on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: May 10-16

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

May 10

Today, death is close at hand. Very close, indeed.

* May 10, 1816 – Having made a recent trip to Kentucky, eighteen year old Thomas Miller (“T.M.”) Allen and a young female friend are making their way back to Virginia on horseback. However, they are caught out in the open as a storm envelops them. The storm’s strong winds blow over a large tree which lands on them, killing Allen’s friend and the horse. Allen escapes death, but suffers injuries to an arm that will leave that arm crippled for the rest of his life.

Seven years later, Barton W. Stone, Sr. will baptize Allen into Christ and he will come to be used as a mighty instrument of God for the advance of the Restoration Heritage in the state of Missouri. [cf. the entry for March 24 in this series for more information on Allen]

* May 10, 1863 – With his army outnumbered two-to-one near Chancellorsville (Spotsylvania County), Virginia, Confederate General Robert E. Lee risks all and defies conventional military wisdom by dividing his troops in the face of his foe, Union General Joseph Hooker. Sending many of his men out on an attempt to outflank the Union Army of the Potomac, Lee selects Lieutenant General Thomas J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson to lead the effort. Jackson’s attack is more than just a little successful and the Union Army is served one of its greatest defeats of the entire American Civil War.

However, the victory comes at great price to Lee and the Confederacy for Jackson himself is one of the battle’s casualties, suffering three wounds, all of them from a volley of friendly fire. In efforts to save his life, surgeons amputate Jackson’s left arm, and though the surgery is a success, the doctors are no match for the case of pneumonia that follows. Still, death does linger long enough in claiming its victim for Jackson’s wife to arrive and be at her husband’s side at his passing. Jackson’s last words are: “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” Upon learning of his friend’s death, Lee says: “I have lost my right arm.”

Jackson’s deathbed is on Fairfield Plantation, the property of a man by the name of John Chandler .. and Chandler is one of the elders of a nearby Restoration Heritage church in Guinea Station. Just before what was to become known as the Battle of Chancellorsville, Chandler, sympathetic to the Confederate cause and having sons in Confederate service, had offered his home to Jackson to use as his headquarters. Jackson graciously declined that offer, but he now has no say in the same serving as his deathbed. Ironically, the following spring (1864), this same elder’s home is taken over by the staff of Union General U. S. Grant for use as their headquarters during the Battle of the Wilderness.

To this day, the National Park Service maintains John Chandler’s home, Fairfield Plantation, as a shrine to Stonewall Jackson. The property is located just south of Fredericksburg.

May 11

May 11, 1800 – Today, William P. DeFee, the first Restoration Heritage preacher known to regularly minister in Texas, is born to William & Delilah DeFee in Darlington County, South Carolina. He will labor hard for Christ’s kingdom for several decades among people who are largely unreceptive, his most effective sermon being his godly life.

We know precious little about DeFee’s youth; however, we do know that at the young age of fourteen he serves with General Andrew Jackson’s army in the Battle of New Orleans. He marries Nancy Ann Partee in 1820 and he determines to become a doctor, and so, enters a medical school in Tennessee. And it is there, in Dyer County, Tennessee in 1827, that a man by the name of “Goodman,” an elder in a Stone-Campbell Movement church, baptizes DeFee into Christ.

Making his living now as a travelling physician, DeFee’s growing family (William and Nancy will come to have at least fourteen children) move to east Texas in 1833. As DeFee travels and treats people’s physical ills, he also seeks to address their spiritual health through sharing Scripture and preaching in homes. And it is somewhere in the region we know today as Sabine, San Augustine, and Shelby counties in Texas that DeFee takes a moment to pen an ever so brief report of his ministry for publication in Barton W. Stone’s Christian Messenger. The note reads:

“I have started a society on the Christian doctrine.”

We would likely refer to such today as a “community Bible class.” Three years later (1836), in Rhoddy Anthony’s home just a few miles outside of San Augustine, DeFee gathers enough members together so as to organize a church known as “Antioch.”

DeFee continues to practice medicine and preach throughout the area. In Shelby County in 1847, DeFee and W.K. Withers plant a church in the home of Richard Hooper in Shelby county. The little flock of eight charter members put forth the following statement of their intent (church covenant):

“We, the Christians of the church called Zion, have met together this day, the 18th of July, 1847, and give each other our hearts and hands and all agree to take the Bible as the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”

However, not everything is roses. In brief reports through the years during this time, DeFee communicates to the brotherhood that the work in east Texas is more than just a little difficult. Preachers are exceedingly few and far between and DeFee describes Christian faith in general as being in a “cold state” in that portion of the world. Indeed, if one judges by the number of Christians of the heritage and the number of congregations, east Texas lags behind any other portion of Texas in terms of growth even as late as 1860, and the coming of the Civil War decimates what is found there. In the words of one preacher, J.H. Cain, in 1866:

“Our churches in East Texas, most of them, have come to nothing.”

The following year (1867), DeFee concurs, once again using the word “cold” to describe the difficulty of the field and the state of the churches in East Texas.

But, DeFee is made of tough material and he soldiers on, sowing the seed of the kingdom until his dying days. J.A.A. Hemphill authors Defee‘s obituary notice that appears in the Nov. 4, 1869 issue of the Gospel Advocate. In it Hemphill notes:

“Never, perhaps, at least not in modern times, has any man lived nearer the cross, for near a half century than did Father Defee. Always hopeful and cheerful, he went forth battling for the cause of his blessed Redeemer. When he began preaching he was completely alone in contending for the faith and for the Gospel as the power of God to salvation. He lived to be able to count good and true brethren by hundreds among his acquaintances. He was possessed of a piety that put scorners to the blush, and, though not eloquent as a preacher, his influence as a Christian was great, owing to his orderly walk and Godly conversation.

“About a year before he died he was stricken with paralysis, and for the remainder of his life had but little use of one arm and leg, and was almost wholly unable to ride on horseback. Yet, so earnest was he for the perseverance of the Saints that he would walk for miles around in his neighborhood, encouraging the brethren and sisters to be faithful. When death came he was ready, and by his words and acts showed that he desired to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. An aged wife, the companion of his youth, and a numerous offspring join his spiritual brethren in mourning his loss.”

May 12

Today, we (A) hear a careful scholar make a grand boast and (B) play “name that county and church” (though precious little “play” ever happened there).

* May 12, 1863 – A writer, editor, publisher, and book lover gushes praise today for a book that is about to come from the press. Speaking in regard to J.W. McGarvey’s forthcoming Commentary on Acts, Benjamin Franklin writes in his paper, the American Christian Review:

“It is a commentary on the part of the New Testament most needed and one of the kind demanded. We are satisfied this work will meet the expectation of the brotherhood as fully as any book that has appeared for many years.”

Just a few days earlier, in an article in the Gospel Advocate, McGarvey himself had written about the making of his commentary. Aside from his most pressing work related to ministry, the research and writing of this commentary has been his point of focus during the past three-and-a-half years. He penned his work so that it would be “a book to be read, and not merely a book of reference.” And, he sees it as a work “adapted to circulation among sectarians and the unconverted” as well as “for the edification of the brethren.”

However, it is McGarvey’s claim for his brethren, not his commentary, that is perhaps most interesting (amazing?) of all. In his words – and McGarvey, if anything, is a man not prone to exaggerate anything in the slightest degree and of a deliberate habit of stating matters precisely as he believes them be – his commentary on Acts:

“… presents the real meaning of the text, as developed in the writings and teachings of our brotherhood, the only people of modern times who have understood and appreciated this book [the book of Acts].”

One hundred and fifty two year after its initial publication, McGarvey’s commentary on Acts is still available, now in both paper and electronic formats. However, McGarvey’s boast that we are “the only people of modern times who have understood and appreciated” the book of Acts is a bit … suspect.

* May 12, 1864 – It’s now time to play “name that county and church.” You’ll receive six clues as to the identity of both.

(1) This church was begun in 1832, rather early on in the Restoration Heritage. Eighty-one year old Samuel Alsop led the design and construction of the existing church building.

(2) On several occasions before the American Civil War, Alexander Campbell himself preached in the county where this church is situated.

(3) The county in which your church building is located is the setting not only for a great deal of all kinds of fighting throughout the course of the war, but serves as the battlefield for four – yes, f-o-u-r – major battles.

(4) During the course of one of those major battles – the last of the big four and one in which there are over thirty thousand casualties – your church building is made use of as a hospital for Confederate soldiers. The Zion Methodist Church will serve as a hospital for Union troops.

