on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: April 19-25

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

April 19

April 19, 1826 – Of what use are varying Bible translations? Why burden the earth with yet another? Isn’t the best rendering one that is literal, word-for-word, so to speak? Which version is “best,” or is there even such a thing? And just how exactly is one to approach the reading of Scripture? How can a person maximize their comprehension and practice of what it says?

These are just come of the questions Alexander Campbell anticipates as two thousand copies of the first edition of the Living Oracles (LO), a translation of the New Testament edited by Campbell, rolls off the press today. In the Preface to this first edition, Campbell is careful to make a strong case for – to address the question of “why” – another translation. He offers several arguments, one of which reads:

“… we are now in possession of much better means of making an exact translation, than they were at the time when the common version [King James Version] appeared [over 200 years earlier]. The original is now much better understood than it was then. The conflicts of so many critics have elicited a great deal of sound critical knowledge, which was not in the possession of any translators before the last century.”

Campbell continues to parry the anticipated thrusts of those who might try to find fault with the LO as he goes on to note in this first preface:

“… some who may be pretty well acquainted with the classical use and meaning of words and phrases, will think and say, that in some passages the common version is more literally correct than this translation. Indeed, we remember since we once thought so ourselves. But after forming a better acquaintance with the idiomatic style of the apostolic writings, and of the Septuagint Greek, we have been fully convinced that what a classical scholar, or a critical etymologist, might approve, as a literal version of some passages, is by no means the meaning of the writer. And the king’s translators have frequently erred in attempting to be, what some would call, literally correct. They have not given the meaning in some passages where they have given a literal translation.”

Touche! It is indeed difficult to beat “I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Is that the best you’ve got?”

Naturally, the LO will quickly prove to be a hit with preachers, teachers, and leaders of the Restoration Heritage, ultimately appearing in six editions. But, it is eighteen months after this first edition appears today, that Campbell pens a new “Preface to the Reader” [October 5, 1827] for a future edition of the LO. That “Preface to the Reader” is just as relevant to us now as the day it was penned. Do read it in its entirety; you will not find it burdensome, but pleasant, and you will not be disappointed:

“You are here furnished with a new and excellent Version of all the Apostolic Writings, by the combined labours of three eminent Critics [George Campbell, James Macknight, and Philip Doddridge]. This very important and seasonable work is by no means intended to diminish your regard for the Common Version, but rather to render it more profitable for the advancement of your knowledge, and the establishment of your faith, than the best translation could possibly be alone.

“That you may understand the utility of various different versions of Scripture, it may be observed, that distinct languages do not consist of precisely the same number of words, corresponding with each other in their signification and extent of meaning, like the several pounds which compose any given sum, or the four sides of a square, which are in all respects alike, so that any one of the same kind is equivalent to any other; but the corresponding terms of distinct languages agree with each other in meaning with slight shades of difference, like those natural productions which are in many respects similar, without being in all things absolutely equal. If one be furnished with a large collection of different kinds of flowers or fruits, and required to match every one of them as nearly as possible, in a garden where there are large quantities of every given sort, he will find it very difficult, in some cases, to fix on the one, out of many similar, which corresponds most nearly with the sample received: and if various persons be employed in succession, they will not always hit on the same selection. Thus, the same word of Greek may be rendered, according to circumstances, by the English word, church, assembly, or congregation; another word, by either bishop, superintendent, or overseer; another, by master, sir, or lord.

“Now, were a translator to interpret every word of the Greek by all the English words that have a similar meaning, the result of his labours would be a very clumsy paraphrase, rather than a faithful version, equivalent to the original. As, therefore, he must select, from among various similar terms, that one which he considers the most proper, to the exclusion of all the rest; and as different translators always deviate more or less from, each other in making their selection, the use of sundry versions is calculated to give the English reader a more distinct, full, and certain understanding of the sacred text, than could be obtained by the exclusive perusal of any single one, however excellent. Hence, it is not your duty to lay aside the common version, as less perfect than that which is here offered, or vainly to set the one in opposition to the other; but to compare them together, verse by verse, and combine the ideas suggested by both. Do this deliberately: do it repeatedly, with attention and candour; and its utility in advance your knowledge of the mind of the Holy Ghost, beyond all that could be attained from any single version, will exceed your most sanguine hope.

“But you must carefully study the whole of the Old Testament also, that you may be prepared to understand the New. Contemplate, therefore, the account which it gives of the original condition and the fall of man, in connexion with the only infallible illustration of the subject which has been given by our Apostle. See Gen. i. ii. iii.; Rom. v.; 1 Cor. xv. Consider, especially, the divine covenant of promise, made with Abraham and his seed; the covenant of the Ten Commandments, made with the nation of Israel, with the judgments and ordinances which were added to it; the everlasting covenant which was afterward made with David respecting the endless reign of his seed; and the intimations which were given by the Prophets of the establishment of a new and perpetual covenant in the days of the Messiah. All these covenants have an important and conspicuous place in the Sacred Volume, and its meaning cannot be properly understood if they be neglected, confounded, or in any way misrepresented. Make it your care, therefore, to observe the true nature, order, and design of them; and mark wherein they differed from each other, how they were mutually connected, in what manner the Prophets introduced them, and how the glorious consummation of them was disclosed by the Apostles.

“Examine the several component parts of divine revelation in their natural order and succession, without vainly attempting to comprehend all those things at once which were communicated at various distant periods, or beginning with those which are the most abstruse and sublime. Make the simple narrative of facts your first study. Then proceed to the leading doctrines, precepts, promises, and threats. Get a distinct acquaintance with the literal sense of Scripture, before you attempt to investigate the figurative or allegorical meaning of any part of it; and let those predictions which have not as yet received their accomplishment be your last study. To invert this order would expose you to endless perplexity and delusion.

“Keep some special subject of inquiry in view while you read the Scriptures, and attentively mark all those passages which treat of it, or throw light upon it. For example, you may make it your particular object, in reading the four Gospels, to ascertain all the different kinds of miracles which Jesus Christ performed, together with the various classes of persons who witnessed them, their surprising magnitude, the deep impression that they made upon enemies as well as friends, and all the other circumstances calculated to render them convincing. Or, you may read the Gospels to discover what new doctrines Jesus taught, — what he said of his own person, office, and salvation, — what representation he gave of vital religion, a general resurrection, and a state of endless retribution. In reading the Apostolic History and Epistles, your immediate object may properly be to ascertain the rapid success with which the Apostles preached after the effusion of the Holy Ghost; the additional information which they imparted beyond all that Christ had taught before his death, what they called sinners to believe in order to their justification, and how they commanded the disciples to walk so as to please God.

