on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: May 17-23

May 17

May 17, 1823 – Today a challenge is answered.

Alexander Campbell receives word today from a preacher in the Presbyterian Church, William Latta McCalla of Augusta (Mason County, Kentucky), that he is interested in meeting Campbell in public debate on the topic of baptism. Following an earlier debate on infant baptism with another Presbyterian minister, John Walker in 1820, Campbell had stated that he was ready to meet anyone who wanted to discuss the matter further. McCalla, keen to defend the practice of infant baptism, now takes up Campbell’s challenge. After several months of correspondence between the two following today’s letter, the two engage in a week long debate at an outdoor campground in Augusta, Kentucky in mid-October 1823. Campbell travels by horseback to Augusta for the debate, but he does not travel alone: Sidney Rigdon is his sidekick.

In the Campbell-McCalla debate, Campbell tackles the topics of baptism’s action (immersion, not sprinkling or pouring), design (for the forgiveness of sin), and subjects (believing adults, not passive infants). This is the first truly extended and public airing of Campbell’s take on baptism as being for a person’s forgiveness.

Despite the fact that Campbell is, at the time, relatively unknown in Kentucky (certainly in comparison to his opponent), the clear consensus of those hearing the debate is that Campbell is the winner. Campbell’s logic and extemporaneous communication skills, McCalla’s decision to make reply to Campbell’s points by reading from a manuscript he prepared prior to the debate (an exceedingly odd and awkward thing to do when arguing the negative in debate), and Campbell’s introduction of “new” information for the benefit of the crowd all work together to form the perfect storm that is McCalla’s undoing. Campbell works his speaking skills “magic” with the crowd, too, by employing humor at critical junctures. For example, when McCalla asserts that baptism by immersion can be dangerous to a person’s physical health, Campbell points to McCalla’s moderator, Jeremiah Vardeman, as rebuttal. Understand: Vardeman weighs about three hundred pounds. The crowd eats it up.

As a result, Campbell gains hundreds and hundreds of new subscribers from the state of Kentucky for his paper (Christian Baptist) and the stage is set for him to make a preaching tour through the state the year following (1824). And it is while he is on that trip that Campbell will meet Barton W. Stone for the first time.

May 18

May 18, 1858 – Today, a man becomes a newcomer to Christ, and sees to it to keep coming to him, for life.

At the age of twenty-six, Alexander Newcomer becomes a Christian. He becomes an embodiment of love. And so, through the course of his life, the fruit of God’s Spirit becomes abundant in him.

Alexander loves people, especially the vulnerable. He frequently visits the sick and the poor. Poor children receive his special attention; he buys them clothes and books and teaches them music. In return, he receives a nickname frequently used by them over the course of the years: “Uncle Aleck.” The poor are generously remembered in his will.

He loves to be with God’s people and is faithful and humble toward them. It is said that no matter what the weather, Alexander will “be at church.” When he drops his offering in the plate ($20 each week; no small sum), he makes sure the amount is always broken down into small bills lest anyone think that he, or any one person, is the giver of twenty dollars.

He loves animals and his horse, Jin, knows it; Jin will allow no one to care for her or ride her except Alexander. Birds are a special delight to him.

He loves nature. Flowers and sunshine never fail to make him smile.

He loves books and papers. Coupled with this love for writings is a memory that is nothing short of astounding. It is said that he can “refer to any article in the Millenial Harbinger, the Christian Baptist, or Lard’s Quarterly.” He knows large portions of the Bible by heart and is often called upon in church to do the Scripture reading – always doing so from memory. The prophets, the psalms, and the writings of Paul are his forte. And so, earning a reputation for being the best informed and wise person in the area, adults tag him with a nickname of their own: “Judge.”

He never marries, choosing instead to live with, and help care for, his blind sister, Ellen.

When he dies in Washington County, Maryland in 1903, a fellow church member writes of him in J.H. Garrison’s The Christian Evangelist:

“He was a happy soul. God sent ten thousand singing truths into his heart which were singing there day and night. To every selfish, discontented, ungrateful, and querulous nature his life was a perpetual rebuke. Sunshine and peace were in his heart and shown out irresistibly in his face and in every word an action of his life. As much of heaven as any man could bear about him without being in heaven itself he showed us in every way.

“Socially, he was a charming companion. His uniform cheerfulness, his sweet music, his freedom from every semblance of harsh criticism, of gossip, of all uncharitableness; his constant an unconscious illustration of what a Christian gentleman must be; his perfect courtesy; his kindly consideration for all men – these were felt by all who came in touch with him. …

“Best and noblest was his Christian character and life. How he always lived in communion with his Maker, how he stored up in mind and heart the imperishable riches of the inspired Word, how he lifted us to the throne in his prayers so simple and reverent and beautiful, how he exhorted us in words of great wisdom, how day by day he lived these things – we that knew him can never forget.”

Oh, and Alexander Newcomer lived out all of his days in darkness, having been born blind.

May 19

May 19, 1816 – A man becomes a Christian, and no one thinks otherwise.

William Hayden is baptized today and in doing so, becomes a member of the Baptist church. He will become an early Restoration Heritage pioneer preacher and sidekick of Walter Scott. His baptism – like those of a great many of the pioneer preachers in our heritage – is not “administered by someone within our heritage,” but is unquestioningly accepted. It is not until decades later that “rebaptism” of the previously immersed becomes anything even remotely like “an issue” among “us.” [cf. the post for March 2 in this series for more info on William Hayden]

May 20

May 20, 1859 – Today, a sixty year-old preacher consults a phrenologist.

Surely he does so just so for grins but, he does not tell us. And, he records the matter in his journal, the length of entry for which is hardly equaled by any other and far exceeds the average entry’s length.

According to Webster, phrenology is “the study of the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character.” It is a popular topic of discussion in the mid-1800’s. And today, in Memphis, Tennessee, Jacob Creath, Jr. receives a “phrenology chart” from Professor Orson Squire Fowler of New York, one of the leading proponents of phrenology in the United States. His chart reads:

“Strength, power, efficiency, go-ahead, and the utmost indomitability, is your predominant trait, and is remarkable. You inherit it from your father, whom you resemble; and are adapted to carry on some great undertaking requiring the utmost perseverance; and have made your mark on the intellect of the community where you reside, partly because of your strong, active sense; more because of your tremendous energy of character.

“You have extraordinary lungs, great muscles, a splendidly-balanced constitution, and have a world of vitality; can go through Herculean labors, and have not a lazy bone in your body. You are excitable a little, though not much; rarely ever let your feelings get the better of your judgment.

“You have not any thing like as much culture, in proportion, as you have natural talents. You have excellent digestion, but have over-eaten all your life. You have extraordinary breathing power, and hardly know what fatigue is, and must be out of doors most of the time. You have an organism more favourable to judgment than brilliancy.

“You are a ladies’-man, almost worship the sex, and appreciate female beauty. You should marry a woman who was dependent, not obstinate, for you could never tolerate an obstinate women.

“You have one of the best wives that ever was, because you know how to select a woman, and because you would live well with any woman; and would so live with a poor woman as to make her a good wife, even if poor; and your wife would lay down her life for you. You are thoroughly sexed, are pre-eminently manly, and have a high, noble bearing.