(5) What is agreed on by many veterans, both Union and Confederate, as being truly the most horrific hand-to-hand combat of the entire war, not just in this particular battle, goes on rather close to your church building, some of it as close as half-a-mile away.

(6) And as a part of that battle, today, a cannonball flies through the front doors of your church house/hospital, lodges in a wall … and by the grace of God, does not explode.

Name that county and church building. Five bonus points will be rewarded if you can name the specific battle referenced; ten points if you can identify the battle and the scene of the battle’s most gruesome combat.

The answer? That would be the Berean Christian Church in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Whether Alexander Campbell ever preached in Spotsylvania, I don’t know, but it is known that he preached a number of times in nearby Fredericksburg. The four major battles fought in Spotsylvania County are Chancellorsville, the Battle of the Wilderness, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania Court House. Some of the war’s most gruesome fighting takes place at what becomes known as the “Bloody Angle” portion of the “Mule Shoe” (about four miles from Berean Christian Church) and at “Heth’s Salient” about a half-a-mile away from Berean Christian.

Today, the Bearean Christian Church building serves as the Spotsylvania County Museum.

May 13

May 13, 1846 – A preacher confesses his deep regret over having left some things unsaid.

Today, war between the United States of America and Mexico begins. And two years later, Alexander Campbell expresses the trouble in his heart over having not spoken more freely and fully against Christian participation in warfare before the Mexican-American War began. Indeed, Campbell fears that his relative silence may have cost some young men their very lives. Campbell poignantly writes in an 1848 issue of the Millenial Harbinger:

“I must confess that I both wonder at myself and am ashamed to think that I have not spoken out my views, nor ever before written an essay on this subject … I am sorry to think, very sorry indeed, to be only of the opinion, that probably even this much published by me some three years, or even two years ago, might have saved some lives that have been thrown away in the desert—some hot-brained youths. We must create a public opinion on this subject. We should inspire a pacific spirit, and show off on all proper occasions the chief objections to war.”

May 14

May 14, 1861 – Today, while one man helps steer men toward heaven, his nephew helps lead the way to the creation of (what John Denver famously styled) “almost heaven” here on earth.

Less than one month ago (April 17), a convention assembled and voted for the secession of the state of Virginia from the United States. The matter is anything but unanimous with over one-third of the delegates present voting in opposition to secession (55 of 143). Those on the losing end of the vote now schedule their own convention and meet today in Wheeling, Virginia for the explicit purpose of condemning the recent vote to secede. By means of a referendum a little over one month following (June 20), the dissenters announce that the western portion of Virginia is now separate and apart from the rest of the state. It is decided that the city of Wheeling will be the seat of government for this new “state.” Two years later, to the day (June 20, 1863), West Virginia is admitted into the union of the United States of America.

A leading figure in all of these doings toward the formulation of the new state of West Virginia is the editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer, Wheeling’s newspaper: Archibald Campbell, Jr. Archibald is a nephew of Alexander Campbell, a son of Alexander Campbell’s younger brother, Archibald, Sr. In fact, a letter Archibald penned to President Abraham Lincoln is considered by some to have played a significant part in tipping the scales in favor of West Virginia’s admission to the Union.

At the time of today’s dissenter’s convention, Archibald, Jr. is twenty-eight years of age and his uncle, Alexander Campbell, Sr., is seventy-two.

There is no shortage of abolitionists in the immediate, and extended, family of Alexander Campbell; however, there are others, such as Alexander Campbell, Jr., who serve the Confederacy. As one might imagine, the relations between all of the Campbell family members are, as we are apt to put it today, “complicated.” Following the war, the strained relations between Archibald, Jr. and Alexander, Jr. eventually heal, with Alexander, Jr.’s wife, Mary Anna, being the prime mover for their reconciliation.

May 15

May 15, 1896 – Death knows no bias today as a preacher and his wife – James Daniel & Martha Frances Shearer – are among several dozen killed by the effects of a rare F5 tornado that cuts a twenty-eight mile long swath of destruction through north-central Texas. An obituary notice in the Gospel Advocate (June 11, 1896) reads:

“Shearer, J.D.

“Brother J. D. Shearer and Sister Shearer (“Nee” Taylor) [Martha Frances (Taylor) Shearer] were both killed by a cyclone that swept away their house in the suburbs of Sherman, Texas, May 15, 1896. Mistaking the noise of the cyclone for a passing train, there was no effort to escape until it was too late. Two of their sons were with them in the same room, and were badly bruised, but not seriously. Brother Shearer was instantly killed. Sister Shearer lived a few hours, and, it is supposed, died of the shock. Almost everybody was wild with excitement. What words could describe the feelings of the son who were away from home when they heard that their father and mother were thus taken away? One of the sons was so far away that he could not come in time to see the remains. The hearts of the entire community went out in sympathy toward the distressed ones; and one of the largest audiences ever assembled in Grayson County at a funeral gathered around the grave, where I tried to say some fitting words in memory of my schoolmate and fellow-laborer, J. D. Shearer.

“Brother and sister Shearer had struggled hard to rear their large family, and had seen them grow up to be useful and honored citizens, a happy family. The sons great desire was to see their parents comfortable in their declining years. Alas, how bitterly disappointed! Brother Shearer had spent his life since he was a student at Kentucky University in preaching and teaching, and Sister Shearer has toiled faithfully by his side. The mother’s life seemed wrapped up in the lives of her boys. To care for them and to help them was her sweet joy, and to dote upon and care for their mother was happiness itself to these sturdy young men. Responsibility was thus suddenly removed, but there came the greatest of all earthly affliction. May the Father of the fatherless comfort and help them to bear their heavy burden, and may they be brought at last to their Fathers house on high.

“O. A. Carr”

The man preaching the funerals and writing this obituary notice is Dr. Oliver Anderson (“O.A.”) Carr, considered to be “perhaps one of the best known educators in the South” at the time. O.A., and his wife, Mattie, former missionaries to Australia, had recently (1894) founded Carr-Burdette College, “a school for young ladies” in Sherman. Mattie raised the money to build the school by selling two hundred and fifty $200 lots in the rapidly growing city. The school continued until the onset of the Great Depression (1929) brought its work to an end. O.A. Carr and the deceased preacher, J.D. Shearer, were the same age (both born in 1845) and, as noted in the obituary, were both graduates of Kentucky University.

May 16

May 16, 1811 – Today, a twenty-two year old preacher by the name of Alexander Campbell embarks for the first time on what will become a very common thing in his life: a preaching tour. He journals his experience and in the course of reading over his shoulder we learn of the connections he makes, where he preaches, what Scriptures he preaches from, and how he is received.

“I set out from my home on Thur., May 16, 1811, and stopped first evening at Lutham Young’s. Conversed upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion. Next morning, accompanied to the river by Mr. Young, I crossed [into eastern Ohio] opposite Steubenville. Introduced myself to Mr. James Larimore and Dr. Slemmons, and was received with courtesy. Was introduced by Dr. Slemmons to Mr. Buchanan, lodging at the Doctor’s. After dining, reasoned with Mr. Buchanan on the general state of religion, and argued the principles with him which we advocate; but he would not see. In our discourse a Mr. Boyd, of Steubenville, interrupted by vociferously taking Mr. Buchanan’s side of the argument. Finished in a disorderly manner. Appointed to preach in the courthouse, Sabbath day [Sunday], at 12 o’clock. Proceeded to James McElroy’s, where I tarried till Friday morning, hospitably entertained. On Sabbath day, I preached, according to appointment, in Steubenville. Had a crowded house, notwithstanding Messrs. Buchanan, Snodgrass, Lambdin, Powel, etc. I had a mixed audience of Presbyterians, Unionists, Methodists, etc. Mr. Lambdin, the Methodist preacher, was present. I was introduced to a Mr. Hawkins, a most respectable citizen, and a Methodist. Sabbath evening, preached at Mr. McElroy’s, among whom was Mr. McMillan, with whom I sojourned that night at Mr. Thompson’s. Reasoned with him upon our principles. He granted me three things of magnitude.: 1. That independent church government had as good a foundation in Scripture as the Presbyterian. 2. That the office of a ruling elder was not found clearly in the Scriptures, but was a human expediency. 3. That he did not believe that the Confession of Faith was the system, that is, the precise system, the whole system, or the only system of truth contained in the Bible. Preached on Monday, at the McElroy’s, to a respectable assembly, from Gal. iv. 15,16 – On the Sabbath at Steubenville, my text was Heb. ii.3. In the evening, Mark xvi.15. On Wednesday morning, left McElroy’s, and arrived at Cadiz. That evening lodged at Squire McNeeley’s. Thursday morning, proceeded to Dr. McFadden’s; tarried with him until Sabbath morning. Preached, Sabbath day, two sermons, to a large audience – one from John v. 39, and the other from Acts xi.26. Sabbath evening, lodged at Samuel Gilmore’s. Monday evening at James Ford’s. Preached at James Ford’s, Tuesday, two discourses – one from Rom. viii.32, and the other from 2 Tim. 1.13. Tuesday evening lodged at a Methodist exhorter’s. Wednesday at James Sharpe’s. Preached, Thursday, at William Perry’s. Stopped all night. Friday, stopped at Samuel Garret’s. Preached, Saturday, at Samuel Patten’s, in Wheeling, from Phil. iii.8. Lodged with him, and preached, Sabbath day, June 2, at St. Clairsville, from Rom. viii. 32, and secondly, from Isa. lxvii. 14, with lxii.10, and lodged at Mr. Bell’s.”