“Let it be distinctly remembered, that the four Gospels were intended for the instruction of all classes of mankind, but that the Apostolic Epistles were addressed to Christians exclusively, as a peculiar people called out of the world, and united in church-fellowship. Read them, therefore, that you may understand what a true Christian is, in distinction from a hypocrite; what a church of Christ is, in distinction from every other kind of assembly; what description of persons were admitted to be members of the primitive churches; what ordinances they were united to observe; what duties were required of them toward each other, as brethren; and how they were directed to act toward them who were without.

“Take heed of perverting the sacred Record by imposing an arbitrary meaning upon any part of it, or artfully accommodating it to any human theory or system of religion. You are not called to mend or improve the Scriptures, by making them more spiritual or perfect than they actually are; but to search them with singleness and candour. Beware of imagining that you may safely hold fast your preconceived opinions, as long as you can force any detached texts to give them apparent countenance or resist arguments of an opposite kind. The question concerning any particular text should not be, ‘What turn can you give to it?’ or, ‘What can you make it seem to teach?’ but, ‘What sentiment did the Holy Ghost intend to impart by it?’ Make it your daily care to ascertain his mind, as it is set before you in his word; and implicitly receive every passage in that sense which appears the most natural and obvious, when viewed in connexion with the context, and all the parallel passages which treat of the same subject.

“Keep the reality and unspeakable importance of eternal things in view, that your mind may be truly serious, sincere, and teachable. It is not with erring mortals chiefly, but with the Searcher of hearts, that you have to do in the investigation of his word. Remember, therefore, while reading it, that his all-seeing eye is upon you. He addresses you, in particular, as an individual; he sets his great salvation freely before you; he warns you to flee from impending wrath, and seek everlasting life; he demands your heart, without delay or reserve; and he will reward you at the last day according as you now receive and honour, or reject and violate what he reveals. While you ponder his holy Record, the personal interest which you have at stake to be decided according to it, is of infinitely greater value and duration than any temporal kingdom. Reflect on this, and you will no more trifle with sacred things, as if they were only matters of doubtful speculation.

“Join the prayer of faith with all your reading. None can properly understand the Scriptures without the inward illumination of the Holy Spirit. God has promised to give the spirit of wisdom to them who ask it. Seek his effectual teaching, therefore, with self-diffidence and unfeigned faith, earnest importunity and perseverance. Turn the sacred word into humble prayers, corresponding with the several parts of it; by confessing your sins which it reproves, imploring those spiritual blessings which it reveals, pleading the accomplishment of its promises, and asking grace to sanctify you according to its holy precepts. This is the most effectual way to discover the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, to fix it in your memory, impress it upon your heart, and secure the ultimate benefit of it.

“Make a practical application of all that is addressed to you in the Scripture. Receive it without gainsaying, as the sure testimony of God, who cannot lie — the immediate ground of your confidence before him — the immoveable foundation of your hope for eternity — the divine charter of your unfading inheritance — and the perfect rule of your future conduct. Treasure up the word of Christ in your heart, make it the chief joy of your life, and never hold any part of it in unrighteousness; but resolutely forsake every evil way, put off all your perverse habits, deny your own will, crucify your carnal affections, cherish every gracious disposition, observe the ordinances of Christ with godly sincerity, and keep all his commandments. If you comply with his will, in the manner now proposed, you ‘shall know of the doctrine,’ and become ‘mighty in the Scripture’ — you shall attain the delightful assurance, even in this world, that the truth is in you, and that you shall enjoy it for ever.”

[cf. the entry for Jan. 29 in this series for more information on the LO.’]

April 20

April 20, 1829 – Isn’t the Bible a bit suspect? After all, doesn’t it have some errors and mistakes in it? And so, can we truly trust it? Should we? Today, in his debate with renowned atheist Robert Owen, Alexander Campbell gives answer to just such questions.

Campbell does so, in part, by quoting a skeptic turned believer, by the name of Soame Jenyns (1704-1787). He relates how Jenyns had set out to author a book “against the Christian religion,” but in the course of his research and reflection, came to write as to “the truth and authenticity of it” instead. Campbell’s quote of Jenyns follows:

“… I will venture to affirm, that if any one could prove, what is impossible to be proved because it is not true, that there are errors in geography, chronology, and philosophy, in every page of the Bible; that the prophecies therein delivered, are all but fortunate guesses, or artful applications, and the miracles there recorded, no better than legendary tales: if any one could show, that these books were never written by their pretended authors, but were posterior impositions on illiterate and credulous ages, all these wonderful discoveries would prove no more than this, that God, for reasons to us unknown, had thought proper to permit a revelation by him communicated to mankind, to be mixed with their ignorance, and corrupted by their frauds from its earliest infancy, in the same manner in which he has visibly permitted it to be mixed, and corrupted from that period to the present hour. If, in these books, a religion, superior to all human imagination, actually exists, it is of no consequence to the proof of its divine origin, by what means it was there introduced, or with what human errors and imperfections it is blended. A diamond, though found in a bed of mud, is still a diamond, nor can the dirt which surrounds it, depreciate its value, or destroy its lustre.”

* April 20, 1880 – Winthrop Hopson, widely regarded as one of the finest preachers in our heritage at the time, dies in Nashville at the home of his son-in-law, R. Lin Cave.

April 21

* April 21, 1836 – Today, under battle cries like “Remember Goliad!,” “Remember the Alamo!,” “Take prisoners like the Mexicans do!”, and “Give them hell!,” a militia of “Texians” led by Sam Houston, Sr. surprise and overwhelm a far bigger Mexican army beside the San Jacinto River in southeast Texas. And, the following day, they are able to capture the Mexican army’s commander, General Antonio López de Santa Anna, as he tries to slip away disguised as a lowly Private. This victory not only brings a halt to Mexico’s attempts to squelch the bid of Texas settlers for independence from Mexico, it gives quick birth to that freedom.

How so? With cold-blooded executions and massacres like Goliad and the Alamo vivid in their mind, few of the Texans are in any mood to show mercy. And so, just hours earlier – despite Houston’s passionate attempts to prevent such – hundreds of Mexican troops are shown no mercy (a fact underscored by the highly disproportionate ratio of troops killed to those who are wounded; well over six hundred killed and only two hundred wounded, the exact opposite of what would be expected in most battles). However, Santa Anna himself – the instigator of the atrocities of the Alamo, Goliad, etc. – is now offered an opportunity to receive mercy for himself: recognize the “full, entire, and perfect Independence of the Republic of Texas” and be given safe passage to Veracruz. Santa Anna agrees and the Lone Star Republic of Texas is born.