“You have a very strong love for children, especially daughters, literally doting on them as if they were angels. You are devotedly attached to home, are one of the most indulgent of husbands and parents, are a true, warm, generous friend, and have a warmer heart than often comes under my hands. You are a true patriot; are wanting in continuity; are able to attend to a great diversity of business in short order and without mistake.

“You have great fortitude to bear up under disease, and will not allow yourself to be sick, and will not give up.

“You never quarrel with others, but stand your ground like a man. You are determined to conquer, but never punish a fallen foe. You have an excellent appetite; go in for the plain and substantial; can make money, but it must be in a large way.

“You can never dabble. You are perfectly candid, never act in a cunning way to attain your end; but always straightforward and correct. You are barely cautious enough to prevent improper action.

“You are not particular as to what people say about you; pursue an independent course; do as you please, and let people say what they life. You are most uncompromising when your mind is once made up, yet are judicious when making it up. You are rather conservative. You are a true worshiper of the Deity, but always under your own vine and fig-tree; skeptical, and never admit any thing unless proved to a demonstration. You ought to be a judge. You are a true philanthropist; are generous; too kind for your own good. Don’t let your friends put their hands too deep into your pockets; and don’t indorse, unless you are willing to lose. Don’t confide too much in friends. Learn to say no. I would not wonder if you have lost half you have made. So turn a corner.

“You are better informed than one in a thousand with your means of knowledge. You have a poor memory as regards names and dates, but good at recollecting countenances, facts, and ideas. You ought to be a speaker, not because you have so great a flow of words, but because you say impressively what you say at all.

“You have a wonderfully accurate eye to judge of bulk and proportion, and cannot tolerate architectural disproportion. You never lose your way in city or country.

“Your forte lies in the adoption of ways and means to ends, in originality, forethought, forethought, contrivance, and penetration. You lack the agreeable; you pass no compliments, not enough; but read a man right through the first time, and are happy in what you say; it just hits the nail on the head. Your criticisms are remarkable. You illustrate well.

“The fact is, sir, you are, by nature, a great man; and need only circumstances to make you a great man. And you, certainly, are one of the best men I have ever examined, and are universally beloved.”

In truth, Creath is as independent a spirit as can be found among the early preachers within the Restoration Heritage. Indeed, in his lifetime he earns the nickname of “The Iron Duke of the Restoration.”

May 21

May 21, 1856 – Today, the distant violence in Bleeding Kansas comes home all the more to the Campbell family back east.

Lawrence, Kansas is a community establisahed by abolitionists (i.e. – Free-Staters). And today that community is attacked and sacked by pro-slavery men (i.e. – Border Ruffians). Learning of this, abolitionist John Brown promises revenge and within days will make good on his promise.

Now Matthew & Jane (Campbell) McKeever are good friends with John Brown. Jane, you understand, is one of Alexander Campbell’s sisters. The McKeever’s are more than just a little sympathetic with Brown’s views on abolition; they, like Brown, are deeply involved in The Underground Railroad for runaway slaves. However, with Brown’s distinct turn toward the use of violence this week (he shoots a man in the head during the Pottawatomie massacre to insure that he is dead), Brown and the McKeevers choose two very different paths as to how to go about freeing the nation’s slaves: one path violent, the other not.

Did Alexander Campbell and John Brown ever meet face-to-face? I’ve not yet found evidence of such, but it seems most likely. For example, just a few months later (February 1857) Alexander Campbell, Sr. serves as chairman of a convention of “wool-growers” (sheep farmers) in Steubenville, Ohio and we know that John Brown, renowned for his expertise with sheep, is one of those attending the convention. The McKeevers are wool-growers, too. Given the McKeever-Brown connection and the status of Campbell, would Brown have not sought him out? If they ever did meet, one wonders what that conversation must have been like.

A bit over three years from today, John Brown leads a raid on an arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Seriously wounded in the attack, Brown survives his wounds, only to be tried, convicted, and hanged by the neck until dead in December 1859.

Ironically, the name of Campbell’s first father-in-law is also John Brown, but he is not to be confused with the John Brown of today’s post.

May 22

* May 22, 1801 – Today, strange things begin to happen.

Today, a Friday, a thirty year-old preacher by the name of Richard McNemar is preaching at his church, the Cabin Creek Presbyterian Church in northern Kentucky. “Revival” suddenly breaks out and the “various operations and exercises” that accompany the revival for four days and three nights are quite a sight to see. McNemar tells us some of what transpired:

“The scene was awful [which means then what we mean today by the word “awesome”] beyond the description; the falling, crying out, praying, exhorting, singing, shouting, &c, exhibited such new and striking evidences of a supernatural power, that few, if any, could escape without being affected. Such as tried to run from it, were frequently struck on the way, or impelled by some alarming signal to return: and so powerful was the evidence on all sides, that no place was found for the obstinate sinner to shelter himself …

“No circumstance at this meeting, appeared more striking, than the great numbers that fell on the third night: and to prevent their being trodden under foot by the multitude, they were collected together and laid out in order, on two squares of the meeting house; which, like so many dead corpses, covered a considerable part …”

Now exactly what sort of “operations and exercises,” what “new and striking evidences of a supernatural power,” are we talking about here? McNemar, and others, speak of eight distinct expressions of such, namely: barking, dancing, falling, “the jerks,” laughing, rolling, running, and experiencing either a trance or vision. McNemar says “the falling exercises was the most noted.” An estimated three thousand people experience the “falling” exercise.

After reading the descriptions of these experiences, I’d opt for laughing or running, thank you very much. Following is McNemar’s description of “the jerks” exercise:

“Nothing in nature could better represent this strange and unaccountable operation, than for one to goad another, alternately on every side, with a piece of red hot iron. The exercise commonly began in the head, which would fly backward and forward, and from side to side, with a quick jolt, which the person would naturally labor to suppress, but in vain. The more one labored to stay himself, and be sober, the more he staggered, and the more his twitches increased. He must necessarily, go as he was stimulated, whether with a violent dash on the ground, and bounce from place to place like a football, or hop around with head, limbs and trunk twitching and jolting in every direction, as if they must inevitably fly asunder. How such could escape without injury, was no small wonder to spectators. By this strange operation, the human frame was so transformed and disfigured, as to lose every trace of its natural appearance. Sometimes the head would be twitched right and left to a half round, with such velocity that not a feature could be discovered, but the face appeared as much behind as before. In the quick, progressive jerk, it would seem as if the person was transformed into some other species of creature. Headdresses were of little account among female jerkers. Even handkerchiefs bound around the head, would be flirted off almost with the first twitch, and the hair put into the utmost confusion. This was a great inconvenience, to redress which the generality were shorn, though directly contrary to their confession of faith. Such as were seized with the jerks, were wrested at once, not only from under their own government, but that of every one else, so that it was dangerous to attempt confining them, or touching them in any manner, to whatever danger they were exposed; yet few were hurt, except it was such as rebelled against the operation, through willful and deliberate enmity, and refused to comply with the injunctions which it came to enforce.”

“Well, that’s all well and  … odd, but what does this have to do with the Restoration Heritage?,” you ask.

In a word: much. In a few words … McNemar and twenty-eight year-old Barton W. Stone are close friends. Less than three months later (August 6), this revival spreads from Cabin Creek to Stone’s Church, the Cane Ridge Presbyterian Church. Thus, the Cane Ridge Revival. McNemar, Stone, and others will soon make a clean break with the Presbyterian Church, first by forming their own presbytery (the Springfield Presbytery), then by dissolving that presbytery (hence, The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery, drafted by McNemar in 1804). After that, you know what happens with Stone, but what of McNemar? Perhaps not surprisingly, he joins the Shakers in 1806 and remains with them until his death in 1839. His account of the events associated with the revival that are reproduced here are taken from his book The Kentucky Revival, first published in 1808. That book is the first bound volume published by the Shakers.