How I wish now that I had established such a habit of journaling so early in ministry and had faithfully kept up with such through the years! If you are “in ministry,” let me encourage you to “just do it.” And if you do have such a habit, exactly how do you do it: on paper or electronically?

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: April 26 – May 2

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

April 26

April 26, 1885 – Two months after her death at the age of fifty-three, a women’s missionary society in the Restoration Heritage today honors the memory of the first female editor of a paper within our tribe. Over the course of 20+ years, Marcia Melissa (Bassett) Goodwin had edited several papers: The Christian Monitor (the first paper among us designed exclusively for women), Mother’s Monitor, Ladies Christian Monitor, Christian Companion, and Missionary Tidings.

Marcia was married twice. Her first husband, Orson Rodolphus Colgrove, a sheriff, was murdered in 1869, the chief suspects in the case being the Ku Klux Klan. Her second husband, Elijah Goodwin, was a quite influential pioneer evangelistic preacher in our heritage in Indiana, well known for his skills in persuasion. And yet, Elijah struggled with how a lack of deep unity among us often impaired our witness. He once put it like this:

“We have said more on this subject than any other people during the last quarter of a century, and yet we do not exhibit to the world any more of that union than we ought.”

April 27

April 27, 1865 – Today, the worst maritime disaster in the history of the United States takes place on the flood-swollen Mississippi River and it’s all about greed. Some of those killed are of the Restoration Heritage, as are some of those who survive, and it is a family with deep roots in the Restoration Heritage that is instrumental in saving the lives of no small number of the survivors.

The U.S. government is offering money for safe passage of every Union soldier recently liberated from Confederate POW camps in the South to Northern soil. The amount offered is five dollars per enlisted man and ten dollars for each officer. The greed of a Union officer with a strong say as to the transport of the men, Lt. Colonel Reuben Hatch, and the Captain of the steamboat Sultana, J. Cass Mason, leads to the placement of 2,350 people (2,150 of them ex-POWs) on a craft rated to safely ferry less than 400. On this trip, literally every available square foot of room on the ship is occupied by human flesh.

During the trip up river, just a few miles north of Memphis, Tennessee, one of the Sultana‘s boilers, hastily patched up recently rather than truly repaired, explodes. The explosion of that boiler is quickly followed by the explosion of two more. As a result, whether due to the effects of the explosions, the ensuing fires, or by drowning in the waters of the mighty Mississippi, 1,800 of the 2,350 aboard die. Captain Mason is among the dead.

The vast majority of the ex-POWs aboard the Sultana are from states in which members of Restoration Heritage churches are numerous: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Consequently, a number of the fatalities, as well as the survivors, are of our tribe. For example, we know that John C. Maddex of the U.S., 54th Indiana Infantry is one of those who survives today’s disaster and it is Maddex, who, years after the war, is a founding member of a Restoration Heritage church in Paynesville, Indiana.

While rescue efforts come to pass through the efforts of many, no small number of those who survive are saved through the efforts of members of a well-known Restoration Heritage family in that area, the Bartons, who are also married into another Restoration Heritage family, the Edmunds.

April 28

April 28, 1772Abner Jones, a man born today in Royalton (Worcester County), Massachusetts, reminds us to not be too smug about our religious ancestors. Those who comprised the leadership and membership of the Stone-Campbell Movement are anything but alone in attempts in the United Sates in the 1800’s to “restore primitive Christianity.” To leave man-made traditions and to seek Scripture alone as guide does not mean people will arrive at the same understanding of Scripture or the same practice of expression of Christian faith. The ministry of Abner Jones, an associate by the name of Elias Smith, and the “Christian Connection” alone is proof enough of the point.

In 1791, years before the Stone-Campbell Movement grows legs and in an entirely different neck of the woods (New England), Abner Jones takes up preaching. However, as he preaches, he seeks to be “just a Christian,” totally free and independent of denominational creeds, doctrines, and ties. In his quest to do such, Jones jettison’s his Calvinist upbringing, including such matters as unconditional election and predestination. He plants several churches and these churches establish ties with each other, becoming known simply as the “Christian Connection.” Elias Smith assists in the development of this ministry, but will eventually leave the Christian Connection in 1817 to join the Universalist faith.

In years to come, Christian Connection churches often sprout up in the same fields that Stone-Campbell churches are often found growing. However, while those of the Christian Connection share a number of things in common with the Stone-Campbell churches, matters both great and small, they differ enough that they do not unite. They both seek to be independent of man-made teaching and to be guided solely by Scripture, but they approach the process differently and so, arrive at different conclusions One example of difference is that Christian Connection churches are not minded to practice weekly communion, practicing quarterly observance instead, something Stone-Campbell churches cannot abide.

As time rolls on, the Christian Connection evolves. Ultimately, it merges with the Congregational Church in 1931 and then later with the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1957, and so, comes to form the group known today as the United Church of Christ.

April 29

April 29, 1820 – Today, a man is born in New York who will come to offer the church a unique evangelistic tool, and it is the very production of this tool that perhaps reveals to us some of the state of mind of not just that man, but a large portion of a movement. The man’s name is Montgomery C. (“M.C.”) Tiers and he will become a preacher within the Restoration Heritage.

Remarkably, it is during the third year of the American Civil War (1864) that Tiers edits and publishes a 289 page book entitled The Christian Portrait Gallery: Consisting of Historical and Biographical Sketches and Photographic Portraits of Christian Preachers and Others. Of course, given the war, there would be no chance for such a work to originate in the South, much less for it to acquire any real success in terms of circulation there. This work is published in the North, in Cincinnati, Ohio, with expectations of its widest circulation being in the North.

Close to forty pages of text open the work and attempt to sketch with words something of what Restoration Heritage churches are about; what life as member of such a church is like. For example, the work contains the following snapshot of precisely how, as we say today, people “officially place membership” with a specific congregation:

“New Members

“As soon as expedient after immersion, the new disciple is expected to present himself to some particular congregation for membership; and he is received into the communion of the Church by the right hand of fellowship, presented by either one of the elders in behalf of the congregation, or by the entire membership in person. The latter is the usual method, but there are some exceptions in favor of the former.”

The textual portrait of Restoration Heritage church life is followed by pictures and textual abstracts of sixty preachers, none of whom are under the age of forty. Who to include, and who not to include, in such a work? Some of the preachers who make appearance are people we would expect to see, their names still instantly recognized by many today (e.g. – Alexander Campbell, Sr., Thomas Campbell, Walter Scott, Barton W. Stone, Sr., etc.). Naturally, others are figures not nearly so well remembered now (e.g. – A. Chatterton, George Elley, Almon B. Green, Eleazar Parmlay, etc.). Doing so politely, without naming names, Tiers notes in the book’s preface: “One or two well-known brethren, whose prominent positions and increasing influence are highly appreciated by the writer, as they are by brethren at large, have, after repeated importunities, ‘respectfully declined’ representation among ‘distinguished brethren.'”

I find Tiers’ book intriguing. Not so much for its content, but for its approach … and what it might be saying about the times in which the book appeared. Is it possible that Tiers’ book includes more pictures than Tiers intended to share? That is, is it simply an evangelistic tool best used in the hands of those who are a bit more well-to-do with those who, being yet to believe, are also a bit more well off in society (i.e. – a tool the well-heeled and/or prosperous can use to reach the skeptical prosperous)? Or does this book’s very existence also portray a growing desire on the part of Restoration Heritage members for more respectability in society, representing a distinct turn from standing against culture to a stance seeking more acceptance by it? Is there a growing restless in the Restoration Heritage, at least in the northern half of the country at that time, to make sure that those with whom they interact know that they are not composed of merely – to borrow a phrase from the KJV in Acts 4.13 – “unlearned and ignorant men?”

