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

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

February 15

Feb. 15, 1915Lew Wallace dies at his home in Crawfordville, Illinois at the age of eighty-seven. While experiencing a great deal in life, Wallace is best known to us today as the author of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Though firmly convinced of Jesus’ humanity and deity, Wallace never claimed, or attempted to make, any connection with any earthly expression of church. However, the Restoration Heritage left its mark on Wallace as a youth.

Well, sort of.

Wallace’s mother (Esther French [Test] Wallace) died when he was only seven years of age. His father re-married two years later (1836), marrying Zerelda Sanders, who was a dedicated member of the Christian Church. In his autobiography, published posthumously, Wallace tells of how he spent his time while in church services with her:

“She was a member of the Christian Church, and insisted upon my attendance once every Sunday. I fear the services failed to impress me as she desired. My headgear was a flat-topped, black oil-cloth cap, visored before and behind, and, as it allowed penciling of delicacy on its surface invisible until held at a certain angle against the light, I converted it into a drawing-tablet. Greasy, and always in need of deodorizing, still it was eagerly sought on the return from “meeting.” The preacher, his assistant, the characters of the congregation, and all who had a peculiarity of face or manner were there penciled in unmistakable likeness. So the prayer, the sermon, even the communion, observed as it was every Lord’s day, might have been tedious to the others in attendance; they were not to me. I carried an occupation into the pew.”

As to the inspiration behind Wallace’s well-known book, it was a chance conversation in 1876 with famed agnostic Robert Ingersoll (who was the son of a preacher) that set the wheels in motion. Ingersoll recognized Wallace as they made their way by train to the third National Soldiers Reunion in 1876 (both men had served in the Union Army and had been at Shiloh, where Wallace had been wrongly made a scapegoat for a near Union disaster). Engaging in private conversation for about an hour, Ingersoll did his best to win Wallace over to skepticism. However, Ingersoll’s attempt had quite the opposite effect, launching Wallace into a sustained, personal investigation of the life of Christ. To keep himself fully engaged in the task and to increase the odds of others reading his conclusions, Wallace decided to turn them into a novel. Hence, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ – essentially Wallace’s careful, considered response to Ingersoll’s take on things as well as a shadow of Wallace’s own journey toward faith.

We’re left to wonder if Wallace’s unintended motivation by Ingersoll to seriously look into Christ’s life would have ever happened, had it not been for the gospel seeds planted in a young man’s mind by years of regular church attendance. All of the latter due to a young mother’s great efforts every Sunday morning just to “be at meetin’,” no matter what. We never know just when the will cause the seeds we have planted  to germinate. Let us not grow weary in doing good.

[Incidently, Zerelda, Lew Wallace’s step-mother, is quite a force. We’ll note more about her in a post later this year. And yes, she did live for twenty years after her son’s book was published and so, she did know of his coming to believe.]

February 16

Feb. 16, 1864 – The building housing Kentucky University burns down, forcing one of its professors to move back to Bethany, West Virginia and find employment once more at Bethany College. The professor’s name is Robert Richardson. Two years later (1866), “The Sage of Bethany,” Alexander Campbell, will die and it is Richardson who will be selected to edit Campbell’s memoirs. Since his twenties, Richardson knew and worked closely with Campbell. Richardson will work tirelessly at his task and so, both volumes of Campbell’s memoirs, comprising over 1,200 pages in two-volumes, will be in publication by the end of 1869. Seven years later (1877), at the age of 70, Richardson will die and his body will be buried in the Campbell family cemetery in Bethany.

February 17

Feb. 17, 1869 – V. Livingston dies at his home in Washington County, Texas.

Though the Gospel Advocate (GA) is published in Nashville, TN, it has a large, and growing, number of subscribers in Texas in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Obituaries of no small number of members of the Restoration Heritage are commonly submitted to the GA for publication. Today, those entries shine a light on what “church life” was like in those days gone by. What people believed, how they lived, and the words they used to described matters are all recorded in these obituaries, and so, are a gold mine of information. The death notice for “V. Livingston” serves as an example.

