on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: April 5-11

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

April 5

April 5, 1902 – J.W. McGarvey pens a piece entitled ‘Heresy-Hunting‘ speaking to the subject of heresy, the defense of the gospel, and Christian liberty … and does so with a bit of racial insensitivity characteristic of his time. The piece in its entirety reads:

“Some people have very confused ideas about hunting for heresy, and about Christian liberty. If a man advances and seeks to propagate teaching which I regard as very injurious, if not ruinous, and I assail it with vigor, such vigor as he feels unable to resist on the merits of the question, it is common for him and his friends to cry out, ‘Heresy-hunter! Heresy-hunter!’ If a lot of us should go prying into some man’s utterances to find something wrong, somewhat as W. T. Moore’s hounds kept up a yelping all night because, as the old darkey said, ‘dey smell something’, but can’t ‘zac’ly locate it,’ we might be charged with hunting for heresy; but if those hounds had seen a fox coming out of some man’s hen-roost, nobody would have objected to their giving him chase. The fox might cry out for personal liberty, and say, ‘I have just as good a right to take a chicken as you have to take a fox,’ nevertheless, the common judgment of mankind would say that to chase the fox away would be a righteous act. Out West there are bear-hunters. They go creeping around among the hills and rocks trying to slip up on a bear and take the advantage of him. In this they are like real heresy-hunters. But if a man is walking along the public road, and meets a bear reared on his hind legs, and reaching for him with his fore paws, there is bound to be a fight or a foot-race; and if the man should fight the bear, nobody could on this account call him a bear-hunter. The bear might say, ‘I am free, and have as much right on this road as you have,’ and the man could answer, ‘I am free, too, and have as much right on this road as you have.’ And if the man should also say, ‘You are after hugging me, and you hug everybody you can get hold of, so I will put a bullet through you,’ the average citizen would say that the man was in the right. So, if heresy does not want to be shot at, it should play sly and not walk out into the public road.”

April 6

April 6, 1862 – The two-day Battle of Shiloh (aka: Pittsburg Landing) begins. It’s sheer scale is unlike any other previously experienced in U.S. history: more men will die at Shiloh than have died in all of the nation’s previous wars put together. No small number of the combatants, on both sides, are either members of the Stone-Campbell Movement or will become so following the Civil War. Many more, though not members of the Restoration Heritage, are closely connected to those who are. Mark it: this is not “merely” a brother vs. brother conflict, but often a brother in Christ vs. a brother in Christ battle to the death. The irony is made even greater by the name of the location of the battle church known as “Shiloh” (“Shiloh” means “place of peace”). Among those who were at Shiloh, and who survived the terrible fighting there, are the following examples:

* It is T.B. Larimore who provides Confederate (CSA) General Albert Sydney Johnston with “his first information of the approach of Federal gunboats at Pittsburg Landing preparatory to that terrible Sunday slaughter.” Many years later Larimore will write in the Confederate Veteran:

“… I wrote the dispatch and remember well how those two gunboats [the U.S.S. Tyler and the U.S.S. Lexington] and three transports looked as they silently slipped up the river.”

It is precisely the knowledge afforded through this communiqué that prompts Johnston to attack Union General Grant’s forces at Shiloh before Union General Buell’s force can unite with those of Grant and reinforce him.

* A Captain in the Confederate Army is seriously wounded in the fighting, but manages to recover. The Minnie ball that causes the wound remains lodged in his right shoulder the rest of his life. The Captain is the father of C.R. Nichol.

* John J. Thompson, Sr. is crippled for life by a wound he receives as he serves with the CSA, 5th Tennessee Infantry regiment. Following the war he will be instrumental in building up a congregation in Henry County, Tennessee.

* William Franklin Thompson serves in the CSA, 5th Tennessee Infantry Regiment. The Union troops the 5th Tennessee spends most of its time engaged with on both days of battle at Shiloh are troops from Ohio infantry regiments. Thompson survives the war and at some point (during, or shortly thereafter) becomes a Christian and is a minister among churches of the Restoration Heritage for many years. He and his first wife, Artimissa (married in Jan. 1864) have eight children. Upon Artimissa’s death in 1884, Thompson remarries, but soon divorce (within a year) due to his second wife’s cruelty to his children. He marries a third time, Melissa Elizabeth Turner, and she survives him by ten years (Thompson dying in 1914 at the age of 75). Thompson’s body is buried in Coffeyville, Kansas.

* William Henry Fudge, a great-grandfather of our well-known contemporary, Edward Fudge, wears the Confederate gray and fights at Shiloh.

* Edward James Legg is a drummer in the CSA, 26th Alabama Infantry (Coltart’s) Regiment. At the start of the battle, the 26th Alabama has 440 men listed as “effectives” (i.e. – available for service); however, by the end of the first day’s fighting, due to casualties, sickness, and exhaustion, the number is less than 150. Lieutenant Colonel William Davidson Chadick (a Presbyterian minister known among his troops as “The Fighting Parson”) writes concerning the 26th’s action at Shiloh:

“The Twenty-sixth was hotly engaged, contributing a full share to the driving back of the enemy. When the charge was made upon the lines and into the camp of the enemy, the Twenty-sixth was among the first to penetrate them.”

The 26th Alabama (also confusingly known as the 50th Alabama) sees much more combat during the war and suffers serious losses during the battles of Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and Franklin. Relatively few of the original members of the regiment survive the war, but Legg is one of them and sometime after the Civil War, likely during the 1880’s, he becomes a Christian and a part of the Restoration Heritage. Dying in 1930 and buried in Comanche, Oklahoma, his obituary notice in The Comanche Reflex notes that he was “a consistent member of the Church of Christ for more than forty years.”

John J. Stobaugh, a minister of the Christian Church, is mortally wounded at Shiloh, in his first experience with combat, as he serves as a Lieutenant in Capt. Jennings’ company of the CSA, 10th Arkansas Infantry. He finally succumbs to his grevious wounds twenty days later on April 26 at Corinth, Tennessee.

* Louis David Shockley is wounded while serving in CSA infantry (in the same regiment in which T.B. Larimore is a part). Recovering from his wound, he continues to serve until the following April (1863) at which time he then becomes listed as a deserter. Decades later, he and his wife, Rachel, donate the land needed for the erection of the building for the Shockley Church of Christ in Van Buren County, Tennessee.

* James McCleery, an officer in the USA, 41st Ohio Infantry Regiment, is so seriously wounded that his right arm is amputated. He recovers, only to be wounded again later that same year (Dec. 30, 1862) at the Battle of Stone’s River. Recovering once more, he serves for the duration of the war, being steadily promoted in rank throughout. As a Republican he is elected in 1871 to the U.S. Congress; however, McCleery dies in November of that same year. His body is buried in the cemetery of the Cortland Christian Church in Trumbull County, Ohio.

* William (“Willie”) Izora Bush is the 3rd Sgt. of Co. C in the CSA, 9th Texas Infantry. Shiloh is his regiment’s first major battle and during the fighting Willie is wounded in the neck. He recovers from his wound, but he will spend much more time hospitalized than not until he finally leaves Confederate service a year and a half later in Dec. 1863. Upon Willie’s death in 1905, the local newspaper notes that he “was a member of the Christian Church and was known far and near for his most exemplary life always having a kind word for those with whom he came in contact.”