The work is clearly at pains at times to “dress up” the Heritage’s preachers in finer duds. For example, while “Raccoon” John Smith is included among the sixty, his nickname is not published, but reads instead (perhaps in our eyes today even worse!), “R***** John Smith.” And, in several remarks in the preface, Tiers is quite revealing, the following serving as an example:

“… this work is written with reference to its influence on the ‘uninformed’ world, rather than of the Church. I have desired to let the ‘world’ know, what I am entirely conscious is the fact, that the Gospel which we preach has not been received simply by the ignorant, illiterate, and rude of this generation, but that many of the highly-gifted and influential of our age have been constrained, by the weight of the evidence, to yield assent to its claims, and to devote themselves to ministry. Feeling conscious of this, I am willing and desirous that the character and extent of our success as a people shall be made known everywhere through the persons, lives, and characters of those who have been the instruments.”

Is such an approach a good one? Or is it one of the reasons some “well-known brethren … respectfully declined” to participate? We’re left to wonder, but it is not at all difficult to imagine the possibilities.

And so, we’re moved to ask today: can efforts to extend the good news of Christ to others actually be motivated by, and morph into, the bad news of the church seeking the world’s acceptance … and the church being utterly blind to it in all in the process? And if so, when and where exactly is the tipping point reached, and how can we discern its placement, lest we possibly go past the point of no return?

April 30

April 30, 1863 – Today, a preacher preaches a strong word that still needs to be heard.

“The rude and denunciatory style of political discussion, the irreverent and oft-times slanderous attacks on our rulers – such as the Bible will not allow to be employed against the devil himself* – ought to be religiously discountenanced. Prayer, earnest and affectionate, should be constantly offered for those in authority, particularly in these perilous times.”

So preached Isaac Errett today – a Thursday – to all assembled in a Restoration Heritage church building in Detroit, Michigan. Errett’s sermon is entitled “The Claims of Civil Government” and the occasion is the fact that today, by resolution of the U.S. Senate and by proclamation of the President, Abraham Lincoln, is a day “set apart … for National prayer and humiliation.” The proclamation reads:

“Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

“And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

“Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

“All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

“In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. …

“By the President: Abraham Lincoln

“William H. Seward, Secretary of State.”

* Jude 9-10

It must be remembered in our time, that at that time, in many quarters, not merely the South, Lincoln was anything but popular. Indeed, he was despised by many in the North. That revulsion and hatred will grow all the more bitter and intense the following year (1864) as Lincoln signs off on “total warfare” (i.e. – General Sherman’s infamous “March to the Sea“). Even the one who signed this proclamation with him, William Seward, frequently and vigorously – some might say viciously – disagreed with him and opposed him. One need only peruse the political cartoons of the time to get a feel for the sort of speech that was common on the street … the very sort of speech upon which Errett took careful aim and fired.

Wouldn’t you like to know how Errett’s words were received and if they drew any return fire? What sort of personal price, great or small, did Errett pay to say such, if any? I don’t know, though I do know his sermon is still in publication in paperback today. And wouldn’t you really like to know if anyone really changed their words and ways as a result of Errett’s sermon? But, God alone knows. I like to think that even if Errett had known ahead of time the worst possible scenario, that these words would fall on deaf ears and no one would make any change at all, he would still have proclaimed them.

And so, three questions come to mind. (1) Are we preachers today as quick, clear, and courageous as Errett to confront similar sin from our pulpit when we know that many of our people daily mock and revile President Barak Obama, and/or other government authorities? (2) If we heard such words in a sermon, could/would we truly hear them deeply, and then go on to change our spirit and speech? (3) Would we strongly encourage and support our preacher in speaking to us words of truth forthrightly, in love, on every subject, including this one?

May 1

* May 1, 1866 – The founding editor of what is to become the flagship publication of our heritage tells us why the paper exists.

Today, Tolbert Fanning reveals to us the driver behind the publication of the Gospel Advocate (GA). Fanning founded the GA and served as its editor from its start in 1855 until November 1861, at which time the Civil War caused it to shut down for a time. When the GA resumed publication in 1866, Fanning co-edited the paper with David Lipscomb. In the GA, Fanning tells us:

“The fact that we had not a single paper known to us that the Southern people could read without having their feelings wounded by political insinuations and slurs, had more to do with calling the Advocate into existence, than all other circumstances combined.”

* May 1, 1870 – Church raffles, lotteries, and auctions are innocent, harmless affairs, actually even helpful, to a church, right?

“Wrong!” says “C.C.L.” in an article appearing in The Millenial Harbinger under the title “Religious Fairs.” After a lengthy quotation of condemnation of such by a secular paper, C.C.L. adds his own remarks, some of which read:

“It is sad to think that with many Christian people, and in many churches, the scandalous exhibition of raffling, lotteries, mock auctions, or real ones, selling things often utterly useless or ten times their sale value, together with the endless, ridiculous maneuvers, chicaneries and trumperies, – are not in themselves sufficient to show the utter unfitness of such practices in the church, or for the purposes of the church of Christ. …

“It is the old strategy of the temptation in the wilderness over again – evermore repeated through the ages. Every ingenious device is to be borrowed from the world and used to make up for the deficiencies of the divine arrangements, in order to make religion more attractive and more successful than the New Testament order makes it. We see this all around, and often very near us. – We will not ‘assist,’ as the French say, that is, give our presence and countenance, at the unlawful marriage of the church and the world … or pray over it. We find daily more and more, that what is needed – we say we feel it, – is a strong, vigilant resistance against the besieging temptation of worldliness around the gates of the church.”

Who is C.C.L.? The man Alexander Campbell considered to be the finest student/scholar with whom he ever had dealings in his school, Bethany College: Charles Louis Loos.

May 2

May 2, 1611 – Which translation of the Bible is a preacher or teacher to use, and should its acceptance, or lack thereof, help determine the selection? Is there “a right one” and just who is to hold court to decide the matter?

Today, the version of the Bible that those of us with a few gray hairs have heard some of our fellow church members say “was good enough for Jesus and the apostles and so, should be good enough for us today,” makes its publishing debut.

One of the factors that helps the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) to ascend to dominance in the field is that it is deliberately translated for how it will sound when read aloud. That is, one of its translators’ foremost concerns is that it is worded in such a way as to strongly appeal to the ear. Further, the translators choose to utilize many words no longer commonly in use during their time (e.g. – “thou,” “sayeth,” etc.). Why? So as to help convey the impression that the Bible is indeed an old authority, lest their fresh rendering of it be perceived as “some new thing” and be rejected.

However, the KJV is largely rejected during its first few decades of existence; the older and well-established Geneva Bible is perceived as better than this new creation. However, the KJV eventually ascends to the translation throne and secures it from any potential rivals. Its reign is measured not in decades, but centuries.

Now language is a very fluid thing; it is constantly changing. And by 1826, the English language has changed a great deal since the time of the KJV’s first publication. Those of the Restoration Heritage are not immune to the effects of this change and so, when Alexander Campbell edits and publishes the New Testament known as the Living Oracles (LO), he does so largely out of frustration with how the KJV’s language has come to obscure the meaning of Scripture. But, similar to the KJV, the LO is not widely adopted by the rank-and file members of the Restoration Heritage, even though it is often utilized by preachers and respected church leaders. No small number of folks in the crowds and in the pews are somewhat suspicious of, even rebellious against, any change in which version of the Bible appears to hold sway.

One example will suffice. John Augustus Williams, an early chronicler of the experiences of pioneer preacher “Racoon” John Smith, tells us of some of the trials Smith faced – literally – because he dared to make use of something other than the KJV:

“For the mere reading of that book [LO] John Smith was arraigned before the North District Association in 1827. He was formally charged not only with reading it in his family, but actually quoting it from the pulpit. During the discussion of that serious charge, some of the good old preachers present declared King James’ Bible to be the only true word of God. John Smith in reply expressed his deep sympathy for the poor Dutch, who consequently had no word of God among them, and could not read it if they had. A prominent clergyman had, just before this, obtained a copy of the book, and, having read it, atoned for his offense by piously burning it to ashes.”

Some things never change – including the natural tendency to resist change.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: February 22-28

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

February 22

Feb. 22, 1874 – A letter to the editor is printed in the St. Louis newspaper The Globe concerning a meeting in which Knowles Shaw is preaching.