“Died, at his residence, in Washington county, Texas, February 17, 1869, Bro. V. Livingston, in the 43rd year of his age. He was a devoted Christian, a bishop of the congregation at Black Jack Grove, always at his post and never tolerated anything not taught in God’s Word. During the war he was greatly persecuted on account of his anti-war principles, from which, however, he never deviated. He was a resolute opposer of all human societies, ever striving to withdraw the brethren from them. He was a living exemplification of the Bible precept ‘Owe no man anything but to love one another.’ He was emphatically a Bible man. We truly sympathize with his bereaved family in their great affliction, and trust we may all live faithfully in the service of the Lord, that we may unite with our dear brother in that blissful abode where parting is no more.” (J. H. Wilson, Gospel Advocate, March 18, 1869)

Now I ask you, how many rural or small town churches do you know of today that have elders in their early 40’s? I suspect not many. How many How many of members do you know who are pacifists, and have held to their convictions as to such during war-time, in a region strong in terms of military enlistment, and at great personal cost? I suspect the number is quite small. How many do you refer to as a “bishop?” None, right? And yet, there was a time in our Heritage when such would not have been all that unusual. “V. Livingston” is just one, enduring witness to such. We have not always done things as we do them now. Things do change, even if in our eyes the perceived rate of change is often exceedingly slow.

February 18

Feb. 18, 1935 – In Ardmore, Oklahoma, C. R. Nichol, Joe S. Warlick, J. D. Tant, and Basil D. Shilling conduct the funeral service for Jehu Willborn (‘J.W.’) Chism, a prolific debater and long-time associate editor of the Firm Foundation. Chism had been in bad health for two years and had died of pneumonia on the 16th at his home in Ardmore (416 Wheeler St.).

Finding a place to read, study, and reflect at length that is truly free of interruption can be a real challenge for most preachers. This is especially true for individuals whose personalities require quiet and freedom from visual distraction in order to focus and think well. As a result, what might appear odd to others can appear as an attractive and practical solution to a minister.

However, even ministers would likely agree that Chism’s typical habit of study was … unusual. Not the fact that his place of study was located at his residence, but that he would quite literally “crawl under a bed to study.” Yes, as in down “on the floor.” When his study hours were at night, it was not unusual for him to be at it until 2:00 a.m. or even later. [Picture it: your wife in bed above, and you studying, underneath.]. When his study time took place during daylight or evening hours, he would tell his wife that should anyone come by looking for him that, unless it was a matter of emergency, she was to tell them,

“He was here awhile ago, but I don’t see him now.”

February 19

Feb. 19, 1899Charles Chilton Moore, Jr., a grandson of Barton W. Stone, Sr. (through B.W.’s youngest daughter, Mary Anne), publishes in his newspaper, The Blue Grass Blade (TBGB), a list of items he wants to see take place. The list includes, quite amazing for its time, the following:

“* No Bible reading in public schools; * Stop paying chaplains out of tax money; * Churches should pay property taxes; * No more blasphemy laws; * No more liquor traffic; * Women should have the right to vote; * An international league of nations; * Publication of scientific information on sexual relations.”

At one time, Moore, like his famous grandfather, had been a preacher within the Restoration Heritage. He had attended Bethany College and had served a number of congregations in eastern Kentucky. However, after a time, Moore walks completely away from all faith. Moore does not stop “preaching,” though his content and audience will, naturally, change dramatically. He begins publication of TBGB in Lexington, Kentucky in 1886 and a phrase in its masthead tells all: “Published by a Heathen in the interest of good morals.” TBGB garners a large number of subscribers and the name C.C. Moore becomes a household name among well-read American agnostics and atheists. He will be one of the last in our country who will do prison time for the charge of blasphemy, but will secure his release from prison by special pardon at the hand of President William McKinley.

Mercifully, Stone does not live to see these days in the life of his grandson, as Stone dies in 1844 when Moore is only seven years of age.

Feb. 19, 1903 – The death notice of Parmelia H. Farrar, written by J.D. Floyd, is published in the Gospel Advocate.

Some of the history of the Restoration Heritage can be told by examining the lives of its prominent leaders. Much more of our history can be told through a look at the lives of church members who, though not nearly so well known, made a powerful, consistence difference where they were with what they had been entrusted. Quite simply, they lived out their faith and their devotion to Christ, showed. Parmelia H. Farrar was apparently just such a Christian.

