 5) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this morning’s sermon.

To declare, and to delve into some of the power of, the fulcrum of faith: “He is risen!”

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• … after I’m raised up, I’ll go before you to Galilee. (Matthew 26.32 CEB)

• He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” (Luke 24.6-7 NLT)

• This Jesus, God raised up. We are all witnesses to that fact. He was exalted to God’s right side and received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit. He poured out this Spirit, and you are seeing and hearing the results of his having done so. (Acts 2.32-33 CEB)

• Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead … that is my gospel … (2 Timothy 2.8 NRSV)

• … it was not with perishable things … that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now … love one another other deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1.18-22 NIV)

Relation

Use this icebreaker question to prime the pump for group conversation.

1. Tell us something, anything, that is to you a settled, absolute fact that all can see.

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with some of the Scripture(s) related to this sermon.

1. Read Mark’s brief account of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection: Mk. 15.37-16.8.

2. Read Eph. 1.3-14 in The Message as a round, each reading one sentence aloud.

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.

1. Faith. Would an unrisen Christ be death to Christian faith? Explain.

2. Hope. What does our Lord’s resurrection do for your take on the (your) future?

3. Love. How does Jesus’ resurrection affect your life here and now in the present?

4. How is the existence/life of the church a witness for/against Christ’s resurrection?

5. If Jesus is risen, then this much is settled, I simply must ________.

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. Pray aloud each morning: “I will live by your resurrection power today, Lord.”

2. Steadily seek ways to share this faith in your heart with others: “Jesus is risen!”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 29 – April 4

Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …

March 29

March 29, 1859 – On this day, Leonard Daugherty is born. He becomes the music editor for the Christian Standard (Standard Publishing Co.) and will serve many years with them, compiling several songbooks commonly used among us from the 1890’s until the mid-twentieth century. He is an associate of James A. Harding and commonly conducts gospel meetings with Hall L. Calhoun (arguably J.W. McGarvey’s chief protege).

March 30

March 30, 1830 – On this day, someone – who addresses Alexander Campbell as “my dear brother” and who signs his name only as “F” – pens Campbell a letter. Campbell reproduces the letter in its entirety in his paper, Millenial Harbinger. A portion of the letter reads:

“Last evening I attended in this place a meeting of a Bible Class, composed chiefly of members, both old and young. I being pro. tem. the acting ‘Elder,’ was requested by the Deacons to take the lead. No chapter having been previously given out, I asked, What one shall we consider? Elder B____, (an Elder indeed, a blind teacher, 75 years old, who has been the leader of this people upwards of 30 years) named the 13th chapter of Luke. Very well, we all turned to this chapter. After prayer I remarked that I had before me a different translation from the one in common use; and as it was desirable that we should avail ourselves of every means in our power for coming to a right understanding of the Sacred Oracles, if the class would look over, I would read the chapter in Dr. George Campbell’s translation; after which we might note the difference, and profitably consider it. I read. The Elder sat uneasy. As soon as I got through he gave his mind unasked. ‘He was an old-fashioned sort of a man,’ he said, ‘and liked the old Bible better.’ He marked several differences. ‘There is “reform” for “repent,”‘ said he. ‘Now a person may reform, but that isn’t repentance. Repentance means something more. It is a very different thing. Evangelical repentance is a godly sorrow for sin,’ &c. &c. After speaking much against the New Translation, he called upon the Deacons to instruct me into the proper manner of conducting these meetings. I turned to them for instruction. They wished me to take my own way. I therefore proceeded to make some further remarks on this translation, to ask and answer, to hear asked and answered, questions upon the chapter.

“I will only add, if not deceived, I do ardently desire to see a pure speech, the ancient gospel, and ancient order of things, fully restored among the people of God. Yours in hope of immortality, through a crucified Savior – F.”

Sound familiar? Apparently, some things never change (e.g. – disagreements and disgruntlement over versions of the Bible, differences and tensions between generations, the view that the older ways were better ways, etc.).

* Also on this same day and year (March 30, 1830), David Statts (“D.S.”) Burnet marries Mary Gano. Mary is the youngest daughter of John Stites Gano and a cousin of John Allen Gano (who was mentioned in the March 24 post in this series).

It is interesting to note just how many of the leading figures of the earliest years of the Restoration Heritage are related to each other by blood and/or marriage. This seems to me, at least in the course of my research thus far, especially true of the second-generation of leaders (as might be expected). While I haven’t attempted to keep a tally, the number is not insignificant.

March 31

* March 31, 30 – The exact date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has been a matter of scholarly debate for centuries, and remains a question today. However, it is on this day in 30 A.D. that the Restoration Heritage scholar J.W. McGarvey believes Jesus died in Jerusalem at the hands of men for the sins of all of humanity and to defeat the powers of darkness. This date is recorded in The Fourfold Gospel, a work of J.W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton, first published in 1914 (three years after McGarvey’s death).

Interestingly, this date disagrees with the commonly held belief among the rank-and-file members of Churches of Christ that the crucifixion occurred in 33 A.D. In fact, a great many church buildings constructed by Churches of Christ in the 20th century will have affixed to them a plaque stating that the church of Christ was “established in 33 A.D.” Had McGarvey lived to see one of these signs (he died in 1911) he would surely have given it an eye-roll.

