links to 4 helpful articles

Note: if you vote today, let me encourage you to first carefully read all of all four of the following articles, in the order you see them here, and then pray. And for that matter, if you have already voted, do the same.

1. 6 Types of Misinformation to Beware Of on Election Day. (And What to Do if You Spot Them.)

“Be careful of rumors and hoaxes about the voting and polling places. Here are some tips for spotting and avoiding false information.”

2. A Voter’s Guide for Thinking Evangelicals

“Of course you will say, on the basis of these things, now I have no one to vote for! But in fact there is lesser and greater evil, and if you don’t choose the lesser of several evils, you end up permitting the greater evils. Which again, is why we have to vote. Take the car wreck over the train with many passengers wreck every time.”

3. The Calling of Crappy Citizenship

“… the all-important principle of Christian anarchism: rather than championing no government, Christian anarchists advocate a politics so odd, eccentric, and peculiar that it must be incommensurate with all other conventional forms of politics.”

4. What America Owes Frederick Douglass

“… the only weapons most of us have in this historical moment are those Douglass named: our voice, our pen and our vote.”

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: May 24-30

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

May 24

May 24, 1879 – A pioneer preacher, summing up his experiences to his son, speaks of what was and what should be.

Nathan Williamson Smith is one of the earliest preachers from within the Restoration Heritage to minister in the state of Georgia, serving there since the mid-1830’s. In a series of six letters written to a son, sixty-five year-old Smith relates what life for him was like “back in the day.” These letters are then published in the May and June issues of the Christian Standard. The fourth of the six letters is published today. In that letter Smith writes, in part:

“In 1836 I spent the summer months in traveling and preaching in some of the adjacent counties; but with very little success. Also in 1838 I spent about half of the year evangelizing; received four dollars for my salary, but thank the Lord that year, among others, I immersed two of the best of brothers we ever had in Georgia. One is gone to his reward with the Lord; the other is away in Texas, proclaiming the glad tidings as his health will permit; has been sorely afflicted of late.

“In 1849 I traveled around at my own expense, and got up the first cooperation meeting held by our brethren in the State. The delegation was small, and nothing practical accomplished, more than to make a beginning in that direction, and appoint another meeting for the same place twelve months thereafter.”

Smith continues this same thought in his next letter (May 31):

“Since the year 1849 there have been several cooperation or yearly meetings. But as far as my information extends, they have not been very successful in their results. And if I had to guess the reason, would say, too many resolutions, only on paper.

“During my labor as preacher I have served as pastor in different places, 14 churches in Georgia, when not engaged as an evangelist. While some of them paid a very small salary and some paid nothing, I do not think I exaggerate by saying that near one half my labors have been given to the good cause gratuitously; but do not complain at all, although I am now old and afflicted, and not able to support my family by manual labor.”

Smith’s final letter (June 7) gives us a snapshot of the state of things for our heritage at the time in Georgia, as well as some of Smith’s take on it all:

“So far as my information extends there are abut twenty-five preachers now in Georgia, and about six of them are devoting all their time to preaching. The rest are laboring now in various callings to support themselves and family, some of them preaching monthly pretty regularly, others preaching very little. …

“I am not able to say positively how many organized churches we have in our State, but I would say, to the best of my knowledge there are between fifty and seventy-five, varying in numbers, some of them not having a great many, and others from one to two hundred. During my observations our churches have lost many members, both by death and emigration to the West. There are a goodly number of brethren that are scattered in the country, not convenient to any church for worship. I am sorry to say that among the churches very few of them meet regularly on each Lord’s day to worship, read, and study the Scriptures; and furthermore, I am sorry to say that there is not that interest manifested in the Sunday-school cause, that I would like to see and know. Oh, when will our brethren learn that their spiritual life, grow in grace, peace and prosperity as churches, does not depend entirely on this old fashioned way of monthly meetings, waiting and depending on the preacher to come and do the work? If allowed to express an opinion, I must say that I do not think that our Georgia churches have increased and prospered as they might, even with the many difficulties they have had to encounter. I know the opposition has been courageous, more zealous, more humble and devoted, and, withal, more benevolent to the poor and more liberal with our means in sustaining the cause of the Lord – his word and his word alone.”

What advice would Smith offer to young preachers in preparation for ministry? Marry well. In his first letter (May 7), Smith says:

“In the year 1834 I married your mother in the county of Wilkes, Georgia … She was an orphan whose parents both died when she was a child. She, like myself, had but a very limited chance to go to school and improve her mind when young. But possessing naturally a strong mind and untiring energy, she was well calculated for a preacher’s wife, for a truth, I confess, that I am more indebted to my wife for what I am and what I have done as a preacher, than any other human instrumental in it. And I would say to all young men that expect to preach, be careful as to the disposition of the lady you choose for a wife. Many a good preacher’s usefulness is destroyed by the conduct of his wife. I knew once a very talented and fine preacher, whose wife would use every stratagem in her power to keep him at home, and from going to his appointments. One Saturday, trying to prevail on him not to go to meeting, and finding she was not successful, she secretly got some fire and went out and set the woods on fire, so that her husband had to go to fighting fire to save his fence.”

After penning these letters, Smith lives another twenty years. His body is buried in Cobb County, Georgia. His ministry took him to forty of Georgia’s counties and at different times, he was the only preacher from among the Restoration Heritage in those counties.

May 25

May 25, 1894 – Today, the author of the first “study Bible” produced by a Restoration Heritage author goes on to be with the Lord and his body is buried in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Or, to put it another way: today, a man who helped shaped the mind of many of your church members with gray hair today, passes on.

The man is B.W. Johnson. His initials stand for his namesake: “Barton Warren” Stone. His mind is largely shaped by his education at Bethany College, the president of which is Alexander Campbell. His professors there include such men as Robert Milligan, W. K. Pendleton, and Robert Richardson. In 1863 he serves as the corresponding secretary of the American Missionary Society (let the reader understand). He works for years as the editor of the paper begun by Walter Scott, The Evangelist (aka: the Christian Evangelist).

