on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 8-14

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

March 8

March 8, 1965 – In response to the events occurring in Selma, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday,” Fred D. Gray – a preacher within Churches of Christ and an attorney for Martin Luther King, Jr. – along with other lawyers on behalf of Hosea Williams, John Lewis, Amelia Boynton, themselves, and other plantiffs who are “similarly situated,” files a complaint, a motion for a temporary restraining order, and a motion for a preliminary injunction with the United States District Court in Alabama. The defendants in the resulting case are George C. Wallace (the Governor of Alabama), Al Lingo (Director of Public Safety for the State of Alabama), and James G. Clark (Sheriff of Dallas County, Alabama).

“The plaintiffs seek to have this Court guarantee their right to assemble and demonstrate peaceably for the purpose of redressing their grievances concerning the right to register to vote in the State of Alabama without unlawful interference. Included in the rights plaintiffs seek and ask this Court to adjudicate is that of walking peaceably along the public highway in the State of Alabama between Selma and Montgomery. Plaintiffs also ask this Court to enjoin and restrain the defendants and all persons acting in concert with them from arresting, harassing, threatening, or in any way interfering with their peaceful, nonviolent march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, for the purpose of protesting injustices and petitioning their State government, particularly the chief executive officer — the Governor — for redress of grievances.”

The class action suit (Williams v. Wallace) results in Governor Wallace and the State of Alabama being ordered by the court to no longer oppress, but actively protect, those who will march from Selma to Montgomery. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the ultimate consequence of these actions.

March 9

March 9, 1889 – A preacher’s wife dies in Paris, Texas. The notice of her death, penned by John T. Poe, appears in the Gospel Advocate on March 27. Sadly, the story and some of the circumstances it references, are not terribly unusual. The notice reads:

“The wife of Bro. M. H. Lynn, died March 9, while he was away in the country preaching. He had been for some time on a preaching tour, and as his work was in destitute places, far from telegraphs and railroads, his children could not reach him with the news of her sickness. He did not hear of her death until the 15th, six days after death. He is left with a family of little children to mourn the loss of the good wife and mother. Her great desire was to see him again before death. She called for him in her last hours, but he was far away doing service for Jesus. Thus another instance is presented of sacrifice that must be made by the wife of the poor, pioneer preacher. While he preached she took care of family and family interests at home as best she could. And when battling at last with grim death, she wanted him with her, and called for him, but he could not hear. She was a Christian, and who shall say her crown will not be bright? We tender our sympathy to Bro. Lynn, but he needs more than that. He has traveled and preached many weary months, and was paid scarcely anything. Some churches in fair standing called him for meetings and did not pay his expenses to and from, although his preaching was good, and many have been baptized through his labors. Will not those churches where he labored make up some amount and send him word in this hour of need? Send to M. H. Lynn, Paris, Texas. Brethren if you are sorry for Bro. Lynn, just send an expression of your sorrow in something substantial to help the poor preacher in his hour of trial.”

March 10

March 10, 1845 – Alexander Campbell, Sr. sets out on a two-month, 2,500 mile preaching tour through a portion of the South. His itinerary consists (in this order) of travels through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Some of his major stops along the way include time in Augusta, Baltimore, Charleston, Frederickburg, Richmond, and Wilmington.

Earlier, in 1838, Campbell had conducted a far more extensive tour of the South, covering twice the distance, through Alabama, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia.

Significantly, this 1845 tour through the South begins just one month after Campbell initiates a fascinating article series in the Millenial Harbinger, the title of which is “Our Position to American Slavery.” Campbell’s stance on slavery is careful and nuanced; there is something in it to excite, and disappoint, everyone, no matter their perspective. To the abolitionist, Campbell comes across as an unquestionable ally, but a needlessly weak one; something like a thin walking cane. To the slaveowner, Campbell is most certainly challenging, to say the least, but at least he seems more sensible and less offensive, than the abolitionists.

