on these days in the American Restoration Heritage history: May 31 – June 7

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

May 31

May 31, 1858 – Today, the cornerstone is laid for a new, main building for Bethany College (the old building having burned down not quite six months ago on December 10, 1857). Alexander Campbell and son-in-law W.K. Pendleton (W.K.’s first wife, Lavinia, Campbell’s daughter, died in 1846) had set out on a tour of the South in January to do fund-raising for the building’s construction. However, due largely to effects of the run up to and recovery from the Civil War, it takes fourteen years to complete the building (1872). However, this structure still stands today and, referred to as “Old Main,” is on the National Register of Historical Places.

June 1

June 1, 1823 – Today (or very close to it), a young Hispanic teen by the name of José María Carbajal, having been mentored by Stephen F. Austin,  arrives in Kentucky and soon comes under the influence of Alexander Campbell.

During the winter of 1822/1823 in San Fernando de Béxar (what will in future years become known as San Antonio, Texas), Stephen F. Austin befriends a young Hispanic widow, María Gertrudis Sánchez Soto. Austin arranges for one of her sons, José María Carbajal, to go to Frankfort, Kentucky with Littlebury Hawkins and learn the trade of tanner. Carbajal lives with his instructor in leather-working, a brother-in-law of Hawkins, a “Mr. Blanchard.” However, after two years, young Carbajal has had enough of Mr. Blanchard – Carabajal says “him and I could not agree” – and so, leaves him and winds up under the care of a “Peter Hedenbergh” in Lexington, Kentucky. Hedenbergh teaches him saddle-making and Carbajal enjoys it. Those who know him take a shine to him and speak well of him. The local postmaster, a “Mr. Ficklin,” describes young Cabrajal’s conduct as “affectionate and praiseworthy” and that such “endeared him to his acquaintances.”

While in Lexington, Carbajal leaves his Catholic faith behind and is baptized in the Baptist church. In 1826, he hears Alexander Campbell, Sr. preach in the Baptist church and winds up going back to Bethany, Virginia with Campbell. He lives with the Campbell family for two years. Selina Campbell, reminiscing in her later years of this time and Carbajal, writes:

“… he was very bright and prepossessing in his manners. He was a member of the church, and quite consistent as such. He became a great reader of Mr. C’s writings, and when he returned home [to Texas in 1830] he took many of them with him.”

In the spring of 1830, at about the age of twenty, Carbajal makes his way back to Texas. He is engaged in selling Spanish Bibles. However, through his continued connections with Stephens F. Austin, his life is soon swept up in the whirlwind of political and military activity of the time and place. After briefly working as a land surveyor (he laid out the city of Victoria), Carbajal works his way through several government positions and becomes increasingly sympathetic to those who want to separate the region from Mexico. Arrested in 1835 by Mexican authorities as one trying to stir up rebellion, Carbajal manages to escape and becomes something of a force with those seeking revolt. However, his loyalty is ultimately misunderstood and through the course of complicated events, Carbajal and his family, as well as his wife’s family (the powerful De Leon family), are ejected from their property in Victoria in July 1836 by Thomas Jefferson Rusk. Needless to say, this burns Carbajal’s toast with the newly formed Republic of Texas.

Understand that Carbajal is his own man. Referring to himself as “a true Mexican,” he has no use for either the Mexican dictatorship of Antonio López de Santa Anna, the advance of the interests of the United States government, or now, the Republic of Texas. Carbajal believes the best way forward is the establishment of a new republic in northern Mexico, independent of those three governments: the Republic of Sierra Madre. He spends the remainder of his life serving in whatever capacity he can, to further that interest, which gets him in trouble with the authorities on a number of occasions. For example, in one instance, Carbajal is arrested by Juan Davis Bradburn and brought to Anahuac (in what is now Chambers County, Texas). Relating something of Carbajal’s actions and his response to them, Bradburn writes to Commandant General Vicente Filisola of the Eastern Interior States, Republic of Mexico:

“Carbajal, speaking English, promoted discord and absolute disobedience among the colonists. In my opinion, this was the only certain way to insure tranquillity there, and also to protect against an attack on the small military troop under my command. These events resulted in continuing ill feelings towards the General Government by many of the settlers. My conduct in this affair was approved by His Excellency, Señor General Don Manuel Mier y Terán and the General Government.”