* Brigadier General James A. Garfield, commanding the Twentieth Ohio Infantry Brigade (consisting of the 64th Ohio, 65th Ohio, 13th Michigan, and 51st Indiana), arrives at Shiloh but not quite in time to participate in any of the fighting. Recording his impressions of the sight of the Shiloh battlefield, he writes:

“Such a scene as this 30 square miles presents beggars all attempt at description. … God has been good to me and I am yet spared.”

Several days later he writes:

“The horrible sights I have witnessed on this field I can never describe. No blaze of glory that flashes around the magnificent triumphs of war can ever atone for the unwritten and unutterable horrors of the scene of the carnage.”

* When Sam Houston, Jr. (yes, the son of the Sam Houston, Sr. you’re thinking of) first enlists in the Confederate Army he is a part of the “Huntsville Grays” with Austin McGary. However, prior to Shiloh the “Huntsville Grays” are split up to serve in different regiments and so, McGary is not among those who fight at Shiloh. However, Sam Houston, Jr. is at Shiloh, serving as a Private in Co. C of the CSA, 2nd Texas Infantry Regiment. The 2nd Texas is badly cut up in the battle and Houston, Jr. is one of those seriously wounded. Supposed at first to be dead, he is laid out with them, but upon discovery that he is yet alive, a Union Army physician attends to him and nurses him back to health. [Incidentally, Sam Houston, Jr. is also well known to CSA Captain Colonel Barton W. Stone, Jr. (yes, the son of the B.W. Stone, Sr. that you’re thinking of now). Since at least 1851, Stone, Jr. and Houston, Sr. have been close friends. Stone’s regiment (the CSA, 6th Texas Cavalry) does not fight at Shiloh. Sam Houston, Sr. dies the following year (1863).]

* Union General Richard Montgomery (“R.M.”) Gano and his command arrive at Shiloh the day after the battle concludes. It is then that Gano learns that his good friend, Confederate General Albert Sydney Johnson, was killed in the fighting. Johnson is the highest-ranking officer killed during the Civil War.

* Forty-three year old Private Hiram Sowle Manchester of Co. K of the USA, 48th Ohio Infantry Regiment is killed in action at Shiloh. His five foot, nine inch body with dark complexion, dark hair, and hazel eyes is buried in grave #1009 in a section of graves for Ohio soldiers on the Shiloh battlefield.

During the battle, the 48th Ohio occupies the ground just west of the Shiloh church building, no more than a quarter of a mile away. The 48th (along with two other Union regiments, the 70th Ohio and the 72nd Ohio), is overwhelmed head-on, as well as outflanked, by ten Confederate regiments (the first wave of five under the command of Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson – the 1st Florida Battalion, the 17th Louisiana, the 20th Louisiana, the 9th Texas, and the Confederate Guards Response Battalion – and the follow-up wave under the command of Brig. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, consisting of the 6th Mississippi, the 2nd Tennessee (Bates), the 5th [aka: 35th] Tennessee, the 23rd Tennessee, and the 24th Tennessee).

[The careful reader of this series might recall that the 35th Tennessee is the same regiment in which T.B. Larimore is a part and that the 9th Texas is the unit in which Willie Bush, mentioned above, serves. The 9th Texas was largely recruited in northeast Texas where the Restoration heritage has made real inroads and therefore, the odds of the 9th Texas having a significant number of members of the Restoration Heritage is quite high.]

At the time of his death, Hiram has been a member of the Pisgah Ridge Christian Church in Brown County, Ohio for seventeen years and has been a part of the Union Army a total of two months and one day. Having made a living as a farmer and a blacksmith prior to his enlistment, in death he now leaves behind a forty year old widow, Rachel J. (Daughtery) Manchester, and six children. Starting one year from now, Rachel will receive a $12 per month pension, a pension that will continue until her death in 1895. Rachel never remarries.

Hiram’s last surviving communication to Rachel is a letter he wrote her on Valentine’s Day, just days after his enlistment. The stationary upon which the letter is written contains a poem. The letter reads:

“Dear Rachel, I take this opertunity to Let you that I am Well except a bad Cold. We got to Camp the same night at ten o’Clock. Very tired. We eat diner at Bethel Super at Gears. There we had fried chicken and Baked hen and other things in portions and Super againe in Camp. I have a good Straw bed and a Blancet.  We hav a plenty to eat. I have not ben on gard yet. We have not Drilled out of doers yet. THe Snot is abou Six inches hear to Day. The Boys is tolerable. Sivile(?) I am not in Company I, I am in Company K 48 Reg. Caption Peterson. We don’t know when we Will go away, we expect to go to Cincinnati if we go there it likly we never will leave thare til we are DIscharged. So No more at present only, remane your friend. Children be good Children and Minde your Mother. Our Drummer is not biger than Mil or Jack He is a verry nice Little Boy and as happy as if he was on his Mother’s nee he uses no bad Language and talks to the other boys if they sware. Direct your Letter Camp Denerson Co. K in care of Cap. Peterson. – Hiram S. Manchester.”

The poem reads:

“Soldier’s Farewell

“Upon the hill he turned, to take a last fond look,
At the valley, and the village church, and the cottage by the brook.
Beside that cottage porch, a girl was on her knees;
She held aloft a snowy scarf, which fluttered in the breeze;
She breathed a prayer for him – a prayer he could not hear;
But he paused to bless her as she knelt, and wiped away a tear.”

[Of course, the preponderance of examples listed here in this small sampling of men who served the CSA and had some connection with the Restoration Heritage should not be construed as indicative of the whole. I am simply more familiar at this time with specific examples of Confederate troops with such connections than I am with those who served with Union forces. Members of the Restoration Heritage were abundant in Ohio and a significant percentage of Union troops engaged at Shiloh were made up of Ohio troops; something on the order of close to thirty Union regiments. Similarly, nearly thirty CSA regiments were composed of troops from Tennessee, another state where those of the Restoration Heritage were quite numerous at the time.]

April 7

* April 7, 1862 – Private George W. Johnson of the CSA, 4th Kentucky Infantry – and exiled Confederate Governor of Kentucky – is mortally wounded during the second day of battle at Shiloh. Taken prisoner, he dies the next day in a Union Army hospital. George W. Johnson is kin to the well-known Restoration Heritage minister John T. Johnson. George W. Johnson’s son, W.V. Johnson, will enter Confederate military service just twelve days after his father’s death and will initially serve as aid-de-camp to Gen. John C. Breckinridge. Robert Adams Johnson, Jr., a nephew of John T. Johnson, is also wounded at Shiloh as he serves as a Private in the CSA, 9th Kentucky Infantry Regiment, but unlike George, he his able to make recovery from his wound.

* April 7, 1863 – Decima Hemans Campbell, the youngest daughter of Alexander & Selina Campbell, marries a missionary by the name of John Judson Barclay.

* April 7, 1863 – William Hayden dies at the age of 63 in Chagrin Falls (Cuyahoga County), Ohio. See the entry for March 2 for information about this hard-working, multi-gifted preaching associate of Walter Scott.