We can summarize much of Campbell’s take on “the peculiar institution” in the form of a brief question-and-answer session:

Q. Is Campbell a slaveowner? A. At this time, no. While it is true that he once owned slaves, he freed them. Q. Is slavery a moral matter; a question of sin? A. No. “… there is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting it, but many regulating it. It is not, then, we conclude, immoral.” Q. Should slavery be a test of faith and fellowship? A. Since it is not immoral, most certainly not. Q. Is slavery even an issue then at all? A. Absolutely – as a matter of politics and practicality. Q. What of slavery now in the U.S.? A. “… in this age and in this country it is not expedient.” The peculiar institution might, “in certain cases and conditions,” be “right,” but this is no longer the right time in this country. Slavery is an institution that finds itself at the wrong time in the wrong place for it is “not favorable to individual and national prosperity” and is “not in harmony with the spirit of the age …”

Many, especially those who have more of their roots in the Stone, rather than Campbell, wing of the Stone-Campbell Movement, will urge Campbell to make slavery a more central issue and to see it as a core value, a matter of faith and fellowship. However, Campbell will consistently ignore such appeals, seeking instead to pursue what he believes to be a much deeper value, a more necessary goal, namely, the union of Christians.

March 11

March 11, 1811 – Barton W. Stone, Sr. and Reuben Dooley embark on a preaching tour through the state of Ohio and are exceedingly well received by those who hear them. In his journal, while on this tour, Stone comments:

“We preached and baptized daily in Eaton [Preble County] for many days. No house could contain the people that flocked to hear. We had to preach in the open streets to the anxious multitude. At night, after service, the cries and prayers of the distressed in many houses around were truly solemn. Almost the whole town and neighborhood were baptized and added to the Lord. We left this place and preached and baptized in many other places.”

Historian and author James DeForest Murch (Christians Only; p.91) adds that:

“… in Adams County [Stone] converted Matthew Gardener who became a giant in evangelism. In this area many churches sprang up which Stone visited every year for twenty years. In Meigs County, he went to baptize William Caldwell, with whom he had a long correspondence, and stayed to bring almost every Baptist church in the country into the ‘Christian Connection.'”

Stone and Dooley set out on this preaching expedition with precious few resources. Stone, in his journal, notes:

“We were poorly clad and had no money to buy clothes. Going on at a certain time through the barrens, a limb tore Brother Dooley’s striped linen pantaloons very much. He had no other, nor had I another pair to lend him. We consoled ourselves that we were on the Lord’s work and he would provide. He tied his handkerchief over the rent, and we went on and preached to the people. That night we lodged with Brother Samuel Wilson, whose wife presented Brother Dooley a pair of home-spun linen pantaloons.”

March 12

March 12, 1811 – At the age of twenty-three, Alexander Campbell, Sr. marries his first wife, Margaret Brown, who is twenty years of age.

Margaret (Brown) Campbell is the daughter of John & Eliza Ann (Grimes) Brown, John being is one of the most successful businessmen in that part of Virginia. Alexander and Margaret will enjoy sixteen years of marriage and the birth of four children (Jane Caroline, Alexander, Decima Hemans, and William Pendleton) before Margaret is taken away by death at the age of thirty-six in 1827. The inscription on her gravestone in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia reads, in part:

She was in truth a good wife, a tender
mother, a faithful and affectionate friend.
She lived the life of a christian and died full
in the hope of a blessed resurrection unto Eternal Life.

The Last Lines she had sung declared her praise
and feeling in the prospect of death and the grave.

‘No terror the prospect begets,
I am not mortality’s slave;
The sunbeam of life as it sets,
Paints a rainbow of peace on the grave.’

The words of this song, The Angels That Watched Round the Tomb, were penned by William Bengo Collyer and first published by him in 1812. Years later in 1911, not many months before his own death, J.W. McGarvey will quote the words of this same song, in its entirety (eight stanzas), in a chapel talk to his students at the College of the Bible in Lexington, KY. Its meter is such that it could be sung today to the tune of Without Him I Could Do Nothing.

March 13

March 13, 1812 – At 3:00 p.m. today, Alexander & Margaret (Brown) Campbell welcome the birth of their firstborn child, a daughter. They name her after Alexander’s mother, Jane Caroline. Jane will grow up to marry (at age sixteen) Albert G. Ewing. She and Albert will make their home in Tennessee (Nashville) until Jane dies at the age of twenty-four of “consumption” (aka: tuberculosis; TB), the same illness that claimed her mother.