“Sister Parmelia H. Farrar was born in North Carolina on April 2, 1830, and died at Flat Creek, Tenn., on February 2, 1903. Sister Farrar was the mother of twelve children, seven of whom are living. Before the Civil War she became a member of the church of Christ at New Hermon, Tenn.; and when the church at Flat Creek was formed, in 1868, she was one of its charter members. I knew Sister Farrar intimately for forty-five years, and feel that I can make a just estimate of her worth as a Christian and a neighbor. While she was always poor (as the world calls poor), always plain and unassuming, yet it can be said that she was worth more to our community than any other person who has lived in it during the last forty-five years. She visited and waited on more sick people and ministered to more who were in distress than any one else. There are three reasons why she could do this: (1) She was a woman of unusual bodily vigor; (2) she was never so engrossed in worldly affairs but that she could leave them; (3) she had the disposition of heart that led her to make sacrifices for others. She was a plain woman. I never saw her with any head covering but a sunbonnet. She was always plainly, but neatly, dressed, and never tried to follow the fashions. The dress pattern which she used when I first knew her would have answered for her last one. I said at her funeral, and I repeat here, that one woman like her is worth more to a community than a ten-acre lot full of the befrilled, dancing, card-playing devotees of fashion that are found in many places. Sister Farrar was faithful in her church relation. She seldom missed a service. When her seat was not filled, we knew that she or some one who needed her attention was sick. We bid our faithful sister good-by here, but trust that we shall meet and greet her in a fairer clime than this.”

February 20

Feb. 20, 1872 – Benjamin Franklin, editor of the American Christian Review (ACR), airs his total disgust with the Central Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio upon their having constructed a new church building styled after French Gothic architecture, complete with choir loft, an organ, what is thought to be the largest stained glass window in the United States (at the time), and seating for 2,000 people. It on an order of magnitude far beyond any other facility then utilized by those of the Restoration Heritage. The cost of the facility? $140,000 (a sum equivalent to over $3.1 million in today’s dollars). The date and location of its erection is especially significant: the Reconstruction of the South, devastated by the Civil War, is still just getting underway and Cincinnati is bounded from Kentucky (a border state strongly divided by the war) only by the Ohio River. W.T. Moore, the congregation’s preaching minister, will use some of Jesus’ last words on the cross – “It is finished” (John 19.30) – as his sermon text during the building’s dedication service.

Reminding Central that God “is not attracted by imposing temples, worldly show, nor fine entertainments,” Franklin will declare to all of his readers:

“These leading men in Cincinnati … have utterly disregarded the view of the great body of the brotherhood … They have put us to the test, to come up and tacitly endorse their folly, extravagance, and pride, with their corruption of the worship, or stay away. We can tell them plainly that we will never endorse them in their present worldly course. They will find many thousands more of the same mind. We would blush to talk of the ‘ancient order,’ the ‘gospel restored,’ returning to the ‘primitive order,’ the ‘man of sorrows’ who ‘had not where to lay his head’ … in this temple of folly and pride.”

Not to worry: Franklin is just getting warmed up. Until his death, six years later in 1878, he will continue to write of his great unhappiness with how he sees things playing out in the Restoration Heritage. Franklin, always having lived in poverty, has long believed that since at least 1850, that there has been two strong, competing groups in the Movement: one concerns itself with the common people and one is more minded about the well-to-do of society. He sees the gap steadily widening between these two groups, and his own life is a microcosm of the matter (especially his experience in working with, and being dependent on the benevolence of, well-to-do David S. Burnet in the 1850’s).

In short, the Movement, now in its second-generation of leadership, is leaving simplicity and the masses behind, trading them for bettering oneself and greater acceptance by those higher in society. Outreach is being traded off for outward appearance and so, the fundamental problem among the brethren is more attitudinal, than doctrinal. That is, it is Franklin’s conviction that the multitude of specific issues (instrumental music, missionary societies, etc.) that appear to be increasingly dividing brethren (in Franklin’s words as expressed earlier in the Millenial Harbinger in January 1870) “are not the cause, but only the occasion” for the real problem to do its deadly work. To attempt to address the specific doctrinal questions rather than the underlying attitude is like addressing the symptoms of a disease rather than the disease itself.

