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.