* May 22, 1807 – The first foreign missionary in our heritage, James Turner Barclay, is born to Robert & Sarah Coleman (Turner) Barclay at Hanover Courthouse, Virginia .. maybe. The date of May 22 is recorded by his friend and biographer, John T. Brown. However, the date of May 7 is what is engraved on Barclay‘s headstone in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany, West Virginia. [Given my own experience of comparing the records of literally hundreds and hundreds of gravestones with written records of Civil War veterans in three different states, something being “engraved in stone” means nothing more in terms of accuracy than what is written on paper or family tradition. In my mind, it’s a coin flip as to which date, May 7 or May 22, is correct. cf. the entry for Feb. 10 in this series for more info on Barclay]

* May 22, 1848Today, Selina Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Sr.’s second wife, suffers the death of her seventy-seven year old mother (Ann Marie Bakewell) and welcomes the birth of a grandson, Alexander Overton Ewing, to her daughter, Margaret Ewing. However, the grandson’s health is poor and he will live only eighteen months.

May 23

May 23, 1861 – A wife is unhappy with the way her husband votes on a matter of great importance.

A law passed in Virginia in January 1861 results in the creation of a state convention to consider secession from the Union. The law requires that if the convention votes for secession (which it does), the voters in the state must then vote on the matter in a referendum. The referendum is today and Alexander Campbell, Sr. casts his vote, voting against secession. However, to his wife, Selina, secession is the way to go.

Selina’s viewpoint is held by only a tiny minority of the residents of Brooke County, but is in keeping with the vast majority of fellow-Virginians. Along with his wife, we know that at the very least Alexander’s namesake son (Alexander Campbell, Jr.), two of his daughters (Virginia and Decima), a son-in-law (William K. Pendleton), and a grandson (Joseph Pendleton) favor secession.

Alexander votes the same way the vast majority of his immediate neighbors do. His choice is greeted with delight by others in his family, among them being two of his sisters and brothers-in-law (Joseph & Dorthea Bryant and Matthew & Jane McKeever), a son-in-law (John Campbell), and a nephew (Archibald Campbell).

In voting against secession, Alexander is not softening his opposition to slavery; it’s that he hates the thought of the needless slaughter of war even more. Just the day before the referendum, a Union soldier on picket duty, Thornbury Bailey Brown, was killed, becoming the first official fatality of the Civil War. And, just a few days later (June 3), at Philippi, a little over one hundred miles southeast of Bethany, the first skirmish of the war between Union and Confederate troops takes place. Ill-equipped and poorly prepared Confederates are defeated. Given the flight of Confederates from the field, Union troops come to refer to the battle as “The Philippi Races.”

Soon after marking his ballot, Alexander publishes the June issue of the Millenial Harbinger. In it he writes:

“Of all the monstrosities on which our sun has ever shone, that of professedly Christian nations, glutting their wrath and vengeance on one another, with all the instruments of murder and slaughter, caps the climax of human folly and gratuitous wickedness. Alas! Alas! Man’s inhumanity to man has made, and is still intent on making countless millions mourn!!”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: April 12-18

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

April 12

April 12, 1861 – Since it seceded from the United States in December 1860, South Carolina has been steadily seizing Federal property and today, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard orders artillery batteries to open up on Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay. Though, remarkably, not a single man will die in the day-and-a-half long bombardment, this incident effectively marks the start of the American Civil War. The cost and consequences of the war to the nation are truly incalculable, the deaths of at least 750,000 American soldiers being only a small portion of the price paid and the endpoint of the generations significantly affected still yet to be reached.

With the shelling of Fort Sumter, the iconic leader of the American Restoration Heritage, Alexander Campbell, Sr., immediately feels the effects of war on his ministry. In the days just before the shelling of Fort Sumter, he had been speaking in Charlottesville, Virginia (roughly 70 miles NW of Richmond). Hearing of the bombardment, Campbell cancels future speaking appointments and he and his wife, Selina, make their way back to Bethany. If speaking tours, The Millenial Harbinger, and Bethany College form the backbone of his work, the lifeblood of his ministry is surely the funds that come in to fund, funds that come largely from the South. However, with the coming of war, travel through, and mail service with, the South comes to a halt. Military recruitment and the decline in funding threatens to close Bethany College and brings the Harbinger to its knees.

Further, what torment in spirit he feels as he knows that a huge percentage of those he has poured his life into leading toward greater light and Christian union are now about, daily, trying to kill each other off, and are greatly succeeding at the task. His lifelong dream of Christian union and his age being a harbinger of Christ’s return, is literally being shredded apart before his very eyes and, much of the fruit of his ministry being left to rot on battlefields unburied.

All this of this pales in comparison, of course, to the emotional distress that comes to him, a long-time pacifist, as those of his own family choose sides and march off to war. Heavy on his heart is the fact that his namesake son, Alexander Campbell, Jr., enlists and becomes a colonel in Confederate cavalry while a favorite nephew, Archibald Campbell, Jr., casts his lot with the Union. And there are others.

Perhaps it is the apostle Paul who can convey to us something of the misery in Campbell’s heart at this time:

“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Corinthians 11.28-29)

Campbell, Sr.’s health, particularly his amazing mental abilities, had been slowly deteriorating prior to the war, but his decline now becomes much more obvious, seemingly accelerating, as the war years (1861-1865) go by. He will hardly survive the war. He dies the year after (1866) the cease of military hostilities.

War is hell. So our ancestors, and the experience of our heritage, would tell us. And so, in the name of Christ, may we ever flee from it. For the sake of all who are yet to believe, as well as for those who do, in this generation, and the generations to come.

April 13

April 13, 1861 – The final blow is struck today to the mind of Walter Scott. Long consumed with depression over the state of the nation’s affairs and worry over the specter of coming war, Scott learns today of the bombardment and fall of Fort Sumter … and what is left of his sixty-five year old heart is broken. Just a very few days later, Scott pens a letter to his oldest son, John, and says:

“Alas, for my country! Civil war is now most certainly inaugurated, and its termination who can foresee? Who can predict? Twice has the state of things filled my eyes with tears this day. Oh, my country! my country! How I love thee! How I deplore thy present misfortunes!”

The depth of Scott’s depression has been obvious and troubling to others for some time. Of late, he has been unable to even bring himself to share in the Lord’s Supper. An excerpt of a letter he wrote just a few months earlier (also to his son John) tells us of the very great weight of the burdens on his heart:

“You say: ‘ I am so disheartened and cast down, so overwhelmed with the general gloom that overspreads my dear, my native land, that I can scarcely think of anything else.’ These words, my son, precisely describe my state of mind. I can think of nothing but the sorrows and dangers of my most beloved adopted country. God is witness to my tears and grief. I am cast down, I am afflicted, I am all broken to pieces.”

To understand Scott’s grief, one must appreciate his understanding of eschatology. Scott passionately believes that the United States is destined by God to lead the world’s nations to faith in Christ, ushering in the millenium. As he stated in the last book he penned (just two years earlier in 1859), The Messiahship: The Great Demonstration:

“… there are in the elements of the Revolution of 1776 unmistakable proofs that the Republic of the United States is a historical and political verification of the unerring prediction of prophecy touching ‘a new government’ and ‘a new people.'”