And yet, over a decade later in the mid-1840’s, Carbajal supports the Mexican Army in its fight against the United States in the Mexican-American War. In time, Carbajal is twice arrested by U.S. authorities, but twice he is released. He spends nearly the last thirty years of his life (1846-1874) in a variety of military and political posts, always seeking the way of “a true Mexican.”

Little is known of Carbajal’s involvement with faith after he gives up selling Spanish Bibles in Texas in 1830. We do know that during the American Civil War, Carbajal enrolls two of his sons, Antonio and Joseph, in Bethany College and these young men live with Alexander & Selina Campbell, the older of the two actually graduating from Bethany College.

What might have been for the Restoration Heritage had Carbajal given over his intellect and passion for independence for his people not to the forces of politics and military service, but to the Christ of the cross! If so, it would not be hard to imagine Carbajal having become something of “a Hispanic Alexander Campbell” to the people of Mexico.

June 2

June 2, 1828 – In today’s issue of the Christian Baptist, Alexander Campbell speaks with unrestrained excitement over how he perceives God at work in tearing down denominational walls.

“This is one of the most momentous and eventful periods of the history of christianity since the commencement of our recollection of the religious world, and, we think, from the commencement of the present century. All religious denominations are shaking. Christians in all parties are looking with inquisitive eyes into the sacred books, and examining the platforms of their respective schismatical establishments. Many run to and fro, and knowledge is increasing. What religious sect is not at this moment waking from its slumber? Even the establishments of Rome, of England, of Scotland, fed and feasted as they are with political patronage, and bolstered up with their charming antiquity, are not likely long to retain their place in the veneration of their own children. The peaceful Quaker and the dogmatical Presbyterian, the zealous Methodist and the orthodox Baptist, together with the little hosts of more recent origin, are all on the tiptoe of expectation, and the cry of ‘Reform!’ is now loudest and longest which falls upon the ear from all the winds of heaven. …

“The Bible, the fountain of religious light, is more generally distributed and more generally read now than at any former period. Even the measures often designed to uphold religious sects, are becoming battering rams to break down the walls of separation. Every day’s report brings to our ears some new triumph of light over darkness – of truth over error – and of liberal minds over the enslaved and enslaving genius of sectarian despostism. …

“… of all the good means which can be employed to promote peace on earth and good will among men, which have any influence to destroy sectarianism, or when are at all adapted to introduce the Millenium, there is none to compare with the simple proclamation of the ancient gospel. … Whatever real good is now done in the world is now done by the simple narration of God’s love of men, and all the mischief is done by the dogmas of human speculation or the regulations of schismatical establishments.If the former is universally attended to and the latter abandoned, all christians would be one in name, in affection, in faith and hope. …

“Many hundreds [in Ohio recently] have have received the ancient gospel within a few months, and have been immersed for the remission of sins, and have been filled with joy and peace in believing. Some of all religious parties embrace it and turn unto the Lord, and it has wrought effectually in the hearts of all to produce the same benign and cheering influences. …

“All sects that believe in revivals have then occasionally. The Lord is supposed to grant them. If then the Lord bestows these favors indiscriminantly upon all the sects, does he not pour contempt upon all their little shibboleths by breaking through the cobweb fences when about to bestow his benefits? If the Lord makes no difference between the Presbyterian, the Methodist, and the Baptist, in these special interpositions, why should they keep up those schismatic walls when God overleaps them in his distributions?”

Campbell pens these words on the sixteenth anniversary (1812) of his immersion for the remission of sins by Matthias Luse.

June 3

June 3, 1863 – Today, a large army sets out on an invasion and we follow the life of one of those men.

On June 3, 1863, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee, sets out on its invasion of the North. The CSA, 4th Georgia Infantry Regiment makes up a portion of Lee’s men. One of the 4th’s men is 4th Corporal Alexander C. Lloyd of Company D (aka: “West Point Light Guards”). Company D is composed of men recruited from Troup County, Georgia, located on the western edge of central GA. Lloyd is a seasoned veteran, being one of the first to enlist in the 4th GA. He has fought in many a bloody battle, among them Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and, most recently, Chancellorsville.

However, on this particular march, near a small town in Pennsylvania called “Gettysburg,” Lloyd finds himself not only engaged in combat, but as ultimately a prisoner of war. Though it certainly must not have seemed like it at the time, in becoming a POW Lloyd is one of the fortunate ones. This is true in at least two respects. First, fifteen percent of the 4th GA’s 341 engaged at Gettysburg fall as casualties there. Second, the 4th GA is decimated the year following in especially vicious hand-to-hand combat at the “Mule Shoe” during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 1864). Lloyd remains a POW for a year and a half, but is paroled at Point Lookout, Maryland in mid-January 1865, a little less than four months before the war’s end.