And in 1891, the second volume of the first edition of Johnson’s two-volume work entitled The People’s New Testament: The Common and Revised Versions with References and Colored Maps, with Explanatory Notes, rolls off the press. Johnson’s Notes, as the work comes to be popularly known, quickly becomes a part of the library of many an average-Joe-in-the-pew within Restoration Heritage churches. This holds true for something close to a century in time.

I can’t recall with certainty if a copy of Johnson’s Notes was given to me as a gift by a fellow church member or if I purchased it at the recommendation of one of the staff ministers with our congregation (me thinks it was likely the latter), but I do recall it was one of the very first books to be added to my library upon my baptism at the age of seventeen. In the same way one never notices just how many cars on the road are identical to your own until you own a particular car, I never noticed how many fellow church members toted a one-volume edition of Johnson’s notes to Sunday class and worship services until I acquired my copy. At the time, the fact struck me that this was something like “the Church of Christ Bible.” Nearly forty years have passed since my baptism and I now live over four hundred miles further south, but I still occasionally encounter a church member referencing or quoting Johnson’s Notes today.

May 26

May 26, 1833 – Today, a preacher learns that his writing has led people unknown to him to a closer walk with the Lord and has resulted in the planting of a church.

In faraway Calloway County, Missouri, a man by the name of Greenup Jackson sits down and pens a letter to Alexander Campbell. He writes:

“I have your Christian Baptist and a few numbers of the Millennial Harbinger; also your Debates with Owen and M’Calla, and have read them with peculiar delight. I have been more instructed in the Christian religion by them than by any other composition of human origin. I have laid aside my ‘Discipline,’ to which I have been a slave for four years, and have vowed allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Seven of us have been immersed in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of our sins, and are trying to exhibit the primitive order of Christianity. We expect a considerable increase.”

May 27

May 27, 1893 – One Bible scholar hammers another – rather, a whole group of others – with satire today.

In the late 1870’s, Julius Wellhausen publishes two volumes that come to dominate the field of Old Testament scholarship for decades following. The first volume concerns the JEDP theory of the source origins of the Pentateuch and the second volume deals with the history of the people of Israel. The effects of Wellhausen’s work reverberates throughout Christendom, the Restoration Heritage being no exception.

Within the Restoration Heritage, J.W. McGarvey is deemed the champion of conservative Biblical scholarship. And, by means of articles published on a weekly basis in the Christian Standard, McGarvey continually takes liberal scholarship to the woodshed. Today, a certain “Professor Nordell” [presumably P.A. Nordell] is McGarvey’s whipping boy.

A Specimen
May 27, 1893

“I commend to the consideration of Professor Nordell and his class of critics a specimen of criticism on an English classic, which he has probably never seen, and which may be of service to him in his future efforts at literary criticism. As the document has not yet been copyrighted, I will not disclose the name of the book from which it is an extract. It is entitled “The Literary Analysis of an Ancient Poem.” As the poem is a brief one, we shall quote it in full:

“‘Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard,
To get her poor dog a bone.
When she got there, the cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.’

“In the uncritical ages of the past this poem was believed to be the composition  of a  single  person — a very ancient English woman by the name of  Goose. Whether we should style her Mrs. Goose, or Miss Goose, we have no means of deciding with certainty, for the stories which have come down to historical  times concerning her are mostly legendary. It might be supposed that the title “mother” would settle this difficult question; but, as in certain convents of our own day, venerable spinsters are styled Mother, so may it have been in the days of Goose.

“But, leaving this interesting question as one for further historical inquiry, we turn to the poem itself, and by applying to it the scientific process of literary analysis, we find that the document did not originate, as our fathers have supposed, from a single author, but that it is a composite structure, at least two original documents having been combined within it by a Redactor. This appears from the incongruities between the two traditions which evidently underlie the poem.

“One of these traditions represents the heroine of the poem, a venerable Mrs. Hubbard, as a benevolent woman, who loved her dog, as appears from the fact that she went to the cupboard to get him some food. If we had  the whole of this story, we should doubtless find that she did this every time the dog was hungry, and as she would surely not go to the cupboard for the dog’s food unless she knew there was some in the cupboard, we can easily fill out the story of her benevolence by assuming that she put something away for the dog when she ate her own  meals.

“Now, in direct conflict with this, the other tradition had it that she kept the dog “poor;” for he is called her “poor dog;” and, in keeping with this fact, instead of giving him meat, she gave him nothing but bones. Indeed, so extreme was her stinginess toward the poor dog that, according to this tradition, she actually put away the bones in the cupboard with which to mock the poor dog’s hunger.

“A woman could scarcely be represented more inconsistently than Mrs. Hubbard was by these two traditions; and consequently none but those who are fettered by tradition, can fail to see that the two must have originated from two different authors. For the sake of distinction, we shall style one of these authors, Goose A, and the other, Goose B. In these two forms, then, the traditions concerning this ancient owner of  a dog came down from prehistoric times. At  length there arose a literary age in England, and then R put together in one the accounts written by the two gooses, but failed to conceal their incongruities, so that unto this day Mother Hubbard is placed in the ridiculous light of going to the cupboard when there was nothing in it; of going there, notwithstanding her kindness to her dog, to tantalize him by getting him a mere bone; and, to cap the climax, of going all the way to the cupboard to get the bone when she knew very well that not a bone was there.

“Some people are unscientific enough to think, that in thus analyzing the poem, we are seeking to destroy its value, but every one who has the critical faculty developed, can see that this ancient household lyric is much more precious to our souls since we have come to understand its structure; and that, contradictory as its two source documents were, it is a blessed thing that, in the providence of God, both have been preserved in such a form that critical analysis is capable of separating and restoring them.”

May 28

May 28, 1830 – Today, a law is passed that results in the death of thousands upon thousands of people in the United States … and the resulting virtual silence on the matter by prominent leaders of the Restoration Heritage is deafening today.

Today, United States President Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act (IRA) into law. The bill has been a controversial measure, passing the House and Senate by a total of only thirteen votes. However, its passage now gives Jackson the authority to do what he wants done: the removal of all Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River and their relocation to what is known today as Oklahoma. Though the IRA is extremely popular with Southerners, the result of the IRA’s implementation is devastating to Native Americans, resulting in, among other things, what is known as “The Trail of Tears.”