* April 7, 1866 – With Alexander Campbell’s body having been in the ground for only a month, the first issue of the Christian Standard (CS) is published in Cleveland, Ohio. Due to his having served as chairman of the American Christian Missionary Society during the Civil War, the CS’s editor, Issac Errett, is generally despised by the vast majority of Christians of the Restoration Heritage who live in the South. This burr in the saddle to Southern Christians is not at all helped by the fact that James A. Garfield, a former Union general, is one of the members of the incorporating board. Consequently, in the coming years, the CS (big on mission societies and holding a ‘take it or leave it’ position as to instrumental music in worship) will become “the standard” by which weekly journals among those of the Restoration Heritage in the North are measured and the Gospel Advocate (no fan of societies or instrumental music) will assume that place among Christians in the South. The obvious and deep rift between Northern and Southern churches of the Restoration Heritage (perhaps more accurately spoken of as a grave wound) will continue to grow.

* April 7, 1896 – In an article on this date in Daniel Sommers’ Octographic Review, Robert W. (“R.W.”) Officer tells of how that it was in June 1892 that he and T.B. Larimore made a trip to what is now Anadarko, Oklahoma for the purpose of securing land for use as a preaching point to the Indian tribes in that area. On 160 acres of land granted there for use by the Churches of Christ, G. S. Yates and G. W. Taylor organize a congregation.

* April 7, 1927 – T.B. Larimore writes in the Gospel Advocate of how he deeply and daily greatly misses his brother, Cassander Porendo (aka: “Prendo”) Adolphus Larimore, who went missing during the Civil War. Earl West tells the story thus in volume four of his work entitled Search for the Ancient Order (4:43-44):

“Above everything he recalled the Civil War and especially Shiloh, memories he cherished all his life. He thought often of the ‘sanguine sixties,’ as he often called them, and the numerous sadnesses he had encountered. Above everything he remembered his ‘beautiful little brother,’ Cassander Porendo Adolphus. Larimore called him ‘Porendo’ by his middle name. He disappeared in the war. None of the family ever saw or heard from him after this. Never a day passed that Larimore did not look for him. He would frequently meet a stranger walking toward him on a busy city sidewalk that he imagined looked the way Porendo would if he were now that age. But he never saw him. He reflected somberly:

“‘The shadow of this sorrow has hung over me, giving a touch of sadness to my life and countenance, more than threescore years. Well, I am nearly fourscore and four years old now, and shall soon emerge from the shadow of this sorrow and sadness and go into the fathomless depths of this blissful Beyond where sorrow is unknown, if Jehovah and my Savior shall judge me worthy, I am willing.'”

April 8

* April 8, 1807 – One week after contracting his way of passage, Thomas Campbell sets sail for the United States from Ireland on the ship Brutus. [cf. the April 1 entry in this series for more info on Thomas Campbell]

* April 8, 1866 – Just over a month after Alexander Campbell’s death, David Lipscomb writes in the Gospel Advocate as to what he believes was Campbell’s worst error in judgment; it concerns the concept of financial endowment of colleges and the training of preachers. He writes:

“We think the most fatal mistake of Alexander Campbell’s life, and one that has done much and we fear will do more to undo his life’s work, was the establishment of a school to train and educate young preachers. …

“We think the idea of training young men and withdrawing them in a preaching school to make preachers of them, results in evil in many ways, without one particle of good attached. Christ did not take his teachers from that class. …

“All schools conducted by Christians ought to teach the Bible thoroughly to all who attend no matter what their anticipations for life may be.”

April 9

April 9, 1870 – In an article in the Christian Standard, James Challen reflects on the late Walter Scott, his care of his voice, his sense of humor … and the fact that he was a coffee drinker.

“Brother Walter Scott took great care of his voice. If the instrument was in perfect tune, how admirably he could play upon it! When out of tune, he was as weak as Samson when shorn of his hair. Dear Walter! he was a great dyspeptic; and like all such persons, at times eccentric. He would change his diet to keep his voice, and consequently, his mind, in working order. Sometimes he would drink coffee, and then tea, and then water; and now and then milk. He was taking supper once with a good sister who had heard of his fondness for milk (he had just laid aside the lacteal diet and had gone back to coffee and tea), when she said, ‘Brother Scott, will you have a glass of milk?’ ‘I thank you, sister. There is no music in a cow,’ said Walter, in his blandest way. Of course he thought that milk was injurious to his voice.”

April 10

* April 10, 1809Charlotte Fall, Phillip Slater (“P.S.”) Fall‘s much younger little sister, is born. She grows up and marries a widower by the name of Tolbert Fanning. Charlotte (Fall) Fanning devotes herself to the education of children, primarily orphans. She outlives her well-known and very influential husband by twenty-two years. When she dies, she requests that her grave be placed in front of the schoolhouse where she taught and that her husband’s grave be moved so as to be placed beside her there. Why? So children can play on their graves. Her request is respected and children play and dance on their graves for over forty years. Then, the property on which the school is built is sold and her body, as well as the body of her husband, are relocated to the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee. At that time, her neighbors pay to have the following inscribed on the back of her tombstone:

“She spent her life in training girls for usefulness and doing good. She founded a school in which girls would be taught the Bible daily and trained in the domestic and useful callings of life. ‘I was sick and you visited me.’ – Her neighbors”

* April 10, 1834 – What does our $20 bill today have to do with the Restoration Heritage? Or to out it another way: who did Tolbert Fanning think was the most “self-sacrificing, independent, earnest, humble, and faithful teacher of the Christian religion” that he ever knew? On this day in 1834, that man, largely forgotten, James Jenkins (“J.J”) Trott, a very effective Methodist missionary to the Cherokee Indians in Georgia since 1823, serves notice to the Methodist Church that he’s leaving the Methodist Church. His reasons are threefold:

“(1) I believe the holy Scriptures are the only divinely authorized and all-sufficient rule of Christian faith and practice; (2) I cannot, with a good conscience, subscribe to those institutions of ‘Methodism’ which I believe to be additions to primitive Christianity; (3) I do not believe my divine Master requires me to adhere to Mr. Wesley’s creeds as the standard of my private and public preaching … Thus … I am compelled to refrain from preaching what I believe to the truth, to preach what I cannot believe, to suffer expulsion, or to withdraw. I prefer the latter.”

Fanning, a close, long-time friend of Trott, brings us up to speed as to Trott’s experiences (in the early 1830’s) leading up to his departure from the Methodist Church and entrance into the Restoration Heritage:

“It will be remembered that during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson [the man whose portrait appears on the front of our $20 bill], the effort was made to bring the Cherokees, and all sojourners in the Nation, under the formal and practical workings of the American Government. To accomplish this object, a law was enacted requiring the oath of allegiance of native Indians, mixed bloods, and dwellers in the Nation—missionaries included.