Alexander is twenty-four years of age at Jane’s birth. Robert Richardson, Alexander’s first biographer, tells us of the powerful effect Jane’s birth had on her father’s theology, particularly his understanding of soteriology:

“Soon after this event, a considerable change took place in his views in regard to baptism. His wife, with her father and mother, was still a member of the Presbyterian Church, and, as the child grew, it is natural to suppose that the question of infant baptism became to him one of immediate practical interest. It is certain, at least, that up to this period he does not appear to have given to the subject of baptism a sufficiently careful attention. The unity of the Church, the overthrow of sectarianism and the restoration of the Bible to its primitive position, had been the leading objects with him, and with his father; and, regarding the question of baptism as one comparatively of small importance, they seem to have left it, in a good degree, undecided in their own minds.” (Memoirs of Alexander Campbell)

March 14

March 14, 1854 – The man the famous statesman and orator Henry Clay once referred to as the finest natural orator he had ever heard, Jacob Creath, Sr., dies at the age of seventy-seven in Lexington, Kentucky.

Though having never attended school, Creath had been ordained as a Baptist preacher in 1798. His unusually fine speaking skills, coupled with great ability to just get along with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, had lead to his being something of a force among Baptists in Kentucky. However, at the age of fifty (1827), nearly thirty of those years being invested in Baptist ministry, Creath left the Baptist Church for the Restoration Heritage. His decision, long in coming and filled with much soul-searching, resulted in a significant number of Kentucky Baptists following him into the Restoration.

Alexander Campbell, upon hearing now blind Creath preach in 1850 (Creath was totally blind the last seven years of his life), wrote of him in the Millenial Harbinger:

“Though his once brilliant eye is quenched in darkness and his subduing voice is broken into weak tones, he rises in his soul while nature sinks in years; and with a majesty of thought which naught but heaven and hope can inspire, he spoke to us a few last words, which so enraptured my soul, that in the ecstasy of feeling produced by them, when he closed there was silence in my heart for half an hour; and when I recovered myself, every word had so passed away that nothing remained but a melancholy reflection that I should never again hear that most eloquent tongue which had echoed for half a century through Northern Kentucky with such resistless sway as to have quelled the maddening strife of sectarian tongues and propitiated myriads of ears and hearts to the divine eloquence of Almighty love. Peace to his soul; and may his sun grow larger at its setting, as his soul expands in the high hope of seeing as he is seen, and of loving as he has been loved.”

Note: Jacob Creath, Sr. is not to be confused with Jacob Creath, Jr. (cf. the post for Jan. 9 in this series). The Jacob Creath, Sr. (1777-1854) spoken of in today’s post is the uncle, not the father, of Jacob Creath, Jr. (1799-1886).

LIFE group discussion guide: sincere

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NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Mar. 8) 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 call us to be real about faith and genuine in its expression; to be “the real deal.”

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

• They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. (Acts 2.46b-47a NIV)

• Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (Romans 12.9 NLT)

• Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace (2 Cor. 1.12 NIV)

• We are speaking through Christ in the presence of God, as those who are sincere and as those who are sent from God. (2 Cor. 2.17b CEB)

• … we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Cor. 4.7 NRSV)

• … let’s draw near with a genuine heart … (Hebrews 10.22 CEB)

• … purified by obeying the truth, resulting in a sincere love for all your fellow believers, love one another eagerly, from a pure heart. (1 Peter 1.22 KNT)

Relation

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

1. How do you judge the ripeness of an un-cut cantaloupe? Or how clean a mirror is?

Research

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

1. Compare Acts 2.46b in several versions. How else do you find “sincere” rendered?

2. “Sincere” means “tested by the light of the sun.” Plug that phrase into 2 Cor. 2.17.

Reflection

These questions help us discern and share what we sense God’s Spirit is doing as we encounter his word.1

1. “Gladness” and “sincerity.” (Acts 2.46b) How do they feed each other?