Now despite the fact that more than one generation of Lloyd’s family are members of the Spring Road [Christian] Church in West Point, GA, during the course of the war Lloyd is not a Christian. However, in rather short order following the war’s conclusion, Lloyd bows his knee to King Jesus and begins to follow him. Except for his obituary (which appears in the November 17, 1927 issue of the Gospel Advocate) – and the fact that Christian faith his found in several generations of his direct descendants – we know little of the specifics of Lloyd’s life following his conversion. His death notice reads:

“A. C. Loyd (‘Un’ Sandy’) died in the ninetieth year of his life here below. He entered the army of the South in the early part of the Civil War, from the State of Georgia. He was a soldier his comrades were proud of. He was captured at the battle of Gettysburg. He was a Mason in good standing. He located near Bridgeport, Ala., after the war and was married to Miss Tennie Johnson. To this union ten children were born, five sons and five daughters, all living except two, and all are Christians. He knew that being a Mason or a soldier would not save him; so he became a member of the church soon after the war, at Rocky Springs, where he served as long as he lived. He was a peacemaker, always helping to adjust troubles when they would arise among his neighbors. He was affable, hospitable, and always took an interest in having the gospel preached. He was a strong believer in helping the needy. Throughout his life he was an active and busy man. I talked to him much in his last sickness. He talked with intelligence, retaining his mental faculties to the end. He said he was ready to go, and was buoyant in hope and strong in faith till the end. He had forty-two grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren. Several of these he helped to rear. Funeral services were conducted at the Rocky Springs Church [Jackson County, Alabama] by Brother Charles Holder and myself in the presence of a large crowd. – R. W. Jernigan”

Two incidental notes. First, the Rocky Springs Church claims to be the oldest Restoration Heritage church in the state of Alabama, dating its beginning back to the early 1800’s. Second, I have been unable to determine if the “C” in Alexander Lloyd’s middle name is “Campbell’, but I strongly suspect it is just that. At least one other young contemporary of Lloyd’s in the Spring Road Church is named after Alexander Campbell, Sr. (Alexander Campbell Lanier).

June 4

June 4, 1827 – If you ever used a “handle” on a CB radio or if your e-mail address today utilizes some moniker other than your name, then you can appreciate today’s blast from the past as Alexander Campbell reveals the identity of one who has been writing in his paper under a pseudonym. In a section of the Christian Baptist (CB) noting three new publications to watch (Barton W. Stone’s Christian Messenger, a Mr. Saxton’s The Inquirer for Truth, and Walter Scott’s The Millenium Herald), Campbell writes:

“Mr. Walter Scott, now of Steubenville, Ohio, has issued proposals for publishing a monthly paper, at one dollar per annum, to be entitled The Millenium Herald. The best recommendation we can give of the probable ability with which this work may be edited, and of its public utility if suitably encouraged, is, that brother Scott is the author of those essays signed ‘Philip,’ in the Christian Baptist. The first number to appear in July next, is suitably encouraged.”

Though it seems, at best, a bit odd to us today, it was not at all unusual for writers in the nineteenth century to sign their work with a “fake name.” Whether to avoid having to deal directly with fallout from a piece, attempt to gain a fair hearing on a particular point, to add a bit of mystery and literary interest or wit, or just for the sheer fun of it, a number of writers, especially in Campbell’s Christian Baptist and Millennial Harbinger made use of such. And, just as you might have multiple e-mail addresses today, or once used different handles on different channels on the CB back in the day, Restoration Heritage writers of the 1800’s sometimes utilized a variety of pseudonyms.

Of course, in some instances we know today who wrote what under what pseudonym (e.g. – Walter Scott being known as “Philip”). However, as we might also expect, we remain clueless as to the identity of others. Following is a list of some of the pen-names several authors within the Restoration Heritage made use of in the 1800’s:

  • Alexander Campbell – Bonus Homo, Candidus, Clarinda, Reformed Clergyman
  • Thomas Campbell – T.W.
  • Isaac Errett – Eusebius
  • Philip S. Fall – Querens
  • Archibald McKeever – Christianos
  • Robert Richardson – Alumnus, Disciplus, E, K, L, Luke, R, Silas, U
  • Walter Scott – Partenos, Philip
  • Joseph Thomas – The White Pilgrim

June 5

June 5, 1826 – Today, a preacher reminds us that it is unhealthy to concern ourselves with, or engage in speculation about, things not explicitly revealed in Scripture, and that Scripture’s objective is for us to behave differently. Or, to put it another way: when the Bible is silent about something, that silence says something, and when the Bible speaks of a matter, it is to be acted upon. What God has revealed is for our living out, not merely knowing about.