“The penalty for refusing was a berth in the State Prison. Very soon many of the missionaries, Bro. Trott amongst them, were thrown into prison. These missionaries were native-born citizens of the Government of the United States had never, to their knowledge, violated it, loved it for their fathers sake, and, of course, having never become aliens, they refused to subscribe to the oath. … after severe privation and extreme sufferings, Bro. Trott, with two Presbyterian preachers, were sentenced to a series of years at hard labor in the Georgia Penitentiary. They were driven on foot a hundred or two miles to the prison. The Presbyterian ministers went in and served for more than a year; but the Georgia Governor’s heart, at the prison door, in looking upon the noble person, and into the manic and innocent face of our brother, relented. He broke his manacles, and set the righteous man at liberty. But his cruel imprisonment, with ‘the mock trial and conviction at what was called the bar of justice,’ had worked a complete revolution in the sentiments previously entertained regarding human government. By his revolutionary ancestors he had, from early childhood, been taught to reverence his government; but his sad sufferings deeply impressed upon his great heart the frailty of every institution modeled by man’s device. Even Methodism itself, whose divinity he had never doubted, began to evince its rickety construction, and its ragged exterior. In the meantime, while in prison, by some means he had been enabled to read some of the writings of Alexander Campbell, who had directed his attention back to the primitive church, and the matchless authority of the Holy Scriptures.

“But in all Georgia he knew no one who could sympathize with him in his enlightenment. The consequence was he soon started for Tennessee, and having no personal acquaintance with an advocate of the ancient order of things spiritual, he visited the very popular Baptist minister, Peyton Smith, and demanded immersion at his hands into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The timid Baptist faltered, and said, ‘Go before the Church, and relate your Christian experience.’ The clear headed Trott said, ‘Nay, I have not been in the Kingdom of the Savior, and have no experience therein; but I believe now, and have long believed, with all my heart in the Lord, and I desire to put him on in baptism.'”

“The Baptist trammels fell from the pious Smith’s hands, and they went to the nearest water—Overall’s Creek, four miles from Murfreesboro, Tenn.—where the earnest Methodist missionary, Jas. J. Trott, sought and obtained a good conscience by baptism into Christ. Being a free-born citizen of the kingdom, and by his birth having been constituted a king and a priest, after spending some time, like Paul, with the Disciples, he was strengthened and confirmed, and conferring not with flesh and blood, he straightway preached Christ to all who would hear, and proved himself an able minister of the New Testament.

“It was my good fortune, in a very short space after his adoption into the heavenly family, to form his acquaintance, and from the year 1837 to 1859, we were co-laborers in the Lord’s vineyard. … and it affords me the highest satisfaction to state, that in my whole forty years work I have not found a more self-sacrificing, independent, earnest, humble and faithful teacher of the Christian religion than was our departed Brother J. J. Trott.” (Gospel Advocate; March 25, 1869)

Until his death, Trott spends most of his years as a missionary to the Cherokee Indians primarily in the north-east portion of Indian Territory (what will later become the state of Oklahoma) and Tennessee. God works many good things through him with the people, but he receives precious little financial support for his work and it is this long-standing, deeply-ingrained lack of interest on the part of churches outside of the Cherokee Nation for the Cherokee people that is a source of constant frustration and discouragement to him. As Trott once put it in 1856:

“… a few dimes or dollars was all that they could .. do for the conversion of the children of Shem!”

The coming of the Civil War in April 1861 exacts a very heavy toll on the people Trott has devoted his life trying to reach. Trott’s good friend, John Ross (aka: Guwisguwi), is the Cherokee’s head chief, and Ross (at least at first) counsels neutrality on part of the Cherokee people, but the Cherokees wind up as divided as other people, some serving the Union, some serving the Confederacy, and some trying to stay out of it all. Trott will lose everything he owns due to the ravages of both invading armies. One of his sons (Timothy) is killed in the process.

Trott’s health, and to some degree his spirit, broken by lack of support and the effects of the war, dies of pneumonia in 1868 at the age of 68. Overlooked still today, the tiny cemetery in which Trott’s humble grave is located (north-east of Nashville, TN) is completely overgrown and his gravestone is fallen down and broken.

[An aside: I don’t know how many of you think of “The Trail of Tears” whenever you see Jackson’s portrait on a $20 bill, but being part Cherokee, I certainly do. Now, after learning of J.J. Trott, I’m sure I always will, and will remember J.J. Trott, as well.]

April 11

April 11, 1878 – Remember the “good ol’ days?” You know, back when times were easier and just more … holy?” Well, maybe they weren’t so much. And remember when it was generally agreed by both Christian men and Christian women that a woman’s place was in the home? Well, maybe that wasn’t so generally agreed upon.

For in a speech today to the Women’s Reform Club in Centerville, Ohio (later reported in the Christian Standard), sister in Christ H. Jennie Kirkham speaks of the pressing need (“duty”) for women to take on a much more active role in matters outside of the home because seeking to be influential only within the life of home just hasn’t been getting the job done. She says:

“We must work if we would save truth, purity, and liberty, home and native land from the falling chains of vice and intemperance. … Great changes are not only coming on the world, but are even now upon us.”

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

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

March 15

March 15, 1943 – While the exact day of writing is not known, it is during the month of March 1943 that Bennie Lee Fudge pens the preface to his book entitled Can a Christian Kill for His Government?

Note the date of publication: early 1943. World War II is in full swing and the outcome of the war is still up for grabs, an Allied victory not even being a clear likelihood at this point. It is in this stormy context of Allies vs. Axis powers that Fudge pens and publishes his work, offering it to a brotherhood that, though once strongly pacifist in nature, is now anything but. In his work, Fudge argues that the Scriptures teach that a Christian must not kill for his government. Obviously, this is not a popular position to take at this time and in the book’s forward, Fudge faces that very matter head-on:

“Somebody is teaching error. Either I am wrong in advising Christian boys against accepting combatant service, and I will be held responsible before God for encouraging them to shirk their duty, not only to their country, but to God; or those are wrong who teach young men to go willingly into combatant service, and will be held responsible in the judgment for encouraging them to violate one of the most sacred commands of God in shedding the blood of their fellow men.”

“Many preachers far removed from the conflict itself, and under the pressure of public opinion, will remain neutral now, or will encourage the boys to go on into the business of bloodshed. Later, when the war is over, as popular enthusiasm dies, they can think calmly, and as the inevitable reaction against the war sets in, they can change their position. The tragic part is that many of the boys who have gone into the slaughter with their blessing will not come back and will not have a chance to change their positions. A gospel preacher is assuming a tremendous responsibility when he encourages a sincere, conscientious young man to  deliberately take the life of his fellows, made in the image of God, believing on the basis of the preacher’s word that he is doing God a service.

“May God hasten the day when churches of Christ shall present a united front on this vital question, when all speak as the oracles of God, speak where the Scriptures speak, and be silent where the Scriptures are silent.”

Bennie Lee Fudge is the father of current day author, minister, and attorney, Edward Fudge, popularly known for his digital ministry gracEmail.

March 16

March 16, 1912 – Who was your favorite teacher/professor in school? Why did you admire them? And who did ‘The Sage of Bethany,’ Alexander Campbell, think was the best student to ever walk the halls of Bethany College?

From an article penned by R. H. Crossfield, and published in the Christian Standard on this date in 1912, we learn that Campbell thought Bethany’s best student was Charles Louis Loos (1823-1912). Campbell said of Loos:

“… no better mind, no apter scholar, had ever come under observation and tuition.”

As soon as Loos graduated from Bethany in 1846, Campbell hired him on at Bethany as both a professor and his personal secretary. He taught there for a total of twenty-five years (1846-1849,1858-1880) until Kentucky University in Lexington successfully wooed him away in 1880 to make him not only a professor there, but their president (1880-1897).