Just three days after Sumter’s fall, Scott comes down with typhoid pneumonia. He will live only ten more days, his physical condition steadily deteriorating. His dear friend and associate, John Rogers, visits him, as does L.B. Streator. Scott ever so briefly, but ever so remarkably rallies, a bit right after one of Streator’s last visits, and spends this moment of greater strength and clarity speaking of the happiness and delight of the saved as they’re ushered into heaven and then, after a brief nap, he awakens once more, this time to speak of some of the men who have blessed his life. Alexander Campbell, Thomas Campbell, John T. Johnson, ‘Raccoon’ John Smith, and Barton W. Stone are among the names he mentions.

Scott then becomes too weak to speak any further and two days later, on April 23, passes away peacefully. His current marriage, his third, is by no definition of the term a pleasant one; indeed, it is the polar opposite of his preceding two (both having ending by deaths in 1849 and 1854). No mention is made of the presence of his wife, Eliza (Standidge) Scott, at Scott’s death [at least no mention that this writer has yet to see]. Further, though trying to make it to him in time, none of his six surviving children are able to be with him while he is on his deathbed. John Rogers and L.P. Streator conduct Scott’s funeral service and his body is buried in May’s Lick, Kentucky.

It seems exceedingly difficult to escape the conclusion that Walter A. Scott is one of the first of a multitude of “unnumbered casualties” of the American Civil War.

April 14

April 14, 1895 – Not far from LaVergne, Tennessee and close by the Rock Spring Church of Christ, in a farm pond owned by Columbus Brittain, Samuel Harris baptizes a man who, for several decades, will be the most mocked and reviled man in the entire Restoration Heritage. And perhaps the greatest irony of it all is that this will all come to pass simply due to the steady, godly teaching of men like James Harding and David Lipscomb.

At the time, no one could have possibly guessed that twenty-year old Robert Henry (“R.H”) Boll would become the brotherhood lightning rod, including – especially – Boll himself.

Born in Germany and raised in the Catholic church, Boll comes to the United States at the age of fifteen. He is exposed to the Restoration Heritage when he is befriended by a public school teacher and a state lawmaker who are of our ilk. Their friendship shapes him so that he is baptized into Christ and sets off to be a student at Nashville Bible School (NBS). He does well in his studies at NBS (1895-1900) and enjoys peaching, but he excels at writing. When he takes up preaching with the Portland Avenue congregation in Louisville, Kentucky in 1904, he takes it up for life, a ministry that lasts over half a century. But, it is his writing that is Boll’s forte, so much so that the Gospel Advocate (GA) names him as their front page editor in 1909. For six years he will serve in this capacity – and it is his writing for the GA that builds the fire over which Boll will be slow-roasted for the rest of his life. In 1915, he is ousted by the GA and in the following year, he takes the editorship of Word and Work, moving its base from New Orleans to Louisville.

What makes Boll’s teaching and writing so upsetting to so many is that he deliberately swims against what is now the popular tide. He lives in a time when our tribe is hungry for respectability and the establishment of physical progress, but it is Boll who continues to call  for simplicity. The proclamation and understanding of grace has peaked and is now on the downhill run, but it is Boll who doesn’t just keep talking about it, but emphasizes it. A generation earlier the work of the Holy Spirit was more often seen as personal and direct, but now the Spirit is largely perceived as working indirectly, only through the revealed word, and is, therefore, rather impersonal. Still, Boll views the Spirit’s work through old glasses. While the churches in our branch are becoming known for their being distinctive and as “a peculiar people,” Boll preaches tolerance and practices much greater openness and diversity. The book of Acts and the epistles are where it’s at with most brethren now, but Boll emphasizes what he sees as largely, and terribly, forgotten: the prophets. And as this world’s nations and powers rush off to murder each other in World War One, most of the relatively few pacifist elements that remain in our heritage run to catch the train of nationalism, patriotism, and social acceptance. Even so, it is Boll who continues to call believers to view their role in life as a part of a kingdom that is not of this world. Our heritage, having jettisoned Campbell’s postmillenial views with the coming of the American Civil War, is now racing toward an amillennial stance … while Boll takes a determined premillenial posture.

Quite simply, Boll is a man out of step with the rest of the troops and those who would back him in most of these views – indeed, who raised him in faith – are quickly fading away with age (Lipscomb dying in 1917 and Harding passing away in 1922). But, he will become the champion of a portion of our heritage that has all but faded into oblivion: premillenial Churches of Christ. Until his death in 1956, Boll will be the whipping boy of many a preacher and he will have to face the slings and arrows of other giants among us virtually alone, most notably in a debate with H. Leo Boles (1928) and one who will make a name for himself primarily due to his relentless and belittling attacks on Boll: Foy Esco Wallace, Jr.

April 15

April 15, 1869 – Though Lard’s Quarterly had a short run and folded the previous year (1863-1868), Moses Easterly Lard still sees a strong need for an additional paper in our heritage and so, on this day, the first issue of a new weekly paper, the Apostolic Times (AT), is published. Moses Lard, Robert Graham, Winthrop Hopson, J.W. McGarvey, and Lanceford Wilkes are its editors.

If we descend to the level of thinking in terms of “Left” and “Right,” perhaps we can categorize the AT’s placement among some of the brotherhood’s papers at that time in the following fashion. Ben Franklin’s American Christian Review (ACR) holds the ground of the distinct right and David Lipscomb’s Gospel Advocate (GA) is not far from that same position. Isaac Errett’s Christian Standard (CS) is perhaps representative of those in the center or just to the left of it. The AT attempts to speak for the moderate right. For example, while the AT supports the work of missionary societies (something unthinkable for the ACR or GA), it opposes the use of instrumental music (as does the ACR and GA).

The upshot of this stance is that the AT is widely perceived as a more moderate, even independent, voice in the discussion of matters, one not necessarily beholden to any one wing of the Restoration Heritage. However, the downside to its attempt to occupy ground closer toward “the center” is equally obvious: it manages to often either let down, or somewhat offend, since for most it just never quite goes “far enough.”

Lard’s hand at the AT’s tiller will soon end (Jan. 1873) as he takes time off to pen what will become his magnum opus, his commentary on Romans (published in mid-1875).

April 16

April 16, 1861 – Is following a flag to war consistent with following Christ? What is the good news a preacher is to preach as a multitude of men consider military enlistment? Is there a tipping point that can be reached that changes the answer and response to such questions? And so, why do we believe what we believe and what price are we willing to pay for it? Today, one of the most prominent pioneer leaders of the American Restoration Heritage sounds the alert on such concerns and digs in for the battle to come.

As the clouds of war rapidly build in the spring of 1861, the question of military service is naturally the hottest topic on the table among all, including church members and Church leaders. Often contrary to the practice of their recent ancestors, the vast majority of the most prominent opinion leaders of the still quite young American Restoration Heritage are thorough pacifists. However, their ability to persuasively make the case for such convictions to the younger generation and for them to embrace and practice those beliefs when the cost of doing so is now at its greatest, are thrown into the crucible. What will be considered slag, fit for nothing, and what will be the resulting, refined metal of belief in terms of actual practice, remains to be seen.