2. How is “praising God” and enjoying “favor” related to sincerity? (Acts 2.47).

3. What do you suppose are some of the go-to criteria that those who are yet to believe often use to gauge the authentic wholeness of Christians?

4. Those yet to believe can often smell insincerity a mile away. Ironically, Christians can all too easily become somewhat “nose blind” to insincerity. Why is that?

5. What role(s) must the church play in the healthy development of your sincerity?

Response

This idea/suggestion is for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid your living out today’s message.

1. As you speak with those yet to believe, ask them: “How do you know if a Christian is the real deal?” Note and ponder their answers.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 1-7

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

March 1

* March 1, 1829John William (“J.W.”) McGarvey is born in Hopkinsville (Christian County), Kentucky. He will grow up to be one of the Stone-Campbell Movement’s most highly respected and internationally-known scholars.

Baptized into Christ in Buffalo Creek shortly after entering Bethany College in 1847, J.W. grows close to the Alexander Campbell family and is often found reading the Bible to the now virtually blind Thomas Campbell. Graduating as valedictorian of his class (1850), he will go on to preach with the Christian church in Dover (Lafayette County), Missouri (1852-1862) and Lexington, Kentucky (1862-1902), but the real impact of his life is felt through his teaching in the College of the Bible in Lexington, an institution over which he also serves as president for sixteen years.

Through his high respect for, and deep devotion to, careful study of Scripture, his vocal pacifist perspective during the Civil War, and his prolific writing, J.W. is a huge influence on the minds of many a young preacher in the Restoration Heritage of the time. Two of his most important books, the impact of which cannot be overstated, are his Commentary on Acts and Lands of the Bible. During a time of great challenge and change in the field of hermeneutics, J.W. is a champion of conservative interpretation of Scripture. And he will grow increasingly conservative with age. One example of this is seen in his shift in views regarding the Holy Spirit, a shift most evident in his commentary on Acts. In the first edition (1863), J.W. advocates for direct and personal work of the Holy Spirit in every Christian’s life, but moves to a word-only position in the revised edition of 1892.

* March 1, 1936 – Foy E. Wallace, Jr., editor of the Gospel Guardian, makes the following statement:

“If war is incompatible with Christianity, then a Christian’s participation in it is impossible. It would comport far more with the gospel of Christ for our preachers to be exhorting Christians to follow Christ and the apostles even to prison and martyrdom than to be instilling within them the spirit of militarism, war, and hell. … God help us in time of war to remain Christians, live or die.”

However, such sentiments on Wallace’s part are not long for this world. Wallace will completely forsake his pacifistic views and will announce his shift in the March 1942 issue of his paper The Bible Banner. He will become a vigorous proponent of Christian involvement in government and military service and will, therefore, in effect seek to undo (at least in terms of these two matters) all of the effort of his polar opposite of a preceding generation, David Lipscomb.

March 2

March 2, 1799 – A woman who will come to be known as “Mary Hayden” is born. Her maiden name is unknown to me.

Mary’s husband, William (1799-1863), a close associate of Walter Scott, is a preaching and singing dynamo during some of the earliest years of the Restoration Heritage. His memory is nothing short of phenomenal; it is believed that he has the vast majority of the New Testament memorized and he always has right at hand, without the aid of journal or notes, copious, accurate information regarding his travels and doings.

Speaking of travels, during the first twenty-five of William’s thirty-five years of ministry, he spends, on average, two out of every three days preaching or travelling to preach. His travels total 90,000 miles, two-thirds of those miles made on horseback. Nine thousand sermons proceed from his lips and he baptizes over 1,200 people. No wonder Walter Scott once said of him:

“Give me my Bible, my head, and William Hayden, and we will go forth to convert the world.”

Oh, but wait – this entry was supposed to be about William’s wife, Mary, wasn’t it? And there’s just something about her.

Quietly, at home, behind the scenes, raising the children by herself, is Mary. During the last two years of William’s life, Mary will increasingly care for him as he’s slowly robbed of his mobility and strength by a rare neuro-muscular disease (the symptoms of which sound much like what we know today as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; aka: ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease). And then, following William’s death, Mary will go on to live out her remaining fourteen years of life as a widow, dying at the age of 78 (1799-1877).