* March 31, 1881 – On this day J.M. Mathes, one of the earliest and most influential preachers in our heritage in the state of Indiana, has an article published in The Evangelist (the paper started by Walter Scott). The article is entitled “The Organ Once More” and speaks to the use of instrumental music in corporate worship. Mathes, watching a steady stream of churches in Indiana adopt the use of instruments, would rather have things otherwise, but despite such convictions, he refuses to make such a test of fellowship and continues to wok and worship with brethren on both sides of the aisle. He says:

“I am opposed to the organ in the worship, but make no factious opposition to it. I suffer no organ to drive me from my place in the church of Christ, nor from my duty as a disciple of Christ.”

Mathes‘ forbearance, as well as his valuing union over a particular stance on this issue, is intriguing. As for us today, whether we’re looking back into history or thinking of matters of the present day, we do well to keep more than just two colors on our palette with which to paint our understanding of things on the canvas of our mind. After all, which one of us sees everything in black and white? J.M. Mathes understood that well.

April 1

* April 1, 1807 – Thomas Campbell leaves Ireland and begins a roughly five-week journey to the United States. His intent is spy out the land, so to speak, and move his family to the States. His trip is prompted by health factors; his doctors are urging him to find a different occupation on account of the stress of (1) overwork and stress (he is a school teacher and a Presbyterian minister, greatly frustrated over the entrenched attitudes and pervasive disunity of his church tribe) and (2) to relocate to a climate more conducive to improvement in his health. Thomas acts on their advice and so, sets out on this journey alone, his wife and children remaining in Ireland for now. He leaves his son, nineteen year-old Alexander, in charge of the academy that he and Alexander have operated together at Rich Hill. It will be the fall of 1809 before Alexander, and the rest of Thomas’ family, arrives in the States.

All of this gives me pause to wonder: would any of us be doing anything close to what we’re doing these days in terms of faith if Thomas Campbell had simply acted like a great many of us guys – shrugging off, or postponing acting on, a doctor’s advice?

* April 1, 1834 – In a letter to Peyton C. Wyeth in England, Alexander Campbell speaks of his estimation of the current membership size, organization, and growth rate of those associated with the Stone-Campbell Movement in the United Sates. Campbell’s reply, in part, reads:

“From the best information I can gather, there are about one hundred and fifty thousand brethren in the Reformation in the United States: but of those there may not be organized into churches more than from five to eight hundred into churches. Many of them are large – from one to four hundred members – many from fifty to one hundred. But the revival has been very great. Since you left us last year, there could not be less than ten thousand immersed in the United States and Canada.”

John Allen Hudson records this matter in his book entitled The Church in Great Britain.

April 2

April 2, 1841 – It is Barton W. Stone’s understanding of Scripture that Christian union will usher in Christ’s return. And it is today that his dream of a grand meeting of leaders from across the spectrum of Christendom to discuss Christian unity and to bring an end to sectarian strife is finally realized.

Depressingly so. For though the gathering’s objective is to be “a convention of all denominations of Christians” in the state of Kentucky with Alexander Campbell being one of the chief speakers, it is poorly attended.

Knocked down, but not out, Stone gets up, regroups, and takes another run at organizing the same sort of event two years later in 1843 … with even worse results. At that time, not enough people even commit to be representatives for the convention to make.

Stone is broken-hearted, but not in despair; he continues to hold on tight to his dream of Christian unity, even though now he is much more muted about it. He dies the following year (1844).

April 3

April 3, 1826 – Alexander Campbell writes in the Christian Baptist regarding some of his relationship with his father, Thomas, and also how he seeks to be his own man when it comes to understanding the Bible.

“I call no man master upon the earth; and although my own father has been a diligent student, and a teacher of the Christian religion since his youth; and in my opinion, understands this book as well as any person with whom I am acquainted, yet there is no man whom I have debated more, and reasoned more, on all subjects, than he – I have been so long disciplined in the school of free inquiry, that, if I know my own mind, there is not a man upon the earth whose authority can influence me, any farther than he comes with the authority of evidence, reason, and truth. To arrive at this state of mind is the result of many experiments and efforts; and to me has been arduous beyond expression. I have endeavored to read the Scriptures as though no one had read them before me and I am as much on my guard against reading them today, through the medium of my own views yesterday, or a week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign name, authority, or system whatever.”

This is one of those quotes that make me wish I could step into a time transport machine and be whisked back to the moment this statement was penned and engage the author in a brief conversation. I imagine myself standing beside Alexander, looking over his shoulder at the paper and pen, and then remarking (perhaps speaking in some way as they did then):

“Do you mean to say, sir, that such an effort is practical and essential? Do you actually believe it is wholly possible for an individual to read any portion of Scripture at all and simultaneously be completely devoid of influence by others? It seems to me that such a task can, yea, must, be a lofty, indeed, necessary, goal, but ultimately, it cannot ever be fully realized or attained. No man completely knows the exact depth of the deep waters of his own mind, does he? We all are subtly and unconsciously influenced by a multitude of others, past and present, most of whom we did not, nor ever will, know. It seems to me this is as sure a fact as the fact that we are influenced by the sunlight falling on this very page now anchored by your palm, even though we cannot see the sun directly. And so, if in stating the matter here as you just have, you actually mean to say that such a stance in attitude is a noble and necessary ‘goal,’ please add a sentence here and say so. To the point: is this mind you seek something you shoot for, though you know you are inadequate to the task and will inevitably fall short, or is it something you believe you shoot with, absolutely essential to hitting the mark? For the sake of all who seek truth, please state for us the fact of the matter.”

Oh, to hear how he would respond!

