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.”

LIFE group guide: the colors of Christ’s cross

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (April 13) 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 help us sense and appreciate the full spectrum of meaning of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this sermon.

•  The message of the cross is … the power of God for those of us who are being saved. (1 Cor. 1.18)

•  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us—because it is written, “Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.” (Gal. 3.13)

•  God forbid that I should boast about anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through him, and I have been crucified to the world. (Gal. 6.14)

•  He reconciled them both as one body to God by the cross … (Eph. 2.16)

•  He brought peace through the blood of his cross. (Col. 1.20)

•  … he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2.8)

•  He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed … (1 Pet. 2.24)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Do you have a favorite color? If so, what is it? Why is it your favorite?

2. Overall, are you more of a visual learner or an auditory learner?

3. Think of someone you love. What color are their eyes? “Their eyes often seem to ___.”

Research

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

1. Chew on Galatians 6.14 (especially vs.14b). What is the apostle Paul saying to us here?

2. Consider Eph. 2.16 and Col. 1.20. How did (does) Christ’s cross bring people together?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. What one color dominates your sense of what Christ accomplished on his cross? Why?

2. Just as we need Four Gospels, we need multiple colors to truly see the cross. How so?

3. With #1 in view, has your dominant color of his cross changed with age? Experience?

4. Picture Christ’s crucifixion. Does his resurrection and ascension re-color things?

5. Visualize taking up your cross and following Jesus. What colors do you see? Explain.

Response

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

1. Assign the color you “see” in each paragraph of Mk. 15.16-40. Let such prompt prayer.

2. As you pray through each day, allow colors of whatever stands out to you or strikes you to prompt your mindfulness of, and reflection on, Christ’s cross, and yours.

this went thru my mind (b)

 

Body & soul: God is Not in the Business of Saving Souls by K. Rex Butts

“… let’s get our language correct. God is not in the business of saving souls. God is in the business of redeeming creation and that includes us…our whole self, our entire being, our body.”

Confession: Practical Advice on Confession by Bill Mounce

“[Confession] is, in a sense, a skill we all need to develop, whether we are new on the path of discipleship or a seasoned traveler.”

Capital punishment: Seeking an End to an Execution Law They Once Championed by Adam Nagourney

“It’s been a colossal failure. … The cost of our system of capital punishment is so enormous that any benefit that could be obtained from it — and now I think there’s very little or zero benefit — is so dollar-wasteful that it serves no effective purpose.”

Crucifixion of Jesus: Why Was Jesus Crucified? by Larry Hurtado

“… however attractive to our own gentle instincts may be the sort of Jesus touted often, a guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly and just wanted everyone to be friends, we have to posit a Jesus who could get himself crucified.”

Death of Jesus: Did Jesus Die of a Broken Heart? by Caleb Wilde

“Let me suggest that Jesus died from stress-induced cardiomyopathy as a result of the rejection and grief he experienced as he walked the world.”

Fear: Fear-Driven Christianity by Timothy Archer

“Too often, we let fear determine our practices, what we will do and what we won’t. … While actively seeking to do what is unsafe is foolish, focusing on “safety” in religion can lead us to an even more dangerous place.”

Focus: Your Focus Really Does Makes a Difference by Jim Martin

“Some people are reactive. They are forever talking about what used to be. … Others are proactive. They stand on tiptoes peering into the future. For these people, life is meant to be lived.”

Generations: How to Reach a Lost Generation 6: The Burden is on Them As Well by Matt Dabbs

“… the burden is not solely on the church when it comes to reaching young adults. They have a burden as well. When Christ’s call comes to someone it is a call to change.”

Hurry sickness: Why Faster is Not Better by Chris Altrock

“One of the things that most hinders our ability to lean into Jesus’ vision for the relationships in our lives is the rush of our lives. We simply don’t have time for people.”

Politics: 5 Attitudes for a Christian in a Political Season by Daniel Darling

“Let’s be honest. Much of what drives elections is fear. Both sides gin up fear about the other side. … But Christians can’t and shouldn’t be driven by fear, but by confidence in the sovereignty of God.”

The upper room: Reclining in the Upper Room by Ferrell Jenkins

“Each of the Gospels tell us something about the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples prior to the crucifixion. … Both Mark and Luke inform us that the room was a “large upper room furnished” (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12).”

To-do: What I Learned About To-Do Lists From my Eight-Year-Old Son by Michael Hyatt

“Even though Harrison had a hectic summer schedule, which consisted of playing with friends, building Legos, and recreational-sleep he still put “play with Dad” as an important task to be completed.”

30 days with the Human One (11)

 

Peter was the first person to put two and two together and make the candid assessment and statement that Jesus was both “the Human One” and “the Christ” (the Messiah). His declaration is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 16:13-19; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21). After his statement, everything in the Gospel accounts begins to change.

How so? The answer is painful.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and legal experts, and that he had to be killed and raised on the third day. (Matthew 16:21 CEB)

Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” He said this plainly. (Mark 8:31-32a CEB)

He said, “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” (Luke 9:22 CEB)

The Human One – the one who was just like us, but who had been doing things impossible for us – giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, forgiving sins, etc. – now reveals that he will soon do the unthinkable. He will do what all of us humans do: he will die.

Peter, the same who was first to identify the Human One as also the Christ, is now the first to object to the Christ being human! The Human One simply can’t die! But Peter could not be more wrong. Matthew and Mark record their clash with these words:

Then Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him: “God forbid, Lord! This won’t happen to you.” But he turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stone that could make me stumble, for you are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Matthew 16:22-23 CEB)

… But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.” (Mark 8:32-33 CEB)

Pay particular attention to the last sentence in both of those accounts and you’ll come away with something like the following. (1) The Human One was thinking God’s thoughts. (2) The Human One desires the rest of us humans to do the same. (3) The worst thing we can do as humans is to think merely human thoughts.

Read that last sentence again and let that soak in.

“So how exactly are we humans supposed think beyond our merely human thoughts, Human One?,” we ask?

By ceasing to live for ourself and to begin living after the Human One by putting our whole being under his rule. By replicating the Human One’s way of living as much as is possible for us to do so. Or in the words that immediately follow in Matthew, Mark, and Luke:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? For the Human One is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see the Human One coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28 CEB)

After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 CEB)

Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them. What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see God’s kingdom.” (Luke 9:23-27 CEB)

We need to pray.

In the name of Jesus, Heavenly Father, I want to die to myself and live to you. May none of my ways shame you. Let me unashamedly proclaim you with my thoughts, my words, and my ways. Amen.

Question: in what do you find yourself most often settling for thinking human thoughts, rather than thinking the Human One’s thoughts?

cry

Cry with the Christ as even the sun he created can no longer bear the sight of its Creator on his cross.

“From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark.”

Cry with the Christ as he cries out words of Scripture which simultaneously echo our wrestling with faith and the victory of God.

“At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, ‘Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me?'”

Cry for the Christ as misunderstanding of who he is and what he says continues even as he writhes at death’s door.

“After hearing him, some standing there said, ‘Look! He’s calling Elijah!’ Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, ‘Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.'”

Cry with the Christ as he, the innocent one, bears the full penalty of our sin and shame.

“But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.”

Cry to the God of Christ of this mixing of holiness and unholiness.

“The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.”

Cry at the thought of Christ, the Son of God, certainly dead.

“When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘This man was certainly God’s Son.'” (Mark 15:33-39 CEB)

In the name of Christ, before his cross, cry.