Truth be told, we know nearly nothing of Mary. What we do know is that she, William, and their children are referred to as “an excellent family.” But, while some of her husband’s life is well-documented, precious little exists to tell Mary’s story of quiet, hard-working, steady service to others.

And yet, that is her story, isn’t it? Quiet, steady service to others. It’s a story very familiar to many of us, isn’t it? For standing beside many a minister, then and now, is a “preacher’s wife,” one who is typically and truly in every sense of the phrase, “the better half.” And this world is a far better place because of such Christian women.

And so, thank you, Mary Hayden. For surely far better than most, you can appreciate the fullness of the meaning of the Scripture inscribed on your gravestone:

“There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

March 3

March 3, 1866 – Via the Gospel Advocate, David Lipscomb continues to air out his heartbreak and bitterness over the effects of the Civil War on the people and churches of the Restoration Heritage. He loathes the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS) and the effects of its resolution in 1863 to throw its moral support behind the cause of the Union.

“I feel intensely the degradation to the Christian religion and the Lord Jesus Christ, of making his church in any way the tool of the politicians of the partizans, to any of the strifes and conflicts of the institutions and governments of the world. The … Society [ACMS] in our esteem did this so far as it was in its power …

“… the action of this society … sent men into the Federal Army; we know it sent some brethren of good intentions, but strong impulses and feelings, into the Southern Army. Some, too, who never returned. We felt, we still feel, that that Society committed a great wrong against the Church and cause of God. We have felt, we still feel, that without evidence of a repentance of the wrong, it should not receive the confidence of the Christian brotherhood.

March 4

* March 4, 1866 – “The Sage of Bethany,” Alexander Campbell, Sr., first-born child of Thomas & Jane (Corneigle) Campbell, dies at his home in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia at 11:45 p.m. at the age of 77.

Through the years, Campbell, and those who drank deep from his wells, have often been interpreted by others as being intransigent and divisive. While this is certainly true of many who came after him, it was not true of Campbell himself. Hope and unity were two of his greatest life values. For example, shortly before Campbell’s death, Robert Richardson visited him and reported to him of a meeting between some of the “Reformers” (those of the Stone-Campbell Movement) and the Baptists. The meeting’s purpose was to discuss the possibility of unity. Upon hearing this news Campbell told Richardson:

“There was never any sufficient reason for a separation between us and the Baptists. … We ought to have remained one people, and to have labored together to restore the primitive faith and practice.”

Fittingly, it is Campbell’s last published article (Nov. 1865), “The Gospel,” that perhaps captures some of his perspective and efforts in life best of all. It is a perspective long since either deliberately forsaken or just plain forgotten by a great many of the Restoration Heritage, namely, that there is a distinction between the preaching of the good news of Christ and the teaching of doctrine by Christ’s apostles. Leroy Garrett sums up Campbell’s understanding thus:

“Campbell’s plea for unity since Christian Baptist days had been related to the distinction he made between preaching the gospel and teaching the apostles’ doctrine. The gospel consists of [seven] facts that we accept or reject [specifically, the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and coronation of Christ], while doctrine involves theological opinion over which we can and will differ. Campbell never understood believing facts to be simple intellectual assent to information but, a transforming appropriation of the reality to which the facts point. In the case of the gospel the facts point to the proposition that God is love. Campbell had long maintained that this proposition alone had the power to unite believers to God and one another. Believing and obeying the gospel unites us in Christ and is the basis of our unity and fellowship. The apostles’ teaching is the curriculum we study once we are enrolled in Christ’s school. In that school we are in different grades and we can and will differ in understanding.

“This distinction was so vital to Campbell that he presumed one could not have a proper understanding of the New Testament without recognizing it. It is not surprising, then, that he made it part of his last essay.” (The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement; pp.133-134)

Echoing her husband’s lifelong emphasis on hope and oneness with Christ, Campbell’s wife, Selina, says to him on his deathbed:

“The blessed Savior will go with you through the valley of the shadow of death.”

With his last words, Campbell makes reply:

“That he will! That he will!”