April 4

April 4, 1825 – As Alexander Campbell continues his article series in the Christian Baptist entitled “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things,” he makes the following statements:

“I have no idea of seeing, nor one wish to see the sects unite in one grand army. This would be dangerous to our liberties and laws. For this the Savior did not pray. It is only the disciples of Christ dispersed amongst them, that reason and benevolence would call out of them. Let them unite who love the Lord …

“… the constitution of the kingdom of the Saviour is the New Testament, and this alone is adapted to the existence of his kingdom in the world. To restore the ancient order of things this must be recognized as the only constitution of this kingdom. …”

“When the ancient order of things is restored, neither more nor less will be demanded of any applicant for admission into the kingdom, than was asked by Philip. And every man who solicits admission in this way – who solemnly declares that, upon the testimony and authority of the holy apostles and prophets, he believes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, should forthwith be baptized without respect to any questions or dogmas derived wither from written creeds or church covenants.”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 22-28

Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …

March 22

* March 22, 1829 – Today, for the first time, the Baptist church in Windham (in the ‘Western Reserve,’ as the western portion of Ohio is known at that time), begins observing the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. The church had been “constituted a church of Christ” the preceding May by Thomas Campbell and Marcus Bosworth. To be “constituted a church of Christ” a group of believers rejects existing creeds and confessions and begins to look to the “New Testament as a perfect rule, directory and formula for the faith, discipline, and government of the church.”

In a letter from William Hayden (a preaching partner with Walter Scott) to Thomas Campbell in May 1830, Hayden speaks of the period of change within the congregation from its existence as a Baptist church to a church within the Restoration Heritage. Matters of transition were not conducted overnight, but were gradually phased in.

“A wise forbearance ruled the church, and they eventually all came to the unity of the faith and practice of the apostolic order.”

In his letter to Campbell, Hayden also comments on the spread of the Restoration Heritage in the Western Reserve:

“The Word of God has great success with us. The churches are growing in knowledge, spirituality and numbers. New churches are rising up in very many towns on the Reserve, where we are laboring.”

* March 22, 1833 – On this day, thirty-three year old Absalom Rice, one of the earliest pioneer preachers in Missouri, pens a letter to Alexander Campbell reporting on some of the spread, trials, and influence of the Restoration Heritage in “the West” (i.e. – east central Missouri). Campbell publishes the letter in the Millenial Harbinger.

“Calloway County, MO., March 22, 1833

“Surrounded with opposition by all sectarian societies, and as far in the wilds and forests of the West, we, a few names, constituted ourselves on the second Lord’s Day of December [9], 1832, into a congregation of the Lord; there being only nine in number, three males and six females. We have since increased to twenty-three in number, and I am of opinion that the prospect is somewhat flattering for gaining many more. Our friends of the Baptists and other denominations have many hard sayings concerning our belief, but utterly refuse investigation. But I have succeeded in getting some of them to read for themselves, and they confess that they find no such views in your writings as are attributed to you. I received a request a few days ago to visit a Methodist society, 20 miles distant. They had got hold of the Harbinger, and in spite of all their priests can do, are about to blow up. Light is spreading, and men’s minds cannot be much longer manacled by sectarianism. – Absalom Rice

March 23

* March 23, 1827John Franklin Rowe is born just outside of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. He will grow to become a significant writer and publisher in the Restoration Heritage. He is most remembered for his work with the American Christian Review (1867-1886), his own paper (Christian Leader – 1886-1897), and, most significantly, his book entitled History of Reformatory Movements: Resulting in a Restoration of the Apostolic Church, with a History of the Nineteen General Church Councils (1884). Rowe’s book of history, virtually excising the record of Barton W. Stone and his influence from the work of the Stone-Campbell Movement, depicts Campbell’s work as the summit of the mountain that all preceding reformation movements have attempted to climb. This book helps seal this understanding of the Restoration Heritage’s place in history in the minds of many young ministerial students for nearly half a century. It is not until the appearance of F.W. Shepherd’s book The Church, the Falling Away, and the Restoration in 1929 (published by a son of John Franklin Rowe) that Rowe’s history is superseded.

* March 23, 1830 – On this day, Robert B. Semple, a prominent Baptist preacher in Virginia of the time, pens a letter to Alexander Campbell regarding the work of the Holy Spirit and the interpretation of Scripture. Campbell publishes Semple’s letter, and his reply, in the Millenial Harbinger (vol.1, no.3). In his reply to Semple, we learn of some of Campbell’s early quest and habits toward understanding Scripture, who he has read after, and what a change of approach and mind has taken place within him.

“From the age of sixteen I read devoutly, at intervals, the most ‘evangelical writers.’ … ‘Dr. John Owen was a great favorite with me; I read most of his works …

“… how laboriously and extensively I … examined the question of faith. For the space of one year I read upon this subject alone. Fuller, Bellamy, Hervey, Glass, Sandeman, Cudworth, Scott, M’Lean, Erskine, cum multis aliis, were not only read, but studied as I studied geometry. And I solemnly say, that, although I was considered at the age of twenty-four [1812] a much more systematic preacher and text expositor than I am now considered, and more accustomed to strew my sermons with scores of texts in proof of every point, I am conscious that I did not understand the New Testament; not a single book of it. Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott were my favorite commentators. …

“… I began to read the scriptures critically. Works of criticism from Michaelis down to Sharp, on the Greek article, were resorted to. While these threw light on many passages, still the book as a whole, the religion of Jesus Christ as a whole, was hid from me.

“I took the naked text and followed common sense; I read it, subject to the ordinary rules of interpretation, and thus it was it became to me a new book.