While I am anything but a top-shelf Restoration Heritage historian or researcher, I have been reading my eyes out and Googling my fingers off … and have yet to find much at all penned by one of the primary leaders of the early years of the Restoration Heritage regarding the relocation, and resulting decimation, of Native American people. However, one article has been pointed out to me, an article penned by Alexander Campbell not quite six months before the passage of the IRA. And significantly, this article, entitled “The Cherokees,” appears in the very first issue of Campbell’s paper, the Millennial Harbinger (Jan. 4, 1830; vol.1, no.1). Campbell’s take on things is 180 degrees opposite of those of President Jackson. The article reads:

“The ‘rights of man,’ one would think, are any thing and every thing which any body and every body pleases to make them, if we yield to the opinions of those who maintain that any state in this Union has a right to seize the property and exile or banish the owner, because he is red, or yellow, or some other unfashionable color. But that is not the question–it is this: Have treaties any sanction, any validity, any faith? Have the parties to any covenant or compact any right? Or is it the right of the strong always to plunder the property and insult the person of the weak. Has one man, because he is rich and has many friends, the right to seize the farm of his poor neighbor and give him a tract in the moon, or in ‘No Man’s Island’ for it, just as he pleases? All this, and even more than this, is assumed by Georgia in reference to the Cherokee Indians, as I understand her wishes respecting this most important community of the aborigines, to whom God gave this continent. I am glad that the eyes of christendom and of the world, are now upon the representatives of this nation of republics–this government of principles and laws; for if none but the eyes of God were upon some of them, I think they would send these poor defenceless Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains, if it would not cost too much.

“On the question whether the Cherokees, in part civilized, and some say, in part a christianized tribe of Indians, now residing within the territory of Georgia, are under its jurisdiction, ipso facto, in despite of all treaty, Mr. [William Lloyd] Garrison, junior editor of the Genius of Universal Emancipation [a Quaker, abolitionist newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland] makes the following very pertinent and forcible remarks:–

“‘Questions of national justice are above the spirit of party: their discussion, therefore, is within the province, and becomes the duty, of every editor. In the selections of candidates men may honestly differ, without impeaching their integrity or discernment; but the principles of equity are too broad and palpable to be misapprehended, or to render division excusable.

“‘The question of INDIAN RIGHTS should unite the hearts and voices of the American people, from Maine to the Rocky Mountains. It is simple, significant, weighty. It is not whether the Indians would gain or lose by emigration–whether their removal would better secure the safety of Georgia or Alabama–whether they have cultivated ten or ten thousand acres of their lands–whether they have been reclaimed from their former savage habits, and are now a civilized and christian people; but it is simply, Whether the faith of the United States is not only solemnly plighted to protect them, for ever, from invasion, violence, and fraud? Expediency and policy are convertible terms, full of dishonesty and oppression. Justice is eternal, and its demands cannot safely be evaded.”

“‘It is not a fact that the Cherokees are within the jurisdiction of Georgia, or of any other state. They are as distinct as any member of the Union, and as national and independent as Great Britain itself. A hundred and fifty treaties can be produced to sustain their pretensions. The laws of Georgia can no more be justly imposed on them, than upon individuals residing in Massachusetts or Maine, or in the Persian Empire. They have never submitted themselves to the government of the whites–they probably never will submit–and no power, we trust, will compel them to submit. They do not infringe upon state or national rights. Their location interferes with nothing but the avarice of Georgia, and a better one, for themselves and the country, cannot be found this side of the Pacific. In fine, their forcible removal would brand this country with eternal infamy, and expose it to the accumulated vengeance of heaven.’

“I humbly trust there is yet so much justice, so much pure republicanism, so much regard to truth and national faith, in the bosoms of the American people and of their representatives in congress, as will not permit them to give up an innocent and harmless nation to the cupidity of a few capitalists in Georgia or any where else.”

The preacher in me enjoys Campbell’s alliteration in his sentence of summation: “the cupidity of a few capitalists.” And the historian in me appreciates Campbell quoting from Benjamin Lundy‘s paper, The Genius of Universal Emancipation. Lundy’s name is not well-remembered today, but he was a loud voice crying in the wilderness in his time, arguably the first person in the U.S. to deliver lectures in speaking tours across the country against slavery. It is Lundy who, just a very few years later, helps carry the flag, as it were, in the denunciation of the Texas Revolution. Why? Because he believes he sees it for what it is actually about: an attempt to continue, and further, slavery (Mexico having outlawed it). Lundy, if anything, is a consistent and courageous man, and these are traits that Campbell greatly admires.

While Campbell apparently said precious little regarding the eviction of Native Americans from their homes after the publication of this article, one wonders what else could have been said. Campbell’s position is candid and clear, leaving no room for compromise. Indeed, it makes this part-Cherokee proud that he said what he did and when he did. Jackson had outlined his policy in his Second Annual Message to Congress less than a month earlier (Dec. 6, 1829) and this article, in effect, is Campbell’s “reply” to Jackson. That Campbell spoke at all, especially with the knowledge that his position would be exceedingly unpopular with many – and would prove to be in vain – is significant. Campbell spoke at the crucial moment, while the matter was still yet to be decided, and in a prominent way, in the first issue of his new paper. No small thing.

And yet, there were more leaders in the Restoration Heritage than Campbell who write and/or who were editors – and where were their voices on this matter? We can’t help but wonder what future generations will wonder about our near silence today on matters that will appear large in their eyes.

May 29

May 29, 1913 – Death, like life, can be very complicated. And today, by means of words of eulogy, we learn a strong lesson in honesty, grace, humility, hope, and brotherly love through the complicated, intertwined lives of two brothers in Christ: one a courageous pacifist, the other a military hero.

Richard Montgomery (“R.M”) Gano is the most prominent of Restoration Heritage veterans who served the Confederacy. And during the Civil War, there is hardly a more vocal pacifist in our heritage than David Lipscomb. During the war, Gano leads no small number of the men Lipscomb had helped lead to the Lord to their deaths in combat. Men Lipscomb taught to be peacemakers, Gano trained to become killers, and in a great many instances we know, killers of fellow brothers in Christ. A significant portion of that fighting took place in the heart of Lipscomb’s primary place of influence: Middle Tennessee. Make no mistake about it: there is a pool of blood, deep and wide, between R.M. Gano and David Lipscomb.