* March 4, 1880James A. Garfield is sworn into office, inaugurated as the twentieth President of the United States of America, by Chief Justice Morrison Waite. During the course of his (relatively) poorly-attended inaugural address, Garfield cautions the nation to diligently safeguard the rights of African-Americans so that they do not become “a permanent disfranchised peasantry.”

March 5

March 5, 1871Dr. John Thomas dies and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Kings County [Brooklyn], New York.

(a) Have you ever known anyone to be convinced that their specific branch (leaf?) on the tree of Christendom is “the one true church?”

(b) Have you ever dealt with someone who thinks all churches not like their own are suspect, at best, more nearly “synagogues of Satan?”

(c) Have you ever encountered anyone who believes that if a person isn’t baptized specifically “for the remission of sins” that their baptism isn’t valid and that they must, therefore, be re-immersed or else, their soul is in jeopardy?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those three questions then you need to know the name John Thomas.

Born in London, England, John Thomas is an intelligent individual. Teaching himself Hebrew while in his teens and taking up the study of medicine at the age of sixteen, Thomas is a determined and focused spirit, too. These traits will only intensify with age.

In 1832, Thomas comes to the United States. His trip aboard the Marquis of Wellesley is a stormy one, the lives of all aboard being in constant peril. During this voyage Thomas vows to God that if he survives the storm that he’ll spend the rest of his life in the study of religious faith and the truth about life and death. Twenty-seven year old Thomas survives, and winds up in Cincinnati, Ohio, ready to make good on his promise to God.

While in Cincinnati, Thomas encounters the Stone-Campbell Movement. In October 1832 he is baptized by Alexander Campbell. Campbell urges this bright young man to take up preaching and Thomas does just that. He then travels back east, marries (Ellen Hunt on January 1, 1834), and takes up residence in Philadelphia.

As an outlet for the fruit of his study, Thomas starts up a paper, the Apostolic Advocate (AA). It is soon filled with the teaching that if a person’s baptism isn’t specifically “for the remission of sins” then their conversion isn’t genuine. He believes this is not a matter for private, personal opinion, but for a test of fellowship; the line in the sand, so to speak. Harsh denunciation of all Protestant churches also fills the AA.

Now if all of sounds strangely reminiscent of Campbell’s Christian Baptist, The Third Epistle of Peter, etc., a decade earlier, you’re spot on. However, Campbell (and the other leading figures in the Restoration Heritage) are now appalled by Thomas’ views. Campbell quickly and strongly takes Thomas to task, even issuing a special supplement to the December 1837 issue of the Millenial Harbinger regarding Thomas’ sectarian teaching. Understand, the John Thomas affair is the context for Campbell’s article series ‘Any Christians Among the Sects?’ and quite likely even the exchange known as ‘The Lunenberg Letter.’

Campbell’s perspective is clear:

“I cannot … make any one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion.”

Thomas’ view is equally clear, being the exact opposite of Campbell and all of the other major leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement of the time.

Thomas will remain stone deaf to Campbell’s arguments and entreaties. He will becomes even more dogmatic in his views and will go on to do all he can to disturb the churches of the Restoration Heritage within his sphere of influence, especially in a church in Richmond, Virginia, a church in which Thomas Campbell had preached the first sermon (back in March 1832).

Thomas has himself rebaptized, leaves the Stone-Campbell Movement, and consolidates his followers into the group now known as Christadelphians, which, like most groups, through time, splinters even further into even smaller, exclusive fellowships.

The John Thomas affair does not go unnoticed by those outside of the Restoration Heritage and some observe, rightly so, that the mid-1830’s, 1837 in particular, marks a time of real change in Campbell’s tone, though not trajectory, in regard to the place and work of the American Restoration Heritage within greater Christendom. Campbell will, you might say, mellow; becoming markedly kinder and more gentle in his dealings with other tribes.

Similarly, the John Thomas affair also reveals all too clearly for all to see that sectarianism is alive and well even among the members of the tribe that claims to fight sectarianism. Just who is and who is not a Christian (on the basis of baptism) will continue to be an issue in the decades following within the Heritage, even to our own time, and the specific issue of baptism/rebaptism will come to a head in the 1880’s in Austin McGary’s clash with David Lipscomb [cf. the Feb. 6 in this series].