February 21

Feb. 21, 1901 – The notice of David G. Fleming’s death appears in the Gospel Advocate. Reference is made to the fact that as an adult he had been “baptized into Christ.”

Our speech betrays us; it reveals us. What we say, and what we don’t say, unveils what we actually believe, value, and want to emphasize. The phraseology we choose as we announce a person’s conversion to Christ is no exception. And as the vocabulary of our Heritage evolves through the years, death notices capture our beliefs, values, and emphasis.

While I’ve not made anything like an in-depth, comprehensive study of the matter – it would interesting to see one – my general impression through decades of reading Restoration Heritage obituaries (whether appearing in the GA or elsewhere) is that the earlier/older the account, especially in the mid-1800’s, the far greater the likelihood that baptism will be mentioned and that it is “into Christ.” However, during the latter 1800’s, and especially during the first half of the 1900’s, that tendency decreases and phrases such as “obeyed the gospel,” etc. appear more frequently. Of course, there are many exceptions to this observation, and so I realize I’m “painting with a roller brush” to put it this way, but still, it’s not too much to say that the emphasis is on Christ early on, then either the church or the gospel, and finally neither, but simply on the act, or fact, of baptism itself. A few examples will illustrate the evolution/devolution. In each instance below, note the year of death and so, thereby, the year the words describing the person’s conversion are crafted:

James C. Anderson (d. 9/12/1857) – “He was baptized into Christ …”

James R. Allen (d. 10/6/1859) – “… buried with Christ by baptism …”

Christian C. Elkins (d. 4/15/1873) – “…  immersed into Christ …”

Maggie L. Alexander (d. 8/6/1876) – “… was buried with her Lord in baptism …”

Mary E. Grigg (d. 1/3/1887) – “She was baptized into Christ …”

W.H.H. Griffin (d. 6/27/1896) – “… she became obedient to the faith …”

G.G. Griswold (d. 12/19/1902) – “She was baptized into the church of Christ …”

Mary C. White (d. 3/8/1910) – ” … she united with the church of Christ … being baptized by …”

John Ogden Collins (d. 10/31/1920) – “He obeyed the gospel …”

James David Taylor (d. 7/12/1929) – “… was baptized into the church of the Lord Jesus Christ …”

Dovie Williams (d. 5/24/1932) – “Her obedience to the gospel occurred at Henderson …

From the 1940’s onward, the tendency to make direct reference to a person’s baptism greatly decreases in death notices of those within the Restoration Heritage, or if notice is made, it is simply of the fact of it occurring, the year it was experienced, or by whose hands.

A.H. Taylor (d. 7/25/1940) – “He was baptized …”

I have not read all that many notices dating from the 1950’s up through our time, and so, I will not speak as to the trajectory of our vocabulary since the 1940’s.

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

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

February 1

Feb. 1, 1763Thomas Campbell is born to Archibald & Alice (McNally) Campbell in County Down in northern Ireland. Thomas’ father, Archibald, is a Catholic who has converted to the Church of England. Archibald is by no means well-to-do, and so, when a Seceder of great means by the name of John Kinley befriends Archibald and takes a shine to obviously bright, young Thomas and offers to pay for Thomas’ college education, Archibald accepts. However, Kinley’s offer is not without strings: the proviso is that Thomas will receive training for ministry – as a Presbyterian. [A ‘Seceder’ is one who is a member of the Church of Secession; the Presbyterian Church.] Consequently, young Thomas will enter the prestigious University of Glasgow in Scotland in 1780 and will graduate from there in 1783, and through the course of five more years of study (1786-1791) at the Whitburn Seceder Seminary, Thomas will depart from his father’s church faith and will embrace the Anti-Burgher branch of the Presbyterian Church.

While at Whitburn, Thomas will study more than theology, for he will come to meet, and soon marry (1787), a young woman by the name of Jane Corneigle. They will waste little time in starting a family and will welcome the birth of their firstborn child, Alexander, just fourteen months later.