Throughout his time at Bethany College and Kentucky University, Loos was a favorite of ministerial students. His zeal in teaching the Biblical languages, especially Greek, and his devotion to his students, earn him (at least at Kentucky) the nickname of “Daddy Loos.” Given the following a description of him by W.T. Moore, we can readily understand some of the reasons behind his popularity:

“Professor Loos is just five feet ten inches high, has dark hair, light hazel eyes, and weighs about one hundred and forty pounds. His personal appearance and manners indicate his French origin [his father was French], while his speech is decidedly German [his mother was German]. The influence of these two races is still more clearly marked in his mental characteristics. The studious thoughtfulness, the philosophical acumen, the plodding industry, and the generous hospitality of the German are happily blended with the volatile spirit, fire, and enthusiasm of the French. He is a deep, earnest thinker, and generally takes a broad, comprehensive view of things. As a public speaker, his style is very original. His gesticulation is rapid, and, when warmed up, his thoughts flow like a torrent. His whole soul seems to be absorbed in his theme, and sometimes, in his happiest moods, he speaks as if he were inspired.”

When Loos dies in 1912, the simple inscription on his gravestone reads:

“A teacher come from God.”

March 17

March 17, 1846 – On this day perhaps* the first known meeting of a congregation of those of the Stone-Campbell Movement west of the Rocky Mountains takes place in the home of Amos Harvey (1799-1877) on the banks of the Yamhill River in Oregon Territory. Thirteen people are present. In an article published in an 1848 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, Amos recounts some of the happenings in the first years of life of that church family and the immediate area:

“I came to this country late in the fall of 1845, and learned that a few families of Disciples lived on Yam Hill, west of the Willamette river. I settled there in January, and in March we organized a congregation upon the Book alone — and this was the first congregation built upon this foundation in the Territory. We numbered at first but thirteen members. We met, as the disciples anciently did, upon the first day of the week, to break the loaf, to implore the assistance of the heavenly Father, to seek instruction from his word, and to encourage each other in the heavenly way. …

“During the summer five persons in our neighborhood made the good confession, and were immersed for the remission of sins …”

“The immigration of 1846 brought two proclaimers (brothers Dr. James M[c]’Bride and Glen O. Burnett) who, though encumbered with the care of providing for large families, in a new and uncultivated country, have spent much of their time in proclaiming the word. Their labors have been particularly blessed, and their success beyond any thing that could have been anticipated in a new and thinly settled country.

“The immigration of last year [1847] brought three other proclaimers. Our meetings are well attended, and generally more or less make the good confession at every meeting where the gospel is proclaimed.

“There are many calls from various neighborhoods which the teaching brethren are entirely unable to fill. Would to Heaven that we had a number more brethren of teaching talent and Christian character, to teach the way of life and salvation to an inquiring population!

“We now outnumber in the American population any of the sects, and if we only live up to our high profession, Oregon will soon become as noted for the religion of Jesus Christ, as it already is for its ever-verdant pastures, its grand and varied scenery, and its mild and healthy clime.”

How had Amos come to have connection with the Stone-Campbell Movement? As a youth, Amos had lived in the same county in which Thomas & Jane Campbell, lived: Washington County, Pennsylvania. And though Amos was a Quaker, as he became a man he came to regularly read the periodical published by Thomas’ son, Alexander – the Christian Baptist. Further, whenever he was given half-a-chance to hear Alexander speak, he would make the effort to go hear him. And so, shortly after thirty-three old Amos married a nineteen year-old young lady by the name of Jane Ramage in 1832, Amos and Jane both were immersed into Christ by Dr. A.W. Campbell, an uncle of Alexander Campbell.

[* Several historians record the date of March 17 as the first day of meeting for the little congregation. However, March 17 fell on a Tuesday, not a Sunday, in 1846. As we read in Amos’ account recorded above the church first met “upon the first day of the week.” I construe Amos’ account to refer to the congregation’s regular practice and assume that the historians are also correct in their stating that the first meeting was on a Tuesday. Naturally, this assumption might not be correct. I am not aware of any of Amos’ records specifying the specific day in March the congregation first met and, likewise, am not aware of the historians’ sources for such information.]

March 18

March 18, 1929 – Arguably the finest, and most widely loved and respected, Restoration Heritage preacher of his time, Theophilus Brown (“T.B”) Larimore, Sr., dies at the age of 86 in Santa Ana (Orange County), California due to complications from a broken hip. His body is buried in the Fairhaven Memorial Park Cemetery there in Santa Ana.

Born in Jefferson County, Tennessee and living there until the age of 9, T.B. and his family moved to the Sequatchie Valley in Bledsoe County, Tennessee. At the age of 17 (1859) he enrolled in Mossy Creek Baptist College (known today as Carson-Newman College) and attended there until 1861, doing extremely well in his studies in Greek, history, Latin, literature, mathematics, morals, natural sciences, and philosophy.

During the Civil War, T.B. filed as a conscientious objector and so, came to serve as an unarmed scout in Co. H of the CSA, 35th Infantry Regiment. Captured by Union troops in the fall of 1863, T.B. was one of the fortunate ones who did not have to spend the rest of the war in a prison camp, being granted release instead upon his oath not to ever take up arms against the Union. He kept his word and no longer served with the Confederacy in any capacity (a somewhat uncommon occurrence among Confederate troops who managed to gain early release and were in good health in the early and middle part of the war).

Upon his release, T.B. returned to the Sequatchie Valley, but he and his surviving family members soon relocated to Hopkinsville (Christian County), Kentucky. It was there that his mother (Nancy Elizabeth Brown Larimore) entered the Restoration Heritage and, shortly thereafter, on his twenty-first birthday (July 10, 1864), T.B. was baptized into Christ. T.B. then entered Franklin College (near Nashville, Tennessee; think Tolbert Fanning) and graduated from there, as class valedictorian, in 1867, having simultaneously occupied himself as a student, preacher, and logger. The title of the first sermon he ever preached was “Christian Union” and that theme soon ascended to dominance in his life and work.

In 1871, T.B. and his wife, Ester, founded and operated a school for boys and girls at Mars’ Hill, near Florence, Alabama. Daily memorization of the Bible was strongly emphasized in this school and no small number of graduates from Mars’ Hill went on become preachers. In 1885, the Larimores closed the school so that T.B. could devote all of his time to full-time evangelistic preaching and that he did until 1912.

Throughout the late 1860’s until the mid-1920’s, T.B. was a traveling preaching machine, keeping his calendar heavy with evangelistic preaching meetings across the States as well as occasionally out of country (e.g. – Canada, Cuba, and Mexico). Deliberately distancing himself from hot button issues of his time (e.g. – instrumental music, missionary societies, located preachers, attendance at ‘cooperative meetings,’ etc.), T.B.’s ministry was not only highly sought after by churches from every quadrant of the Stone-Campbell Movement, but even by other tribes, too (Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.). He preached wherever he could speak and, having the choice of speaking virtually anywhere, anytime, he deliberately chose to speak across the spectrum of faith expression within our heritage, and to a degree, outside, all the while emphasizing unity among all who claimed faith in Christ. While he had his own views on sensitive subjects, he flatly refused to make any of them tests of fellowship or reasons for the erection of barriers to Christian unity, which, coupled with his humble demeanor, only endeared him all the more to many.