Now in the course of the Battle of San Jacinto, the Texans suffer the loss of nine men killed and thirty wounded, and among the wounded is Sam Houston himself. His ankle wound is attended to by the Texan Army’s twenty-nine year old surgeon, Dr. Mansil Walter Matthews – a preacher in the Restoration Heritage.

While I have yet to attempt to research the matter, it is probably safe to assume that Matthews is not the only one involved in the Battle of San Jacinto who has, or who will have, connections with the Restoration Heritage. Of the hundreds of Texans who fight in this battle, a percentage of them have come to Texas only recently from states where the Restoration Heritage has been experiencing great growth (Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc.), Matthews himself being a prime example of such, even helping lead a large band of migrants to Texas. [cf. the post for Jan. 17 in this series for more info on Matthews]

One wonders: given the immense impact of Sam Houston’s life on the future history of Texas, how things might be different today if Mansil Matthews‘ treatment of Sam Houston’s wound at San Jacinto not proven effective.

* April 21, 1839 – At the age of nineteen, Isaac Errett preaches his first sermon. His subject is God’s promise to David that his kingdom will never fail. [That’s a far deeper subject than I attempted with my first sermon! How about you?]

* April 21, 1888 – It’s all too easy for those of us within the Restoration Heritage to think of the earlier years of our heritage as being limited to the United States. Such is hardly the case, of course, and a man who dies today, Gilbert Young Tickle, is a striking example of a leader within our heritage “across the pond.”

Tickle is a prominent church leader among our tribe in Great Britain and his influence is particularly felt far and wide through his gift of songwriting. The vast majority of his lyrical and musical work consists of putting the Psalms – and most remarkably, Matthew’s Gospel, John’s Gospel, and the book of Acts – to meter. However, this is not his only work and one of his songs, “Lord of Our Highest Love” can still be found today in a hymnal still commonly found among many Churches of Christ in the United States. “Lord of Our Highest Love” is #261 in the current edition of Songs of Faith and Praise.

In addition to hymn-writing, Tickle plays a quite vocal role in the the discussion of a number of social issues of his time in England, especially on the issues of slavery (he is an abolitionist) and the temperance movement (he is a teetotaler).

The next time you sing ‘Lord of Our Highest Love” – perhaps most likely to occur immediately preceding sharing in communion, I would guess – remember how the roots of our heritage have long reached much further than just this country of ours.

* April 21, 1898 – Spain severs diplomatic ties with the United States today. Consequently, the United States initiates a blockade of Cuba. Two days later (April 23) the government of Spain formally declares war on the United States. And on April 25, the U.S. Congress responds with a word that a state of war has existed between the two countries since the blockade of Cuba began.

Arguably the most plain-spoken preacher of the time within the Restoration Heritage is Jefferson Davis (“J.D.”) Tant. As the events that lead up to the start of the Spanish-American War reverberate in the minds of many, Tant is peppered with questions as to his take on Scripture and whether Christians should go to war or not. Finally, about three months after today’s events, Tant will succinctly, and with characteristic color, declare his perspective in print in an article published in the Gospel Advocate:

“I would as soon risk my chance of heaven to die drunk in a bawdy house as to die on the battlefield, with murder in my heart, trying to kill my fellowman.”

April 22

April 22, 1889 – Do you remember the land rush scene from the 1992 movie Far and Away starring Tom Cruise and Nichole Kidman? If so, you have a vision of what things are like at noon today as over fifty thousand people pour across the border in the first land run into the “Unassigned Lands.” These lands – nearly three thousand square miles – make up a portion of what will, eighteen years later, become the state of Oklahoma. Of course, members of the Restoration Heritage make up a percentage of the homesteaders and each seek to stake a claim to 160 acres of free land as a result of the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862 and today’s rush (commonly known at the time as ‘Harrison’s Horse Race’ due to President Benjamin Harrison’s sanction of it).

Naturally, this run results in whole communities springing up, quite literally, overnight and Oklahoma City, the future capital of the state of Oklahoma, is one of them. A number of the homesteaders of our tribe gather together there on the first Sunday following Harrison’s Horse Race (April 28) and so, make for the start of, what will with the passage of time, become dozens of congregations of our heritage in that city and the immediate area.

The wild times only begin with this initial rush to claim land; the months that follow are wooly as well. So much so that Oklahoma City quickly gains the reputation of being “tougher than a boiled owl.” So tough, in fact, that six weeks after today’s run, when the first congregation there in Oklahoma City wants to walk together to the nearest water (the North Canadian River) for several to be baptized, their preacher, T.J. Head, requests that two hundred cavalrymen escort their coming and going and to keep watch over them during the proceedings.

April 23

* April 23, 1861 – Walter Scott dies today of typhoid pneumonia. Reminiscing of Scott, Alexander Campbell will write of him: “Next to my father, he was my most cordial and indefatigable fellow laborer … I knew him well. I knew him long. I loved him much.”

* April 23, 1912 – A glowing report authored by Arthur Wilkinson and published in the Firm Foundation speaks of a “boy preacher” who’s preaching skills leave everyone amazed. The report reads:

“Last Sunday was the day for _____, to occupy the pulpit at the Christian church in Sunset [located in Montague County, Texas].  _____ is known as the ‘boy preacher,’ which is indeed true. He is only 15 years of age, and is still wearing his knee pants, but his ability as a preacher is indeed wonderful.

“The house was crowded to its fullest capacity, and judging from the expression on the faces of the departing crowd, not one was disappointed over their attendance at either morning or evening discourse, but all were agreeably surprised, and no doubt greatly benefited by the lessons presented.

“Brother _____ not only has the startling ability to entertain his audience, but presents the Scriptures in meekness and love, causing all to realize that what he says, though it falls from the lips of a boy, comes from a heart that is sincere, and is intending to point people from the hopelessness of sin to the light of life in a risen Lord.

“It makes us rejoice to see such interest and earnest zeal manifested by one so tender in years, and we can almost feel the pride of the father and mother of so noble a son. And as this thought leaves our mind a sadder one comes to take its place, and we think what a pity it is that there are fathers and mothers whose heads are made to bow low in shame over the disgraceful conduct of their boy. This being true, we think that [in] the giving to the world [of] such a noble character in the young Christian, such as Brother _____, is made even more commendable, though it be that their parents have only done their duty.