Today, in the Christian Baptist, in part two of an article series entitled “Christian Morality,” Alexander Campbell writes:

“There is as much wisdom exhibited in concealing some things as there is in revealing others. Parents, in relation to their own children, have incontestible proofs of this, if they are parents of discernment. Our heavenly Father in revealing himself and his designs to the children of men, has purposefully concealed many things which it would have been unwise in relation to all ends and results to have discovered. …

“… the inference is unavoidable, viz: – That the Bible is designed for, and adapted to, the children of men in their present circumstances, to improve their condition here, and to fit them to become members of a pure, refined, and exalted society hereafter.

“Curiosity has prompted a thousand queries to which the Bible designs no reply. And why? because if answered, they would contribute nothing to the purification of the heart, or to the reformation of the life – God’s sublime and glorious scheme of ameliorating and reforming the world is predicated upon the actual condition of man. And as intelligence, purity of heart, and rectitude of life, are as inseparably connected with present and future happiness, as ignorance and guilt are with bondage and wretchedness both here and hereafter, the Bible is prepared, was bestowed, and is adapted, to the promotion of intelligence and purity, as prerequisites, as indispensibles, as a sine qua non to happiness. … Intelligence, purity of heart, and uprightness of life are the sole objects for which the Bible was bestowed on the world. …

“Christians then eggregiously mistake, who value themselves on the account of their superior intelligence; or who pursue information in the things revealed, merely for its own sake. Unless this knowledge is conducive and allied to the art of living well, it merely puffs up and avails nothing. … In fact, a man who glories in his intellectual attainments in the Bible (and of this class there are not a few) and pursues the knowledge of volume for its own sake, resembles a foolish husbandman who boats of his thousand measures of wheat, and his thousand measures of corn, who, as yet, has ploughed his fields, and intends nothing more until harvest.”

June 6

June 6, 1800 – Today, Thomas Campbell prays to Jesus and writes it down. From an entry in his diary we read of his emotions in the moment as well as his prayer:

“Spent this day in study, with great barrenness; little spirituality or love; feel a sense of deep depravity of my heart before God. I desire to lie in the dust at his feet, and even to feel his precious mercy lifting me up. That, I may be low in mine own eyes, and forever ascribe free, saving, abundant mercy unto my God, Lord Jesus reveal thyself in me, manifest thyself to me; make me strong through thy strength. I do heartily and forever resign myself to thee, as the fruit of they purchase.”

links: this went thru my mind

Certainty & faith: When Certainty Kills [essential reading]

“Is it possible that certainty itself has become God for many Christians? Our worship of certainty may be tantamount to idolatry.”

Children, parenting & technology: Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent

“’So, your kids must love the iPad?’ I asked Mr. Jobs, trying to change the subject. The company’s first tablet was just hitting the shelves. ‘They haven’t used it,’ he told me. ‘We limit how much technology our kids use at home.’”

Christianity & ISIS: ISIS vs the Way of Jesus

“… I’m not a politician. I’m a private citizen and a follower of Jesus who has spent 32 years in the Middle East. I speak Arabic. I’ve met personally with the leaders of Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Bin Laden family.”

Desperation, hunger & spiritual need: This Common Ingredient in the Gospel Narratives May be the Missing Ingredient in Many Churches

“Whether we feel it or not and whether we realize it or not the same is true for us – we are desperate for Jesus. We just need to realize it. We need to reclaim it. … What will it take for us to become desperate for God again?”

Family: The ‘Leave It to Beaver’ Family Has Been Left Behind

“While in 1960, 65 percent of children lived with families in which the parents were married and the father was the sole breadwinner, only 22 percent of children lived in this setup in 2012. Children now are more likely to live in a single-mother household (23 percent), while a plurality (34 percent) live in families where parents are married and both work.”

then they can see my glory, which you gave me

 

“Father, I want those you gave me to be with me where I am. Then they can see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17.24 CEB)

Sharing what I know of God, through words and ways, is my great privilege and joy every day of the week. Bringing light into realms of darkness and helping add fuel to the lamps of others who burn for God, well, this is my bread and butter.