T.B.’s speaking skills put him in great demand for engagements outside of a strictly religious context; however, T.B. consistently turned down such opportunities so as to dedicate his time and efforts toward preaching the gospel and uniting believers, his two great passions in life. We can see how T.B.’s focus on preaching, unity, and deflection of hot button issues merge in a snippet from one of his preaching experiences. During the course of a sermon, after referencing how he was often asked to speak at the exceedingly popular Civil War veterans’ reunions of the time, he said:

“I do not have the time to attend a Veteran’s Reunion.”

He went on from there to explain that he must focus his attention on preaching instead.

As he advanced in years, T.B. slowly scaled back his speaking engagements and devoted time to “local work” in Henderson, Tennessee (1914-1915), Berkley, California (1918-1922), and Washington, D.C. (1922-1925), but he did not give up his extensive travels until 1926 when he moved back to California at the age of 83.

T.B. married twice in life (Julia Ester Gresham [1845-1907] and Susan Emma Page [1855-1943]) and, sadly, he outlived his firstborn son, Theophilus Brown Larimore, Jr. (1872-1903).  And, it was T.B.’s brother-in-law, Rufus Polk Meeks, who came to be a powerful influence in the life of a young college student, resulting in that student’s conversion to Christ in 1890; that student soon to become a well-known preacher in our tribe of the next generation: N.B. Hardeman.

[Personal sidebar: Prior to (and after) the Civil War, my great-grandfather, William Anderson (“W.A.”) Smith and his family, lived in the Sequatchie Valley not far from the Larimore family. They knew each other. W.A. and several of T.B. Larimore’s kin, including a brother (Cassander Porendo; aka: ‘Prendo’ or ‘Prends’) served in the same company during the Civil War, Co.F of the CSA, 2nd Tennessee Cavalry (Ashby’s). W.A. spent time as a POW in Camp Chase and there is some evidence that one of the Larimore kin might have been imprisoned with him there and even died there. In 1888, W.A. had a son, my grandfather, whom he named “Brown Wadsworth Smith.” Since W.A. had been a teacher for a time in life, my family always knew where the name “Wadsworth” came from; however, we’ve always wondered how the name “Brown” came about. Now, after learning that the “B” in “T.B. Larimore” stands for “Brown,” I’m left to wonder if my grandfather was named after the beloved preacher, T.B. Larimore!]

March 19

March 19, 1857 – While on a tour through the South, Alexander Campbell pens a letter to his wife, Selina, from New Orleans. The purpose of his tour was “the pleading of the cause of original Christianity” and “the claims of Bethany College as an institution of learning and science, based on the true philosophy of man as developed and taught in the Holy Bible in reference to his present and future usefulness and happiness as a citizen of the universe, and with special reference to his present development and mission as a citizen of the United States of North America in the second half of the nineteenth century.”

[Whew! Campbell can be, at times, one of the true masters of the run-on sentence. Whenever I feel I might be nigh unto death with that disease myself, I simply read a little Campbell and I typically, and quickly, feel much, much better.]

Campbell’s letter to his wife – remarkably free of run-on sentences – gives us a wee bit of a peek into some of his private world and how the preacher in him is ever preaching, even when he converses with his wife. I suspect our wives can relate. But then again, if I’m separated from my wife for even just a few days out-of state, this isn’t how I talk with her. How about you?

Campbell’s letter reads:

“My dear wife: I am thinking of leaving here in the course of the day. I have had a good night’s sleep, and feel somewhat better. Alexander [Jr.], too, enjoys fine health, and is very good company for me. I could not get along without him. He anticipates all that I want and is very much interested in my comfort in every particular. My visit here has been, on the whole, an advantage and profit to the great cause that I plead. But this is a worldly, sensual and generally a mere fashionable theatre. Still, there is some salt here that preserves the mass from absolute sensuality. I am still more attached to home the farther I am from it. There is no place on earth to me like it. But we have no continuing city here, and should always act with that conviction. We should feel that, wherever we are and whatever we do, we are on our journey home. There is nothing beneath the home of God that can fill the human heart, and that should ever rule and guide and comfort us. There are few pure, single-eyed and single-hearted professors of the faith and the hope. It is only here there we find a whole-hearted Christian. Like angels’ visits that are few and far between. But I am again called out and must say farewell. – Alexander Campbell”

Robert Richardson, commenting on the time Campbell spent on this trip in New Orleans, says that he “assisted D.P. Henderson, President Shannon, and others in the reorganization of the church there, which consisted of about forty members.”

Upon his arrival back home in Bethany, West Virginia, Campbell will write in the Millenial Harbinger of his general disappointment with the overall condition of local, ministerial leadership:

“In my recent excursion through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, I found … The ministry are not now, anywhere, leading the people as they were wont some forty years ago. The people now rather lead them. And so it will be, because so it has usually been.”

March 20

March 20, 1849 – On this day, someone with the initials “R.O.W.” writes Alexander Campbell a letter, requesting him to define “the difference between the words Fact and Truth …”

Campbell publishes his reply in the April 5, 1849 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, and in doing so, relates these matters to God’s existence and God’s good news. His answer reads, in part:

“Truth and Fact are neither synonyms nor contrasts. Truth is the expressed agreement of words with things. Fact, is something done. To place them in antithesis,-fact, is an event, or something done; verbal truth, is the exact statement of it. Facts are proved by witnesses, truths, by demonstration of the agreement of words with things. All truths are not facts, even when enunciated, but all facts are substantive truths, when fully expressed.

“That God exists, is a truth, but not a fact. That he created the universe, is a fact. The expression of this, in adequate terms, is a truth. …

“The belief of the gospel is the belief of joyful facts;-the death of Christ for our sins,-his resurrection for our justification,-his conquest of Satan four our eternal liberation from his malice and power. Hope, is the expectation for future good,-the hope of the gospel is the hope of eternal good;-‘glory, honor, and incorruptibility.'”

March 21

March 21, 1794Emily Harvie (Thomas) Tubman is born. She grows up to become one of the South’s best-known philanthropists and a strong financial benefactor of works of the Restoration Heritage.

Born into a a wealthy family and marrying into an even wealthier one, Emily never knows material want, but her life is not free from loss. One day in 1836 her husband of sixteen years, Richard Tubman, dies in her arms while they are on their way to visit Emily’s parents. As he dies, Richard expresses to Emily his dying requests: (1) free their 140 slaves and (2) continue their customary trip each year from Augusta, Georgia to Frankfort, Kentucky (not only to see her family, but to avoid the annual plague of yellow fever in Georgia). Forced to temporarily bury her husband’s body by the side of the road, Emily firmly resolves to keep her husband’s wishes.

However, due to the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831, freeing one’s slaves in Georgia is now essentially impossible, requiring a special piece of legislation by the State Legislature for each and every individual who is emancipated. And so, after conferring with prominent statesman Henry Clay – her legal guardian following the death of her father when she was just nine years of age – Emily makes this offer to her slaves: stay with her or move to a portion of Africa now known as Liberia. Everyone who chooses to stay with her will receive some land and a steady salary to become independent farmers. Those who choose to move to Liberia will have their travel expenses paid for and will be emancipated in Liberia. Half of the Tubman slaves vote to stay with her and half vote to move to Liberia. Those moving to Liberia take the name “Tubman” as their own and form their own community called “Tubman Hill.”