“… as I learned my Bible I lost my orthodoxy, and from being one of the most evangelical in the estimation of many, I became the most heretical. I can only say for the spirit which actuated me, that it was a most vehement desire to understand the truth. I did most certainly put the world out of my sight. I cared no more for popularity than I did for the shadow that followed my body when the Sun shone. I valued truth more than the gold of Ophir, and I sought her with my whole heart, as for hidden treasure. My eye was single, as King James’ Translators said. I paid no court to the prejudices of the world, and did sacrifice every worldly object to the Bible.

“… I would only add that experience has taught me that to get a victory over the world, over the life of fame, and to hold in perfect contempt human honor, adulation, and popularity, will do more to make the New Testament intelligible, than all the commentators that ever wrote.”

March 24

March 24, 1818 – On this day, a Tuesday, Barton W. Stone, Sr. conducts a wedding for Rebecca Willamson Russell and a young veteran of the War of 1812, twenty year-old Thomas Miller (“T.M.”) Allen. Given his experiences in the war, T.M. has lost all interest not only in the church in which he was reared (Presbyterian), but in matters of faith altogether; however, the friendship that is kindled between him and Stone, and hearing Stone preach, ultimately leads to his baptism into Christ by Stone in May 1823.

T.M. is, if anything, a human dynamo, being diligent in focus and labor. Between his marriage (1818) and his baptism (1823), he studies law at Transylvania University, becomes a grand master in a Masonic Lodge (the same lodge in which Henry Clay is a member), and practices law for a time in Indiana with his law partner, James Whitcomb (who later becomes the Governor of Indiana, and then, a U.S. Senator). However, within two years of his baptism, T.M. takes up preaching and John Allen Gano is one of his first converts (July 1827).

In 1836, T.M. and Rebecca move to Boone County, Missouri, and T.M., now making a living by farming, becomes wealthy and purchases several slaves.  He treats his slaves well, so well in fact that despite the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, most of his slaves refuse to leave the Allen family (and all keep connection with the family).

Throughout this time, T.M. continues to preach and though he continues to farm, he also travels through much of Missouri and even makes time in the early 1840’s to help edit Stone’s paper, the Christian Messenger. H. Leo Boles once said of T.M.:

“No man did more to spread the cause of Christ in the State of Missouri than did Thomas M. Allen.”

Over the course of his life, T.M. baptizes a total of 3,570 people and plants/organizes eighteen churches.

And what of John Allen Gano? It is an article regarding the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper that appears (1831) in the Christian Messenger, penned by John Allen Gano, that powerfully influences members of the Stone Movement and so, does much to pave the way the following year (1832) for official union between the Stone and Campbell Movements. Oh, and John Allen Gano is the father of Richard Montgomery (“R.M.”) Gano, a man we will speak more of in a future post.

March 25

March 25, 1857 – In the May 1857 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, Alexander Campbell reproduces a letter penned to him on this day, March 25, 1857, telling of the advance of the gospel in Alliance, Ohio. In it we’re allowed to listen in on and overhear the private conversation of a preacher and one coming forward to be baptized. The introduction and letter reads:

“Bro. P.K. Dibble writing to us from Canton [Ohio] under date of March 25 [1857], says – ‘On Monday night last I concluded a meeting of 16 days at Alliance, in this county, which resulted in the organization of a congregation of 53 members. Of this number, 12 confessed their faith in Christ Jesus and were immersed into his death; 6 united from the Baptists, 2 from the Methodists, and 4 reclaimed; the balance were disciples living in Alliance and the neighborhood, many of them not knowing that there were any brethren in the neighborhood besides themselves.

“‘On Monday night I went to the Mahoning and immersed a young lady; as I came out of the water, a physician of that place came forward and said, “Here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” I answered, “If you believest with all thy heart thou mayest.” He replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” We both went down into the water, and I baptized him.'”

March 26

March 26, 1830 – On this day, the Book of Mormon makes its first appearance to the public. Not wanting to lend the Book of Mormon any publicity and hoping it will die a natural death by being ignored, Alexander Campbell does not publish a review of it until the following February (1831). He feels prompted to review it then only because rather than dying a quick death, Mormonism’s influence has been increasing. His review in the Millenial Harbinger is nothing less than a broadside and is entitled “Delusions.” Following are a few of Campbell’s comments on the Book of Mormon and the head of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith:

  • Mormonism is “… the most recent and most impudent delusion which has appeared in our time.”
  • Joseph Smith is “as ignorant and impudent a knave as ever wrote a book …”
  • In publishing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith has set forth an “impious fraud.”
  • “This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. … But he is better skilled in in the controversies of New York than in the geography or history of Judea.”
  • The Book of Mormon is “without exaggeration the meanest* book in the English language … It has not one good sentence in it. … I would as soon compare a bat to the American eagle, a mouse to a mammoth, or the deformities of a spectre to the beauty of Him who whom John saw on Patmos, as to contrast it with a single chapter in all the writings of the Jewish or Christian prophets. It is as certainly Smith’s fabrication as Satan is the father of lies, or darkness the offspring of night.”
  • “Let the children of Mormon ponder well, if yet reason remains with them … Isaiah 44, and if they cannot see the analogy between themselves and the sons of ancient imposture, then reason is of as little use to them as it was to those of whom the prophet spake …”

In addition to the ‘Delusions’ article, Campbell adds a brief article entitled “Sidney Rigdon” (pp.100-101). Sidney Rigdon had once been a preacher in the Restoration Heritage, but had left to join the Mormons early on. Of Rigdon, Campbell has this to say:

“He who sets out to find signs and omens will soon enough find enough of them. He that expects visits from angels will find them as abundant as he who in the age of witchcraft found a witch in every unseemly old woman. I doubt not but that the irreverence and levity in speaking of the things of God, which have been too apparent in Sidney’s public exhibitions for some time past, and which he has lately confessed, may yet be found to have been the cause of this abandonment to delusion.”