“Now, we do not believe in singing the praise of one gospel preacher over that of another, but we do believe that the efforts of our young preachers deserve the commendation and that they should have our encouragement and prayers, therefore we have written the above.”

Who is this boy wonder? Foy E. Wallace, Jr. And in only seventeen more years, this young man will be the editor of the most influential paper in our heritage at the time, the Gospel Advocate.

April 24

April 24, 1831 – Today, the first merger between those of “The Christian Connection,” the movement of “Christians” who rally to Barton W. Stone, Sr., and those of the movement known as the “Reformers” (aka: “Reformed Baptists”). The latter are made up of “Disciples” who look to Alexander Campbell, Sr. for direction. This merger of the Stone and Campbell movements becomes pervasive and official seven months later on January 1, 1832. For the next several decades, the merged movements will be most commonly referred to as the “Christian Church” or the “Disciples of Christ.”

April 25

April 25, 1826 – Today’s post has two springboards. (1) Today, the daughter and son-in-law of one of the Restoration Heritage’s key pioneer figures follows the the common wisdom of the time to “Go west!” and it costs them literally everything, except their lives. (2) Which great pioneer leader of our heritage has a grandson who offers a $1,000,000 reward for the kidnapping of Adolph Hitler?

A sterling example of a young man who attempted to “go west,” but wound up limping home “back east” is a son-in-law of Walter Scott. It is on this day in 1826 that William Church is born to Samuel & Mary (Hannen) Church. William grows up to marry Walter Scott’s daughter, Emily, on January 1, 1849. William and Emily make their home for a time in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; however, in the summer of 1857 they decide to move out “out west” onto “the unbroken prairie” of Caldwell County, Missouri. John Woolf Jordan tells us the rest of the story:

“The hardship, suffering, and danger involved in this daring enterprise can hardly be exaggerated. The part of Missouri in which they took up their abode was very sparsely populated, and every necessity of life was in the crudest form. On arriving at their new home in the wilderness they, with the help of some neighbors, built a log cabin from timber hewn on the premises – a dwelling which, like all others of that region, consisted of but one room. There was no money in part of the country, and the few necessaries which could be obtained were purchased on the basis of exchange for other commodities. The prairie home was unprotected by fences, and had but a meagre outfit of live stock. No food could be regularly obtained, with the exception of bacon, a few potatoes, and cornbread made by grating the corn direct from the ear. On rare occasions a sack of flour and a few luxuries, such as tea, coffee, and sugar, were brought from a town fifty miles distant. Mr. Church attempted to improve the quality of their civilization by establishing a sawmill on Maribone Creek, an enterprise which was regarded with great favor by the neighborhood, sawed lumber being at that time unknown on the prairie, and no house boasting the luxury of a wooden floor. After a few weeks’ trial, however, the engine broke down, and there was no skilled labor available to keep it going. Finally, the spring rains overwhelmed the little lumber mill, which, together with the engine, was swept away in the rushing waters. …

“The slavery controversy had at this time assumed in Missouri a condition of great bitterness, and bushwackers took advantage of the state of affairs to commit robbery and murder, carrying their hatred of the anti-slavery principles which were held by the northern people like the Church family to such an extreme that persons were sometimes hanged for their opinions at their own roadsides. …

“Accordingly, in the spring of 1859 [two years before the death of Walter Scott], Mr. and Mrs. Church, with their family, now four children, entered their wagon, and as there was no possibility of selling their effects, they abandoned everything, including house, furniture, live stock and land, and set out across the country for Lexington, Missouri, completing their journey by boat, down the Missouri River to St. Louis, and up the Ohio to Pittsburg, profoundly thankful to arrive an unbroken family at their old home. Mr. Church became associated with the Pittsburg and Oakland Street Railway Company, serving as its secretary and treasurer throughout the brief remainder of his short life. He died March 11, 1863, having not yet completed his thirty-seventh year, and leaving the following children: Walter, Emily, Mary, Samuel Harden … and Sarah.”

Now William and Emily’s youngest son, Samuel Harden Church, grows up to enjoy, among other things, a very successful career in the railroad business, international recognition as a first-rate British historian and the longest tenure ever as president of the Carnegie Institute (1914-1943). And it is Samuel, a grandson of Walter Scott, who, at the age of 82, makes the following word public via a letter published in the New York Times on April 30, 1940:

“In order to prevent further bloodshed and outrage in this war of the German aggression, I am authorized by competent Americans to offer a reward of the person or persons who will deliver Adolph Hitler, alive, unwounded and unhurt, into the custody of the League of Nations for trial before a high court of justice for his crimes against the peace and dignity of the world. This proposal will stand good through the month of May, 1940.”

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

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

February 15

Feb. 15, 1915Lew Wallace dies at his home in Crawfordville, Illinois at the age of eighty-seven. While experiencing a great deal in life, Wallace is best known to us today as the author of the novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Though firmly convinced of Jesus’ humanity and deity, Wallace never claimed, or attempted to make, any connection with any earthly expression of church. However, the Restoration Heritage left its mark on Wallace as a youth.

Well, sort of.

Wallace’s mother (Esther French [Test] Wallace) died when he was only seven years of age. His father re-married two years later (1836), marrying Zerelda Sanders, who was a dedicated member of the Christian Church. In his autobiography, published posthumously, Wallace tells of how he spent his time while in church services with her:

“She was a member of the Christian Church, and insisted upon my attendance once every Sunday. I fear the services failed to impress me as she desired. My headgear was a flat-topped, black oil-cloth cap, visored before and behind, and, as it allowed penciling of delicacy on its surface invisible until held at a certain angle against the light, I converted it into a drawing-tablet. Greasy, and always in need of deodorizing, still it was eagerly sought on the return from “meeting.” The preacher, his assistant, the characters of the congregation, and all who had a peculiarity of face or manner were there penciled in unmistakable likeness. So the prayer, the sermon, even the communion, observed as it was every Lord’s day, might have been tedious to the others in attendance; they were not to me. I carried an occupation into the pew.”

As to the inspiration behind Wallace’s well-known book, it was a chance conversation in 1876 with famed agnostic Robert Ingersoll (who was the son of a preacher) that set the wheels in motion. Ingersoll recognized Wallace as they made their way by train to the third National Soldiers Reunion in 1876 (both men had served in the Union Army and had been at Shiloh, where Wallace had been wrongly made a scapegoat for a near Union disaster). Engaging in private conversation for about an hour, Ingersoll did his best to win Wallace over to skepticism. However, Ingersoll’s attempt had quite the opposite effect, launching Wallace into a sustained, personal investigation of the life of Christ. To keep himself fully engaged in the task and to increase the odds of others reading his conclusions, Wallace decided to turn them into a novel. Hence, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ – essentially Wallace’s careful, considered response to Ingersoll’s take on things as well as a shadow of Wallace’s own journey toward faith.

