on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 29 – April 4

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

March 29

March 29, 1859 – On this day, Leonard Daugherty is born. He becomes the music editor for the Christian Standard (Standard Publishing Co.) and will serve many years with them, compiling several songbooks commonly used among us from the 1890’s until the mid-twentieth century. He is an associate of James A. Harding and commonly conducts gospel meetings with Hall L. Calhoun (arguably J.W. McGarvey’s chief protege).

March 30

March 30, 1830 – On this day, someone – who addresses Alexander Campbell as “my dear brother” and who signs his name only as “F” – pens Campbell a letter. Campbell reproduces the letter in its entirety in his paper, Millenial Harbinger. A portion of the letter reads:

“Last evening I attended in this place a meeting of a Bible Class, composed chiefly of members, both old and young. I being pro. tem. the acting ‘Elder,’ was requested by the Deacons to take the lead. No chapter having been previously given out, I asked, What one shall we consider? Elder B____, (an Elder indeed, a blind teacher, 75 years old, who has been the leader of this people upwards of 30 years) named the 13th chapter of Luke. Very well, we all turned to this chapter. After prayer I remarked that I had before me a different translation from the one in common use; and as it was desirable that we should avail ourselves of every means in our power for coming to a right understanding of the Sacred Oracles, if the class would look over, I would read the chapter in Dr. George Campbell’s translation; after which we might note the difference, and profitably consider it. I read. The Elder sat uneasy. As soon as I got through he gave his mind unasked. ‘He was an old-fashioned sort of a man,’ he said, ‘and liked the old Bible better.’ He marked several differences. ‘There is “reform” for “repent,”‘ said he. ‘Now a person may reform, but that isn’t repentance. Repentance means something more. It is a very different thing. Evangelical repentance is a godly sorrow for sin,’ &c. &c. After speaking much against the New Translation, he called upon the Deacons to instruct me into the proper manner of conducting these meetings. I turned to them for instruction. They wished me to take my own way. I therefore proceeded to make some further remarks on this translation, to ask and answer, to hear asked and answered, questions upon the chapter.

“I will only add, if not deceived, I do ardently desire to see a pure speech, the ancient gospel, and ancient order of things, fully restored among the people of God. Yours in hope of immortality, through a crucified Savior – F.”

Sound familiar? Apparently, some things never change (e.g. – disagreements and disgruntlement over versions of the Bible, differences and tensions between generations, the view that the older ways were better ways, etc.).

* Also on this same day and year (March 30, 1830), David Statts (“D.S.”) Burnet marries Mary Gano. Mary is the youngest daughter of John Stites Gano and a cousin of John Allen Gano (who was mentioned in the March 24 post in this series).

It is interesting to note just how many of the leading figures of the earliest years of the Restoration Heritage are related to each other by blood and/or marriage. This seems to me, at least in the course of my research thus far, especially true of the second-generation of leaders (as might be expected). While I haven’t attempted to keep a tally, the number is not insignificant.

March 31

* March 31, 30 – The exact date of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has been a matter of scholarly debate for centuries, and remains a question today. However, it is on this day in 30 A.D. that the Restoration Heritage scholar J.W. McGarvey believes Jesus died in Jerusalem at the hands of men for the sins of all of humanity and to defeat the powers of darkness. This date is recorded in The Fourfold Gospel, a work of J.W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton, first published in 1914 (three years after McGarvey’s death).

Interestingly, this date disagrees with the commonly held belief among the rank-and-file members of Churches of Christ that the crucifixion occurred in 33 A.D. In fact, a great many church buildings constructed by Churches of Christ in the 20th century will have affixed to them a plaque stating that the church of Christ was “established in 33 A.D.” Had McGarvey lived to see one of these signs (he died in 1911) he would surely have given it an eye-roll.

* March 31, 1881 – On this day J.M. Mathes, one of the earliest and most influential preachers in our heritage in the state of Indiana, has an article published in The Evangelist (the paper started by Walter Scott). The article is entitled “The Organ Once More” and speaks to the use of instrumental music in corporate worship. Mathes, watching a steady stream of churches in Indiana adopt the use of instruments, would rather have things otherwise, but despite such convictions, he refuses to make such a test of fellowship and continues to wok and worship with brethren on both sides of the aisle. He says:

“I am opposed to the organ in the worship, but make no factious opposition to it. I suffer no organ to drive me from my place in the church of Christ, nor from my duty as a disciple of Christ.”

Mathes‘ forbearance, as well as his valuing union over a particular stance on this issue, is intriguing. As for us today, whether we’re looking back into history or thinking of matters of the present day, we do well to keep more than just two colors on our palette with which to paint our understanding of things on the canvas of our mind. After all, which one of us sees everything in black and white? J.M. Mathes understood that well.