[* As in “small-minded, ignoble, inferior in grade, of little consequence, or shabby.”]

March 27

March 27, 1824 – We all find strength in, and require strength from, others. And so we might ask: if those of us who are “mere mortals” look to “giants” in faith and scholarship for the articulate expression of matters, to whom do the giants turn? In a great many cases, we will never know, and in cases where we do, it is often people we have not heard of, or who for whatever reasons, are largely forgotten.

On this day, one is born who becomes one of those that one of the giants among us turned for insight into meaning and expression. Namely, on this day, Lanceford Bramblet (“L.B.”) Wilkes is born to Edmund & Cynthia Hartshorn (Houston) Wilkes in Maury County, Tennessee. He will become, among other things, a scholar, preacher, writer, and debater. And though not a name nearly so well remembered today as that of J.W. McGarvey, it was MaGarvey who once said of Wilkes:

“If my life were dependent statement of an argument, I would have Bro. L.B. Wilkes state it.”

March 28

March 28, 1855 – On this day, John Naylor writes a letter to Alexander Campbell from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The heart of his letter reads:

“I have been a pretty careful reader of your writings for years, with few intermissions, when I could not obtain them; and as the opportunity casually offers, to write to yourself … Dr. Jeter [Jeremiah Bell Jeter, a prominent Baptist critic of Campbell] charges you with materially modifying your views – or, rather, the expression of your views – and that you have altered your opinion of ministerial education, &c.

“Well, it seems to me, my dear Sir, that he is somewhat correct in some of these matters. You formerly used some terms, and advanced some sentiments, which do not agree with your late publications. I cannot refer to the Christian Baptist at present; but, if my recollection serve me, I think I could cull out a few paragraphs, and not take them from their connection either, which would not quite tally with your late efforts for Colleges.

“However, no person who has ever written one-tithe of the matter that you have done, is less open to the charge than yourself; and it would certainly be very strange if, by garbled extracts, such discrepancies could not be shown.”

Campbell’s reply in Millenial Harbinger begins with these words:

“Touching these changes of which you have spoken, and to which you allude, I have leisure, at present, only to state, that I am not conscious of any change in any Christian doctrine since I wrote the first volume of the Christian Baptist. That my horizon has been much enlarged during the last thirty years, I should be ashamed not to avow. But it has mainly been in deepening my impressions of the great departure, in the exhibition and practice of the present Christian world, from Primitive Christianity.”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 15-21

Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …

March 15

March 15, 1943 – While the exact day of writing is not known, it is during the month of March 1943 that Bennie Lee Fudge pens the preface to his book entitled Can a Christian Kill for His Government?

Note the date of publication: early 1943. World War II is in full swing and the outcome of the war is still up for grabs, an Allied victory not even being a clear likelihood at this point. It is in this stormy context of Allies vs. Axis powers that Fudge pens and publishes his work, offering it to a brotherhood that, though once strongly pacifist in nature, is now anything but. In his work, Fudge argues that the Scriptures teach that a Christian must not kill for his government. Obviously, this is not a popular position to take at this time and in the book’s forward, Fudge faces that very matter head-on:

“Somebody is teaching error. Either I am wrong in advising Christian boys against accepting combatant service, and I will be held responsible before God for encouraging them to shirk their duty, not only to their country, but to God; or those are wrong who teach young men to go willingly into combatant service, and will be held responsible in the judgment for encouraging them to violate one of the most sacred commands of God in shedding the blood of their fellow men.”

“Many preachers far removed from the conflict itself, and under the pressure of public opinion, will remain neutral now, or will encourage the boys to go on into the business of bloodshed. Later, when the war is over, as popular enthusiasm dies, they can think calmly, and as the inevitable reaction against the war sets in, they can change their position. The tragic part is that many of the boys who have gone into the slaughter with their blessing will not come back and will not have a chance to change their positions. A gospel preacher is assuming a tremendous responsibility when he encourages a sincere, conscientious young man to  deliberately take the life of his fellows, made in the image of God, believing on the basis of the preacher’s word that he is doing God a service.

“May God hasten the day when churches of Christ shall present a united front on this vital question, when all speak as the oracles of God, speak where the Scriptures speak, and be silent where the Scriptures are silent.”

Bennie Lee Fudge is the father of current day author, minister, and attorney, Edward Fudge, popularly known for his digital ministry gracEmail.

March 16

March 16, 1912 – Who was your favorite teacher/professor in school? Why did you admire them? And who did ‘The Sage of Bethany,’ Alexander Campbell, think was the best student to ever walk the halls of Bethany College?

From an article penned by R. H. Crossfield, and published in the Christian Standard on this date in 1912, we learn that Campbell thought Bethany’s best student was Charles Louis Loos (1823-1912). Campbell said of Loos:

“… no better mind, no apter scholar, had ever come under observation and tuition.”

As soon as Loos graduated from Bethany in 1846, Campbell hired him on at Bethany as both a professor and his personal secretary. He taught there for a total of twenty-five years (1846-1849,1858-1880) until Kentucky University in Lexington successfully wooed him away in 1880 to make him not only a professor there, but their president (1880-1897).