However, aside from Gano’s and Lipscomb’s dramatic differences as to the relationship of the Christian toward military service, there is no question as to either man’s sincerity, service, and strength in the Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is obvious to all in the lives of them both. And, Lipscomb owes Gano much in that after the war he helped lead some of Lipscomb’s kin to the Lord … and thousands of others. Yes, here is another pool of blood.

And so, upon Gano’s death, David Lipscomb, editor of the brotherhood’s most prominent paper, the Gospel Advocate, must say something; he cannot not write about the passing of such a figure. But, what will he say and how will he say it? Lipscomb writes:

“We have seen notice of the death of Gen. R.M. Gano, of Dallas, Texas. He was in his eighty-fourth year. He was born in Bourbon County, Ky., a son of John Allen Gano, a preacher of force and power. The Ganos were of a family of preachers. They were from the French Huguenots. Two or three members of the family were Baptist preachers of note in New York before and during the Revolutionary War. Some of the family removed to the blue-grass region of Kentucky; and when the division between the Baptists and disciple of Christ came up, John A. Gano, the father of R.M. Gano, stood with the disciples firmly for the sufficiency of the word of God to lead and guide men in the way of righteousness and truth.

“The Ganos, so far as their lives are known, possessed a happy combination of qualities and characteristics. They were men gentle and kind in spirit, with true courage of convictions and strength and force of character. They could be strong and firm for the truth and the right, yet kind and gentle toward all men, especially toward those who opposed the truth. The Christian religion is intended by God to school and train men for these qualities, that they may be effective in exhorting and persuading men to become Christians. It is a happy condition when men inherit these helpful qualities. They could speak in kind and gentle tones, yet be steadfast in their convictions. Such men make good exhorters and are successful in persuading men to do their duty. The Ganos were good exhorters and successful preachers. General Gano was gentle and suave in his manner, but firm in his convictions and steadfast in his purposes.

“He graduated at Bethany College with a degree of honor, studied medicine, and began practice at Baton Rouge, La. Though no a preacher at that time, he soon gathered a band of disciples who met to worship God. After a year or so he moved to Grapevine, Texas. The Indians gave the people trouble, and he raised a company of soldiers and began a military life. About this time he was elected to the Legislature of Texas and served a term in this position.

“The Civil War came on; he entered the army, was put forward as a soldier, and made for himself a military character. He was through Middle Tennessee, and figured at Lebanon, Gallatin, and Hartsville. He was pleasant and popular as an officer with the soldiers and with the people.

“After the close for the war, he went to preaching. His reputation as a soldier commended him to the mass of the people in this country, and he held meetings  at the placed mentioned and in Odd Fellows’ Hall in East Nashville, which gave the churches of Christ a start in East Nashville. Prof. James F. Lipscomb [one of David Lipscomb’s older brothers], who died in Texas a few years ago; Horace G. Lipscomb [another older brother of Lipscomb], who died in this city about a year ago; and Mrs. L.V. Clough, of Fort Worth, Texas [relationship unknown to me], were staying at my house, and all, with others, became obedient to the faith during this meeting. I became well acquainted with General Gano during the meeting and learned to respect and honor him for his earnestness and fidelity to what he thought was right. I used to boast sometimes of abstemious habits; that I had never drunk a cup of coffee, smoked a cigar, or took a chew of tobacco or a drink of spirits as a beverage. I told this to the general. If I mistake not, he added that he never had drunk a cup of tea, in addition to my restraints. I yielded the palm of praise to him, as he had been through the war, and especially as he had been in the Legislature. He was entitled to higher credit than I could claim.

“There was a year’s difference in our ages. He spent the years of the war in fighting for his country and took and active interest in the political affairs of the country. I spent the years of the war in teaching that Christians cannot fight for the kingdoms of earth and give their lives to building up these kingdoms. I trust God for approval of my course. I hope the General may be justified and saved. This my seem strange, ‘But with God all things are possible.’ (Matt. 19:26). The last years of this life he served as an elder in the church of Christ in Dallas, Texas and died respected and honored by those who knew him.”

As one who has read hundreds and hundreds of death notices of Civil War veterans, I can say this eulogy is truly unique; I have seen nothing quite like it anywhere else. Conspicuously absent are any words lauding the veteran’s exploits in the military. Rather, the emphasis here is on the man’s exploits in the harvest fields for Christ. No mention is made of what the veteran gave for his patriotic beliefs; instead, it is Gano’s faith in Christ and his submission to him in even the smallest of matters of conscience that is highlighted. There is no name-dropping or list of associations, only how Gano helped steer men and women to the One who alone is Great. And in place of remarks as to how noble it was for Gano to “serve his country” for some days, there is stress on how the deceased sought to serve Christ as he saw best until his dying day.

What Lipscomb did in this piece, in effect, is nothing short of turning a frequently used template for a veteran’s funeral service on its head! This reversal of praise would certainly not be lost to the general public of 1913. I have to wonder what Lipscomb’s contemporaries said to him about it. I suspect it received a mixed review: some thinking it inspiring and others likely seeing it as insufficient. To me it comes across as one Lipscomb’s finest pieces of writing; indeed, it is my personal favorite. It’s gutsy, grateful, gracious, personal, and real; not glib, grasping, grandiose, distant, and forced … as some eulogies were then, and are now. And in it all, Lipscomb honors the truly best of his brother in Christ while not watering down or compromising any of his own convictions. Such is very difficult ground to traverse, but Lipscomb stumbles not at all, rather, he blazes the trail for us to follow.

Lipscomb himself dies four years later in 1917. I wish I knew what the Gano family said of Lipscomb at his passing.