We’re left to wonder if Wallace’s unintended motivation by Ingersoll to seriously look into Christ’s life would have ever happened, had it not been for the gospel seeds planted in a young man’s mind by years of regular church attendance. All of the latter due to a young mother’s great efforts every Sunday morning just to “be at meetin’,” no matter what. We never know just when the will cause the seeds we have planted  to germinate. Let us not grow weary in doing good.

[Incidently, Zerelda, Lew Wallace’s step-mother, is quite a force. We’ll note more about her in a post later this year. And yes, she did live for twenty years after her son’s book was published and so, she did know of his coming to believe.]

February 16

Feb. 16, 1864 – The building housing Kentucky University burns down, forcing one of its professors to move back to Bethany, West Virginia and find employment once more at Bethany College. The professor’s name is Robert Richardson. Two years later (1866), “The Sage of Bethany,” Alexander Campbell, will die and it is Richardson who will be selected to edit Campbell’s memoirs. Since his twenties, Richardson knew and worked closely with Campbell. Richardson will work tirelessly at his task and so, both volumes of Campbell’s memoirs, comprising over 1,200 pages in two-volumes, will be in publication by the end of 1869. Seven years later (1877), at the age of 70, Richardson will die and his body will be buried in the Campbell family cemetery in Bethany.

February 17

Feb. 17, 1869 – V. Livingston dies at his home in Washington County, Texas.

Though the Gospel Advocate (GA) is published in Nashville, TN, it has a large, and growing, number of subscribers in Texas in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Obituaries of no small number of members of the Restoration Heritage are commonly submitted to the GA for publication. Today, those entries shine a light on what “church life” was like in those days gone by. What people believed, how they lived, and the words they used to described matters are all recorded in these obituaries, and so, are a gold mine of information. The death notice for “V. Livingston” serves as an example.

“Died, at his residence, in Washington county, Texas, February 17, 1869, Bro. V. Livingston, in the 43rd year of his age. He was a devoted Christian, a bishop of the congregation at Black Jack Grove, always at his post and never tolerated anything not taught in God’s Word. During the war he was greatly persecuted on account of his anti-war principles, from which, however, he never deviated. He was a resolute opposer of all human societies, ever striving to withdraw the brethren from them. He was a living exemplification of the Bible precept ‘Owe no man anything but to love one another.’ He was emphatically a Bible man. We truly sympathize with his bereaved family in their great affliction, and trust we may all live faithfully in the service of the Lord, that we may unite with our dear brother in that blissful abode where parting is no more.” (J. H. Wilson, Gospel Advocate, March 18, 1869)

Now I ask you, how many rural or small town churches do you know of today that have elders in their early 40’s? I suspect not many. How many How many of members do you know who are pacifists, and have held to their convictions as to such during war-time, in a region strong in terms of military enlistment, and at great personal cost? I suspect the number is quite small. How many do you refer to as a “bishop?” None, right? And yet, there was a time in our Heritage when such would not have been all that unusual. “V. Livingston” is just one, enduring witness to such. We have not always done things as we do them now. Things do change, even if in our eyes the perceived rate of change is often exceedingly slow.

February 18

Feb. 18, 1935 – In Ardmore, Oklahoma, C. R. Nichol, Joe S. Warlick, J. D. Tant, and Basil D. Shilling conduct the funeral service for Jehu Willborn (‘J.W.’) Chism, a prolific debater and long-time associate editor of the Firm Foundation. Chism had been in bad health for two years and had died of pneumonia on the 16th at his home in Ardmore (416 Wheeler St.).

Finding a place to read, study, and reflect at length that is truly free of interruption can be a real challenge for most preachers. This is especially true for individuals whose personalities require quiet and freedom from visual distraction in order to focus and think well. As a result, what might appear odd to others can appear as an attractive and practical solution to a minister.

However, even ministers would likely agree that Chism’s typical habit of study was … unusual. Not the fact that his place of study was located at his residence, but that he would quite literally “crawl under a bed to study.” Yes, as in down “on the floor.” When his study hours were at night, it was not unusual for him to be at it until 2:00 a.m. or even later. [Picture it: your wife in bed above, and you studying, underneath.]. When his study time took place during daylight or evening hours, he would tell his wife that should anyone come by looking for him that, unless it was a matter of emergency, she was to tell them,

“He was here awhile ago, but I don’t see him now.”

February 19

Feb. 19, 1899Charles Chilton Moore, Jr., a grandson of Barton W. Stone, Sr. (through B.W.’s youngest daughter, Mary Anne), publishes in his newspaper, The Blue Grass Blade (TBGB), a list of items he wants to see take place. The list includes, quite amazing for its time, the following:

“* No Bible reading in public schools; * Stop paying chaplains out of tax money; * Churches should pay property taxes; * No more blasphemy laws; * No more liquor traffic; * Women should have the right to vote; * An international league of nations; * Publication of scientific information on sexual relations.”

At one time, Moore, like his famous grandfather, had been a preacher within the Restoration Heritage. He had attended Bethany College and had served a number of congregations in eastern Kentucky. However, after a time, Moore walks completely away from all faith. Moore does not stop “preaching,” though his content and audience will, naturally, change dramatically. He begins publication of TBGB in Lexington, Kentucky in 1886 and a phrase in its masthead tells all: “Published by a Heathen in the interest of good morals.” TBGB garners a large number of subscribers and the name C.C. Moore becomes a household name among well-read American agnostics and atheists. He will be one of the last in our country who will do prison time for the charge of blasphemy, but will secure his release from prison by special pardon at the hand of President William McKinley.

Mercifully, Stone does not live to see these days in the life of his grandson, as Stone dies in 1844 when Moore is only seven years of age.

Feb. 19, 1903 – The death notice of Parmelia H. Farrar, written by J.D. Floyd, is published in the Gospel Advocate.

Some of the history of the Restoration Heritage can be told by examining the lives of its prominent leaders. Much more of our history can be told through a look at the lives of church members who, though not nearly so well known, made a powerful, consistence difference where they were with what they had been entrusted. Quite simply, they lived out their faith and their devotion to Christ, showed. Parmelia H. Farrar was apparently just such a Christian.