Nineteen years later, due to reasons of health, a doctor will suggest to Thomas to move to the United States, and Thomas does just that in 1807. Upon meeting with the Synod in Philadelphia, he is warmly embraced and encouraged to preach in Washington County, Pennsylvania. However, he finds the Presbyterian Church deeply fragmented there and Thomas’ experience with deeply entrenched mindsets that allow no room whatsoever for differing groups to even occasionally worship together greatly distresses him. He is thus motivated to set about all the more to strongly encourage oneness and togetherness between the splinter groups. For his efforts, he will be put on trial by the presbytery and will be rebuked. He will appeal to the Synod, and they will give him an acquittal – coupled with an additional word of chastisement.

Predictably, Thomas will soon quit the Presbyterian Church. He is now, so to speak, a man without a denomination.

We’ll revisit Thomas and his life in future posts. It is enough to say at this point that it is Thomas Campbell who will soon come to coin the phrase that will become the idealistic watchword among those of the Restoration Heritage:

“Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”

Oh, and for those who notice patterns in life connected with birth order, it is interesting to note that Thomas Campbell is a firtsborn child, as is his even far more influential son, Alexander.

February 2

Feb. 2, 1842 – On this day near Ozark (what is now Christian County), Missouri, James Harvey (‘J.H.’) Garrison is born to Baptist parents James Calvin & Diana (Kyle) Garrison. Along with several of his brothers, J.H. will grow up to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. Shortly after the Confederate Army’s victory in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek – fought in J.H.’s home county (Aug. 10, 1861) – he will enlist as a Private in Co. F of the U.S.A., 24th Missouri Infantry. Serving throughout the rest of the Civil War he will ultimately exit at the rank of Major in the U.S.A., 8th Missouri Cavalry. His transfer from infantry to cavalry service comes as a result of suffering a serious leg wound during the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862.

Following the war, J.H. will enter Abingdon College and will marry a classmate, Judith Elizabeth Garrett, within days after graduation in 1868. During his time at Abingdon he will leave the Baptist tradition and will embrace a Restoration perspective.

J.H.’s influence among those of a moderate mind in the Restoration Heritage is substantial, being felt most mightily through his multi-decade editorship of (and over sixty years of writing for) the Christian-Evangelist (CE). In the words of one of J.H.’s biographers, William E. Tucker, during J.H.’s involvement with the CE it is known as “… the pre-eminent journal in shaping religious opinion among Disciples.”

February 3

Feb. 3, 1886Marshall Clement (“M.C.”) Kurfees begins preaching with the Campbell Street Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky. He will preach there until his death in February 1931, the longest known ministry of the time of any one minister with a church in the Restoration Heritage.

While ministering at Campbell Street, Kurfees will also serve as one of Gospel Advocate’s editors (1908-1924) and will author a book against instrumental music entitled Instrumental Music in the Worship (published in 1911, the same year his wife, Sallie [Eddy] Kurfees, will die). He will also collect and publish in book form (1921) many of the questions answered by David Lipscomb and E.G. Sewell (Questions Answered by Lipscomb and Sewell).

February 4

Feb. 4, 1831 – In Merton, Ohio, Thomas Campbell writes a letter to Sidney Rigdon, a preacher who, though once associated with the Restoration Heritage, has gone over to following Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka: Mormons). Part of Campbell’s letter reads:

“It may seem strange, that instead of a confidential and friendly visit, after so long an absence, I should thus address, by letter one whom for many years I have considered not only as a courteous and benevolent friend, but as a beloved brother and fellow-laborer in the gospel; but, alas! how changed and fallen! … you … the professed disciple and public teacher of the infernal Book of Mormon …

“I, therefore, as in duty bound … shall hold myself in readiness, if the Lord permit, to meet you publicly, in any place … and defend against Mormonism and every other ism that has been assumed since the Christian era … we have no more need for … Mormonism, or any other ism, than we have for three eyes, three ears, three hands, or three feet, in order to see, hear, work, or walk.”

It is reported that when Rigdon received Campbell’s letter that after reading a few sentences he “hastily committed it to the flames.”