May 30

Among the things that happened on this day in American Restoration Heritage history:

* May 30, 1810 – Today, Eliza (Campbell) Stone, Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s first wife, dies at the age of twenty-six. Stone is now a widower at the age of thirty-seven. Years later, Stone writes of Eliza:

“In the winter of 1809, my only son, Barton Warren, died; and in the spring following, May 30, my dear companion Eliza, triumphantly followed. She was pious, intelligent and cheerful, truly a help-meet to me in all my troubles and difficulties. Nothing could depress her, not even sickness, nor death itself. I will relate an incident respecting her of interest to me, and may be to her children. When my mind began to think deeply on the subject of the Atonement, I was entirely absorbed in it, yet dared not mention it to any, lest it might involve other minds in similar perplexities. She discovered that something uncommon oppressed me. I was laboring in my field — she came to me and affectionately besought me not to conceal, but plainly declare the cause of my oppression. We sat down, and I told her my thoughts on the Atonement. When I had concluded, she sprang up and praised God aloud most fervently for the truth. From that day till her death, she never doubted of its truth.

“At her death, four little daughters were left to me, the eldest not more than eight years old. I broke up housekeeping, and boarded my children with brethren, devoting my whole time gratuitously to the churches, scattered far and near. My companion and fellow laborer was Reuben Dooley, of fervent piety, and engaging address. Like myself he had lately lost his companion, and ceased house-keeping, and boarded our his little children. We preached and founded churches throughout the Western States of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Occasionally we visited our children. All my daughters when young, professed faith in Jesus, and were baptized. The youngest, Eliza, has long since triumphantly entered into rest.” [cf. the post for March 11 in this series for more information regarding this preaching tour of Dooley and Stone]

Oh, and did you know that Eliza (Campbell) Stone was a niece of Patrick Henry (yes, that Patrick Henry; the “Give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry)? ‘Tis true: Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s mother-in-law, Elizabeth Henry Campbell Russell, was a younger sister of Patrick Henry.

The year following the death of his wife and his preaching tour with Dooley (1811), Stone remarries. His second wife, Celia Wilson (Bowen) Stone, is one of Eliza’s cousins. God will grant them several children, one of them a son, whom they name “Barton Warren Stone, Jr.”

* May 30, 1856 – Today, in an address before the Henry Female Seminary in New Castle, Kentucky, Alexander Campbell tells us that women are the “better half” of humanity – although he does qualify his statement – and he then goes on to specify precisely why.

“What is woman? She is … only the one-half of humanity. But she is, or may be, the better half. She is of a finer tissue, in body, soul, and spirit. The last, and, we think … that she is decidedly the better half. … in delicacy of thought, in sensitiveness of feeling, in patient endurance, in constancy of affection, in moral courage, and in soul-absorbing devotion.”

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

May 17

May 17, 1823 – Today a challenge is answered.

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

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

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

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

May 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 19

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

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

May 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 26

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

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

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

April 27

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

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

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

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

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

April 28

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

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

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

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

April 29

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

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

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

“New Members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“By the President: Abraham Lincoln

“William H. Seward, Secretary of State.”

* Jude 9-10

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

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

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

May 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 14

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

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

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

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

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

April 15

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

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

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

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

April 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 18

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

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

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: February 8-14

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

February 8

Feb. 8, 1864Abraham Conn (“A.C.”) Huff is born to Thomas Huff and his wife in Hallettsville (Lavaca County), Texas. A.C. will begin preaching at the age of twenty and will continue preaching until the age of 101, for a total of 81 years of ministry. He will die (Dec. 8, 1967) just two months shy of his 104th birthday, having at that time forty-two great-great grandchildren.

February 9

Feb. 9, 1946 – Funeral services are conducted at the Grace Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee for Henry Leo (‘H. Leo’) Boles. Boles – a gg-nephew of ‘Racoon’ John Smith, son of a Union Army veteran, and student of David Lipscomb – had a long-time association as professor and president of David Lipscomb University. Though a well-known preacher and debater, he is probably best remembered today through the influence of his many articles in the Gospel Advocate (for which he served for a number of years as editor), his volumes in the Gospel Advocate New Testament commentary series (Matthew, Luke, and Acts), and a great deal of Bible class curriculum.

February 10

Feb. 10, 1851James Turner & Julia (Sowers) Barclay, along with their two sons (Robert Gutzloff and John Judson) and daughter (Sarah Margaret), arrive in Jerusalem. They are the first foreign missionaries to be sent out from the Stone-Campbell Restoration Heritage and are sent out by the American Christian Missionary Society. They will minister in Jerusalem during two periods of time: 1851-1854 and 1858-1862.

James is a particularly interesting personality. His grandfather, Thomas Barclay, was a close friend of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. James was a physician long before he was a missionary. For a few years early on in their marriage (1830’s), James & Julia owned Thomas Jefferson’s mansion (Monticello) and during that same period in life and for several years thereafter, owned as many as eleven slaves. For a long period in life, James claimed to have read the Bible from cover-to-cover every six weeks. His evangelistic work found little traction among his hearers in Palestine, but once it became known that he was a physician his medical mission work there boomed. While in Jerusalem, James developed a keen interest in the geography and archaeology of the city and assisted the well known archaeologist Edward Robinson. In fact, James was the first non-Muslim to be granted access to the interior of the Dome of the Rock (known by Muslims as ‘The Noble Sanctuary’) in Jerusalem in several centuries. Also during his time in Palestine, James’ eschatological views radically shifted from postmillenial to premillenial. One of his sons (John Judson) married Alexander Campbell’s daughter, Decima Hemans Campbell, in 1863.

Between the drain of the American Civil War on finances, abolitionists’ objections to the Barclay family having been former slave-owners, and James’ switch to a premillenial perspective, the Barclays saw their financial support for the Jerusalem mission dry up and blow away, forcing them to return to the then divided States. James continued to long for a third opportunity to do mission work in Palestine and had a great desire to be buried there, but he died in 1874 with his dreams unfulfilled. His remains are to be found today in “God’s Acre,” the Campbell family cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.

Feb. 10, 1874Thomas Wesley (“T.W.”) Brents pens the preface to the first edition of his book entitled The Gospel Plan of Salvation. This book will become essential reading to a great many preachers within the Restoration Heritage during the latter quarter of the 1800’s and the first half of the 1900’s. Accounts are common as to how when preachers traveled and had room to take only one book along with them other than the Bible, they didn’t take a concordance, but took along The Gospel Plan of Salvation. Of greatest significance is the fact that this work discusses salvation solely as a matter of things accomplished in the past; any present or future aspects of salvation are not noted. The consequences of that myopia of perspective not only on the formulation of sermons, but the reception of them, and how salvation is to be rightly viewed, cannot be understated.