April 1

* April 1, 1807 – Thomas Campbell leaves Ireland and begins a roughly five-week journey to the United States. His intent is spy out the land, so to speak, and move his family to the States. His trip is prompted by health factors; his doctors are urging him to find a different occupation on account of the stress of (1) overwork and stress (he is a school teacher and a Presbyterian minister, greatly frustrated over the entrenched attitudes and pervasive disunity of his church tribe) and (2) to relocate to a climate more conducive to improvement in his health. Thomas acts on their advice and so, sets out on this journey alone, his wife and children remaining in Ireland for now. He leaves his son, nineteen year-old Alexander, in charge of the academy that he and Alexander have operated together at Rich Hill. It will be the fall of 1809 before Alexander, and the rest of Thomas’ family, arrives in the States.

All of this gives me pause to wonder: would any of us be doing anything close to what we’re doing these days in terms of faith if Thomas Campbell had simply acted like a great many of us guys – shrugging off, or postponing acting on, a doctor’s advice?

* April 1, 1834 – In a letter to Peyton C. Wyeth in England, Alexander Campbell speaks of his estimation of the current membership size, organization, and growth rate of those associated with the Stone-Campbell Movement in the United Sates. Campbell’s reply, in part, reads:

“From the best information I can gather, there are about one hundred and fifty thousand brethren in the Reformation in the United States: but of those there may not be organized into churches more than from five to eight hundred into churches. Many of them are large – from one to four hundred members – many from fifty to one hundred. But the revival has been very great. Since you left us last year, there could not be less than ten thousand immersed in the United States and Canada.”

John Allen Hudson records this matter in his book entitled The Church in Great Britain.

April 2

April 2, 1841 – It is Barton W. Stone’s understanding of Scripture that Christian union will usher in Christ’s return. And it is today that his dream of a grand meeting of leaders from across the spectrum of Christendom to discuss Christian unity and to bring an end to sectarian strife is finally realized.

Depressingly so. For though the gathering’s objective is to be “a convention of all denominations of Christians” in the state of Kentucky with Alexander Campbell being one of the chief speakers, it is poorly attended.

Knocked down, but not out, Stone gets up, regroups, and takes another run at organizing the same sort of event two years later in 1843 … with even worse results. At that time, not enough people even commit to be representatives for the convention to make.

Stone is broken-hearted, but not in despair; he continues to hold on tight to his dream of Christian unity, even though now he is much more muted about it. He dies the following year (1844).

April 3

April 3, 1826 – Alexander Campbell writes in the Christian Baptist regarding some of his relationship with his father, Thomas, and also how he seeks to be his own man when it comes to understanding the Bible.

“I call no man master upon the earth; and although my own father has been a diligent student, and a teacher of the Christian religion since his youth; and in my opinion, understands this book as well as any person with whom I am acquainted, yet there is no man whom I have debated more, and reasoned more, on all subjects, than he – I have been so long disciplined in the school of free inquiry, that, if I know my own mind, there is not a man upon the earth whose authority can influence me, any farther than he comes with the authority of evidence, reason, and truth. To arrive at this state of mind is the result of many experiments and efforts; and to me has been arduous beyond expression. I have endeavored to read the Scriptures as though no one had read them before me and I am as much on my guard against reading them today, through the medium of my own views yesterday, or a week ago, as I am against being influenced by any foreign name, authority, or system whatever.”

This is one of those quotes that make me wish I could step into a time transport machine and be whisked back to the moment this statement was penned and engage the author in a brief conversation. I imagine myself standing beside Alexander, looking over his shoulder at the paper and pen, and then remarking (perhaps speaking in some way as they did then):

“Do you mean to say, sir, that such an effort is practical and essential? Do you actually believe it is wholly possible for an individual to read any portion of Scripture at all and simultaneously be completely devoid of influence by others? It seems to me that such a task can, yea, must, be a lofty, indeed, necessary, goal, but ultimately, it cannot ever be fully realized or attained. No man completely knows the exact depth of the deep waters of his own mind, does he? We all are subtly and unconsciously influenced by a multitude of others, past and present, most of whom we did not, nor ever will, know. It seems to me this is as sure a fact as the fact that we are influenced by the sunlight falling on this very page now anchored by your palm, even though we cannot see the sun directly. And so, if in stating the matter here as you just have, you actually mean to say that such a stance in attitude is a noble and necessary ‘goal,’ please add a sentence here and say so. To the point: is this mind you seek something you shoot for, though you know you are inadequate to the task and will inevitably fall short, or is it something you believe you shoot with, absolutely essential to hitting the mark? For the sake of all who seek truth, please state for us the fact of the matter.”

Oh, to hear how he would respond!