Emily now turns to her brother, Landon Thomas, a graduate of Yale University, for advise as to how to invest her monetary assets. She learns quickly from Landon and soon becomes a very savvy investor on her own, ultimately tripling her net worth.

But we must trace Emily’s journey to faith. Such begins with her baptism at the age of thirty-six by a Baptist preacher, just eight years (1828) before her husband’s death. However, Emily is soon strongly influenced by Phillip Slater (“P.S.) Fall, a former Baptist who had, just a few years earlier, led the First Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY into the fold of the Restoration Movement. In time to come she meets Alexander Campbell and is mightily impressed with him, becoming an avid reader of his paper, the Millenial Harbinger. Ultimately, about the time of her husband’s death, she becomes a member of the First Christian Church in Augusta – and a summer-time member of the First Christian in Frankfort, KY. And, whenever Campbell finds himself in Kentucky or Georgia, he typically pays Emily a visit.

Following her husband’s death, being the sole possessor of great wealth, and never remarrying, Emily sets about a ministry of giving to fund good works of many kinds associated with the Restoration Heritage. She endows a professorial chair at Bethany College. A number of students find their college education supplemented or paid for completely by her. When the building of the Christian Church in Frankfort, KY burns down, it is Emily who pays to rebuild it. The American Christian Missionary Society and the Foreign Christian Missionary Society receive no small sums of money. She builds low-cost housing for widows and the elderly in Augusta. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

When Emily dies in 1885 at the age of 91, she is a legend of generosity and assistance in her own time. And years later, William S. Tubman, a third generation descendant of her slaves who made the move from her plantation’s fields to Tubman Hill in Liberia, becomes the nineteenth President of Liberia (1944-1971).

Emily’s body is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery (Franklin County) in Franklin, Kentucky.

links: this went thru my mind

 

American history & the Fourth of July: Debunking the Fourth: Top 10 Unsightly Facts about the American Revolution

“The majority of the Founding Fathers weren’t Christians, but deists.”

Annihilationism, conditionalism & hell: Ask a Conditionalist (Annihilationist) … Edward Fudge Responds

“Conditionalists begin with the premise that only God is inherently immortal. For humans, immortality is God’s conditional gift, bestowed at the resurrection but only to the redeemed. Those who reject God’s grace throughout life do not live forever. When John 3:16 says the options are eternal life or perish, conditionalists say that means just what it seems to say.

According to conditionalism, at the end of the world, the good and bad alike are raised to face judgment. The righteous enjoy eternal life with God; the lost are sentenced to hell. But God does not keep billions of them alive forever to torment them without end. Instead, those in hell suffer such precise pains as divine justice may require, in a destructive process that ends in extinction. This is the second death, the wages of sin. Eternal punishment is eternal destruction, eternal capital punishment.”

Christianity, civil religion, nationalism, & nominalism, & the United States: 7 Marks of A Stereotypical American Christian

“Obviously, many Christians are more complex and inspiring than the attributes listed above, but we need to start realizing the influence American culture has on our faith. Unfortunately, many of these stereotypes are still perpetuated by American Christians who have strayed away from Christ’s example of sacrificial love and are using religion to serve their own misguided agendas. Nobody is perfect, but we need to start emulating Christ instead of subtly allowing our social surroundings to dictate our spiritual priorities.”

Climate change: Bill Nye The Science Guy Explains The Basics Of Something You Should Really Know [4 min., 34 sec. video]

“If you know anyone who’s having trouble wrapping their head around climate change as a human-driven crisis, this video could really come in handy.”

Culture, evangelism & outreach: Christians and Cultural Engagement

“… Jesus established a relationship in which he could speak and have it heard as a word of grace rather than a ‘I’m-right-and-you’re-wrong’ word of condemnation.”

Children, fatherhood, parenting & singles: The Rise of Single Fathers: A Ninefold Increase Since 1960

“In comparison, the number of single mother households increased more than fourfold during that time period, up to 8.6 million in 2011, from 1.9 million in 1960.”

Communication, credibility, gossip, lies, slander, speech & words: Don’t Believe Everything You Read or Hear

“Slander is a serious sin, and according to Paul, slanderers will be barred from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).”

Divorce & marriage: Jesus Never Moves On

“…  he has chosen me, he has set his love on me, and nothing will cause him to abandon me. He will never give up.”

Doctors, health & medicine: Common End-of-Life Medical Terms

“Here are some terms likely to be used in such situations as defined by Dr. Darlene Nelson, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at the Mayo Clinic.”

Head coverings, interpretation & women: Head Coverings in Worship: Why Female Hair is a Testicle (parts 1 & 2)

“Recently, my colleague Trevor Thompson, who is a New Testament scholar here at ACU, shared with me some of the work of another NT scholar, Troy Martin, who is a friend of Trevor’s. One of Martin’s areas of expertise is using ancient medical texts to illuminate NT passages, particularly passages that seem confusing to us. In various studies Martin makes the observation that some of these confusions stem from the fact that we don’t share the same medical understandings of the NT writers and their audiences. When ancient medical terms or ideas are used we often miss the meaning. A good example of this comes from 1 Corinthians 11.2-16.”

Ministry & preaching: * I Am a Preacher; * 10 Things You May Not Know About Senior Pastors

* “I offer this in tribute to all the brave men and women of God who bear up under the weight of our call. I hope it articulates some of the ambiguity, beauty and tension wrapped up in saying ‘yes’ when God summons you to the pulpit.”

* “… I know this is a representative list for many.”

Poverty: Greg Kaufmann on the Truth About American Poverty

“Greg Kaufmann, poverty correspondent for The Nation, says the poor in America are stereotyped and demonized in an effort to justify huge cuts in food stamps and other crucial programs for low-income Americans.”

Tipping: Tipping: To Ban or Not?

“If I had my way, we’d take this idea to its logical conclusion and get rid of the practice of tipping altogether. Just outlaw it …”

Worship: Ready to Worship

“As we prepare ourselves for worship each week here are three things we should keep in mind.”

this went thru my mind

 

Annihilationism, conditionalism & hell: The Legacy of Edward Fudge & the Future of Conditionalism

“The inaugural Rethinking Hell conference will be held on July 11th-12th, 2014, at the beautiful Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas. This will be an historic occasion for the movement of Evangelical Conditionalism/Annihilationism, representing the first gathering of its kind.”

Anxiety, fear & worry: The Dark Doctrine All Churches Hold Dear [required reading]

“How do we become obedient to God’s stark call to refrain from worry?  Stop it.  It is a choice; not a circumstance.  It is obedience; not a mood. To ignore this strong Word from God is indeed to hold a very dark doctrine of rebellion.”

Change & conflict: The Reality of Change and Conflict

“Change invites conflict. You can’t escape that fact. But … avoiding change stifles growth. Which eventually leads to conflict. (Ever been a part of a declining organization…or church?) And … avoiding conflict allows tension to build. Which in the end creates more conflict. (Ever seen what happens when someone is silently angry with you long enough?) Therefore … In my opinion… avoiding conflict or change is impossible.”

Church & witness: Why the Church Can’t Seem to Get Traction in Society

“The reason the church cannot seem to gain traction in this mega-troubled society is we have joined the masses in trying to escape.  Ours is not the call to dodge incoming arrows of rejection; but rather for staying put in pain upon the cross that the hurting may find perfect and ultimate healing.”

