on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: January 18-24

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

January 18

1851 – On this day the State of Missouri issues a charter for a female college to be known as Columbia Classical Female Institute. This is the result of effort on the part of a preacher, David Patterson (“D.P.”) Henderson, a man who had been one of Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s closest friends (Stone having died in 1844). Henderson’s efforts will ultimately result in the formation of what will become known as Christian University and, as it is known today, Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, now associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

1926 – William Jesse (W.J.) Fears dies in Tatum, Texas at the age of 72. Not long after his wife of nearly thirty years had left him and taken their children with her (due to her disgust with the trials involved in being a minister’s wife), Fears came to be one of the earliest missionaries in Indian Territory (1905) from the Restoration Heritage. His ministerial work and influence will primarily be felt in what will become (in 1907) southeastern Oklahoma.

January 19

1819 – In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jesse Babcock Ferguson is born to Robert French & Hannah Champlain Babock Ferguson. Baptized in 1838 and starting to preach very shortly thereafter, he will quickly come to be regarded as the most eloquent preacher the South has to offer. His influence among Restoration Heritage churches in Nashville, TN is deep and wide for a decade (1842-1852).

However, upon revealing his beliefs that ultimately no one can be eternally lost and that every person will be saved (universalism) … and that he attempts to communicate with the dead (spiritualism) … Ferguson begins a rapid fall. Alexander Campbell’s strong opposition to Ferguson will prove to be the deciding factor in his falling into disfavor. Still, it will be four years after starting to advance his views (1856) that Ferguson’s church family in Nashville will finally cut ties with him. Never again will he have any real connection with the Restoration Heritage. And yet, those aligned with the Restoration Heritage in Nashville are fractured and devastated over the ordeal.

Ironically, in the early 1840’s Ferguson had co-edited a paper entitled The Heretic Detector. He will die in 1870 at the age of 51 while planning to establish a spiritualist settlement in rural Tennessee.

January 20

1858 – Having served for two decades as a missionary in Jamaica for Congregationalist churches (1838-1850’s), Connecticut-born Julius Oliver (“J.O.”) Beardslee returns today to Jamaica, this time as a missionary within the Restoration Heritage. He is sent to Jamaica now by the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS) and his labors are not without some immediate fruit.

However, Beardslee has been an active abolitionist for over two decades prior to the start of the war and his only son who will live to be an adult, Thomas, serves as a soldier in the Union Army. Consequently, funding for Beardslee’s work will quickly evaporate due to the arrival of the Civil War, the ACMS’ adoption of a resolution in 1863 in support of the Union, and the withdrawal of funding by southern churches for the ACMS.

January 21

1831 – Granville & Ann Lipscomb of Franklin County, Tennessee welcome the birth of their second-born son, David. David’s parents are Baptists; however, while David is still quite small, his parents are persuaded to adopt a Restoration Heritage perspective of things after reading several issues of Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist. David Lipscomb will grow up to become the single most influential figure among southern churches of the Restoration Heritage from the mid-1800’s until his death in 1917.

January 22

1798Aylette Raines is born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He becomes a preacher with Universalist views of the salvation of all of humankind. However, in 1827 he hears Walter Scott preach a sermon on his favorite chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter contains a verse upon which Raines has grounded his Universalist perspective (vs.22). As Scott preaches and brings his sermon to a head, he points straight at Raines (who, along with some of his comrades, is located front and center among those present) and asks him if what has just been preached isn’t so. Raines, blown away with Scott’s message, responds: “I presume it is so.”

Following Scott’s sermon, Raines’ somewhat frustrated companions gather around him and ask to see the notes they presume he has taken during the sermon. Raines holds up a blank piece of paper and says: “Here are my notes, all of them. I have never in all my life heard just such a speaker, or just such preaching. … I am not now prepared to deny what he says, nor am I ready to accept all. … I have so far been unable to detect the slightest flaw in any of his arguments. I must think on these things.” And that he does until, a number of weeks later, he and a friend baptize each other “for the remission of sins.”

Raines will soon begin preaching in the Restoration Heritage, though now keeping his ongoing Universalist perspective to himself. The knowledge of Raines’ now privately held convictions are troubling to some and they strongly agitate for Raines to be shunned. Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott all rush to Raines’ defense, arguing that his views are now privately held opinions and therefore, must not be made a test of faith fellowship. The dissent quiets down and melts away and so, Raines’ faith, acceptance, and ministry continue on.

Raines will cherish his friendship with the Campbells and Scott. Thomas Campbell and Raines become particularly close, Thomas commonly referring to him as “my Timothy.” Raines will continue to preach until his death (in 1881) in a number of places in Kentucky, his state of residence for the last seventy years of life.