“To the Editor Of The Globe:

“Having learned that the great revivalist, Knowles Shaw, would preach at the Central Christian Church, Fourteenth and St. Charles Streets, on Sunday morning, I was induced to go and hear him. Mr. Shaw is certainly a man of extraordinary power … The hall in which he preached this morning was crowded, and I have seldom seen an assembly of people so deeply moved with seemingly so little effort on the part of the speaker. …

“He … announced as his text, ‘Come, see the place where the Lord lay.’

“I will not attempt to give any idea even of the sermon. It was of a character that can not be even sketched. The streaming eyes of the whole audience gave evidence of the power of the man and the effectiveness of his words. If any one desires to have his soul moved to its profoundest depths, let him go and listen an hour to Mr. Shaw.”

Due to his singing ability, his authorship of many hymns (and music for songs), and his habit of singing people into his meetings and singing during the course of his sermons, Shaw was commonly known in his time as “The Singing Evangelist,” and yet, his name is virtually unknown to us today. However, during the 1860’s and most of the 1870’s he is one of the most sought-after evangelists in the Restoration Heritage. Unlike most evangelists among our tribe at the time, Shaw speaks quite deliberately to elicit an emotional response from his hearers; this is the bull’s-eye he aims for in his sermons.

Shaw’s life was cut short at the age of 53 in a train wreck on the Texas Central Railroad between Dallas and McKinney, Texas in 1878. At the time of his death, e was on his way to conduct a meeting in McKinney, having just concluded a five-week long meeting with the Commerce Street Church in Dallas. His death was the sole fatality in the accident. His last words were:

“Oh, it is a grand thing to rally people to the cross of Christ.”

A portion of the inscription on his tombstone in the East Hill Cemetery in Rushville (Rush County), Indiana reads:

“An Acceptable Evangelist of the Church of Christ.”

If you’ve ever sung We Saw Thee Not, I Am the Vine, or Bringing in the Sheaves, you’ve sung some of the lyrics and/or music that Shaw authored and sang in his sermons.

February 23

* Feb. 23, 1837 – After vigorous debate, Bacon College in Georgetown, Kentucky secures its charter from the state legislature and Walter Scott is unanimously elected as its first president. The reason for the legislature’s debate is due to concern that support of Bacon College will hurt enrollment in Baptist-oriented Georgetown University (a concern that will prove true). The cost of one semester’s education at Bacon is $21.00 and the cost of room-and-board in Georgetown averages $2.00 per week. Over 200 students enroll in the college during its first year of operation. There are eight professors and teachers: J. Crenshaw, Tolbert Fanning, T.F. Johnson, W. Knight, S.C. Mullins, U. B. Phillips, C. R. Prezminsky (sic?), and Walter Scott.

Being the first institution of higher learning founded by members of the American Restoration Heritage, Bacon College is initially known as Collegiate Institute; however, the school soon changes its name to Bacon College in honor of Sir Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method.

Bethany College, founded by Alexander Campbell in Bethany, Virginia (becoming West Virginia during the time of the Civil War), will have its start three years later in 1840.

* Feb. 23, 1908 – In the Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio, a six-day debate begins between Charles T. Russell and Lloyd Smith (“L.S.”) White. Russell is regarded as the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The debate revolves around six propositions with a different question on the table each night of the debate. L.S. is also known for being one of the first two preaching ministers in Churches of Christ to be engaged in “full-time local work” (W.A. Sewell being the other; cf. the entry for Jan. 6 in this series).

February 24

* Feb. 24, 1811Edward Dickinson Baker, Sr. is born. He will grow up to become a preacher within the Restoration Heritage known for his eloquence and skill in public speaking. He will become a U.S. Senator. And, will become Abraham Lincoln’s best friend (they were law partners together in Illinois). Lincoln will name a son of his after him (Edward Baker Lincoln). Baker will introduce Lincoln to the nation at his inauguration as President.

And, while leading a regiment of the Union Army in an ill advised and poorly prepared attack, Baker will be killed in battle – four bullets at close range to his head and heart – at Ball’s Bluff (aka: Harrison’s Island), a battle fought in Loudoun County, Virginia early on in the Civil War (Oct. 21, 1861). A number of friends will recall that in the days and hours immediately preceding the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Baker spoke with them several times of his death (age 50) as a close-at-hand certainty.

Naturally, Lincoln will receive the news of Baker’s death quite hard:

“With bowed head, and tears rolling down his furrowed cheeks, his face pale and wan, his heart heaving with emotion, he almost fell as he stepped into the street.”

Since he was also a Senator at the time of his death, Baker‘s death prompts the formation of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, a panel that, seated primarily by Lincoln’s opponents, will typically place itself at odds with Lincoln’s strategies for the prosecution of the war, making for endless drama and difficulty for many throughout the conflict.

What of Lincoln’s son, the one named after Edward Baker? He died tragically at the age of three in 1850.

* Feb. 24, 1960 – An article appears on page one of The Dallas Times Herald describing Carl Spain‘s recent address (“Modern Challenges to Christian Morals”) at the Abilene Christian College (ACC) Lectureship.

“A Professor of Bible and Religious Education said Wednesday that colleges operated by members of the church of Christ should admit the denomination’s Negro preachers to graduate study. In discussing present-day challenges to morals, Carl Spain said in his prepared text, ‘You drive one of your own preachers to denominational schools where he can get credit for his work and refuse to let him take Bible for credit in your own schools because the color of his skin is dark.’ He said colleges of other denominations and state universities and some public schools in Texas admit Negroes, and asked, ‘Are we moral cowards on this issue?’

“There are people with money who will back us in our last ditch stand for white supremacy in a world of pigmented people. God forbid that we shall be the last stronghold among religious schools where the politico-economic philosophy of naturalism determines our moral conduct.'”

In an interview Spain said that there had been some ‘instances when Negroes desired to enroll in Bible courses at Abilene Christian College’s graduate school, but did not do so because of housing, eating, and other problems. He said faculty members had discussed the situation and that others shared his view that Negro preachers of the church of Christ who can qualify academically should be admitted to the graduate school. Don H. Morris, ACC president said, ‘Like most schools we have had applications for admission from colored people, but our school has not provided for their registration.’

“Spain said he brought up the subject to stir up some thinking among church of Christ members attending the Lectureship and that his views would apply to the schools of any denomination practicing segregation. All other schools operated by the church of Christ in the South are operated as all-white schools. Those in the north and on the west coast are integrated.”

Also in his address, Spain had said: “God forbid that churches of Christ, and schools operated by Christians, shall be the last stronghold of refuge for socially sick people who have Nazi illusions about the Master Race. Political naturalism, in the cloak of the Christian priesthood, must not be the ethical code in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.”

The following year (1961), students of any race are admitted into ACC’s graduate study program and in 1962, the same becomes true for undergraduate classes. As a result, other colleges associated with Churches of Christ in Oklahoma (Oklahoma Christian), Arkansas (Harding College), and Tennessee (David Lipscomb College) soon adopt similar policies.

February 25

Feb. 25, 1859James P. Shannon dies of an acute asthma attack at the age of 59. His body is buried in Columbia, Missouri. Shannon is primarily remembered for two things: his work as a college administrator and his abundant efforts (from 1844 until his death) in writing, debate, and speech as a “fire-eater” (a radical proponent of slavery).

Shannon was the president of the College of Louisiana from 1835-1840. It was Shannon who succeeded Walter Scott as president of Bacon College in 1840 when the school made its move from Georgetown to Harrodsburg, Kentucky and he served as Bacon’s president until 1850. He also served as the president of the University of Missouri (1850-1856), as a co-founder (1853) of what will become known as Christian University in Columbia, Missouri, and as the first president of Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri (1856-1859).

Shannon’s vigorous defense of “the peculiar institution” is all the more noteworthy in light of the observation of one well-known abolitionist of the time, John Gregg Fee. Namely, that it is members of Stone-Campbell Movement churches who own more slaves per person than members of any other church tribe in American Christendom. While the majority of those manning Restoration pulpits, or occupying desks as editors of brotherhood papers, are anything but fire-eaters, the rank and file of those occupying the pews in the South are, to one degree or another, quite sympathetic with Shannon’s views on slavery. Consequently, editors tend to write about slavery (e.g. – a number of articles in the Millenial Harbinger), pulpits tend to be very guarded or virtually silent on the subject, and a great many members practice it.