One of the great opinion leaders in our tribe at the time is Benjamin Franklin, a great-nephew of the not so pacifist American hero of Revolutionary War days by the same name. Nephew Benjamin is a well known preacher and the editor of the widely-circulated and well-respected Cincinnati-based American Christian Review (ACR), arguably the flagship publication of “the conservative wing” of the Stone-Campbell Movement, particularly among adherents in the North. Just as surely is the case with every leader of the time, Franklin converses with others about the coming war and one of those he communicates with is his good friend J.W. McGarvey. In a letter Franklin pens today to McGarvey we’re allowed to overhear how Franklin attacks the war question. His answers are classic Franklin: sharp as steel and uttered with a mind made up to give no quarter. It is equally clear that he expects others to follow him up the hill, no matter the personal price to be paid.

“I know not what course other preachers are going to pursue, for they have not spoken; but my own duty is now clear, and my policy is fixed. … Whether I remain a citizen of this Union or become a citizen of the Southern Confederacy, my feelings toward my brethren everywhere shall know no change. In the meantime, if the demon of war is let loose in the land, I shall proclaim to my brethren the peaceable commandments of my Savior, and strain every nerve to prevent them from joining any sort of military company or making any warlike preparation at all. I know that this course will be unpopular with men of the world, and especially with political and military leaders; and there are some who might style it treason. But I would rather, ten thousand times, be killed for refusing to fight than to fall in battle or to came home victorious with the blood of my brethren on my hands.”

Commenting further, this time speaking specifically to what everyone knows will be a frequent venue on the battlefield – Christians trying to wound or kill other Christians – Franklin adds:

“… however things may turn or whatever may come … we will not take up arms against, fight and kill the brethren we have labored for twenty years to bring into the kingdom of God. Property may be destroyed and safety may be endangered, or life lost; but we are under Christ, and we will not kill, or encourage others to kill, or fight the brethren.”

Franklin courageously and consistently backs up his walk with his talk. Despite the vast majority of the ACR’s subscribers being residents of the North (roughly 7,500 of 8,500), he continues to hold his pacifist position throughout the years of killing and will keep the ACR’s stance during the war neutral, not showing favoritism toward North or South. His view costs him a great many Northern friends and support and garners him frequent mockery as a coward, great suspicion of being a traitor, and a host of real enemies. In addition, since mail service to the South is cut off during the war, the times cost him all of his Southern subscribers. And, Southerners are unhappy with him for the same reasons those in the North are put out with him: though personally against slavery, he keeps the ACR’s stance on the subject neutral and he does not align his paper with either cause. For choosing a third way, Franklin is caught in a deadly crossfire.

Midway though the war in 1863, the American Christian Missionary Society’s passage of a resolution of support of the Union marks the start of a change in Franklin’s views. Not on pacifism, but as to missionary societies and other para-church organizations. Within a very few years, he will be adamantly and vocally opposed to such. Naturally, this conviction only adds fuel to the fire others are building under him. Due to several factors, Franklin moves his family from Ohio to Indiana in 1864 to be close to one of his sons, Joseph.

And what of the ACR? Resuming publication in 1866, David Lipscomb’s Gospel Advocate (GA) speaks well of the ACR, but doing so doesn’t salvage much for the ACR’s subscription base in the South. The GA assumes the flagship status of brotherhood papers in the South. With those in the North, the ACR still has something of a loyal fan base, but the war has crippled it seriously. It will remain that way the rest of Franklin’s life and for a nearly a decade more. However, it will experience a revival of strong influence during the days following its purchase by Daniel Sommer in 1886. And, remarkably, it will continue in publication until 1965.

As for Franklin himself, his star has peaked. His influence will never be nearly so great after the war as it was before. He will work hard – too hard – to attempt to regain much of what was lost and his health breaks in 1868. He lives yet another ten years, but does so as a virtual invalid, dying in 1878 at the all too young age of sixty-six. Still, his legacy of faith will continue through his sons and daughters, with preachers, as well as missionaries to India, counted among their number.

As I rehearse the experience of Ben Franklin, my mind is caught up into an endless loop of four questions:

First, is it actually Scripture that determines my values and beliefs or, in reality, are they more subtly shaped by the culture and other influences around me? Just exactly why do I believe what I believe?

Second, with what tenacity would I continue to preach and practice the convictions I now hold if they were suddenly put to the ultimate test, that test lasting perhaps even for the rest of my days and costing me, as well as those nearest and dearest to me, much in every way? If seemingly the whole world turned against me, how would I respond?

Third, what lasting effects will the troubles I face in life for my beliefs, and the way I handle those troubles, have on my wife and children? Will they continue in vital, active belief or will they grow bitter and jettison faith?

Fourth, isn’t it exceedingly odd how pacifism was once the consensus “conservative” position of our tribe, but is now commonly viewed today as a “liberal,” if not altogether stupid, perspective? We’ve come a long, long way, baby – but, in what direction and by the influence of what and whom? Which leads me back to the first question, and the cycle begins again.

April 17

April 17, 1866 – What is the most difficult thing in the walk of life? Some say it is repentance, for repentance is a very long walk uphill away from something toward which we are mightily drawn. But, perhaps it is reconciliation that is more difficult still, for it involves two trips: the journey of repentance and the journey of reconciliation itself, which is an equally long, pack-laden walk uphill toward someone who might want little, if anything, to do with us … or still worse. In addition, dangers of all kinds await along the way.

Just over ten months ago the Civil War ended and now the arduous task of the South’s Reconstruction is underway. At the war’s start, people North and South asked themselves the unthinkable: “Dare I try to kill my brother?” A significant majority decided, “Yes, I will, or help with the process.” Now, during Reconstruction, these same people – many of them members of the Restoration Heritage – ask themselves a new, scarcely imaginable question: “Dare I trust my brother who just tried to kill me or mine, and to some degree, succeeded?”

Today, in the Gospel Advocate, a revered leader of the Restoration Heritage in the South, Tolbert Fanning, reveals to us some of what is in his heart and how that he is still contemplating whether or not to even pick up the pack and start what appears to be a death march toward reconciliation. He unzips his heart, er, the pack, and shows us some its contents: many items of sharp bitterness, weighty distrust, and unwieldy reservation.

“There are reasons … which lead us to doubt the propriety of a hasty religious reconstruction with the friends of Christ North or South … the report has reached the disciples South, that the Brethren generally in the North, like a few, and very few in the South, have been employing the fist of wickedness for a few years past to put down transgressors and subjugate rebels against governments. … passing and approving RESOLUTIONS in Christian missionary meetings. We charge no one, but it occurs to us that men engaged in such service, may not be very well prepared to engage in genuine spiritual cooperation.”

Eight years after these remarks and three years before the South’s Reconstruction is said to be complete, Fanning dies in 1874, gored to death by a bull.

The Civil War was fought over the course of four years and Reconstruction took twelve more. But, in a great many ways we are still fighting the consequences of the former and wrestling with the heavy pack of the latter today. Our journey’s end is still not yet in view and many dangers face us along the way. But, let us continue, let us pray for strength for each day, let us not grow weary in the task, and test, of seeking to get along and going on.

April 18

April 18, 1864 – Missouri native Lewis Bradford Grogan is a Private in the CSA, 31st Texas Cavalry (Hawpe’s) Regiment and is a participant in the atrocity-laced Battle of Poison Springs in southern Arkansas. Grogan survives the battle, and the war, and in either 1865 or 1866, becomes a Christian within the Restoration Heritage.