February 5

Feb. 5, 1942 – Persistent through the years within the Restoration Heritage is the myth that Abraham Lincoln was baptized by Restoration Heritage minister, John O’Kane. This myth has its roots in a letter by G. M. Wiemer that first appeared on this day in 1942 in the Christian-Evangelist (CE). The letter reads:

“I met Brother John O’Kane who was state evangelist in Illinois. It was at a convention. We were together about all the time. The Lincoln matter as to whether he [Lincoln] had ever been baptized came up. Brother O’Kane told me one day, ‘Yes, Brother Weimer, I know all about the affair. On the night before Lincoln was to be baptized his wife cried all night. So the matter was deferred, as she thought. But soon after Lincoln and I took extra clothing and took a buggy ride. I baptized him in a creek near Springfield, Illinois. We changed to dry clothing and returned to the city. And by his request, I placed his name on the church book. He lived and died a member of the church of Christ.'”

Concerning this account, and after careful research, Jim Martin has concluded: “It appears then, that in spite of legends, speculations, and wishful thinking, Abraham Lincoln was not extraordinarily close to the Restoration Movement. In the only public document in which Lincoln ever gave personal testimony about his religious views, he said simply, ‘That I am not a member of any Christian church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.’ It is perhaps fitting that his handbill published in 1846 to refute the charge of ‘infidelity’ also refutes overzealous churchmen eager to bring Lincoln into the fold.” (Restoration Quarterly 38.2)

February 6

Feb. 6, 1846Austin McGary is born to Methodist parents, Isaac & Elizabeth McGary in Huntsville, Texas. His father is a Texas hero, and Austin’s life will also drip with difficulty and drama. His mother will die when he is only seven. His father will die before Austin turns twenty. Austin will join the military and serve in Confederate cavalry (6th Texas Cavalry Battalion [Gould’s] and the 35th Texas Cavalry Regiment [Brown’s]), but will never see combat. Following the Civil War he will marry three times, outliving his first two wives (Cyrene Jenkins [dying in 1873] and Lucie Kitrell [passing in 1897]). He will father at least eleven children, but several of them will die before adulthood. He will be employed for two years, at about the age of thirty, as the sheriff of Madison County, TX and will then go on to be employed by the state of Texas to transport prisoners to the prison in Huntsville, a job that will continue to expose him to constant danger. Prior to becoming a sheriff he had killed a man in Midway, TX (1869) and once while sheriff he killed again (1787) for the same reason, self-defense.

In his mid-thirties (1881) McGary will take up, for the first time in his life, a serious inquiry into faith. Part of his research leads him to reading the Campbell-Owen debate (Owen being a famous skeptic). While reading this book, McGary will go to hear a series of sermons in Madisonville, Texas by Restoration Heritage preacher Harry Hamilton and will submit to baptism by Hamilton on Christmas Eve, 1881. However, within a couple of years McGary will come to question his baptism’s validity due to his awareness that he and Hamilton disagree on some matters. As a result, he will seek “rebaptism” at the hands of another Restoration Heritage minister, W.H.D. Carrington. However, quite quickly (by 1884), McGary will seriously question whether his baptism by Carrington is valid. Still, there is no record of McGary being baptized again by any other.

He will take up preaching in 1883 and will begin (September 1, 1884) editing and publishing a weekly paper entitled the Firm Foundation (FF). His stated objective, through the FF and otherwise, is:

“… to oppose everything in the work and worship of the church, for which there was not a command or an apostolic example or a necessary scriptural inference.”

The FF‘s readership will grow rapidly and will become the dominant (and most strident) written voice in the Texas Restoration Heritage. It will vary some in content and tone through the years as editorships change, but the FF will continue in publication until 2010, a 126 year run.

In his preaching and writing, McGary earns a reputation as a firebrand, rabble-rouser, and something like an angry man … and a great many people in the Texas Restoration Heritage at the time love it so. While he is, in the words of one historian, “rabid” in his opposition to missionary societies and the use of instrumental music, McGary’s objections regarding the subjects of baptism are equally full of wrath. He will viciously, verbally attack those who do not agree with him on this matter, David Lipscomb and the Gospel Advocate (GA) in particular (understand, the GA has a large circulation in Texas). As an example, he will refer “with charity” (McGary’s choice of words) to Lipscomb as “a religious reprobate of the most hypocritical cast,” inhabited by a “demoniacal spirit.”