This daily, deep, long-standing gulf between pulpit and pew on a huge social issue – the willful enslavement of another human being for one’s own gain – will do nothing for the ability of Restoration churches to engage in truly civil and constructive conversation on other matters, be it a Christian’s participation in military service and war, or matters of “doctrine” such as instrumental music, missionary societies, etc. Slavery is “the elephant in the living room” for many congregations long before many men march off to war and “see the elephant.” Any discussions, therefore, of the major reasons for division among Restoration churches during, or following, the war that do not seriously take the issue of slavery into account are, at best, inadequate, more nearly, as fundamentally flawed as Shannon’s views on slavery.

February 26

Feb. 26, 1857 – Alexander Campbell reports in the Millenial Harbinger that he is starting a speaking tour through the South to raise funds for Bethany College. His son, Alexander, Jr. will accompany him on this trip.

Campbell’s (Sr.) post-millenial beliefs nurture his drive for deep reform in higher education and his fervency for educational reform fuels his understanding of the millenium. Campbell believes that society as a whole needs a complete overhaul and since education is the tap root of the health of society, he views the prevailing model of education as not getting the job done. And so, Campbell founds Bethany College in 1840 and it will, in effect, become his laboratory for the testing and refinement of his beliefs about what education, and society, should become.

According to D. Duane Cummings, Campbell’s philosophy of education can be summed up with these six phrases: (1) ‘wholeness of person’ (development of physical, mental, and moral power), (2) ‘moral formation of character’ (moral excellence being the primary objective), (3) ‘study of the Bible’ (the centerpiece of the core curriculum), (4) ‘no sectarian influence’ (Scripture is to be studied free of outside influence), (5) ‘perfectability of individuals’ (instruction in individual morality will inevitably lead to wider social reform), and (6) ‘lifelong learning’ (from cradle to grave).

Consequently, in many ways Bethany College is a strong contrast to other colleges of its time. For example, while other institutions focus heavily on history (Greek and Roman), Bethany emphasizes the sciences. In fact, Bethany is one of the first colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree in science.

But, perhaps of greatest interest (surprise?) to us today is the fact that Campbell never viewed Bethany as a college that, so to speak, served Restoration Heritage churches or was merely a sounding-board for Restoration ideals. Not at all. He believed Bethany was operated for the benefit of society as a whole and that wider society was represented at Bethany. In the words of Richard T. Hughes:

“Campbell made no requirements that the institution’s trustees be aligned with his own movement, and indeed they came from a wide variety of Protestant persuasions. College Hall resounded each Sunday with worship and instruction ‘performed by respectable ministers of various denominations.’ It is clear that Campbell committed Bethany College to the cause of that ‘common Christianity … in which all good men of all denominations are agreed.'” (Reviving the Ancient Faith; p.40)

Bethany College is still in operation today in Bethany, West Virginia.

February 27

Feb. 27, 1866 – The editor and publisher of the Gospel Advocate, David Lipscomb, gives full vent to his feelings regarding his brethren who are associated with the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS). Never a fan of the ACMS to begin with, it was the ACMS’ passage of a resolution in 1863 rescinding its neutral stance on the war and throwing its full support behind the Union, that finally, and fully, burnt Lipscomb’s toast. An up-close witness to the years of death and destruction wrought by the war, especially among his Southern brethren, Lipscomb will now leave no doubt as to how he sees the ACMS and his brothers in the North who continue to support it, as well his distaste for military service on the part of any Christians, anywhere.

“… when we looked as we did in the beginning, to see this society of CHRISTIANS, set an example of keeping its hands pure from the blood of all men; and in its action to find strength and encouragement for ourselves and our brethren that needed help, we found only the vindictive, murderous spirit ruling its counsels, and encouraging the CHRISTIAN (?) work of CHRISTIANS North robbing and slaughtering Christians South. So far as we have been able to learn, this has been its chief solicitude for four years past, and to this solicitude it has conformed its actions. We doubt not it has been a valuable auxiliary to the political organization of earth in inducing the followers of the prince of PEACE to become men of war and blood.”

Because he holds these views, the name ‘David Lipscomb’ will be largely frowned upon by the majority of Restoration Heritage churches in the North and, because of his views on military service, a large number of Restoration Heritage Christians in the South will consider him either a weakling or a coward in regard to the Lost Cause (the Confederacy), or a traitor to his country (no matter the government). Throughout the remainder of his life, Lipscomb will take not a single step back from this perspective on either the ACMS or military service.

February 28

Feb. 28, 1868‘Racoon’ John Smith dies at the age of 83 in Mexico (Audrain County), Missouri at the home of one of his daughters (Emily Frances Ringo). His body will be buried in Lexington, Kentucky. A man of truly unique personality, very little education (a total of four months), and a vast memory of Scripture, Alexander Campbell once said of him:

“John Smith is the only man that I ever knew who would have been spoiled by a college education.”

Raised as a Baptist in rural, eastern Tennessee (Sullivan County), Smith becomes a Baptist preacher, but continually finds himself in hot water with his Baptist kinsmen. Why? Their vocalized complaint is that he uses too much Scripture in his preaching, but there’s much more to it than what they say (after all, we all know that people typically offer their “best sounding complaint,” not their real concern). The real issue is that Smith is growing increasingly frustrated and unhappy with the Calvinist elements of Baptist faith and such clearly shows in his preaching. Example: Smith interrupts one of his own sermons to exclaim:

“Brethren, something is wrong, I am in the dark, we are all in the dark, but how to lead you to the light, or to find the way myself, I know not!”

Upon encountering Alexander Campbell’s paper the Christian Baptist, hearing Campbell speak once (on Galatians, at a length of 2 1/2 hours), re-reading his New Testament, and no small amount of pondering and prayer, Smith switches over to the Restoration Heritage and continues preaching – with obvious joy and to great effect. His plain, but articulate manner of speech and preaching, coupled with his knack for sharp, witty humor, communicates especially well with country folk and in these respects (preaching style and primary audience) Smith is something like Alexander Campbell’s opposite.

A brief anecdote captures a bit of Smith’s essence. On one occasion he was asked what the difference was between baptism and seeking God at a mourner’s bench. Without a pause, Smith replies:

“One is from heaven; the other is from the sawmill.”

It is Smith who is chosen to preach the first sermon at the Hill Street meeting in Lexington, Kentucky on Jan. 1, 1832, a meeting between representatives of the Stone (Christians) and Campbell (Disciples) movements. In this sermon, Smith says:

“Let us, then my brethren, be no longer Campbellites or Stoneites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any other kind of lights, but let us come to the Bible, and to the Bible alone, as the only book in the world that can give us all the light we need.”

And it is Smith who then formally shakes Barton W. Stone’s hand and so, seals the deal that unites the two movements into one – the Stone-Campbell Movement.

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

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

February 1

Feb. 1, 1763Thomas Campbell is born to Archibald & Alice (McNally) Campbell in County Down in northern Ireland. Thomas’ father, Archibald, is a Catholic who has converted to the Church of England. Archibald is by no means well-to-do, and so, when a Seceder of great means by the name of John Kinley befriends Archibald and takes a shine to obviously bright, young Thomas and offers to pay for Thomas’ college education, Archibald accepts. However, Kinley’s offer is not without strings: the proviso is that Thomas will receive training for ministry – as a Presbyterian. [A ‘Seceder’ is one who is a member of the Church of Secession; the Presbyterian Church.] Consequently, young Thomas will enter the prestigious University of Glasgow in Scotland in 1780 and will graduate from there in 1783, and through the course of five more years of study (1786-1791) at the Whitburn Seceder Seminary, Thomas will depart from his father’s church faith and will embrace the Anti-Burgher branch of the Presbyterian Church.

While at Whitburn, Thomas will study more than theology, for he will come to meet, and soon marry (1787), a young woman by the name of Jane Corneigle. They will waste little time in starting a family and will welcome the birth of their firstborn child, Alexander, just fourteen months later.

Nineteen years later, due to reasons of health, a doctor will suggest to Thomas to move to the United States, and Thomas does just that in 1807. Upon meeting with the Synod in Philadelphia, he is warmly embraced and encouraged to preach in Washington County, Pennsylvania. However, he finds the Presbyterian Church deeply fragmented there and Thomas’ experience with deeply entrenched mindsets that allow no room whatsoever for differing groups to even occasionally worship together greatly distresses him. He is thus motivated to set about all the more to strongly encourage oneness and togetherness between the splinter groups. For his efforts, he will be put on trial by the presbytery and will be rebuked. He will appeal to the Synod, and they will give him an acquittal – coupled with an additional word of chastisement.

Predictably, Thomas will soon quit the Presbyterian Church. He is now, so to speak, a man without a denomination.