[Sidebar: Even in the latter half of the 1970’s when I first mentioned to a preacher the thought of my taking up preaching, Brent’s work was the first suggested to me to own and read.]

February 11

Feb. 11, 1880William Baxter, a native of England, dies at the age of 59. He had come to the States in 1829, was baptized in 1838, and was a co-worker with Walter Scott. A graduate of Bethany College (1845), Baxter went on to become the president (1859) of Arkansas College in Fayetteville, a role that came to an end when the Confederate Army, retreating from the Battle of Pea Ridge, burned the college down (March 1862). Prior to, and during, the Civil War, Baxter was known for his opposition to slavery. Holding those views while living in a state that had seceded from the Union, caused no small amount of trouble for Baxter, but he never wavered from them.

Though having been a preacher, songwriter, and college president, Baxter is best remembered today as having penned (1874) the first in-depth biography of Walter Scott (The Life of Elder Walter Scott: With Sketches of His Fellow-Laborers, William Hayden, Adamson Bentley, John Henry, and Others). Baxter’s body is buried in the Lisbon Cemetery in Lisbon (Columbiana County), Ohio.

February 12

Feb. 12, 1823William Watts is born to William Samuel & Roxanna (Ware) Watts in Pikeville, Kentucky. His family soon moves to Georgia and raises him there, but when he gets out on his own he moves back to West Virginia and works as a school teacher and Baptist minister. During the Civil War, he is a sympathizer of the Confederate cause (he will even name one of his sons “Jefferson Davis”), but because he encounters so many troubles related to his holding such a view in Union West Virginia, he moves to Confederate Virginia. While there in 1865, Watts hears some sermons by a preacher within the Restoration Heritage and, with time, is convicted and submits to baptism by the preacher.

The following year, Watts returns to West Virginia, but since he is now preaching “some new thing,” his reception is mixed. No small number are persuaded by him (including his wife’s family), but many others are not, and he is forced to leave his pulpit in the Baptist Church. With those he has persuaded in the area, he plants a Restoration Heritage church. Watts and the new congregation will face strong opposition, but they experience some growth and at least one other congregation is planted in the county as a result.

Watts will live in poverty the rest of his days. Upon his death in 1879 at the age of fifty-six, his family is so poor they cannot even afford to purchase the necessary cemetery plot in which to bury his body. The Masonic Lodge steps in and donates a plot and gravestone.

William Watts was never well-known outside of his county. He was the recipient of unending, merciless ridicule and mockery by many. Derisive songs were even made up and sung about him. He was hardly even able to provide his family with a means to survive and he died rather early on in life. Still, two of his sons will choose to become preachers.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that this man’s life was anything but unique, for a great many preachers within the Restoration Heritage traveled a very similar path in life. Those of us in this Heritage today stand on his shoulders and those of many others like him. May the memory of such come often, and never cease to humble us.

February 13

Feb. 13, 1843Robert Catlett (“R.C.”) Cave is born to Robert Preston & Sarah Francis (Lindsay) Cave in Orange County, Virginia. R.C., and both of his brothers (Lindsay Wallace and Reuben Lindsay) will all serve in Co. A of the CSA, 13th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. This regiment is exposed to some of the hardest fighting and bloodiest battles of the war. It is virtually cut in half (losing 111 of the 250 men it fielded) in the Battle of Gaines Mill (June 1862). The 13th VA also suffers significant losses in the battles of Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas (aka: 2nd Bull Run), Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor (fought on the same ground as Gaines Mill), and Cedar Creek. When the South surrenders in April 1865, only ten officers and fifty-two men of the 13th VA are present. Remarkably, although all three Cave brothers are wounded in combat, all three survive the war. All three go on to take up preaching.

R.C. begins preaching in 1867 and will soon come to serve as editor of two departments for J.W. McGarvey’s Apostolic Times. He will eventually take up preaching in 1888 with the Central Church in St. Louis, Missouri, the congregation where J.H. Garrison, editor of the Christian-Evangelist, is a member. Learned, eloquent, and a man of wide-reading, R.C. is well received at first. However, in late 1889, R.C. preaches a series of sermons that explicitly denies all sense of anything miraculous about Scripture and the Christian faith as a whole. The local newspaper, the St. Louis Republic, begins running transcripts of his sermons and these are picked up by the national media. his sermons. Word of the matter, and the resulting shock, runs like electricity through Restoration Heritage churches, as well as other groups, and R.C.’s ministry with Central will come to a swift end. Upon leaving Central, R.C. and a number of other former members, start up the Non-Sectarian Church of St. Louis. In R.C. word’s their rationale is clear:

“We claim that we have freed ourselves from many superstitions and errors still taught by the Church, and planted ourselves on higher ground. We claim that we have come nearer to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus; that we have truer and nobler conceptions of God, and of Christ, and of worship, and of sin and salvation. We claim that instead of weakening moral obligation, we place morality on a more rational and permanent foundation, making it, instead of obedience to the arbitrary will of a supreme ruler whom we must obey to avoid his vengeance, conformity to the eternal law of right which is written in man’s being and in the constitution of the universe, and to which we must conform because it is right, and because conformity to it is necessary to the preservation and development of true, noble, and self-respecting manhood. We claim that, instead of opposing true religion, we have separated the religion of Jesus from the traditions and dogmas and forms imposed upon it …”

R.C.’s views soon evolve into full-blown universalism, taking in all religions as valid expressions of faith. In 1911 he authors a book entitled Defending the Southern Confederacy: The Men in Gray, a work passionate in its quest to justify the Confederacy’s vision and cause. And perhaps most surprisingly of all, in 1917 (six years before his death) R.C. returns to the Restoration Heritage, to the branch now known as Disciples of Christ, and is largely embraced, even though he makes clear he is not changing any of his views.

One of the great challenges in life is in the observation of events to not learn the wrong lesson. Unfortunately, among the most enduring influences of ‘The Cave Affair’ within the Restoration Heritage is that it helped make a case in the minds of many for anti-intellectualism. According to this perspective, wide-reading, higher education, exposure to views other than those you currently hold, and communication with those of other faiths will inevitably lead one astray and are, therefore, ways to be viewed with deep suspicion and avoided.