[Sidebar: Raines had a son named after him, Aylette Raines, Jr., who served as an assistant surgeon in Confederate cavalry during the Civil War (CSA, 11th Kentucky Cavalry; aka: Chenault’s Cavalry). In 1863, Jr. was captured by Union troops and was imprisoned in Fort Delaware until his death in 1864. My g-grandfather, William Anderson Smith, also served in Confederate cavalry and was imprisoned in Fort Delaware from 1864-1865, but he, unlike Raines, and one in every twelve others imprisoned there, survived the ordeal.]

January 23

1893Kenny Carl (K.C.) Moser is born on a farm near Johnson City (Blanco County), Texas to a “tent-making” preacher, J.S. Moser & his wife. [note: some sources list his date of birth as Jan. 2] K.C. is a born-teacher and will spend his life in education and preaching ministry. Many of his steady stream of articles that appear in the Firm Foundation and Gospel Advocate in the 1920’s and 1930’s will emphasize, as it came to be summarized, “not the plan, but the man.” Consequently, from this point on in life he will serve as a brotherhood lightning rod, perceived by many as being at best, misguided, and more nearly, a heretic. Or as John Mark Hicks has put it (RQ 37:3): “As a preacher, he was hounded by others for his views on grace. As a lecturer, he was persona non grata at various religious events, such as the Abilene Christian College lectureships.”

Moser will go on to become, while in his 70’s, arguably the most influential professor ever to teach on staff at Lubbock Christian College (mid-1960’s thru mid-1970’s) and though his name and writings are not well-known today outside of students of ministry, his perspective and works continue to powerfully reverberate within – and still test – Churches of Christ.

Again, John Mark Hicks has stated things best: “Moser … was one of the key players – if not the most important one – in renewing a theology of grace among Churches of Christ in the midst of polemical exchanges that amounted to ecclesiological perfectionism. Contemporary ministers within Churches of Christ owe a great debt to the perseverance and courage of K. C. Moser who taught a theology of grace when it was quite unpopular and regarded as treason. … We stand on his shoulders and I am grateful for his life-long struggle to proclaim the gospel of grace in the midst of a people who resisted his message.”

[Sidebar: Moser went on to be with the Lord the same week I came to know the Lord. Moser preached in Frederick, Oklahoma (1926-1933) while he was formulating his watershed work The Way of Salvation and I, too, preached in Frederick (1984-1987). Though I did not learn that Moser had preached in Frederick until several years after I had left there, it was primarily while I was in Frederick and doing off-campus graduate work through Abilene Christian University that I first began to read some of his writings with real earnest and came to adopt an orientation of grace and faith myself.]

January 24

1854 – A son is born today to Restoration leader Benjamin Franklin. He will name this son “Walter Scott Franklin.” Not surprisingly, two years earlier he had named one of his sons “Alexander Campbell Franklin.” Such not only speaks as to how highly Benjamin & Mary Franklin regarded two of the Restoration Heritage’s key figures, but serves as a good example of how a great many children in the mid-1800’s who were born in the eastern half of the United States will be named after such.

Though the choice of such names then are certainly not as common as those inspired by Presidential or military figures (e.g. – Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Albert Sydney, Robert E., etc.), through the years I have often encountered first and middle name combinations in the mid and late-1880’s such as “Alexander Campbell,” “Walter Scott,” “Barton Warren,” etc.  in my Civil War, genealogical, and historical studies. Naturally, and invariably, if I’ve been able to learn more about an individual named thus (e.g. – Walter Scott Lavender), I’ve found some strong connection between them and/or their parents with the Restoration Heritage.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading: The Least Popular Books of the Bible

“Most of these aren’t terribly surprising, especially the fact that the list is dominated by the Minor Prophets. But besides the surprising inclusion of Jonah on the list, it’s too bad not to see more love for Zephaniah and Jude at least.”

Baptism, children & David Lipscomb: On Children, Baptism and David Lipscomb (1914)

“When those so nurtured want to be baptized, it is sufficient that they want to obey the Lord. … I think Lipscomb offers some godly advice for parents, ministers, and youth leaders.”

Forgiveness: Is it Biblical to Forgive and Forget?

“The fact is that the notion of ‘forgive and forget’ has been misused to the point that it has actually hindered relationships and reconciliation. On the surface it implies that to forgive is to say that the wrong inflicted was not that bad, it’s all ok and let’s just move on and forget about it.”

Renunciation & self-mortification: Renunciation

“Love involves the renunciation of sin in our lives. A renunciation of wickedness and the Devil. Ponder the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. … when we speak of ‘renouncing sin’ we … are thinking of self-discipline as a foundational capacity that allows the fruits of the Spirit to grow and flourish.”