How is that? Understand that Lipscomb, and most Restoration Heritage churches, believe it is totally unnecessary for those who have already been immersed in water when coming to faith in Christ, though it took place within another tribe (e.g. – the Baptist Church), to be immersed again when coming to a Restoration Heritage church family. Most churches and preachers actively discourage such “rebaptisms.” However, McGary considers rebaptism essential; to not rebaptize is to simply “shake in the Baptists” and is therefore, heresy and hypocrisy.

Ironically, though great numbers of Tennesseans influenced by Lipscomb and the GA will migrate to Texas during this time and will either start or join Restoration Heritage churches in the state, it is McGary’s perspective that will win the field and become the new, dominant view regarding baptism not only within the vast majority of Texas congregations, but, in time, within the majority of churches of the branch of the Restoration Heritage that will become known as southern Churches of Christ. To be sure, this battle continues to be fought in some quarters today, but the consensus view has radically shifted due to McGary’s efforts.

It is through an invitation made by McGary and J.W. Jackson that J.D. Tant will arrive in Austin, Texas in 1887 and will conduct a meeting, the result of which is the sealing of division between those of a Restoration Heritage perspective in the state capital. The group that leaves an existing congregation is led by McGary and Jackson and it is this group who make up the core of people who begin the University Avenue Church of Christ. The group left behind will be known as the Central Christian Church.

However, McGary’s slash-and-burn ways will catch up with him and in 1900 he will be forced to resign, due to his harshness, as editor of the paper he began, the FF. And yet, especially in McGary’s last years of life, the 1920’s, he will largely change his views and tone and will actively seek reconciliation with some of those he had editorially crucified for many years. In 1923, six years after Lipscomb’s death, he will have published in the GA, an open apology for how he dealt with brethren through the years. To seal his repentance, and in a remarkable display of reconciliation, he will spend some of his last few years of life writing for the paper he had long despised and vilified, the GA. However, his change has little effect on the brotherhood’s understanding of baptism; rather brethren will continue to cling to McGary’s original view of baptism and will view those who differ on the matter with a strong eye of suspicion.

[Sidebar: * Austin McGary’s father, Isaac, had fought in the Battle of San Jacinto (8th Company [Kimbro’s], 2nd Regiment). The 2nd Regiment led the Texan’s attack on the Mexican Army and first offered up that day’s battle cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” Upon his sudden death in 1866, Isaac was buried in Galveston and his grave was one of those washed away by the hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900. * We must realize just how close these matters are to us in terms of the span of a lifetime. McGary’s third wife (Lillian Otey, whom he married in 1897), died in 1959 in Huntsville, TX (where she and Austin are buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, also the resting place of Sam Houston’s body).]

February 7

Feb. 7, 1825 – In his publication known as the Christian Baptist (CB), Alexander Campbell, Sr. will begin a long series of articles which will prove to become highly influential, and truly pivotal, to a great many. The series is entitled “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things.” As a part of this first article Campbell will write:

“It is obvious to the most superficial observer, who is at all acquainted with the state of christianity and of the church of the New Testament, that much, very much is wanting … In what this deficiency consists, and how it is to be remedied, or whether it can be remedied at all, are the points to be discovered and determined. … We know very well that nothing can be done right which is not done according to the gospel, or done effectually which is not done by the authority, and accompanied by the blessing of God. …

“Human systems, whether of philosophy or religion, are proper subjects of reformation; but christianity cannot be reformed. Every attempt to reform christianity is like an attempt to create a new sun, or to change the revolutions of the heavenly bodies – unprofitable and vain. In a word we have had reformations enough. The very name has become as offensive as the term ‘Revolution’ in France.

“A RESTORATION of the ancient order of things is all that is necessary to the happiness and usefulness of christians. No attempt ‘to reform the doctrine, discipline, and government of the church,’ (a phrase too long in use,) can promise a better result … the thing proposed, is to bring the christianity and the church of the present day up to the standard of the New Testament. This is in substance, though in other terms, what we contend for. To bring the societies of christians up to the New Testament, is just to bring the disciples, individually and collectively, to walk in the faith, and in the commandments of the Lord and Saviour, as presented in that blessed volume; and this is to restore the ancient order of things.” (CB, vol. II, p. 136)

links: this went thru my mind

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Baptism, Carrie Underwood, joy & music: The Truth Behind This Song Had Me Yellin’ ‘Amen!’ You’ll Love This Super Star’s Song About Baptism [4 min. video; essential listening]

“I don’t know that there is anything better than hearing a song about baptism coming through my speakers! Preach it, Carrie!”

