links: this went thru my mind

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Agreement, disagreement, listening & understanding: Steps You Can Take to Listen More Deeply [required reading]

“What if, instead of having to agree or disagree, like or dislike, you could learn to understand and be understood? What if you learned to just listen?”

Blessings, gratitude, prayer & thanksgiving: Thank You for Blessings Unknown to Me

“For all Your blessing, Heavenly Father, known to me, and for all unknown, accept my thanks.”

Christianity, Christian nation, courage, faith, ISIS, misunderstanding, persecution & witness: ISIS and “the Nation of the Cross” [essential reading]

“I’m a part of this “Nation of the Cross” and it doesn’t have a nation, it is an international, world-wide community of people who believe that this is actually not the worst thing you can do to us. Terrorism and acts that are designed as symbolic fear-driven aggressive acts of bullying only strengthen our resolve to lay down our lives. You may denounce some of our culture, and there are plenty of us that wish that the Christians in America didn’t participate as readily in consuming some of the same culture you denounce, but you have woefully misunderstood who you are talking to.

“If you want to talk to America than call it by it’s proper name, if you want to talk to the Church than this is our response for over 2000 years.

“You can’t kill people who have already died. That’s who you are talking about and who you are talking to when you address “the people of the Cross.”

Government, history, Lipscomb, Restoration Heritage, & voting: Voting More Evil than Dancing, says David Lipscomb

“One gets a sense of how important this is to Lipscomb. The kingdom of God stands in opposition to all human institutions, and the most powerful, violent and coercive of institutions is civil government.”

Morality, reason, secularism & spirituality: Building Better Secularists

“Past secular creeds were built on the 18th-century enlightenment view of man as an autonomous, rational creature who could reason his way to virtue. The past half-century of cognitive science has shown that that creature doesn’t exist. We are not really rational animals; emotions play a central role in decision-making, the vast majority of thought is unconscious, and our minds are riddled with biases. We are not really autonomous; our actions are powerfully shaped by others in ways we are not even aware of.”

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)

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.