New Perspective on Paul, N.T. Wright, salvation, and sin: More on “The Plight” from Wright

“Grasping this more robust and far-reaching Scriptural depiction of what is wrong leads to a greater appreciation for God’s manifold action in Christ, and to a greater understanding of how God’s people inhabit and embody the massive (and under-explored) reality called ‘salvation.'”

151 years ago today in Beech Grove, Tennessee

 

On this day, Nov. 13, in Beech Grove (Coffee County), Tennessee, in 1862, a number of elders and preachers from several Churches of Christ in that area met together and drafted a letter to the President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. A copy of this same letter was also sent to then governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson. A portion of the letter read:

“A large number of the members of the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout this and the adjoining counties of the State of Tennessee … are firm in the conviction of the truth, that no man, who regards the authority of God … can in any manner engage in, aid, foment, or countenance the strifes, animosities, and bloody conflicts in which civil governments are frequently engaged, and in which they often involve their subjects …

“With these considerations of what our duty to God requires at our hands, the enforcement of the ‘Conscript Act’ for the purpose of raising and maintaining an army, for the carrying on of this unhappy war in which our country is involved, cannot fail to work indescribable distress to those members of our churches holding these convictions.” (Restoration Quarterly 8:4 [1965]: 235)

Their plea was heard and resulted in Jefferson Davis extending an exemption law already passed by the Confederate Congress that allowed members of some churches to claim conscientious objector status. As a result, a huge percentage of the men who were members of Churches of Christ in central Tennessee chose not to, and were not forced to, join the military. Writing in light of such four years later, David Lipscomb said:

“The position assumed by the Churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee in hours of fearful trial and trouble … alone saved them from almost total ruin.” (Gospel Advocate [July 3, 1866]: 419)

Consider this:

what it must have been like for Christians to stand their ground of conviction regarding nonviolence even as the lives of their own family and friends were at stake and the lust for war raged ever higher;

how it is that both our understanding of Christian faith and the practical expression of it has come to change so very much across the decades, to the point that we are now quite unlike our ancestors in faith;

and how we as Christians today would best serve our Lord and Savior – yes, their Lord and Savior – by doing likewise.

And so:

let our own minds be made up now, in a relative time of peace, to serve Christ Jesus in this way – nonviolent ways – always, lest when the time of war does arrive, as it always does, we be swept up and swept along with our passions and the fever of war that always sweeps so many away;

may the heroes we celebrate and hold up to our children and grandchildren as models and examples of truly great and mature Christian faith be those who fight the battles of this life not with weapons made by human hands, but with decidedly the opposite – the ways of Jesus Christ;

and let us pray. Come, Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, and swiftly, that all bloodshed and war, hatred and strife, would forever cease. Amen.

this went thru my mind

 

Christian radio, church, ministry & creativity: * Killing Becky (On Creating in A ‘Safe’ Church) by Sean Palmer [essential reading]; * John Cleese on Creativity [essential viewing; 36 min. video]

* “… it’s foolish to believe Becky and the Christian music aimed at her is anywhere near the neighborhood of a holistic Christian experience. And that’s the problem! Problems arise when the ‘Becky experience’ becomes synonymous with the ‘Christian experience.’ Very little of life with God is safe.”

* “… creativity is not possible in the closed mode.”

Church, discipleship & evangelism: Francis Chan Challenges People to Experience God Through Making Disciples

“Chan’s desire to cultivate boldness in discipleship led him and his wife, Lisa, to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco. ‘We have church on Sunday afternoons, which consists of me speaking for 5-10 minutes, us singing for 5-10 minutes, then everyone going out for two hours and witnessing in lower income neighborhoods. After that we come back and share with each other what happened and how the experience was,’ Chan described, adding that he is also working to launch a nationwide discipleship movement.”

Exploitation & the poor: Targeting the Dove Sellers by Richard Beck [required reading]

“… going after the dove sellers we see Jesus directly attacking the group who were having economic dealings with the poor. When the poor would go to the temple they would head for the dove sellers. The point being, while we know that Jesus was upset about economic exploitation going on in the temple, his focus on the dove sellers sharpens the message and priorities. Jesus doesn’t, for instance, go after the sellers of lambs. Jesus’s anger is stirred at the way the poor are being treated and economically exploited.”

College, David Lipscomb, learning & understanding: My Top Nine List of What They Will Not Tell You in New Faculty Orientation Meetings by Lee C. Camp

“If you don’t know it, you will, unfortunately, not find it in our current publications: David Lipscomb was a socio-political radical, a pacifist who refused to fight for either the Confederacy or the Union; said that trying to prop up human governments was akin to whoring with the Beast and, quoting the book of Revelation, admonished those thus whoring that they should “come ye out of her”; insisted that a sectarian refusal to listen to the arguments of people who fundamentally disagreed with you was ignorant; and thought that too much affiliation with wealth ruined young people, because it made them incapable of being at ease in the homes of the poor that were filled with unpleasant odors and foul disease. And he believed all of this because he, first and foremost, sought first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Whether we agree with all his conclusions or not, let us not forget his witness, and let us talk more about what brother Lipscomb had to say.”