February 14

Feb. 14, 1862James Madison Pickens, a Christian and aspiring preacher within the Restoration Heritage from Maury County, Tennessee, re-enlists today in the Confederate Army. While serving in Co. B of the CSA, 2nd Tennessee Infantry Regiment (Robinson’s), Private Pickens decides to preach a sermon to his comrades in arms. However, they are not inclined to listen to him at the time and their disinterest rankles Pickens. Finally, ending his sermon in disgust, Pickens exclaims,

“If you fellows don’t want to listen to me, you can just go to hell and be damned!”

Following the war and during the period of Reconstruction, Pickens will continue to preach. He will be the first Restoration preacher to arrive and minister in NW Alabama to re-establish and organize the churches devastated by the war. Soon joining him in this work is T.B. Larimore. Pickens will continue to preach until his untimely death (at the hands of a murderer, over political matters), at the age of forty-four.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: January 25-31

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

January 25

Jan. 25, 1989 – Having served as a preacher for over fifty years and as an influential editor of both the Firm Foundation (1955 to 1983) and Image magazine (1985-1989), Reuel Gordon Lemmons dies of a heart attack in Austin, TX at the age of 76. Lemmons’ ministry through the years is characterized by a strong emphasis on evangelism (especially foreign mission work) and as acting as something like a mediator between, or bridge reaching out to, both “traditional” and “progressive” elements in the Restoration Heritage.

January 26

Jan. 26, 1828 – Samuel Robbins, a deacon in a church, writes in his diary: “All the Baptist church went from Braceville Ridge to Warren to hear Walter Scott preach for they heard that he was turning the world upside down.”

January 27

Jan. 27, 1942 – Eighty year-old John Moody (J.M.) McCaleb, a long-time Restoration Heritage missionary to Japan, marries forty year-old Elizabeth Reeves. Two years later, John & Elizabeth will welcome the birth of a daughter, Ann Elizabeth.

I will relate more about J.M. McCaleb in a future entry (on Sept. 25, his birthday). For now, I’ll just note that some of us with gray hair today can remember having sung many times in years gone by a song that J.M. wrote: The Gospel is for All.

January 28

Jan. 28, 1812 – On this day, Lewis Lettig (“L.L.”) Pinkerton is born to William & Elizabeth Pinkerton near Baltimore, Maryland. L.L. will be baptized by Alexander Campbell in the fall of 1830. He will make his living for a time as a doctor, but in 1838 will become a preacher. Near the close of the following year he will move to Kentucky and will be instrumental in the baptism of literally thousands of people there in the 1840’s and 1850’s.

In 1859, his ministry will become a center of controversy as he leads a church in Midway, Kentucky to make regular use of a melodeon during Sunday services. He is not the first to introduce instrumental music into corporate worship gatherings of a Restoration Heritage church, but he will come to be the one best remembered for having done so.

When the Civil War breaks out, L.L. will become a surgeon, as well as something of a chaplain, in the U.S.A., 11th Kentucky Cavalry. During the course of his military service he will suffer a severe heat stroke and his health will never be the same again.

Following the war, and much to his dismay, though he will be able to regain employment with the University of Kentucky, L.L. will find that he is no longer welcome as a preacher in most Restoration Heritage churches in Kentucky. Why? Apparently not so much because of the melodeon and Midway, but because of his having served in the Union Army rather than the Army of the Confederacy. His grief is compounded upon the sudden death of his first-born son, William White Pinkerton, at the young age of 26, on Christmas Day, 1866.

As a result, Pinkerton will increasingly develop something of an odd duality of character. In the company of family, friends, and supportive church members, he will be very well known for his humility, sympathy, peacefulness, prayers, and how he spends much of his time in ministry among poor blacks in Central Kentucky. However, whenever L.L. takes up pen in hand, his character can undergo a less than constructive transformation. The paper that he co-edits for a short time in 1869-1870 (The Independent Monthly) is, in the words of one biographer, laced with “fiery prose and personal attacks against those who oppose him.”

L.L. will die on this same day, Jan. 28, his birthday, in 1875, at the age of 63.

January 29

Jan. 29, 1826 – Alexander Campbell pens the preface to his first edition of a translation of the New Testament entitled The Living Oracles (TLO). In this work Campbell builds on a translation of the New Testament done years earlier (1818) by George Campbell [known especially for his work in the Gospels; no relation to Alexander Campbell), James MacKnight (a scholar of the epistles), and Philip Doddridge (a preacher/hymn-writer). A. Campbell’s contribution consists not only of edits of the translation’s primary text, but also the addition of prefaces to the books of the New Testament, notes, an appendix, and the work of publication. TLO quickly becomes popular within the Restoration Heritage, especially its leaders, and, to a much lesser degree, the wider circle of Christendom who practice baptism by immersion; however, TLO will never be widely adopted outside of these contexts. Still, over the course of Campbell’s years, TLO will appear in six editions and will be frequently reprinted.

Campbell’s publication of TLO arises from his awareness of manuscript discoveries and their comparative research, the advancements in understanding and translation of the Greek language, and a growing, personal dissatisfaction and weariness with the popular, but obsolescent, King James Version (KJV). He had tilled the soil for the public’s reception of TLO in the preceding years (1824-1825) with a series of articles in the Christian Baptist entitled “History of the English Bible.” In this series he laid out his conviction that fresh Bible translation is crucial to the successful inauguration of reformation.

As a sample of the translation offered by TLO, compare it’s rendering of Acts 2.38 with that of the KJV:

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (KJV)

“And Peter said to them, Reform, and be each of you immersed in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (TLO)

Given its reasons for being, especially its habit of replacing “churchy” words with words more readily understood, a strong case can be made that TLO is the forerunner of most modern Bible translation work in that it sought to simultaneously bring the latest findings of scholarship to the public and to render the Biblical text in such a fashion as to be more readily grasped and understood by all.

This is all the more interesting since over the course of the past sixty years it has been common in some Restoration Heritage quarters to (mistakenly) argue that the KJV was the deliberate and happy translation of choice among the early Restoration Heritage leaders. For as Bobby Valentine has noted: “… there is not a single defense of the King James Version written by a member of the Stone-Campbell Movement whether ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ in the nineteenth century!” The Restoration Heritage’s early leaders longed not to enshrine the KJV, but to be done with it. The existence and pervasive use of TLO is evidence enough to the fact.