Throughout his time at Bethany College and Kentucky University, Loos was a favorite of ministerial students. His zeal in teaching the Biblical languages, especially Greek, and his devotion to his students, earn him (at least at Kentucky) the nickname of “Daddy Loos.” Given the following a description of him by W.T. Moore, we can readily understand some of the reasons behind his popularity:

“Professor Loos is just five feet ten inches high, has dark hair, light hazel eyes, and weighs about one hundred and forty pounds. His personal appearance and manners indicate his French origin [his father was French], while his speech is decidedly German [his mother was German]. The influence of these two races is still more clearly marked in his mental characteristics. The studious thoughtfulness, the philosophical acumen, the plodding industry, and the generous hospitality of the German are happily blended with the volatile spirit, fire, and enthusiasm of the French. He is a deep, earnest thinker, and generally takes a broad, comprehensive view of things. As a public speaker, his style is very original. His gesticulation is rapid, and, when warmed up, his thoughts flow like a torrent. His whole soul seems to be absorbed in his theme, and sometimes, in his happiest moods, he speaks as if he were inspired.”

When Loos dies in 1912, the simple inscription on his gravestone reads:

“A teacher come from God.”

March 17

March 17, 1846 – On this day perhaps* the first known meeting of a congregation of those of the Stone-Campbell Movement west of the Rocky Mountains takes place in the home of Amos Harvey (1799-1877) on the banks of the Yamhill River in Oregon Territory. Thirteen people are present. In an article published in an 1848 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, Amos recounts some of the happenings in the first years of life of that church family and the immediate area:

“I came to this country late in the fall of 1845, and learned that a few families of Disciples lived on Yam Hill, west of the Willamette river. I settled there in January, and in March we organized a congregation upon the Book alone — and this was the first congregation built upon this foundation in the Territory. We numbered at first but thirteen members. We met, as the disciples anciently did, upon the first day of the week, to break the loaf, to implore the assistance of the heavenly Father, to seek instruction from his word, and to encourage each other in the heavenly way. …

“During the summer five persons in our neighborhood made the good confession, and were immersed for the remission of sins …”

“The immigration of 1846 brought two proclaimers (brothers Dr. James M[c]’Bride and Glen O. Burnett) who, though encumbered with the care of providing for large families, in a new and uncultivated country, have spent much of their time in proclaiming the word. Their labors have been particularly blessed, and their success beyond any thing that could have been anticipated in a new and thinly settled country.

“The immigration of last year [1847] brought three other proclaimers. Our meetings are well attended, and generally more or less make the good confession at every meeting where the gospel is proclaimed.

“There are many calls from various neighborhoods which the teaching brethren are entirely unable to fill. Would to Heaven that we had a number more brethren of teaching talent and Christian character, to teach the way of life and salvation to an inquiring population!

“We now outnumber in the American population any of the sects, and if we only live up to our high profession, Oregon will soon become as noted for the religion of Jesus Christ, as it already is for its ever-verdant pastures, its grand and varied scenery, and its mild and healthy clime.”

How had Amos come to have connection with the Stone-Campbell Movement? As a youth, Amos had lived in the same county in which Thomas & Jane Campbell, lived: Washington County, Pennsylvania. And though Amos was a Quaker, as he became a man he came to regularly read the periodical published by Thomas’ son, Alexander – the Christian Baptist. Further, whenever he was given half-a-chance to hear Alexander speak, he would make the effort to go hear him. And so, shortly after thirty-three old Amos married a nineteen year-old young lady by the name of Jane Ramage in 1832, Amos and Jane both were immersed into Christ by Dr. A.W. Campbell, an uncle of Alexander Campbell.

[* Several historians record the date of March 17 as the first day of meeting for the little congregation. However, March 17 fell on a Tuesday, not a Sunday, in 1846. As we read in Amos’ account recorded above the church first met “upon the first day of the week.” I construe Amos’ account to refer to the congregation’s regular practice and assume that the historians are also correct in their stating that the first meeting was on a Tuesday. Naturally, this assumption might not be correct. I am not aware of any of Amos’ records specifying the specific day in March the congregation first met and, likewise, am not aware of the historians’ sources for such information.]

March 18

March 18, 1929 – Arguably the finest, and most widely loved and respected, Restoration Heritage preacher of his time, Theophilus Brown (“T.B”) Larimore, Sr., dies at the age of 86 in Santa Ana (Orange County), California due to complications from a broken hip. His body is buried in the Fairhaven Memorial Park Cemetery there in Santa Ana.

Born in Jefferson County, Tennessee and living there until the age of 9, T.B. and his family moved to the Sequatchie Valley in Bledsoe County, Tennessee. At the age of 17 (1859) he enrolled in Mossy Creek Baptist College (known today as Carson-Newman College) and attended there until 1861, doing extremely well in his studies in Greek, history, Latin, literature, mathematics, morals, natural sciences, and philosophy.

During the Civil War, T.B. filed as a conscientious objector and so, came to serve as an unarmed scout in Co. H of the CSA, 35th Infantry Regiment. Captured by Union troops in the fall of 1863, T.B. was one of the fortunate ones who did not have to spend the rest of the war in a prison camp, being granted release instead upon his oath not to ever take up arms against the Union. He kept his word and no longer served with the Confederacy in any capacity (a somewhat uncommon occurrence among Confederate troops who managed to gain early release and were in good health in the early and middle part of the war).