Choice, focus, mindset, mission, perspective, productivity & vision: 3 Mindsets You Must Conquer to Live Your Mission Each Day

“Jesus’s lived his mission each day by conquering three mindsets.”

Christian faith, evil, Hitler, martyrdom, Nazism, nonviolence, pacifism & WWII: The White Rose Martyrs

“I don’t know about you, but I always get a bit depressed when I think about the lack of Christian resistance to the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the main figure who comes to mind here. But were there any others? Any other heroes of the faith? Christians who pushed even harder than Bonhoeffer?

“Yes there were. The White Rose.”

Conflict, history & war: The Greatest Buildings You’ll Never See: 19 Priceless Monuments Lost in Conflict

“It is a cruel irony that a region so blessed with the treasures of early human civilizations is also among those most troubled by conflict. As the violence threatens to annihilate some of history’s greatest monuments, we count the cost of our irreplaceable losses.”

Prayer: Encountering God in Prayer

“If we are going to be imbalanced, better that we be doctrinally weak and have a vital prayer life and a real sense of God on the heart than that we get all our doctrine straight and be cold and spiritually hard.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger, hate, social media, speech & words: When it Comes to Hateful Internet Speech, Christians Are the Worst [required reading]

“Thanks to horrible Christian comments online, I realized there’s a big difference between being Christian and following Jesus.”

Baptism, identification & discipleship: Rowan Williams on the Christian Life

“Many of us teach this, that we identify with Christ in his death and resurrection and we appeal to Romans 6. But we might be tempted to connect this kind of identification only to salvation, but Williams suggests we enter into a kind of incarnational ministry: of going into the world, missionally speaking, to identify with others as Christ has done.”

Belief, bias, change, comfort zone, focus, perspective & thinking: * Start Looking at What You See [required reading]; Experiencing Something Other Than the Prevailing System

* “Try something different for a change. Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)”

* “The original reason for systemic biases is usually benign. ‘Most people’ can’t use this, or most people don’t look like you or most people won’t benefit. Over time, though, the bias in favor of most people becomes more ingrained, and often serves as a barrier to change, reinforcing the power of the dominant group.”

Wendell Berry & wisdom: 12 Wendell Berry Quotes That Will Give You a Fresh Perspective

“In today’s hectic, consumeristic world, there is much we can learn from Berry’s commitment to simple living, good stewardship and value of nature. Today, to celebrate his 80th birthday, we’ve gathered some of his best pieces of wisdom.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Animals: Zoo Animals and Their Discontents

“The notion that animals think and feel may be rampant among pet owners, but it makes all kinds of scientific types uncomfortable. … That may be changing. A profusion of recent studies has shown animals to be far closer to us than we previously believed …”

Baptism: Six Things I Don’t Believe About Baptism

“… not an exhaustive list. But it’s a start.”

Church, evangelism, Nones & outreach: Five Toxic Church Environments Turning Away Nones

“… nones … They are currently the single fastest-growing religious group of our time and currently represent 20% of the US population.”

Discipleship & social media: Will Social Media Destroy Discipleship?

“The Internet becomes dangerous when it keeps us from deeply investing in real one-on-one relationships. God is an extremely relational God. He is one God in three persons. He is literally made up of relationship. We are created in His image. We are wired to be relational, to encourage, be with, and love other people. Discipleship is God’s joy and passion for His people. Discipleship is God’s plan for redemption.”

Hitler, home invasion, nonviolence, pacifism & self-defense: What If Hitler Invaded Your Home? [essential reading]

“Some trust in horses and chariots, some trust in Smith and Wesson, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Humility, ministry, preaching & weakness: A Word to Those Who Preach

“…  our role is to tell Him thank you for the ways He is choosing to use us to reach the world.  You most likely assume that you are not a big deal.  Good.  We aren’t. However, we are in His eyes when we walk in humility alongside the Spirit of Jesus.”