We’ll revisit Thomas and his life in future posts. It is enough to say at this point that it is Thomas Campbell who will soon come to coin the phrase that will become the idealistic watchword among those of the Restoration Heritage:

“Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”

Oh, and for those who notice patterns in life connected with birth order, it is interesting to note that Thomas Campbell is a firtsborn child, as is his even far more influential son, Alexander.

February 2

Feb. 2, 1842 – On this day near Ozark (what is now Christian County), Missouri, James Harvey (‘J.H.’) Garrison is born to Baptist parents James Calvin & Diana (Kyle) Garrison. Along with several of his brothers, J.H. will grow up to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. Shortly after the Confederate Army’s victory in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek – fought in J.H.’s home county (Aug. 10, 1861) – he will enlist as a Private in Co. F of the U.S.A., 24th Missouri Infantry. Serving throughout the rest of the Civil War he will ultimately exit at the rank of Major in the U.S.A., 8th Missouri Cavalry. His transfer from infantry to cavalry service comes as a result of suffering a serious leg wound during the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862.

Following the war, J.H. will enter Abingdon College and will marry a classmate, Judith Elizabeth Garrett, within days after graduation in 1868. During his time at Abingdon he will leave the Baptist tradition and will embrace a Restoration perspective.

J.H.’s influence among those of a moderate mind in the Restoration Heritage is substantial, being felt most mightily through his multi-decade editorship of (and over sixty years of writing for) the Christian-Evangelist (CE). In the words of one of J.H.’s biographers, William E. Tucker, during J.H.’s involvement with the CE it is known as “… the pre-eminent journal in shaping religious opinion among Disciples.”

February 3

Feb. 3, 1886Marshall Clement (“M.C.”) Kurfees begins preaching with the Campbell Street Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky. He will preach there until his death in February 1931, the longest known ministry of the time of any one minister with a church in the Restoration Heritage.

While ministering at Campbell Street, Kurfees will also serve as one of Gospel Advocate’s editors (1908-1924) and will author a book against instrumental music entitled Instrumental Music in the Worship (published in 1911, the same year his wife, Sallie [Eddy] Kurfees, will die). He will also collect and publish in book form (1921) many of the questions answered by David Lipscomb and E.G. Sewell (Questions Answered by Lipscomb and Sewell).

February 4

Feb. 4, 1831 – In Merton, Ohio, Thomas Campbell writes a letter to Sidney Rigdon, a preacher who, though once associated with the Restoration Heritage, has gone over to following Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka: Mormons). Part of Campbell’s letter reads:

“It may seem strange, that instead of a confidential and friendly visit, after so long an absence, I should thus address, by letter one whom for many years I have considered not only as a courteous and benevolent friend, but as a beloved brother and fellow-laborer in the gospel; but, alas! how changed and fallen! … you … the professed disciple and public teacher of the infernal Book of Mormon …

“I, therefore, as in duty bound … shall hold myself in readiness, if the Lord permit, to meet you publicly, in any place … and defend against Mormonism and every other ism that has been assumed since the Christian era … we have no more need for … Mormonism, or any other ism, than we have for three eyes, three ears, three hands, or three feet, in order to see, hear, work, or walk.”

It is reported that when Rigdon received Campbell’s letter that after reading a few sentences he “hastily committed it to the flames.”

February 5

Feb. 5, 1942 – Persistent through the years within the Restoration Heritage is the myth that Abraham Lincoln was baptized by Restoration Heritage minister, John O’Kane. This myth has its roots in a letter by G. M. Wiemer that first appeared on this day in 1942 in the Christian-Evangelist (CE). The letter reads:

“I met Brother John O’Kane who was state evangelist in Illinois. It was at a convention. We were together about all the time. The Lincoln matter as to whether he [Lincoln] had ever been baptized came up. Brother O’Kane told me one day, ‘Yes, Brother Weimer, I know all about the affair. On the night before Lincoln was to be baptized his wife cried all night. So the matter was deferred, as she thought. But soon after Lincoln and I took extra clothing and took a buggy ride. I baptized him in a creek near Springfield, Illinois. We changed to dry clothing and returned to the city. And by his request, I placed his name on the church book. He lived and died a member of the church of Christ.'”

Concerning this account, and after careful research, Jim Martin has concluded: “It appears then, that in spite of legends, speculations, and wishful thinking, Abraham Lincoln was not extraordinarily close to the Restoration Movement. In the only public document in which Lincoln ever gave personal testimony about his religious views, he said simply, ‘That I am not a member of any Christian church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or of any denomination of Christians in particular.’ It is perhaps fitting that his handbill published in 1846 to refute the charge of ‘infidelity’ also refutes overzealous churchmen eager to bring Lincoln into the fold.” (Restoration Quarterly 38.2)

February 6

Feb. 6, 1846Austin McGary is born to Methodist parents, Isaac & Elizabeth McGary in Huntsville, Texas. His father is a Texas hero, and Austin’s life will also drip with difficulty and drama. His mother will die when he is only seven. His father will die before Austin turns twenty. Austin will join the military and serve in Confederate cavalry (6th Texas Cavalry Battalion [Gould’s] and the 35th Texas Cavalry Regiment [Brown’s]), but will never see combat. Following the Civil War he will marry three times, outliving his first two wives (Cyrene Jenkins [dying in 1873] and Lucie Kitrell [passing in 1897]). He will father at least eleven children, but several of them will die before adulthood. He will be employed for two years, at about the age of thirty, as the sheriff of Madison County, TX and will then go on to be employed by the state of Texas to transport prisoners to the prison in Huntsville, a job that will continue to expose him to constant danger. Prior to becoming a sheriff he had killed a man in Midway, TX (1869) and once while sheriff he killed again (1787) for the same reason, self-defense.

In his mid-thirties (1881) McGary will take up, for the first time in his life, a serious inquiry into faith. Part of his research leads him to reading the Campbell-Owen debate (Owen being a famous skeptic). While reading this book, McGary will go to hear a series of sermons in Madisonville, Texas by Restoration Heritage preacher Harry Hamilton and will submit to baptism by Hamilton on Christmas Eve, 1881. However, within a couple of years McGary will come to question his baptism’s validity due to his awareness that he and Hamilton disagree on some matters. As a result, he will seek “rebaptism” at the hands of another Restoration Heritage minister, W.H.D. Carrington. However, quite quickly (by 1884), McGary will seriously question whether his baptism by Carrington is valid. Still, there is no record of McGary being baptized again by any other.

He will take up preaching in 1883 and will begin (September 1, 1884) editing and publishing a weekly paper entitled the Firm Foundation (FF). His stated objective, through the FF and otherwise, is:

“… to oppose everything in the work and worship of the church, for which there was not a command or an apostolic example or a necessary scriptural inference.”

The FF‘s readership will grow rapidly and will become the dominant (and most strident) written voice in the Texas Restoration Heritage. It will vary some in content and tone through the years as editorships change, but the FF will continue in publication until 2010, a 126 year run.

In his preaching and writing, McGary earns a reputation as a firebrand, rabble-rouser, and something like an angry man … and a great many people in the Texas Restoration Heritage at the time love it so. While he is, in the words of one historian, “rabid” in his opposition to missionary societies and the use of instrumental music, McGary’s objections regarding the subjects of baptism are equally full of wrath. He will viciously, verbally attack those who do not agree with him on this matter, David Lipscomb and the Gospel Advocate (GA) in particular (understand, the GA has a large circulation in Texas). As an example, he will refer “with charity” (McGary’s choice of words) to Lipscomb as “a religious reprobate of the most hypocritical cast,” inhabited by a “demoniacal spirit.”

How is that? Understand that Lipscomb, and most Restoration Heritage churches, believe it is totally unnecessary for those who have already been immersed in water when coming to faith in Christ, though it took place within another tribe (e.g. – the Baptist Church), to be immersed again when coming to a Restoration Heritage church family. Most churches and preachers actively discourage such “rebaptisms.” However, McGary considers rebaptism essential; to not rebaptize is to simply “shake in the Baptists” and is therefore, heresy and hypocrisy.

Ironically, though great numbers of Tennesseans influenced by Lipscomb and the GA will migrate to Texas during this time and will either start or join Restoration Heritage churches in the state, it is McGary’s perspective that will win the field and become the new, dominant view regarding baptism not only within the vast majority of Texas congregations, but, in time, within the majority of churches of the branch of the Restoration Heritage that will become known as southern Churches of Christ. To be sure, this battle continues to be fought in some quarters today, but the consensus view has radically shifted due to McGary’s efforts.