April 4

April 4, 1825 – As Alexander Campbell continues his article series in the Christian Baptist entitled “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things,” he makes the following statements:

“I have no idea of seeing, nor one wish to see the sects unite in one grand army. This would be dangerous to our liberties and laws. For this the Savior did not pray. It is only the disciples of Christ dispersed amongst them, that reason and benevolence would call out of them. Let them unite who love the Lord …

“… the constitution of the kingdom of the Saviour is the New Testament, and this alone is adapted to the existence of his kingdom in the world. To restore the ancient order of things this must be recognized as the only constitution of this kingdom. …”

“When the ancient order of things is restored, neither more nor less will be demanded of any applicant for admission into the kingdom, than was asked by Philip. And every man who solicits admission in this way – who solemnly declares that, upon the testimony and authority of the holy apostles and prophets, he believes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, should forthwith be baptized without respect to any questions or dogmas derived wither from written creeds or church covenants.”

links: this went thru my mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

links: this went thru my mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles I believe to be interesting and helpful reading.

Bible interpretation & John 3.16: Red Letters in John 3:16?

“In John 3, where do the words of Jesus end and the words of the John begin?”

Correction, mistakes, proofreading & typos: What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos

“The reason typos get through isn’t because we’re stupid or careless, it’s because what we’re doing is actually very smart …”

Dehumanization, labels, respect & stereotypes: The Convenience and Dehumanizing Nature of Labels

“There is a certain arrogance when it comes to labels because it assumes that you are not to be labeled but it is perfectly fine to do it to anyone else you please. It is hard to label and not simultaneously be disrespectful on some level…as we demand to be understood in full but refuse to give that honor to the other. Labels dehumanize, often very subtly.”

Santa Claus & St. Nicholas: What Ever Happened to St. Nicholas?

“St. Nicholas was born into a wealthy Christian family in the third century. His parents died in a plague, and having inherited the family fortune, he decided to obey the radical call of Christ and give it to the poor. So he became famous for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

“Bishop Nicholas was exiled and imprisoned during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, and after his release, attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 where he famously lost his temper and slapped the heretic Arius in the face. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. Legends grew up about his generosity, and throughout the Middle Ages he became one of the most popular and wonder-working saints across Europe.

“Now ‘jolly old St. Nick,’ aka Santa Claus, is a secular figure used to promote godless good cheer and commercial consumerism. What happened?”

Spiritual gifts: Spiritual Gifts: 5 Fallacies

“If it is my spiritual gift, then it must be something I always find easy to do. … If it is my spiritual gift, its outworking should be inexplicable by natural reasoning. … If it is a spiritual gift, then it should not require other formal means of enhancement. … Since it is a spiritual gift, I should confine its use to the church or else it is misappropriated. … Spiritual gifts are about what we do.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Bible & humor: Laughter in the Bible? Absolutely!

“As I study and teach, I find I read the Bible ever more slowly, and as I do, I smile more and more frequently. I listen for its humor. My emotions span sorrow, understanding or joy as I empathize with the characters who cross its pages. I chuckle at many passages, even while acknowledging the sadness they may contain. Consequently, I believe it’s possible to read many verses, stories and even books through the lens of humor, indeed to see portions of the Bible as intended to be very funny. An appropriate response is laughter. I’ve come to this conclusion: Humor is a fundamental sub-theme in both testaments.”

Congregational singing: Lessons from the Churches of Christ

“I am deeply concerned about the long-term viability of the musical heritage of the Church of Christ tradition, and I also think there are lessons to learn about the preservation of musical culture.”

Food & medicine: When Do Chefs And Doctors Buy Generic?

“Pharmacists and doctors are more likely than the general public to buy generic medicine … And chefs are more likely than the general public to buy generic food.”

Gaza, Hamas & Israel: A Letter to Friends Who Want to Understand What is Happening in Gaza [essential reading]

“I want to say a few words to my friends who are not particularly biased one way or the other (and perhaps somewhat uninformed) about what is happening in Gaza. … My heart breaks for the suffering of the Palestinian people. I pray that they get their state soon, and will live peaceably alongside Israel. There will be lots of wounds to mend in this process on both sides. But I don’t blame Israel for the civilian suffering of Palestinians that you see. It is a deliberate tactic of war intended to make you feel exactly what you are feeling: sympathy. I feel sympathy as well, but I know who has the responsibility for this suffering: Hamas.”

Immigration & migrant children: * Q&A: Children at the Border [required reading]; * Most Migrant Children Entering U.S. Are Now With Relatives, Data Show

* “Where are the migrant children coming from? … When did the surge start? … What caused the sudden increase in unaccompanied minors? … Why are the children not deported immediately? … Where are the children crossing the border? … How old are they? Are they mostly boys or girls? … What happens to the children after they are caught? … Where are the shelters? … Where have children been placed after leaving a shelter? … What is being done to address the problem?”