Not long after his conversion he begins to preach. He marries Julia Emily Bates of Hunt County, Texas in 1870 and serves for a time as postmaster in Ravenna (Fannin County), Texas. In 1895, Lewis & Julia move from Texas to Chickasha, Indian Territory – twelve years prior to Oklahoma statehood – to work with a congregation there. Lewis’ ministry in Chickasha includes starting up a school (1906) and penning a history of mission work in the Indian Territory.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 1-7

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

March 1

* March 1, 1829John William (“J.W.”) McGarvey is born in Hopkinsville (Christian County), Kentucky. He will grow up to be one of the Stone-Campbell Movement’s most highly respected and internationally-known scholars.

Baptized into Christ in Buffalo Creek shortly after entering Bethany College in 1847, J.W. grows close to the Alexander Campbell family and is often found reading the Bible to the now virtually blind Thomas Campbell. Graduating as valedictorian of his class (1850), he will go on to preach with the Christian church in Dover (Lafayette County), Missouri (1852-1862) and Lexington, Kentucky (1862-1902), but the real impact of his life is felt through his teaching in the College of the Bible in Lexington, an institution over which he also serves as president for sixteen years.

Through his high respect for, and deep devotion to, careful study of Scripture, his vocal pacifist perspective during the Civil War, and his prolific writing, J.W. is a huge influence on the minds of many a young preacher in the Restoration Heritage of the time. Two of his most important books, the impact of which cannot be overstated, are his Commentary on Acts and Lands of the Bible. During a time of great challenge and change in the field of hermeneutics, J.W. is a champion of conservative interpretation of Scripture. And he will grow increasingly conservative with age. One example of this is seen in his shift in views regarding the Holy Spirit, a shift most evident in his commentary on Acts. In the first edition (1863), J.W. advocates for direct and personal work of the Holy Spirit in every Christian’s life, but moves to a word-only position in the revised edition of 1892.

* March 1, 1936 – Foy E. Wallace, Jr., editor of the Gospel Guardian, makes the following statement:

“If war is incompatible with Christianity, then a Christian’s participation in it is impossible. It would comport far more with the gospel of Christ for our preachers to be exhorting Christians to follow Christ and the apostles even to prison and martyrdom than to be instilling within them the spirit of militarism, war, and hell. … God help us in time of war to remain Christians, live or die.”

However, such sentiments on Wallace’s part are not long for this world. Wallace will completely forsake his pacifistic views and will announce his shift in the March 1942 issue of his paper The Bible Banner. He will become a vigorous proponent of Christian involvement in government and military service and will, therefore, in effect seek to undo (at least in terms of these two matters) all of the effort of his polar opposite of a preceding generation, David Lipscomb.

March 2

March 2, 1799 – A woman who will come to be known as “Mary Hayden” is born. Her maiden name is unknown to me.

Mary’s husband, William (1799-1863), a close associate of Walter Scott, is a preaching and singing dynamo during some of the earliest years of the Restoration Heritage. His memory is nothing short of phenomenal; it is believed that he has the vast majority of the New Testament memorized and he always has right at hand, without the aid of journal or notes, copious, accurate information regarding his travels and doings.

Speaking of travels, during the first twenty-five of William’s thirty-five years of ministry, he spends, on average, two out of every three days preaching or travelling to preach. His travels total 90,000 miles, two-thirds of those miles made on horseback. Nine thousand sermons proceed from his lips and he baptizes over 1,200 people. No wonder Walter Scott once said of him:

“Give me my Bible, my head, and William Hayden, and we will go forth to convert the world.”

Oh, but wait – this entry was supposed to be about William’s wife, Mary, wasn’t it? And there’s just something about her.

Quietly, at home, behind the scenes, raising the children by herself, is Mary. During the last two years of William’s life, Mary will increasingly care for him as he’s slowly robbed of his mobility and strength by a rare neuro-muscular disease (the symptoms of which sound much like what we know today as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; aka: ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease). And then, following William’s death, Mary will go on to live out her remaining fourteen years of life as a widow, dying at the age of 78 (1799-1877).

Truth be told, we know nearly nothing of Mary. What we do know is that she, William, and their children are referred to as “an excellent family.” But, while some of her husband’s life is well-documented, precious little exists to tell Mary’s story of quiet, hard-working, steady service to others.

And yet, that is her story, isn’t it? Quiet, steady service to others. It’s a story very familiar to many of us, isn’t it? For standing beside many a minister, then and now, is a “preacher’s wife,” one who is typically and truly in every sense of the phrase, “the better half.” And this world is a far better place because of such Christian women.

And so, thank you, Mary Hayden. For surely far better than most, you can appreciate the fullness of the meaning of the Scripture inscribed on your gravestone:

“There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

March 3

March 3, 1866 – Via the Gospel Advocate, David Lipscomb continues to air out his heartbreak and bitterness over the effects of the Civil War on the people and churches of the Restoration Heritage. He loathes the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS) and the effects of its resolution in 1863 to throw its moral support behind the cause of the Union.

“I feel intensely the degradation to the Christian religion and the Lord Jesus Christ, of making his church in any way the tool of the politicians of the partizans, to any of the strifes and conflicts of the institutions and governments of the world. The … Society [ACMS] in our esteem did this so far as it was in its power …

“… the action of this society … sent men into the Federal Army; we know it sent some brethren of good intentions, but strong impulses and feelings, into the Southern Army. Some, too, who never returned. We felt, we still feel, that that Society committed a great wrong against the Church and cause of God. We have felt, we still feel, that without evidence of a repentance of the wrong, it should not receive the confidence of the Christian brotherhood.

March 4

* March 4, 1866 – “The Sage of Bethany,” Alexander Campbell, Sr., first-born child of Thomas & Jane (Corneigle) Campbell, dies at his home in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia at 11:45 p.m. at the age of 77.

Through the years, Campbell, and those who drank deep from his wells, have often been interpreted by others as being intransigent and divisive. While this is certainly true of many who came after him, it was not true of Campbell himself. Hope and unity were two of his greatest life values. For example, shortly before Campbell’s death, Robert Richardson visited him and reported to him of a meeting between some of the “Reformers” (those of the Stone-Campbell Movement) and the Baptists. The meeting’s purpose was to discuss the possibility of unity. Upon hearing this news Campbell told Richardson:

“There was never any sufficient reason for a separation between us and the Baptists. … We ought to have remained one people, and to have labored together to restore the primitive faith and practice.”

Fittingly, it is Campbell’s last published article (Nov. 1865), “The Gospel,” that perhaps captures some of his perspective and efforts in life best of all. It is a perspective long since either deliberately forsaken or just plain forgotten by a great many of the Restoration Heritage, namely, that there is a distinction between the preaching of the good news of Christ and the teaching of doctrine by Christ’s apostles. Leroy Garrett sums up Campbell’s understanding thus:

“Campbell’s plea for unity since Christian Baptist days had been related to the distinction he made between preaching the gospel and teaching the apostles’ doctrine. The gospel consists of [seven] facts that we accept or reject [specifically, the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and coronation of Christ], while doctrine involves theological opinion over which we can and will differ. Campbell never understood believing facts to be simple intellectual assent to information but, a transforming appropriation of the reality to which the facts point. In the case of the gospel the facts point to the proposition that God is love. Campbell had long maintained that this proposition alone had the power to unite believers to God and one another. Believing and obeying the gospel unites us in Christ and is the basis of our unity and fellowship. The apostles’ teaching is the curriculum we study once we are enrolled in Christ’s school. In that school we are in different grades and we can and will differ in understanding.