Upon his release, T.B. returned to the Sequatchie Valley, but he and his surviving family members soon relocated to Hopkinsville (Christian County), Kentucky. It was there that his mother (Nancy Elizabeth Brown Larimore) entered the Restoration Heritage and, shortly thereafter, on his twenty-first birthday (July 10, 1864), T.B. was baptized into Christ. T.B. then entered Franklin College (near Nashville, Tennessee; think Tolbert Fanning) and graduated from there, as class valedictorian, in 1867, having simultaneously occupied himself as a student, preacher, and logger. The title of the first sermon he ever preached was “Christian Union” and that theme soon ascended to dominance in his life and work.

In 1871, T.B. and his wife, Ester, founded and operated a school for boys and girls at Mars’ Hill, near Florence, Alabama. Daily memorization of the Bible was strongly emphasized in this school and no small number of graduates from Mars’ Hill went on become preachers. In 1885, the Larimores closed the school so that T.B. could devote all of his time to full-time evangelistic preaching and that he did until 1912.

Throughout the late 1860’s until the mid-1920’s, T.B. was a traveling preaching machine, keeping his calendar heavy with evangelistic preaching meetings across the States as well as occasionally out of country (e.g. – Canada, Cuba, and Mexico). Deliberately distancing himself from hot button issues of his time (e.g. – instrumental music, missionary societies, located preachers, attendance at ‘cooperative meetings,’ etc.), T.B.’s ministry was not only highly sought after by churches from every quadrant of the Stone-Campbell Movement, but even by other tribes, too (Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.). He preached wherever he could speak and, having the choice of speaking virtually anywhere, anytime, he deliberately chose to speak across the spectrum of faith expression within our heritage, and to a degree, outside, all the while emphasizing unity among all who claimed faith in Christ. While he had his own views on sensitive subjects, he flatly refused to make any of them tests of fellowship or reasons for the erection of barriers to Christian unity, which, coupled with his humble demeanor, only endeared him all the more to many.

T.B.’s speaking skills put him in great demand for engagements outside of a strictly religious context; however, T.B. consistently turned down such opportunities so as to dedicate his time and efforts toward preaching the gospel and uniting believers, his two great passions in life. We can see how T.B.’s focus on preaching, unity, and deflection of hot button issues merge in a snippet from one of his preaching experiences. During the course of a sermon, after referencing how he was often asked to speak at the exceedingly popular Civil War veterans’ reunions of the time, he said:

“I do not have the time to attend a Veteran’s Reunion.”

He went on from there to explain that he must focus his attention on preaching instead.

As he advanced in years, T.B. slowly scaled back his speaking engagements and devoted time to “local work” in Henderson, Tennessee (1914-1915), Berkley, California (1918-1922), and Washington, D.C. (1922-1925), but he did not give up his extensive travels until 1926 when he moved back to California at the age of 83.

T.B. married twice in life (Julia Ester Gresham [1845-1907] and Susan Emma Page [1855-1943]) and, sadly, he outlived his firstborn son, Theophilus Brown Larimore, Jr. (1872-1903).  And, it was T.B.’s brother-in-law, Rufus Polk Meeks, who came to be a powerful influence in the life of a young college student, resulting in that student’s conversion to Christ in 1890; that student soon to become a well-known preacher in our tribe of the next generation: N.B. Hardeman.

[Personal sidebar: Prior to (and after) the Civil War, my great-grandfather, William Anderson (“W.A.”) Smith and his family, lived in the Sequatchie Valley not far from the Larimore family. They knew each other. W.A. and several of T.B. Larimore’s kin, including a brother (Cassander Porendo; aka: ‘Prendo’ or ‘Prends’) served in the same company during the Civil War, Co.F of the CSA, 2nd Tennessee Cavalry (Ashby’s). W.A. spent time as a POW in Camp Chase and there is some evidence that one of the Larimore kin might have been imprisoned with him there and even died there. In 1888, W.A. had a son, my grandfather, whom he named “Brown Wadsworth Smith.” Since W.A. had been a teacher for a time in life, my family always knew where the name “Wadsworth” came from; however, we’ve always wondered how the name “Brown” came about. Now, after learning that the “B” in “T.B. Larimore” stands for “Brown,” I’m left to wonder if my grandfather was named after the beloved preacher, T.B. Larimore!]

March 19

March 19, 1857 – While on a tour through the South, Alexander Campbell pens a letter to his wife, Selina, from New Orleans. The purpose of his tour was “the pleading of the cause of original Christianity” and “the claims of Bethany College as an institution of learning and science, based on the true philosophy of man as developed and taught in the Holy Bible in reference to his present and future usefulness and happiness as a citizen of the universe, and with special reference to his present development and mission as a citizen of the United States of North America in the second half of the nineteenth century.”

[Whew! Campbell can be, at times, one of the true masters of the run-on sentence. Whenever I feel I might be nigh unto death with that disease myself, I simply read a little Campbell and I typically, and quickly, feel much, much better.]

Campbell’s letter to his wife – remarkably free of run-on sentences – gives us a wee bit of a peek into some of his private world and how the preacher in him is ever preaching, even when he converses with his wife. I suspect our wives can relate. But then again, if I’m separated from my wife for even just a few days out-of state, this isn’t how I talk with her. How about you?