* “Children who are not able to find qualified sponsors are placed in long-term shelters or in foster care. Roughly 10 percent of the unaccompanied minors who have been taken into custody this year have been placed in such care.”

Peace Corp: Peace Corps Volunteers in Their Own Words

“Contrary to popular belief, Peace Corps is less a development organization and more a training ground for cultural sensitivity — global EQ, if you will. I can’t speak with 100 percent certainty that any projects that I undertook changed lives. But I am 100 percent certain that my Peace Corps service shaped me into a better global citizen. It equipped me with the important ability to approach a different culture with humility and respect, to listen, and to understand.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Application, Bible interpretation, preaching & teaching: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s

“Every word of the Bible was written at a certain time and in a certain context. Even the most recent of those times and the nearest of those contexts is at a great distance from us in time and space. Thus, when we read the Bible, we have to determine how those words apply to us today in our very different times and very different contexts. It is not always a simple task. We have all seen situations—and many of us have caused situations—where we have been sloppy in going from the text to today.”

Church, ministry & U.S. trends: MissionTrends: 4 Trends for Churches to Consider

“The next 20 years are going to be a challenge for convictional Christians and churches in many places. … 1. The Word “Christian” Will Become Less Used and More Clear. … 2. The Nominals Will Increasingly become Nones. … 3. Christians Will Increasingly Change Cultural Tactics. … 4. More Robust Churches will Result from the Death of Nominalism.”

Fulfillment, leadership, satisfaction & work: Why You Hate Work

“The way we’re working isn’t working.”

Leadership: 7 of the Hardest Paradigms I Had to Learn to be an Effective Leader

“I had to develop the ability to say no more than I get to say yes. … I have to live with sometimes being unpopular. … I have to move forward sometimes in uncertainty. … I had to get comfortable challenging mediocrity. … I had to lower my pride and admit I can often be wrong. … I had to come to a reality that I couldn’t be everywhere or do everything. … I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to put on my calendar is rest.”

Short term missions: 24 Things World Christians Wish North American Short-Term Missionaries Would Quit Doing …

“… Talk more than you listen. …”

Temptation & testing: A Test and a Temptation—Can You Tell the Difference?

“Both God and Satan perform tests on you and me. These road tests reveal how the rubber meets the road in our Christian lives. But the two tests have two completely different goals. Can you tell the difference?”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Afterlife, authority & heaven: Heaven Is For Real [essential viewing; a video 4:44 by David Platt)

“… our level of discernment in the church today on this topic is extremely low because the whole premise behind every single one of these books is contrary to everything God’s word says about heaven. … Not one person raised from the dead in the Old Testament or the New Testament ever wrote down what he or she experienced , including Lazarus, who had a lot of time in a grave for four days. … Paul sums it up in three verses. … Their visions are all fixated on the glory of God which defines heaven … Notably missing from all of the Biblical accounts are the frivolous features and juvenile attractions that seem to dominant every account of heaven on the best-seller lists. … Why … are we buying this stuff when we have the word of God?”

Anxiety, fear, stress & worry: This is You on Stress

” … There are things you can do to take the wind out of worry’s sails.”

Archaeology & the Western Wall: A Stonemason’s Chisel from the Second Temple

“Archaeologists associated with the Israel Antiquities Authority found a stonemason’s chisel which is believed to have been used by the workers who built the Western Wall in Jerusalem. … Most scholars believe that the Western Wall was one of the many building projects Herod the Great initiated during his reign. Among these projects was the Temple in Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the fort at Masada.

“However, based on the dates of the coins found under the Western Wall, Shukron and Reich believe that the Western Wall was not built by Herod. The dates of the coins indicate that the Western Wall was built after Herod’s reign, probably by one of his heirs.”

Bible & interpretation: How To Completely Misuse The Bible In 5 Easy Steps

“The Bible is a notoriously difficult book (collection of books, actually) to understand. We’ve been wrestling with the meaning and implication of various texts within the Bible nearly since the moment it was written. … However, even though studying the Bible with a heart for understanding the message is difficult, it is the most beautiful journey I’ve ever set out on. … On that same note however, with the Bible being so difficult to understand, it is also easy to completely misuse it. Such a misuse, even done unintentionally, distorts the beauty of what actually lies inside. We’ve all seen it. In fact, we’ve all done it.”

Churches & social media: Using Caution with Social Media

“Whether you are a full-time staff person or a volunteer that is just starting out, you are representing the ministry you are serving in. As a member of this church, you need to understand that there are rules that must be followed online that simply cannot be violated. To help protect my ministry team, whether the church technology ministry, youth group, or a Saturday morning men’s Bible study, I have all volunteers commit to our social media policy.”

Communication & love: I Say This in Love …

“Sometimes people seem to think they can say anything — in any form — without considering the consequences — as long as they begin with that phrase. … let’s make sure we display love all the way through our conversations. Not just with the first five words.”