March 6

March 6, 1826 – As he addresses someone who strongly disagrees with him, Alexander Campbell says in an article in the Christian Baptist (vol. 3, no. 8; p.223):

“I will esteem and love you, as I do every man, of whatever name, who believes sincerely that Jesus is the Messiah, and hopes in his salvation.”

March 7

March 7-8, 1862 – During the Battle of Pea Ridge (aka: Elhorn Tavern) near Fayetteville, Arkansas, Benjamin Franklin (“B.F.”) Hall, chaplain of the CSA, 6th Texas Cavalry Regiment (Stone’s), distinguishes himself – with his lust for blood.

Hall had come into the Restoration Heritage at the age of twenty through his reading of the Campbell-McCalla debate. Upon noting that baptism was “for the remission of sins” he had literally jumped to his feet, begun clapping his hands, and shouting,

“Eureka! Eureka! I have found it! I have found it!”

Hall will go on to become a widely-travelled and well-known preacher in the Stone-Campbell Movement. And it is during travels in Texas in 1849 that Hall becomes mightily impressed with the spirit of the people there. He writes of them:

“The people of Texas, among whom I have travelled and preached, are hospitable, intelligent, independent, every man claiming the right to believe and act for himself in religion. I have never seen a people more ready to hear and … obey the gospel. I know of no country which presents so fine a prospect for usefulness as Texas just now. The people are not yet sectarianized.”

Hall cannot keep himself away, and so, finally moves to Texas in 1856. However, as the cyclonic storm of impending civil war bears down on Texas, and the entire country, Hall’s spirit is slowly but steadily caught up in its rage.

Shortly before the Battle of Pea Ridge, fifty-six year old Chaplain Hall is paid a visit by fellow Stone-Campbell Movement preachers William Baxter and Robert Graham (respectively, second president and founder of Arkansas College in Fayettville). Baxter and Graham are horrified and stunned virtually speechless by what they encounter in Hall: a man who loves war and counts all of his brethren in the North as “infidels.” One excerpt from their conversation tells all. Hall relates to them, with joy and laughter, as to how a friend of his, Alf Johnson, “had gone over the battlefield after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and who, when seeing a wounded Federal soldier begging for medical assistance, instead ruthlessly shot him.”

Louis & Bess White Cochran continue the story:

“At the Battle of Pea Ridge near Fayetteville, Arkansas … [the regiment of which Hall was a part] was engaged in battle under General [Benjamin] McCulloch, and ingloriously routed. But the taste of blood was evidently sweet to Dr. Hall, and the desire for revenge obsessed him. It was reported that he behaved more like a fiend than a Christian gentleman. His total concern was to kill. His stated ambition, legend has it, was to catch every Yankee soldier he could find and cut off his right hand, and then send him back to his command with the severed hand tied to his saddle.” (Captives of the Word; p.145)

Some of the deep irony in all of this is not to be missed. It was Barton W. Stone, Sr. (a died-in-the-wool pacifist) who officially set Hall out on his way in ministry in 1825 and, ironically, it is Stone’s son, Barton W. Stone, Jr. (who is anything but a pacifist) who commands the regiment in which Hall serves as chaplain during this battle. Hall will serve as chaplain of the 6th Texas for nine months, the same period of time during which Stone serves as its Colonel.

To capture a sense of just some of the horrors of war – and such having quite the opposite effect on a man than they did on B.F. Hall! – hear the remembrances of Isaac Smith. Smith served as a Private in Co. E of the CSA, 3rd Missouri Infantry. Listen to his reflections on the night following the second day of battle:

“It was a very cold night and it was pitiful to hear the wounded calling all through that night in the woods and alone for some water or something to keep them warm. I hope I never will hear such pleadings and witness such suffering again. Such cruelty and barbarity ought not to be tolerated by civilized nations. Young men, the flower of the country in the bloom of youth to be shot down and left on the field of battle to suffer untold agony, and die the death of the brave, to be forgotten by their countrymen and all that can be said of him is ‘He was a brave man and died for the cause he thought was right.’ Some were buried and some were not; left on the field of battle to be devoured by wild animals. Oh, these things are fearful to contemplate. Yet men will say from the stump and in the Halls of Congress that it is a war of Humanity and that it is a war for humanity. My observations are that humanity has no part in it. Everything that is barbarous and savage is put in full force by all who engage in war.