It is through an invitation made by McGary and J.W. Jackson that J.D. Tant will arrive in Austin, Texas in 1887 and will conduct a meeting, the result of which is the sealing of division between those of a Restoration Heritage perspective in the state capital. The group that leaves an existing congregation is led by McGary and Jackson and it is this group who make up the core of people who begin the University Avenue Church of Christ. The group left behind will be known as the Central Christian Church.

However, McGary’s slash-and-burn ways will catch up with him and in 1900 he will be forced to resign, due to his harshness, as editor of the paper he began, the FF. And yet, especially in McGary’s last years of life, the 1920’s, he will largely change his views and tone and will actively seek reconciliation with some of those he had editorially crucified for many years. In 1923, six years after Lipscomb’s death, he will have published in the GA, an open apology for how he dealt with brethren through the years. To seal his repentance, and in a remarkable display of reconciliation, he will spend some of his last few years of life writing for the paper he had long despised and vilified, the GA. However, his change has little effect on the brotherhood’s understanding of baptism; rather brethren will continue to cling to McGary’s original view of baptism and will view those who differ on the matter with a strong eye of suspicion.

[Sidebar: * Austin McGary’s father, Isaac, had fought in the Battle of San Jacinto (8th Company [Kimbro’s], 2nd Regiment). The 2nd Regiment led the Texan’s attack on the Mexican Army and first offered up that day’s battle cry, “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” Upon his sudden death in 1866, Isaac was buried in Galveston and his grave was one of those washed away by the hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900. * We must realize just how close these matters are to us in terms of the span of a lifetime. McGary’s third wife (Lillian Otey, whom he married in 1897), died in 1959 in Huntsville, TX (where she and Austin are buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, also the resting place of Sam Houston’s body).]

February 7

Feb. 7, 1825 – In his publication known as the Christian Baptist (CB), Alexander Campbell, Sr. will begin a long series of articles which will prove to become highly influential, and truly pivotal, to a great many. The series is entitled “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things.” As a part of this first article Campbell will write:

“It is obvious to the most superficial observer, who is at all acquainted with the state of christianity and of the church of the New Testament, that much, very much is wanting … In what this deficiency consists, and how it is to be remedied, or whether it can be remedied at all, are the points to be discovered and determined. … We know very well that nothing can be done right which is not done according to the gospel, or done effectually which is not done by the authority, and accompanied by the blessing of God. …

“Human systems, whether of philosophy or religion, are proper subjects of reformation; but christianity cannot be reformed. Every attempt to reform christianity is like an attempt to create a new sun, or to change the revolutions of the heavenly bodies – unprofitable and vain. In a word we have had reformations enough. The very name has become as offensive as the term ‘Revolution’ in France.

“A RESTORATION of the ancient order of things is all that is necessary to the happiness and usefulness of christians. No attempt ‘to reform the doctrine, discipline, and government of the church,’ (a phrase too long in use,) can promise a better result … the thing proposed, is to bring the christianity and the church of the present day up to the standard of the New Testament. This is in substance, though in other terms, what we contend for. To bring the societies of christians up to the New Testament, is just to bring the disciples, individually and collectively, to walk in the faith, and in the commandments of the Lord and Saviour, as presented in that blessed volume; and this is to restore the ancient order of things.” (CB, vol. II, p. 136)

this went thru my mind

 

Archaeology: The Cyrus Cylinder Travels to Five Major Museum Venues in the United States in 2013

“This will be the first time this object has been seen in the US … Tour Dates … Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 3rd May – 14th June 2013.”

Civil War, Lincoln, secession, slavery, & United States history: Some Notes on “Seven Notes from ‘Lincoln’” A Response to M. David Sills by Kenneth Pierce

“Southern leaders and secession documents both state that the war was indeed over slavery.”

Culture & the United States: Is America Becoming What It Has Always Been? by Paul Smith

“It has been my pleasure to know some of the sweetest, kindest, most gentle ‘seniors’ on the face of the earth. And I have known some of the most bitter, hateful old crows that you can possibly imagine. What is interesting about some (although not all) of the bitter, hateful group is that people who have known them for many years cannot understand the change that has supposedly changed the person. ‘Old weird John was such a nice person’ they often say. ‘I just can’t imagine what has come over him to make him this way.’

“I have another theory. Based on my now half-century plus experience in watching people age, and doing a fair amount of it myself, I am convinced that the “change” is not so surprising at all. There has been a change, to be sure, but the change is not in attitude or personality. What has changed is the person’s ability to mask that attitude or personality.”

Cyber-warefare: US Cyber-Weapons Exempt From “Human Judgment” Requirement

“‘Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?’ … Remember how Stuxnet managed to spread beyond Iranian nuclear research facilities? Such scenarios will likely become more common—soon.”

God: An Imperfect God by Yoram Hazony [required reading]

“Is God perfect? You often hear philosophers describe “theism” as the belief in a perfect being — a being whose attributes are said to include being all-powerful, all-knowing, immutable, perfectly good, perfectly simple, and necessarily existent (among others). And today, something like this view is common among lay people as well. … There are two famous problems with this view of God. The first is that it appears to be impossible to make it coherent. … The second problem is that while this ‘theist’ view of God is supposed to be a description of the God of the Bible, it’s hard to find any evidence that the prophets and scholars who wrote the Hebrew Bible (or ‘Old Testament’) thought of God in this way at all.”

Just for fun: Bond: License to Drive [the cars driven by James Bond]

“Everyone has a favorite Bond … but what’s your favorite Bond car?”

this went thru my mind

 

Baptism, discipleship, evangelism & salvation: Saving Souls is More Than Counting Baptisms by Terry Rush

“Be about soul winning this week.  If any should be at the waters of baptism, praise God.  But, too, if any happen to be over a cup of coffee or in a waiting room and you seek to inspire someone back to greatness….this too would be winning of the soul.”

Bible interpretation: My Take: The Danger of Calling Behavior ‘Biblical’ by Rachel Held Evans

“… the Bible is not a position paper. The Bible is an ancient collection of letters, laws, poetry, proverbs, histories, prophecies, philosophy and stories spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own. When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word, we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t quite fit our preferences and presuppositions. In an attempt to simplify, we force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone and turn a complicated, beautiful, and diverse holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.”

Military service, pacifism & the early church: What Can We Learn From the Early Church? – Living Like the First Christians

“There can be no question but that Christians of the earliest period were overwhelmingly pacifist. I would say, until the year 200 pacifism was the norm for Christians. That began to change slightly from 200 to the Constantinian Edict in 313. Tertullian (160-225) was very strong in arguing that Christians could not participate in war, and he went so far as to say that those who were already soldiers must quit the military when they became followers of Jesus.  There are cases during this early period where Christians chose to be martyred rather than to serve in the military.”

Movies & politics: Why We Love Politics by David Brooks

“… ‘Lincoln,’ directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner. … portrays the nobility of politics in exactly the right way.”

Reading: Four Reasons Men Don’t Read Books (with a Practical Suggestion) by Tony Reinke

“… many Christian men do struggle with reading. Here are four reasons why: Men don’t read books because they don’t know where to begin. … Men don’t read books because visual allurements are more appealing. … Men don’t read books because they think it’s a waste of time. … Men don’t read because they lack literary discipline.”

Special needs: 4 Ways the Church Can Support Families with Special Needs Children by Chad Nall

“A parent of a special-needs child shared with several of us in a seminar four things the church can do to support families. They include …”

this went thru my mind

 

Amazon: 9 Astonishing Facts About Amazon

American history: Lincoln and the Mormons by Ted Widmer

Church & the future: Snapshot: The Next 10 Years in the American Church by Mike Breen

Consumerism: Reflections on Black Friday by Roger E. Olson

Drinking: Making Choices About Alcohol by Michael Harbour

Evolution: Misconceptions About Evolution parts one and two.

Feedback: There’s No Such Thing as Constructive Criticism by Tony Schwartz

Gospel: * The Problem with Our Gospel #1: The Self-Centered Gospel by Marc Cortez and * The Problem With our Gospel # 2: The Individualistic Gospel by Marc Cortez

Homelessness: * Homeless children and youth. . .our response??? by Larry James and * On Shopping Carts, Thanksgiving, and Homelessness

Humor: The Ninja Nod-off by Jon Acuff

Insecurity: Kathy Escobar: Insecure Christians

Movie illustrations & reviews: * Wisdom, Stories, & “No Country for Old Men” by Tim Gombis * An Egalitarian Examination of “Courageous” the Movie

Phariseeism: As Perfect as I Supposed Myself (a quote from Alexander Campbell)

Thankfulness: Practicing the Attitude of Gratitude by Michael Hyatt