“Sister Parmelia H. Farrar was born in North Carolina on April 2, 1830, and died at Flat Creek, Tenn., on February 2, 1903. Sister Farrar was the mother of twelve children, seven of whom are living. Before the Civil War she became a member of the church of Christ at New Hermon, Tenn.; and when the church at Flat Creek was formed, in 1868, she was one of its charter members. I knew Sister Farrar intimately for forty-five years, and feel that I can make a just estimate of her worth as a Christian and a neighbor. While she was always poor (as the world calls poor), always plain and unassuming, yet it can be said that she was worth more to our community than any other person who has lived in it during the last forty-five years. She visited and waited on more sick people and ministered to more who were in distress than any one else. There are three reasons why she could do this: (1) She was a woman of unusual bodily vigor; (2) she was never so engrossed in worldly affairs but that she could leave them; (3) she had the disposition of heart that led her to make sacrifices for others. She was a plain woman. I never saw her with any head covering but a sunbonnet. She was always plainly, but neatly, dressed, and never tried to follow the fashions. The dress pattern which she used when I first knew her would have answered for her last one. I said at her funeral, and I repeat here, that one woman like her is worth more to a community than a ten-acre lot full of the befrilled, dancing, card-playing devotees of fashion that are found in many places. Sister Farrar was faithful in her church relation. She seldom missed a service. When her seat was not filled, we knew that she or some one who needed her attention was sick. We bid our faithful sister good-by here, but trust that we shall meet and greet her in a fairer clime than this.”

February 20

Feb. 20, 1872 – Benjamin Franklin, editor of the American Christian Review (ACR), airs his total disgust with the Central Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio upon their having constructed a new church building styled after French Gothic architecture, complete with choir loft, an organ, what is thought to be the largest stained glass window in the United States (at the time), and seating for 2,000 people. It on an order of magnitude far beyond any other facility then utilized by those of the Restoration Heritage. The cost of the facility? $140,000 (a sum equivalent to over $3.1 million in today’s dollars). The date and location of its erection is especially significant: the Reconstruction of the South, devastated by the Civil War, is still just getting underway and Cincinnati is bounded from Kentucky (a border state strongly divided by the war) only by the Ohio River. W.T. Moore, the congregation’s preaching minister, will use some of Jesus’ last words on the cross – “It is finished” (John 19.30) – as his sermon text during the building’s dedication service.

Reminding Central that God “is not attracted by imposing temples, worldly show, nor fine entertainments,” Franklin will declare to all of his readers:

“These leading men in Cincinnati … have utterly disregarded the view of the great body of the brotherhood … They have put us to the test, to come up and tacitly endorse their folly, extravagance, and pride, with their corruption of the worship, or stay away. We can tell them plainly that we will never endorse them in their present worldly course. They will find many thousands more of the same mind. We would blush to talk of the ‘ancient order,’ the ‘gospel restored,’ returning to the ‘primitive order,’ the ‘man of sorrows’ who ‘had not where to lay his head’ … in this temple of folly and pride.”

Not to worry: Franklin is just getting warmed up. Until his death, six years later in 1878, he will continue to write of his great unhappiness with how he sees things playing out in the Restoration Heritage. Franklin, always having lived in poverty, has long believed that since at least 1850, that there has been two strong, competing groups in the Movement: one concerns itself with the common people and one is more minded about the well-to-do of society. He sees the gap steadily widening between these two groups, and his own life is a microcosm of the matter (especially his experience in working with, and being dependent on the benevolence of, well-to-do David S. Burnet in the 1850’s).

In short, the Movement, now in its second-generation of leadership, is leaving simplicity and the masses behind, trading them for bettering oneself and greater acceptance by those higher in society. Outreach is being traded off for outward appearance and so, the fundamental problem among the brethren is more attitudinal, than doctrinal. That is, it is Franklin’s conviction that the multitude of specific issues (instrumental music, missionary societies, etc.) that appear to be increasingly dividing brethren (in Franklin’s words as expressed earlier in the Millenial Harbinger in January 1870) “are not the cause, but only the occasion” for the real problem to do its deadly work. To attempt to address the specific doctrinal questions rather than the underlying attitude is like addressing the symptoms of a disease rather than the disease itself.

February 21

Feb. 21, 1901 – The notice of David G. Fleming’s death appears in the Gospel Advocate. Reference is made to the fact that as an adult he had been “baptized into Christ.”

Our speech betrays us; it reveals us. What we say, and what we don’t say, unveils what we actually believe, value, and want to emphasize. The phraseology we choose as we announce a person’s conversion to Christ is no exception. And as the vocabulary of our Heritage evolves through the years, death notices capture our beliefs, values, and emphasis.

While I’ve not made anything like an in-depth, comprehensive study of the matter – it would interesting to see one – my general impression through decades of reading Restoration Heritage obituaries (whether appearing in the GA or elsewhere) is that the earlier/older the account, especially in the mid-1800’s, the far greater the likelihood that baptism will be mentioned and that it is “into Christ.” However, during the latter 1800’s, and especially during the first half of the 1900’s, that tendency decreases and phrases such as “obeyed the gospel,” etc. appear more frequently. Of course, there are many exceptions to this observation, and so I realize I’m “painting with a roller brush” to put it this way, but still, it’s not too much to say that the emphasis is on Christ early on, then either the church or the gospel, and finally neither, but simply on the act, or fact, of baptism itself. A few examples will illustrate the evolution/devolution. In each instance below, note the year of death and so, thereby, the year the words describing the person’s conversion are crafted:

James C. Anderson (d. 9/12/1857) – “He was baptized into Christ …”

James R. Allen (d. 10/6/1859) – “… buried with Christ by baptism …”

Christian C. Elkins (d. 4/15/1873) – “…  immersed into Christ …”

Maggie L. Alexander (d. 8/6/1876) – “… was buried with her Lord in baptism …”

Mary E. Grigg (d. 1/3/1887) – “She was baptized into Christ …”

W.H.H. Griffin (d. 6/27/1896) – “… she became obedient to the faith …”

G.G. Griswold (d. 12/19/1902) – “She was baptized into the church of Christ …”

Mary C. White (d. 3/8/1910) – ” … she united with the church of Christ … being baptized by …”

John Ogden Collins (d. 10/31/1920) – “He obeyed the gospel …”

James David Taylor (d. 7/12/1929) – “… was baptized into the church of the Lord Jesus Christ …”

Dovie Williams (d. 5/24/1932) – “Her obedience to the gospel occurred at Henderson …

From the 1940’s onward, the tendency to make direct reference to a person’s baptism greatly decreases in death notices of those within the Restoration Heritage, or if notice is made, it is simply of the fact of it occurring, the year it was experienced, or by whose hands.