Campbell’s letter reads:

“My dear wife: I am thinking of leaving here in the course of the day. I have had a good night’s sleep, and feel somewhat better. Alexander [Jr.], too, enjoys fine health, and is very good company for me. I could not get along without him. He anticipates all that I want and is very much interested in my comfort in every particular. My visit here has been, on the whole, an advantage and profit to the great cause that I plead. But this is a worldly, sensual and generally a mere fashionable theatre. Still, there is some salt here that preserves the mass from absolute sensuality. I am still more attached to home the farther I am from it. There is no place on earth to me like it. But we have no continuing city here, and should always act with that conviction. We should feel that, wherever we are and whatever we do, we are on our journey home. There is nothing beneath the home of God that can fill the human heart, and that should ever rule and guide and comfort us. There are few pure, single-eyed and single-hearted professors of the faith and the hope. It is only here there we find a whole-hearted Christian. Like angels’ visits that are few and far between. But I am again called out and must say farewell. – Alexander Campbell”

Robert Richardson, commenting on the time Campbell spent on this trip in New Orleans, says that he “assisted D.P. Henderson, President Shannon, and others in the reorganization of the church there, which consisted of about forty members.”

Upon his arrival back home in Bethany, West Virginia, Campbell will write in the Millenial Harbinger of his general disappointment with the overall condition of local, ministerial leadership:

“In my recent excursion through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, I found … The ministry are not now, anywhere, leading the people as they were wont some forty years ago. The people now rather lead them. And so it will be, because so it has usually been.”

March 20

March 20, 1849 – On this day, someone with the initials “R.O.W.” writes Alexander Campbell a letter, requesting him to define “the difference between the words Fact and Truth …”

Campbell publishes his reply in the April 5, 1849 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, and in doing so, relates these matters to God’s existence and God’s good news. His answer reads, in part:

“Truth and Fact are neither synonyms nor contrasts. Truth is the expressed agreement of words with things. Fact, is something done. To place them in antithesis,-fact, is an event, or something done; verbal truth, is the exact statement of it. Facts are proved by witnesses, truths, by demonstration of the agreement of words with things. All truths are not facts, even when enunciated, but all facts are substantive truths, when fully expressed.

“That God exists, is a truth, but not a fact. That he created the universe, is a fact. The expression of this, in adequate terms, is a truth. …

“The belief of the gospel is the belief of joyful facts;-the death of Christ for our sins,-his resurrection for our justification,-his conquest of Satan four our eternal liberation from his malice and power. Hope, is the expectation for future good,-the hope of the gospel is the hope of eternal good;-‘glory, honor, and incorruptibility.'”

March 21

March 21, 1794Emily Harvie (Thomas) Tubman is born. She grows up to become one of the South’s best-known philanthropists and a strong financial benefactor of works of the Restoration Heritage.

Born into a a wealthy family and marrying into an even wealthier one, Emily never knows material want, but her life is not free from loss. One day in 1836 her husband of sixteen years, Richard Tubman, dies in her arms while they are on their way to visit Emily’s parents. As he dies, Richard expresses to Emily his dying requests: (1) free their 140 slaves and (2) continue their customary trip each year from Augusta, Georgia to Frankfort, Kentucky (not only to see her family, but to avoid the annual plague of yellow fever in Georgia). Forced to temporarily bury her husband’s body by the side of the road, Emily firmly resolves to keep her husband’s wishes.

However, due to the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831, freeing one’s slaves in Georgia is now essentially impossible, requiring a special piece of legislation by the State Legislature for each and every individual who is emancipated. And so, after conferring with prominent statesman Henry Clay – her legal guardian following the death of her father when she was just nine years of age – Emily makes this offer to her slaves: stay with her or move to a portion of Africa now known as Liberia. Everyone who chooses to stay with her will receive some land and a steady salary to become independent farmers. Those who choose to move to Liberia will have their travel expenses paid for and will be emancipated in Liberia. Half of the Tubman slaves vote to stay with her and half vote to move to Liberia. Those moving to Liberia take the name “Tubman” as their own and form their own community called “Tubman Hill.”

Emily now turns to her brother, Landon Thomas, a graduate of Yale University, for advise as to how to invest her monetary assets. She learns quickly from Landon and soon becomes a very savvy investor on her own, ultimately tripling her net worth.

But we must trace Emily’s journey to faith. Such begins with her baptism at the age of thirty-six by a Baptist preacher, just eight years (1828) before her husband’s death. However, Emily is soon strongly influenced by Phillip Slater (“P.S.) Fall, a former Baptist who had, just a few years earlier, led the First Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY into the fold of the Restoration Movement. In time to come she meets Alexander Campbell and is mightily impressed with him, becoming an avid reader of his paper, the Millenial Harbinger. Ultimately, about the time of her husband’s death, she becomes a member of the First Christian Church in Augusta – and a summer-time member of the First Christian in Frankfort, KY. And, whenever Campbell finds himself in Kentucky or Georgia, he typically pays Emily a visit.

Following her husband’s death, being the sole possessor of great wealth, and never remarrying, Emily sets about a ministry of giving to fund good works of many kinds associated with the Restoration Heritage. She endows a professorial chair at Bethany College. A number of students find their college education supplemented or paid for completely by her. When the building of the Christian Church in Frankfort, KY burns down, it is Emily who pays to rebuild it. The American Christian Missionary Society and the Foreign Christian Missionary Society receive no small sums of money. She builds low-cost housing for widows and the elderly in Augusta. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

When Emily dies in 1885 at the age of 91, she is a legend of generosity and assistance in her own time. And years later, William S. Tubman, a third generation descendant of her slaves who made the move from her plantation’s fields to Tubman Hill in Liberia, becomes the nineteenth President of Liberia (1944-1971).

Emily’s body is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery (Franklin County) in Franklin, Kentucky.