Cicadas: The Return of the Cicadas [7 1/2 min. video]

“I’ve been working an a 1-hour documentary on cicadas since 2007 …”

Consumerism & minimalism: Living With Less. A Lot Less.

“Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago. Apparently our supersize homes don’t provide space enough for all our possessions, as is evidenced by our country’s $22 billion personal storage industry.”

Dignity, modesty, respect & swimwear: Jessica Rey – The Evolution of the Swim Suit [9 1/2 min. video; required viewing]

“… he had to hire a stripper to wear it.”

Meaning, significance, and work: God at Work: Not in Vain

“The things we do with our life will find their way, through the resurrecting power of God, into forever. Your work is important, not just because you can contribute to church, but because you get to partner with God! The resurrection of the world means that some of the best ministries, don’t have the word ministry in them!”

Ministry: The Pastor’s Job Description

“Three pastoral acts are so basic, so critical, that they determine the shape of everything else. The acts are praying, reading Scripture, and giving spiritual direction. Besides being basic, these three acts are quiet. They do not call attention to themselves and so are often not attended to. In the clamorous world of pastoral work nobody yells at us to engage in these acts. It is possible to do pastoral work to the satisfaction of the people who judge our competence and pay our salaries without being either diligent or skilled in them. Since almost never does anyone notice whether we do these things or not, and only occasionally does someone ask that we do them, these three acts of ministry suffer widespread neglect.”

hell: a final word, reviewed (part 2)

 

Understanding the Bible is not a simple matter. Contrary to how I was first taught, not just “anyone with one eye and half sense can quickly understand it.” Indeed, there is little that is truly “simple” about it.

Of course, a great deal of the difficulty comes from the many misunderstandings that surround it. No small amount of my life has consisted of shedding false understandings. What I was told the Bible taught and what I found it to actually teach has often been two very different things. This has been true of topics as widely varied as divorce and remarriage, just war, poverty, and the work of the Holy Spirit, not to mention the very character of God himself.

However, coming to awareness that there was actually a decided difference between my understanding of a matter and that of Scripture has often not been a quick or easy matter. In most instances, it has taken years of study and prayer, coupled with people crossing my path and challenging my thinking, to change my views. For some of those changes in perspective I have paid a personal price, sometimes quite high, but it has led to a clarity and grounding in my conscience that is priceless.

My development in understanding the ultimate end of the wicked has followed this same difficult path and I know that I am not alone in this matter. Further, I know there are many Christians who remain secretly – and needlessly – tormented and unsettled on this subject. And why? Precisely because it touches on the character of God and the nature of human beings.

Though it may come as a surprise to some, there are a variety of views of hell among those who claim faith in Christ and who hold to the Bible as God’s communication with humankind. These views fall essentially into three categories: the traditionalist perspective, the universalist position, and the conditionalist (aka: annihilationist) understanding.

The traditionalist perspective is dominant. It’s understanding of hell is that those who will not submit to, and are, therefore, not saved by Christ, will suffer everlasting torment in hell. Hell is for people and people will quite literally be tortured there by fire forever.

Universalists take the opposite position, that no human will be tormented in hell forever, for all will ultimately be saved by God. Rob Bell’s recent book Love Wins (HarperOne, 2011) is perhaps the best known recent description of, and argument for, the universalist view.

While these two views might seem to cover all of the bases, there is, however, a third view, the conditionalist (aka: annihilationist) understanding of things. The conditionalist’s perspective is that while God will certainly and actively punish the wicked, they will ultimately suffer the ultimate punishment, being annihilated. The wicked will, one day, entirely cease to exist.

Here, allow me to introduce a personal note. Though my parents were not Christians, I was raised to believe that there is a God, that there is only one God, and that this one God is very good. Though it was not the evidence offered to me by my parents, the evidence for such that proved most persuasive for me on these matters was found in creation itself. Nature spoke, and still speaks, volumes to me of God.

Across the years, only two things have seriously challenged my belief in such a God and one of those was the teaching and preaching on hell to which I was exposed in church when I began my journey with Christ. What I was taught the Bible said about hell came across as a strong contradiction of the character of the God I thought I had come to know, and continued to seek through the Scriptures.

My personal conflict, my secret quandary, was completely resolved upon the publication (1982) and my reading (about 1986) of Edward Fudge’s book The Fire That Consumes. Words simply cannot express my elation upon my discovery and digestion of this work. It’s description and development of the conditionalist perspective of God and Scripture not only fully addressed all of my questions, but did so in a compelling way. Now in its third edition, that book continues to provide strong light and guidance for me on the subject that challenged my heart and mind so early on in my walk with God’s Spirit. I owe Edward William Fudge a debt I can never repay and few days go by that I do not thank God for this brother of mine in Christ.

However, for years I’ve longed for the essence of that large volume, The Fire That Consumes, to be distilled into a much briefer and more readily readable format that I could confidently share with family and friends. And so, I’m thrilled to say that very longing has been fulfilled with the publication of Edward’s work entitled Hell: A Final Word. The serious Bible student or academic can appreciate the content and format of The Fire That Consumes, while everyman can easily engage Hell: A Final Word. This is the volume many of us have been waiting for and it does not disappoint. Thank you Edward, and thank you, Lord!

The text of Hell: The Final Word is divided into quickly readable portions, the vast majority of the text (pp. 13-172) being divided into fifty-one chapters. There is no multitude of footnotes in this work as was the case with The Fire That Consumes. In fact, there are no footnotes at all, just twenty-four brief endnotes (pp. 187-188).

There is nothing left dangling or assumed in the reasoning presented. Every stone is turned over and considered and no stones are thrown. The argumentation is coherent and tight, linear and clear, without in any way being argumentative. Grace and graciousness is pervasive in all of Edward Fudge’s work and this book is by no means an exception. Indeed, it is not only a true pleasure to read but, unlike most detailed presentations of Biblical teaching I have seen, is truly “a page turner.”

I can find virtually nothing I dislike about this work. Perhaps I would rather have seen the quiz (pp. 177-186) serve as a tantalizing introduction instead of appearing as something like at appendix. This Q & A alone is worth the price of the book.

The inclusion of a handful of discussion questions every few chapters would have made this work all the more instantly adaptable to use in a small-group or Bible class context.

I would like to have seen references to other works aside from those of Fudge in the chapter entitled “For Further Study” (pp. 175-176), but those who truly want to delve into things deeper need only turn to The Fire That Consumes and will find more than ample references there.

And some of the people I intend to steer toward this book would likely prefer to do without the autobiographical aspects of the work and would rather the author just stick straight to the issue at hand. However, I see the autobiographical style as a tremendous plus, especially to those reading it who have a history in the religious heritage in which Edward Fudge and I are of a part (Churches of Christ).

In sum, this book, like Fudge’s earlier work, The Fire That Consumes, is first rate. It’s precisely the sort of book I will happily be steering people toward for a very long time to come. I can easily see it as a resource for a mini-series in Bible class or for sermons, too. I hope this book finds its way into the hands of a great many, both those who believe already and those who are yet to believe. Would that every Christian would read it.

In short, I say: may this book live long and prosper, and may the same hold true for its author.