A.H. Taylor (d. 7/25/1940) – “He was baptized …”

I have not read all that many notices dating from the 1950’s up through our time, and so, I will not speak as to the trajectory of our vocabulary since the 1940’s.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Atheism, evangelism, outreach & persuasion: How Not to Debate an Atheist

“When you combine the powder keg of Christians proselytizing about Christ and atheists proselytizing about secularism on the Internet, you get an explosion of arguments … Here are some ways I’ve seen these conversations go wrong as a former atheist.”

Capital punishment, death penalty, ethics, faith & Jesus: Albert Mohler Has No Use For Jesus [required reading]

“… obviously there are some things Jesus didn’t talk about…but the death penalty isn’t one. … You see, the challenge all of us face along with Mohler is straightforward: If we talk about Jesus all the time, but when we claim we’re taking a Christian position Christ is nowhere to be found, then there’s nothing actually particularly Christian about our position.”

C.S. Lewis, perspective & progress: Why We Need ‘Dinosaurs’ Like C. S. Lewis

“When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on. There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.”

Evil, Satan, wickedness & the world: Our Beautiful, Nightmarish World

“I honestly don’t see how it is possible to explain how an all-good God could create a cosmos that is this screwed up without accepting that he’s opposed by forces of evil that operate on a cosmic scale. Appealing to human free will alone simply doesn’t cut it.”

Future & technology: A Vision of the Future From Those Likely to Invent It

“Almost two-thirds of Americans think technological change will lead to a better future, while about one-third think people’s lives will be worse as a result, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. Regardless, expect more change. In a series of interviews, which have been condensed and edited, seven people who are driving this transformation provided a glimpse into the not-too-distant future.”

Television: Television and the Glamorization of Anything It Desires [required reading]

“Watching too much TV can triple our hunger for more possessions while reducing our personal contentment by about 5 percent for every hour a day we watch.”

twin towers: what to remember?

 

Let me briefly tell you about two friends of mine from years gone by.

The first was in many ways a tall tower of a good man. He was a very hard worker. He was honest and trustworthy. He was often a man with great self-control. He was very good to his wife.

But, he hated and despised anyone who even remotely looked like they could have been from somewhere in Asia. Deeply so. As in the deepest bitterness I’ve ever seen in a man.

Why? He was a Navy veteran of WWII. He had served aboard a ship that was docked in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed on Dec. 7, 1941. His ship was one of the few that was able to get underway and make it out of the harbor during the attack. Following, he helped collect the bodies, and parts of bodies, burned and blown to bits, out of the water, off the deck, and off of his clothes.

He became an atheist that day. And forty years later, whenever we happened to be together and saw someone of Oriental descent or it was getting close to December, it was easy to see the anger, rage, and resentment that made his blood boil all day long. Some of his rants felt like fire; they seemed to melt all good away.

The second man was also a tall tower. In fact, he was one of the finest men I’ve ever known in life. Far more than hard-working, honest, trustworthy, self-controlled, and good to his wife, he was an obvious embodiment of the all that is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I saw him in a great many settings across the years, but never saw him express even a hint of anything less than genuine care and love for every person he ever met. Not once.

It wasn’t because he was an Army veteran of WWII. Since he had served in an elite special ops unit known as Merrill’s Marauders (aka: Unit Gallahad) he had seen and experienced, in ways far beyond what words can describe, some of the worst that war can bring to combatants and civilians. The horror of it all was so complete that he very rarely spoke of his experiences at all and when he did, he always did so briefly … trailing off in a broken voice with tear-filled eyes.

He had been a Christian before he became a soldier. And he would tell you, thanks be to God, that the horror and terror he endured, and inflicted, didn’t destroy his faith in God. But, it radically changed it. Anger and bitterness, hate and resentment: he was done with for good. He simply had no room for such in life anymore. He had experienced enough taking of life; he was determined now to give it and share it with all, no matter who you were.

Now I ask you: what made these men different?

Who, what, and how they chose to remember.

Period.

One remembered inhumanity and evil, and so, grew cold and hard, remembering only that. He sailed the rest of his life through in darkness. Another remembered savagery and suffering, but did not stop there, choosing rather to remember it all in light of a still present, ever good, holy, and generous God. He marched through the rest of his life in the army of God.

One, due to memory, chose a path of unforgiveness and so, chose a life of living dead. Another chose, due to memory, the way of forgiveness and so, chose life with, and of, God, here and now.

Neither of these two towers stand anymore in this world. But, their lives still stand in my mind as witnesses of, and monuments to, the choice we each make every day: to move on to love, forgive, and hope, or to cuddle up with anger, hate, and despair.

May God help us all to choose well. To choose God, to choose his ways, and to make him our tower, and strength, and shield. Daily. And nothing less. Lest more innocent and guilty alike die daily, a thousand deaths.

“… if you were raised with Christ, look for the things that are above where Christ is sitting at God’s right side. Think about the things above and not things on earth. You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. … put to death the parts of your life that belong to the earth … set aside … anger, rage, malice, slander, and obscene language. … Take off the old human nature with its practices and put on the new nature, which is renewed in knowledge by conforming to the image of the one who created it. In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people. … as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. … forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts …” (Colossians 3.1-3,5,8-15)

this went thru my mind

 

Art: Isn’t That King David? Nope, It’s Just Dave

“I know that putting modern clothes on classical sculptures isn’t a new idea. Michelangelo’s David has had modern clothes for years. But the skirts, T-shirts and shorts in these images look so comfortable and fit so well, these ancients torque suddenly into moderns. It’s like these two French artists have developed a new way to time travel.”

Atheism & community: In the Bible Belt, Offering Atheists a Spiritual Home

“With Sunday’s service — marking the start of Community Mission Chapel in Lake Charles, which Mr. [Jerry] DeWitt called a full-fledged atheist “church” — he wanted to bring some of the things that he had learned from his years as a religious leader to atheists in southern Louisiana.”

Choices, discernment, ethics, & guidance: The Jesus Compass

“The acrostic stands for: * Jesus – Are any of Jesus’ sayings or actions relevant to the question? * Church – What are the teachings of different Christian churches / denominations? * Obey Conscience – What might an individual Christian’s conscience tell them to do? * Ministers & priests – How might a minister or priest advise a Christian to act? * Prayer – How might praying help a Christian to make moral decisions? * Agape – What is the most loving thing to do? * Saints – How might the lives of famous Christians inspire others to behave? * Scripture – What Biblical quotations or teachings are relevant?”

