Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …
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.
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.
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.
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.
1798 – Aylette 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.]
1893 – Kenny 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.]
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.