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, privacy, Twitter & social media: * The Ultimate Complete Final Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [infographic]; * Facebook Privacy Fail [infographic]

* “… an infographic listing all of the sizing information for images on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.”

* “Here are some of the biggest issues with Facebook and their privacy issues.”

First impressions & guests: First Impressions by Your Church by Philip Nation

“People never get a second-chance at a first impression. Neither do churches. My family recently visited a church (no, it wasn’t your church) and were able to get in and out undetected. Had it not been for our toddler’s need for childcare, we could have avoided human contact altogether. Needless to say, we didn’t feel very welcome. Nearly everything about a Sunday morning worship service communicates something to first-time visitors. From the church bulletins to the parking lot layout, churches demonstrate how much – or how little – they care about people. Here are some things I learned from my last church visit.”

Near death experiences (NDE): Can We Chemically Induce Near Death Experiences? by Caleb Wilde

“… what happens if these NDEs are simply concoctions of end-of-life chemical reactions?”

Prayer: 13 Thoughts About Pastoral Prayers by Brandon Cox

“Be sure you don’t pray the same phrases every time. Change it up. If you don’t prepare and think about the prayer, you will automatically resort to old familiar cliches — which wear out quickly in public usage.”

Red Letter Christians: Authors Ask: ‘What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?’

“Best-selling Christian authors Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo say discussions about Christian doctrine are important, but believers today have gotten away from living out the simple, practical life-teachings of Jesus Christ. In their newest book, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? they tackle a number of controversial issues – the Middle East, abortion, national debt, immigration and more – in an attempt to show how Jesus’ words could transform modern Christianity and the world.”

this went thru my mind

 

Consumerism: Committed to Unhappiness: Consumerism is the Enemy of the Church by Tony Campolo [required reading]

“The truth is that secular humanism is not the primary enemy of the Church.  Instead, the enemy of the Church is consumerism.  We have made an idol out of the things that are being sold.  We bow down and worship the commodities that are paraded before us on television.  We are enslaved to a mindset that tells us that we must possess more and more because we can never have enough.  These are the things that are dragging us away from Jesus. Our inability to enjoy life without a continual sense of craving consumer goods and being continuously satisfied with who we are and what we have is good news for economic growth and, after all, economic growth is what both political parties are preaching these days.”

Elections: * A Post-Election Reminder by Rubel Shelly [required reading]; * David Lipscomb on Voting by Richard Beck

* “If your candidate wins, can you assume that his every promise will be kept promptly and without fail? … If your candidate loses, will you be demoralized with the thought that all is lost? … You know better. The election of neither candidate will destroy the country, shatter the global economy, or make it impossible for godly people to seek the Kingdom of God. … A believer’s ultimate allegiance – and hope – is in the reign of God. Her hope is not in a human system, political party, or leader; it is in Jesus Christ.”

* “May the voice of David Lipscomb be recovered and increase in the Churches of Christ. Our churches need him.”

Hurricane Sandy relief efforts: New Jersey Congregation Brings Hope to Beach Town Hit Hard by Superstorm Sandy

“Among the New Jersey congregations heavily involved in the relief effort is the Gateway Church of Christ … Carl Williamson provides a first-person account of his family’s experience during the storm and shares details on the Gateway church’s relief work in hard-hit Union Beach, N.J.”

Jesus, our conception of & culture: Oh Constantine by Greg Boyd [required viewing; 5:45 min. clip]

“When you pick up the sword, you put down the cross.”

Marriage: Marriage With a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse by Brad Hambrick

“We are all married to a self-centered spouse. That is what it means for us to be fallen people who are bound to experience life from within our bodies. But there are cases where this ‘general self-centeredness’ becomes chronic — severe to a point that it either results in a marital environment of abuse or neglect.”

Meditation: What Did the Psalmist Mean by “Meditation”?

“… neither of the Hebrew words translated as ‘meditate’ or ‘meditation’ refers to silent activities. … we should probably imagine him singing or reciting the psalm from memory.”

Truth: Our Glaring Obsession With Truth by Terry Rush

“Jesus is the train wreck that must happen to any tribe.  He will not let us continue to do church our smug and small ways.  Yes, narrow is the way; but narrow isn’t that we don’t allow much.  Rather, narrow is defined by one singular Son of God named Jesus….as the author of salvation….and no one else.”

U.S. culture & religious diversity: Map of Religious Diversity in America

“This gets at how varied, or diverse, religious affiliation is in different regions of the country. As you can see, the areas with the most diversity also tend to have the lowest rates of adherence.”