“This distinction was so vital to Campbell that he presumed one could not have a proper understanding of the New Testament without recognizing it. It is not surprising, then, that he made it part of his last essay.” (The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement; pp.133-134)

Echoing her husband’s lifelong emphasis on hope and oneness with Christ, Campbell’s wife, Selina, says to him on his deathbed:

“The blessed Savior will go with you through the valley of the shadow of death.”

With his last words, Campbell makes reply:

“That he will! That he will!”

* March 4, 1880James A. Garfield is sworn into office, inaugurated as the twentieth President of the United States of America, by Chief Justice Morrison Waite. During the course of his (relatively) poorly-attended inaugural address, Garfield cautions the nation to diligently safeguard the rights of African-Americans so that they do not become “a permanent disfranchised peasantry.”

March 5

March 5, 1871Dr. John Thomas dies and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Kings County [Brooklyn], New York.

(a) Have you ever known anyone to be convinced that their specific branch (leaf?) on the tree of Christendom is “the one true church?”

(b) Have you ever dealt with someone who thinks all churches not like their own are suspect, at best, more nearly “synagogues of Satan?”

(c) Have you ever encountered anyone who believes that if a person isn’t baptized specifically “for the remission of sins” that their baptism isn’t valid and that they must, therefore, be re-immersed or else, their soul is in jeopardy?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those three questions then you need to know the name John Thomas.

Born in London, England, John Thomas is an intelligent individual. Teaching himself Hebrew while in his teens and taking up the study of medicine at the age of sixteen, Thomas is a determined and focused spirit, too. These traits will only intensify with age.

In 1832, Thomas comes to the United States. His trip aboard the Marquis of Wellesley is a stormy one, the lives of all aboard being in constant peril. During this voyage Thomas vows to God that if he survives the storm that he’ll spend the rest of his life in the study of religious faith and the truth about life and death. Twenty-seven year old Thomas survives, and winds up in Cincinnati, Ohio, ready to make good on his promise to God.

While in Cincinnati, Thomas encounters the Stone-Campbell Movement. In October 1832 he is baptized by Alexander Campbell. Campbell urges this bright young man to take up preaching and Thomas does just that. He then travels back east, marries (Ellen Hunt on January 1, 1834), and takes up residence in Philadelphia.

As an outlet for the fruit of his study, Thomas starts up a paper, the Apostolic Advocate (AA). It is soon filled with the teaching that if a person’s baptism isn’t specifically “for the remission of sins” then their conversion isn’t genuine. He believes this is not a matter for private, personal opinion, but for a test of fellowship; the line in the sand, so to speak. Harsh denunciation of all Protestant churches also fills the AA.

Now if all of sounds strangely reminiscent of Campbell’s Christian Baptist, The Third Epistle of Peter, etc., a decade earlier, you’re spot on. However, Campbell (and the other leading figures in the Restoration Heritage) are now appalled by Thomas’ views. Campbell quickly and strongly takes Thomas to task, even issuing a special supplement to the December 1837 issue of the Millenial Harbinger regarding Thomas’ sectarian teaching. Understand, the John Thomas affair is the context for Campbell’s article series ‘Any Christians Among the Sects?’ and quite likely even the exchange known as ‘The Lunenberg Letter.’

Campbell’s perspective is clear:

“I cannot … make any one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion.”

Thomas’ view is equally clear, being the exact opposite of Campbell and all of the other major leaders of the Stone-Campbell Movement of the time.

Thomas will remain stone deaf to Campbell’s arguments and entreaties. He will becomes even more dogmatic in his views and will go on to do all he can to disturb the churches of the Restoration Heritage within his sphere of influence, especially in a church in Richmond, Virginia, a church in which Thomas Campbell had preached the first sermon (back in March 1832).

Thomas has himself rebaptized, leaves the Stone-Campbell Movement, and consolidates his followers into the group now known as Christadelphians, which, like most groups, through time, splinters even further into even smaller, exclusive fellowships.

The John Thomas affair does not go unnoticed by those outside of the Restoration Heritage and some observe, rightly so, that the mid-1830’s, 1837 in particular, marks a time of real change in Campbell’s tone, though not trajectory, in regard to the place and work of the American Restoration Heritage within greater Christendom. Campbell will, you might say, mellow; becoming markedly kinder and more gentle in his dealings with other tribes.

Similarly, the John Thomas affair also reveals all too clearly for all to see that sectarianism is alive and well even among the members of the tribe that claims to fight sectarianism. Just who is and who is not a Christian (on the basis of baptism) will continue to be an issue in the decades following within the Heritage, even to our own time, and the specific issue of baptism/rebaptism will come to a head in the 1880’s in Austin McGary’s clash with David Lipscomb [cf. the Feb. 6 in this series].

March 6

March 6, 1826 – As he addresses someone who strongly disagrees with him, Alexander Campbell says in an article in the Christian Baptist (vol. 3, no. 8; p.223):

“I will esteem and love you, as I do every man, of whatever name, who believes sincerely that Jesus is the Messiah, and hopes in his salvation.”

March 7

March 7-8, 1862 – During the Battle of Pea Ridge (aka: Elhorn Tavern) near Fayetteville, Arkansas, Benjamin Franklin (“B.F.”) Hall, chaplain of the CSA, 6th Texas Cavalry Regiment (Stone’s), distinguishes himself – with his lust for blood.

Hall had come into the Restoration Heritage at the age of twenty through his reading of the Campbell-McCalla debate. Upon noting that baptism was “for the remission of sins” he had literally jumped to his feet, begun clapping his hands, and shouting,

“Eureka! Eureka! I have found it! I have found it!”

Hall will go on to become a widely-travelled and well-known preacher in the Stone-Campbell Movement. And it is during travels in Texas in 1849 that Hall becomes mightily impressed with the spirit of the people there. He writes of them:

“The people of Texas, among whom I have travelled and preached, are hospitable, intelligent, independent, every man claiming the right to believe and act for himself in religion. I have never seen a people more ready to hear and … obey the gospel. I know of no country which presents so fine a prospect for usefulness as Texas just now. The people are not yet sectarianized.”

Hall cannot keep himself away, and so, finally moves to Texas in 1856. However, as the cyclonic storm of impending civil war bears down on Texas, and the entire country, Hall’s spirit is slowly but steadily caught up in its rage.

Shortly before the Battle of Pea Ridge, fifty-six year old Chaplain Hall is paid a visit by fellow Stone-Campbell Movement preachers William Baxter and Robert Graham (respectively, second president and founder of Arkansas College in Fayettville). Baxter and Graham are horrified and stunned virtually speechless by what they encounter in Hall: a man who loves war and counts all of his brethren in the North as “infidels.” One excerpt from their conversation tells all. Hall relates to them, with joy and laughter, as to how a friend of his, Alf Johnson, “had gone over the battlefield after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek and who, when seeing a wounded Federal soldier begging for medical assistance, instead ruthlessly shot him.”