TLO‘s preface, as well as Campbell’s series of articles, remain potent reading to this day for any and all who either lift up any one translation as supreme or who are skeptical of the need for ongoing translation work. In Campbell’s words: … the illiterate have stronger faith who read many translations, than the same class who have read but one.”

[Sidebar: If you’ve ever sung O Happy Day, likely at a baptism, then you’ve sung the work of Philip Doddridge. Though not living to the age of fifty (1702-1751), Doddridge authored over four hundred hymns, often concluding or following up his sermons with one of his songs.]

January 30

Jan. 30, 1908James Sanford (J.S.) Lamar dies in Augusta, Georgia. An 1854 graduate of Bethany College, he had taken up preaching in Augusta, Georgia. Having a keen interest in writing, Lamar had wasted no time in putting his talent to use and so, had established a paper entitled the Christian Union, a paper that often took to task not only Benjamin Franklin’s American Christian Review, but Tolbert Fanning and David Lipscomb’s Gospel Advocate as well. Aside from relatively brief interruptions (1864-1865; 1875-1876), J.S. lived, and preached, in Augusta for not much short of thirty years (1854-1884).

The year 1859 was a watershed year in J.S.’s life. That year he had turned thirty years old, had received his M.A. from Bethany College, was selected as a trustee of Bethany College, had become one of the vice-presidents of the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS), and had penned his best remembered, most influential, and most highly praised book, The Organon of Scripture; or, the Inductive Method of Biblical Interpretation (OS). The OS had received high praise among Restoration Heritage leaders and was well on the way to becoming “one of “the” hermeneutical handbooks on Bible interpretation for an entire generation. In the words of Tim Sensing, the OS “… effectively systematized the grammatical-critical model of interpretation advanced by first-generation leaders like Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott.” The effects of this work continue to be felt today.

If 1859 had proved to be a year of great achievement for J.S., 1864 had been a year of great tragedy. In January, his first wife (Mary Rucker, a cousin) had died and in November, Union general William T. Sherman’s “total war” in his March to the Sea had forced J.S. and his children to flee their Augusta home.

In late 1865, J.S. had remarried (Sallie Mayson Ford), returned to Augusta, and resumed ministry there with the First Christian Church. Upon J.S.’s return he had found that his parsonage (paid for by fellow church member Emily Thomas Tubman) was located next door to the parsonage of a Presbyterian minister by the name of Joseph Wilson. The Lamars and the Wilsons became good friends, as did their sons, Thomas Woodrow Wilson and Joseph Rucker Lamar, who were less than a year apart in age. Though J.S. didn’t live to see the day, his son, Joseph Rucker, served as a U.S. Supreme Court justice (1911-1916) and Thomas Woodrow grew up to become the 28th President of the United States (1913-1921).

In 1866, J.S. had had a strong hand in the creation of a new, and very influential, brotherhood paper, the Christian Standard (CS). Edited from the start by Isaac Errett, J.S. had come on board as co-editor of the CS in 1869. The CS is still in publication today.

However, perhaps of greatest significant we should note that J.S. Lamar, increasingly so with age, had come to view the interpretive perspective he had laid out in the OS as a young man as both deficient and defective. Consequently, in his latter years he became increasingly open in terms of how Scripture was to be rightly understood and applied. It is not too much to say that, in a sense, J.S.’s very life was a stage on which one could see an issue played out that many future Restoration Heritage leaders would wrestle with, and still do today, namely, “is it about the man, or the plan?” He had focused the first half of his life primarily on the latter, but spent the latter quarter of his life, increasingly so, on the later. Having always had a deep and passionate desire for unity among Christians, ultimately, J.S. came to view, and practice, the confession that “Jesus is Lord and Christ” as the only practical basis for union among Christians, a position far removed from that which he had once taken, and declared, in the OS.

[Sidebar: * I have yet to discover if J.S. is kin to Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, the complicated and colorful second President of the Republic of Texas (1838-1841). However, it is known that both J.S. and Mirabeau’s parents lived, and raised their children in, central Georgia. * J.S. Lamar’s parsonage in Augusta still stands. It now functions as the visitor center for the “Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson.” * J.S.’s daughter-in-law, Clarinda Pendleton (J.R.’s second wife), was the daughter of Alexander Campbell’s son-in-law, William Kimbrough (W.M.) Pendleton.]

January 31

Jan. 31, 1804 – In Lexington, Kentucky, on this date, the four month-old Springfield Presbytery publishes An Apology for Renouncing the Jurisdiction of the Synod of Kentucky; To Which Is Added a Compendious View of the Gospel and a Few Remarks on the Confession of Faith. The purpose of its 141 pages is to justify the group’s departure from the Presbyterian Synod. The work has three parts, each penned by three different authors: Robert Marshall penned the Apology, Barton W. Stone, Sr. wrote the View, and John Thompson crafted the Remarks.

Word of the Springfield Presbytery’s scandalous existence and the Apology‘s publication quickly spreads among Presbyterian churches in the surrounding area. Seven churches in Ohio (Beaver Creek, Clear Creek, Eagle Creek, Orangedale, Salem, Springfield [modern day Springdale, Cincinnati] and Turtle Creek) and eight churches in Kentucky (Bethel, Cabin Creek, Cane Ridge, Concord, Flemingsburg, Indian Creek, Paint Lick, and Shawnee Run) will quickly join the Springfield Presbytery. James D. Murch has observed: “While there were other churches of like views and many groups, unorganized and unidentified where the revival preachers were welcome, there seemed to be little disposition among them to submit to any kind of ecclesiastical authority.”

However, the very growth of the Springfield Presbytery will plant the seeds of its own demise. Again, it is Murch who sums up matters well: “The men who organized the presbytery were soon [among themselves] in the throes of a doctrinal discussion of the atonement and other issues, and it was increasingly apparent that there was little real unity or stability among them. Stone was almost the only stable and dependable man in the group, as time was to reveal.”

The Springfield Presbytery will pen it’s own Last Will and Testament and dissolve itself on June 28 of this same year.