Communication, diversity, getting along, relationships & unity: 8 Ways Those From More Liberal-Progressive and Conservative-Evangelical Persuasions Can Better Love Each Other

“1.  remember first, that other person is a child of God, made in God’s image. … 2. respect each other’s biblical conclusions. … 3. lay down our ‘if they would justs…’ … 4. never pull the ‘but God says’ or ‘but it’s clear in the Bible’ card. … 5. acknowledge our own blind spots. … 6. celebrate what we do agree on. … 7. always put relationships above our positions. …  8. trust that God is big enough for our differences.”

Education, humanities & writing: The Decline and Fall of the English Major

“In 1991, 165 students graduated from Yale with a B.A. in English literature. By 2012, that number was 62. In 1991, the top two majors at Yale were history and English. In 2013, they were economics and political science. At Pomona this year, they were economics and mathematics. …

“What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.

“Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. Whenever I teach older students, whether they’re undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.”

Love: Are You Agapephobic

“When you have a problem, ask this: How does love solve this? Every answer you find is another step toward God.”

this went thru my mind

 

Atheism: New Atheism is Dead

“… New Atheism is in decline because more atheists see the social benefits of religion.”

Books, publishing & sales: Why Evangelicals Have All the Bestsellers

“HarperOne just released The NRSV Daily Bible, a wonderful project that divides the Scriptures into 365 readings with prayers and meditations that deepen and amplify your daily practice. But chances are you will not have heard of it or seen it. Why is that? The answer has a lot to do with why evangelicals have all the Christian bestsellers and why there are so few (if any) mainline Protestant leaders who have a national profile. I thought it would be interesting for you to hear about our publishing challenge and to ask you for advice or counsel on how to solve the problem.”

Church: * The New Traditional Church by Tony Morgan [required reading]; * What If Target Operated Like a Church? by Tony Morgan

“This is going to sound a little sacriligious, but I’m wondering what would happen if we eliminated some ministries of the contemporary church. What would happen, as an example, if we only asked people to invest their time in this way: Participate in corporate worship and Bible teaching. Read your Bible. Serve others. Make disciples.”

“… churches are sort of notorious for worshiping methods and traditions whether or not they actually produce results.”

Churches of Christ: * The Dividing Line is the Solution to Unity by Terry Rush; * Why Churches of Christ Are Shrinking – Part 3: A Misplaced Identity and a Failure to Truly Believe in Grace by James Nored

“Do we look like Washington or does Washington look like us?  Polarization is now in chasmic proportion … in both places. The Republicans and the Democrats work against each other just like the Baptists and the Presbyterians or the Church of Christ and the Church of Christ. “

“… despite this clear command and the way that his followers will be known as his–their love for one another–Churches of Christ have tended to place their identity in something else. Churches of Christ have placed their identity–that which they hold most dear and which makes them “distinctive,” the way that you know a church is a church of Jesus Christ–by something else entirely. That identity is not placed in Christ and our love for one another, but in having the right, well, you know what it is. The right name, worship, and leadership structure, and a host of other things.”

Computer security & identity theft: Your Weakest Link: All Those Online Accounts You’ve Forgotten About

“Spend two or three hours tracking down all your accounts. After you’ve written them all down, separate them into categories of importance based on the information they hold. After you’re done sorting, then purge, baby, purge! Get rid of anything you don’t use weekly: Delete the account outright, or log into the account and delete all the personal information you don’t feel comfortable with.”

Evangelism & outreach: * Video: Texas Congregation Launches ‘Bar Church’ to Reach Outside Its Walls; * Bar Church

“The Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, is launching ‘Bar Church.'”

“The mission of Bar Church is to take the gospel of Jesus to people who are unwilling, as a result of feelings of unworthiness or prior negative experiences with a church, to participate in a traditional church gathering within a traditional church setting.  We believe it’s something Jesus might do.”

Forgiveness & guilt: Why Do I Still Feel Guilty After Asking For Forgiveness?

“We have to discipline ourselves to trust the fact of our forgiveness over the feelings of our phantom guilt.”

History: The Big Question

“Q: What day most changed the course of history?”

The Bible mini-series: Weird Things on the Set of ‘The Bible’

“The producers of the History Channel special The Bible (filmed in the Sahara), a show which got cable’s highest-rated audience of the year last Sunday (13.1 million viewers), reports the following oddities …”

this went thru my mind

 

Atheism: Reflections on the New Atheism by Alister McGrath

“For Christianity, faith is about going beyond reason, not against it. Faith transcends the limits of reason, allowing us to embrace what we know really is there, even if we cannot prove this by logic. Faith is a relational idea, pointing to the capacity of God to captivate our imaginations, to excite us, to transform us, and to accompany us on the journey of life. Faith goes beyond what is logically demonstrable, yet is nevertheless capable of rational motivation and foundation.”

Church, Jesus, ministry & spirituality: * Ending the Search for the Holy Grail by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]; * DIY Spirituality

* “This is precisely my problem. I love the idea of church, but the reality is something else entirely. … But, serving a real church in the trenches, beyond this safe enclave of preparation for ministry—living in it every day with its unchangeable weakness in your face—that grows hard to accept over time when it doesn’t go away despite all your supposedly excellent theological training and skill.”

* “… DIY spirituality promises freedom but delivers futility. … This is not a blanket defense of religion or all traditions. Not all institutional expressions of the faith are equal. It’s to some people’s credit that they leave some churches. But that only underscores the importance of finding a spiritual home where flourishing is possible.”

Immigration: The ‘Line’ For Legal Immigration Is Already About 4 Million People Long

“… it will be awhile longer before applicants from 1997 are eligible.”

Leadership: 11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader by Dave Kerpen

“Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader.”

PowerPoint: Better PowerPoint: What We REALLY Remember From PowerPoint Presentations

“1,540 subjects participated in the study, where I started with a very basic question applied to a very basic on-demand presentation: How many slides does a viewer remember, on average, from a text-only, standalone online PowerPoint presentation containing 20 slides? … Participants remembered an average of 4 slides from a 20-slide, standalone, text-only PowerPoint presentation.”

Time & productivity: Top 10 Time Killers (and how to fight back!) [infographic]

“… we’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 Time Killers, based on the percentage of people spending time between 1-2 hours a day on each non-productive activity.”

Women: A Culture of Duality by Deana Nall [required reading]

“Based on what women have shared with me about this, I’ve identified a few recurring situations that can make women feel slighted in church settings.”