Louis & Bess White Cochran continue the story:

“At the Battle of Pea Ridge near Fayetteville, Arkansas … [the regiment of which Hall was a part] was engaged in battle under General [Benjamin] McCulloch, and ingloriously routed. But the taste of blood was evidently sweet to Dr. Hall, and the desire for revenge obsessed him. It was reported that he behaved more like a fiend than a Christian gentleman. His total concern was to kill. His stated ambition, legend has it, was to catch every Yankee soldier he could find and cut off his right hand, and then send him back to his command with the severed hand tied to his saddle.” (Captives of the Word; p.145)

Some of the deep irony in all of this is not to be missed. It was Barton W. Stone, Sr. (a died-in-the-wool pacifist) who officially set Hall out on his way in ministry in 1825 and, ironically, it is Stone’s son, Barton W. Stone, Jr. (who is anything but a pacifist) who commands the regiment in which Hall serves as chaplain during this battle. Hall will serve as chaplain of the 6th Texas for nine months, the same period of time during which Stone serves as its Colonel.

To capture a sense of just some of the horrors of war – and such having quite the opposite effect on a man than they did on B.F. Hall! – hear the remembrances of Isaac Smith. Smith served as a Private in Co. E of the CSA, 3rd Missouri Infantry. Listen to his reflections on the night following the second day of battle:

“It was a very cold night and it was pitiful to hear the wounded calling all through that night in the woods and alone for some water or something to keep them warm. I hope I never will hear such pleadings and witness such suffering again. Such cruelty and barbarity ought not to be tolerated by civilized nations. Young men, the flower of the country in the bloom of youth to be shot down and left on the field of battle to suffer untold agony, and die the death of the brave, to be forgotten by their countrymen and all that can be said of him is ‘He was a brave man and died for the cause he thought was right.’ Some were buried and some were not; left on the field of battle to be devoured by wild animals. Oh, these things are fearful to contemplate. Yet men will say from the stump and in the Halls of Congress that it is a war of Humanity and that it is a war for humanity. My observations are that humanity has no part in it. Everything that is barbarous and savage is put in full force by all who engage in war.

“In writing these lines forty years after this battle, above referred to, I have been forced to stop in the middle of it and express my feelings with regard to this matter and to let all who may read these lines know that I am utterly opposed to this thing called War, and hope I may never hear of one nation going to war with another nation. No matter what the grievance, these things ought to be settled without blood shed.”

During the Battle of Pea Ridge, the 6th Texas suffers the loss of nineteen men (3 killed, 3 wounded, 13 missing).

Of course, as is the case with all of the large battles of the Civil War, there are no small number of men involved in combat who are either Christians in the Stone-Campbell Movement or who will become such following the war. As we’ve seen, some of them are, or will become, preachers. And among those who fight in the Battle of Pea Ridge who later become preachers in the Restoration Heritage, we’ll note three here.

Isaac Polk Scarborough serves in the CSA, 19th Arkansas Infantry Regiment. He will become one of the earliest preachers to work in West Texas.

Amos Josephus (“A.J.”) Lemmons (grandfather of Reuel Lemmons, who will be a very influential editor of the Firm Foundation and Image) serves in the Union Army.

And James Harvey (“J.H.”) Garrison, highly influential editor of the Christian-Evangelist, serves as a Private in Co.F of the U.S.A., 24th Missouri Infantry. Garrison is seriously wounded (a shattered leg) at Pea Ridge, but is able to make recovery. Garrison had been prompted to enlist after seeing the effects of the Confederate victory at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek (Aug. 10, 1861) in his home county in Missouri – the very battle B.F. Hall referenced in his conversation with Baxter and Graham. [For more on J.H. Garrison, cf. the Feb. 2 entry in this series.]

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be thought-provoking and helpful reading:

Alliances, Bible interpretation, Israel, politics & war: Why Evangelicals Should Think Twice about Equating Modern Israel with Israel of the Bible

“Ancient Israel was not supposed to have a standing army. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to fund a permanent military. Israel’s rulers were forbidden from amassing large numbers of horses (Deuteronomy 17:16-17)—which was about as close as you could get to an arms race in the ancient Near East. Israel’s king was not supposed to make foreign military alliances. God stipulated that Israel should remain militarily weak so they would learn to trust him for protection.”

Benevolence, community, evangelism, & outreach: Instead of a Coffee Shop How About a Laundromat?

“… what would be a good third space for a poor neighborhood like the one surrounding our church? A place that would serve the neighborhood but could also be a place where people would spend time talking and forming relationships? My idea has always been for our church to run laundromat.”

Faith & prayer: 11 Brother Lawrence Quotes that Will Challenge How You Practice Faith

“After a dramatic religious conversion, young soldier Nicholas Herman decided to devote his life to following God and learning more about Christ. He joined a monastery and took the name Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. There, he spent the rest of his life working in a kitchen and repairing his brothers’ sandals. But during his decades of doing seemingly menial jobs, Brother Lawrence discovered a profound truth about having a relationship with God: Experiencing His presence can—and should—happen everywhere.”

God’s character, justice & vengeance: Deconstructing the Bully God – N.T. Wright

“…  love, faced with rejection, overcomes it with yet more love.”

Non-violence & violence: Does the Bible Teach Total Non-Violence? [essential reading]

“If you honestly, carefully, and with an open mind study the following passages, I believe you’ll agree that the teaching against violence for Kingdom people is as clear as any teaching in the Bible could ever be. I’ll break this sampling of passages (the list isn’t at all exhaustive) into three categories, Old Testament, teachings of Jesus and teachings in the rest of the New Testament.”

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to six articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading:

Affirming, communication, freedom, respect, tolerance, welcoming & words: Slippery Words— Tolerance, Respect, Welcoming, Affirming, Freedom

“What of course has happened in our American society is that as the culture has changed, the semantic range of a whole series of words has changed as well.”

American Sniper, cinema, discernment, film, movies, military service, perspective & war: I Was An American Sniper, and Chris Kyle’s War Was Not My War

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking the hit movie captures the truth of the Iraq conflict. I should know. I lived it. … If you really want to be a patriotic American, keep both eyes open and maintain 360 degrees of awareness. Don’t simply watch American Sniper. Read other sources, watch other films about the conflict. Talk to as many veterans as you can, get a full perspective on the war experience and the consequences. Ensure the perceived enemy in your vision is what it seems.”

Bible interpretation, misappropriation, misunderstanding & promises: 2 Ways We Misinterpret God’s Promises [essential reading]

“Over my years of ministry, I’ve discerned a tendency among conservative Christians to assume that anything in Scripture that looks like a promise is in fact something that God promises them.”

Church decline, culture & religion, history, perceptions, time & United States: Religious Decline in America? The Answer Depends on Your Timeframe

“Did the twentieth century see a rise and fall of religiosity within a larger pattern of stability? Or does the late 20th-century religious decline shrink to insignificance when compared with the religious rise since the founding of the nation?”

Church life, generation & peace: 3 Ways to Encourage Peace Between Generations in Denominations

“The fact is, each member within a family has a tendency to find their own style and way in life. But as each individual develops their own unique identity, they should not develop a spirit of pride over the others in the family.”

Choices, consequences, corporate worship & legacy: 15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

“Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines. … Eliminating choral expressions in worship. … Worship leader ageism. … Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper. … Making worship and music exclusively synonymous. … Trying to recreate worship with each new generation. … Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar. … Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal. … Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs. … Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship. … Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God. … Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship. … Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle. … Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty. … Worship services at the expense of worship service.”