“In writing these lines forty years after this battle, above referred to, I have been forced to stop in the middle of it and express my feelings with regard to this matter and to let all who may read these lines know that I am utterly opposed to this thing called War, and hope I may never hear of one nation going to war with another nation. No matter what the grievance, these things ought to be settled without blood shed.”

During the Battle of Pea Ridge, the 6th Texas suffers the loss of nineteen men (3 killed, 3 wounded, 13 missing).

Of course, as is the case with all of the large battles of the Civil War, there are no small number of men involved in combat who are either Christians in the Stone-Campbell Movement or who will become such following the war. As we’ve seen, some of them are, or will become, preachers. And among those who fight in the Battle of Pea Ridge who later become preachers in the Restoration Heritage, we’ll note three here.

Isaac Polk Scarborough serves in the CSA, 19th Arkansas Infantry Regiment. He will become one of the earliest preachers to work in West Texas.

Amos Josephus (“A.J.”) Lemmons (grandfather of Reuel Lemmons, who will be a very influential editor of the Firm Foundation and Image) serves in the Union Army.

And James Harvey (“J.H.”) Garrison, highly influential editor of the Christian-Evangelist, serves as a Private in Co.F of the U.S.A., 24th Missouri Infantry. Garrison is seriously wounded (a shattered leg) at Pea Ridge, but is able to make recovery. Garrison had been prompted to enlist after seeing the effects of the Confederate victory at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Aug. 10, 1861) in his home county in Missouri – the very battle B.F. Hall referenced in his conversation with Baxter and Graham. [For more on J.H. Garrison, cf. the Feb. 2 entry in this series.]

links: this went thru my mind

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Following are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful.

Archaeology, Israel & Jerusalem: Nose Falls Off the Skull of Gordon’s Calvary

“Visitors to the Garden Tomb of Jerusalem are usually shown the “Skull” identified by Charles Gordon as part of the case that this spot may be the authentic site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. On February 20 the bridge of the skull’s nose collapsed during a storm.”

Churches of Christ & church decline: The 2015 Churches of Christ in the United States

“… the average congregation size has declined … to 124 adherents per congregation. … The Christian Chronicle reports that the same figures reflect a 7.8% decline in membership since 1990, reflecting about 100,443 souls. … The 1990s were a time of plateaued growth … — essentially flat, even though it was a time of rapid population growth. … the rate of decline is accelerating. A lot. … The loss of members, adherents, and congregations is … doubling roughly every 15 to 20 years. … During this same period, the population of the United States has grown … the nation is growing at twice the rate at which the Churches of Christ are declining.”

Distraction, faith & focus: The Wheelchair or the Throne [required reading]

“Our enemy is an expert at distraction. If he can get our eyes off that throne and on the pain and uncertainty of the world, then we are doomed to walk this life in fear and agony. He knows that and he loves every minute of it. … Refuse to focus on what you can see and set your minds on things above. Look away from the evil and drama that saturate our lives and fix your eyes on the King of Glory. Only there will you find healing and hope.”

Documentaries, history, Jesus & media: Finding Jesus: Review of Part One

“… as a docu-drama, I thought this was better than many of them, and I look forward to the remaining five episodes.”

Evangelism, expectations, honesty, hypocrisy, outreach, sensitivity & transparency: Seven Lies Christians Tell [essential reading]

“We mean well, but is the truth really on our lips when we evangelize? … We lie when we claim we are more confident than we really are. … We lie when we claim that unexplainable things are in fact explainable. … We lie when we don’t acknowledge our doubts within the drama of faith. … We lie when we pretend like the Bible doesn’t say some really nasty things when in fact it does. … We lie when we claim we understand other beliefs, faiths and world views. … We lie when we claim that all of our beliefs are a ’10.’ … Finally, and most importantly, we lie (insidious and barbaric lying) when we pretend like we really, really, really love the other person when in fact we don’t.”