Blog-tour-logo-CompadresBut what, pray tell, I ask, does it mean to “be” where Jesus is? Or to “see” Jesus’ “glory?” What on earth – or wherever Jesus is – is the glory the Father gave him “because” he loved” him? Do, please explain to me the glory our Father God gave his Son Jesus “before the creation of the world,” if you can.

I tell you, you can’t do it. And neither can I.

For to read and reflect and on these words sets our collective mind to reeling. Our brain goes on tilt. It’s as if we need someone to hit the reset button, for we don’t even begin to understand what all these words of our Lord must mean.

And that’s okay. Actually more than “okay” … glorious. Really.

For these words from our Lord were not recorded to give us greater clarity of knowledge about God, but to deliberately deepen the mystery that surrounds – indeed, is – our God, as well as our faith in him. They were not intended to answer our questions (as if we even naturally know what are the best questions to ask to begin with!), but rather to give rise to more and different questions in our heart. Truly, this is the purpose of these words from our Lord: to increase the volume of our wonder, not vaporize it.

What’s that you say? You ask, “Why is that?” Quite frankly, because we don’t need a god we can completely figure out.

Oh, we might think we want such a god, but a god who doesn’t transcend us is no brighter or greater than us and thereby, no god at all. Such a “god” would only be an extension of us or a projection of ourselves. Such a god would be a god far too small to be God. God knows this world has enough puny-pretend, lazy-and-lame gods already, thank you very much.

No, our deep need is a God we can’t get our arms completely around. Not even close. We need (and in our saner moments, we know we want) God to be a God who can – and always has, and always will – do far more than we can ever begin to even ask or imagine. We understand that what we want God to be is holy and wholly “other;” nothing but good and radically distinct from us. We need God not to be One who can be naturally understood by all, but supernatural in all his ways. A God who is far, far bigger than just what we know in this moment, but all of what is past and all of what is future, too.

Only such a God as this is truly “glorious” and can (and would) lovingly long to share his glorious presence with us.

And he has. His name is Jesus.

And he will. Through Jesus.

This he began before he created this world. As he works this still in his re-creation of things now. And he will still be doing it when he completely and gloriously brings heaven and earth together in his glory forever to come.

This is mind-blowing stuff that words alone are all too insufficient to convey! And so … like the One who interceded/intercedes for us … we should engage this mystery with the mystery that is p-r-a-y-e-r, and do so with his glory in view.

Father in heaven, hear this prayer of the One who intercedes for us. We echo his prayer and we mingle our prayers with his: bring us into his presence and Yours. Grant that we will be enabled to see your glory. The love and glory that alone is of you and has always been. So be it. Though we – gloriously – can’t begin to fully comprehend it.

Glory be to God!

links: this went thru my mind

 

Accountability, awareness, Christian faith, knowledge, social injustice & violence: We Cannot Say We Did Not Know [essential reading]

“The sage in Proverbs 24:11-12 warns us to rescue those being led away to death: ‘If you say, “We did not know this” – does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?'”

Children, parenting & sex: 7 Suggestions for Talking to Children about Sex

“I recognized that helping my children live pure and healthy sexual lives would be a challenge in a culture that is often defined by sex. I wanted to be the primary influencer in their development as adults, because I knew no one had a stronger desire for them to make wise choices than me.”

Church membership: The 7 Commandments for Choosing a Church

“If you don’t like the church where you are, the problem is probably you (or at least partially you… but probably mostly you).”

Forgiveness, intercession, love & ministry: The Chaplain from Missouri Who Tried to Save the Black Souls of the Nazis at Nuremberg

“… he would ultimately minister 13 of 21 of Hitler’s most malevolent Nazi leaders on trial in Nuremberg after World War Two for their heinous war crimes.”

Guests, visitors & welcome: 7 Ways to Connect with Guests Beyond the First Greeting

“Your God is awesome. Your church is wonderful. Yet guests who visit your church don’t often return. No true connection was made. A parking lot greeter in our church expressed that concern: ‘We’ve got to figure out how to actually connect every guest with another person. Our flippant hellos or glad-you-cames just aren’t adequate.’ Why not challenge every member of your church to use these seven tips to connect with guests.”

Youth ministry: Tribal Youth Ministry (Part 1): The Necessity of Age Desegregation in Our Churches [essential reading]

“This article is by Duncan Campbell and is the first of three outlining his approach to transitioning youth ministry toward a more intergenerational approach. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest questions facing churches today as we are beginning to see the connections between our traditional approaches to youth ministry and the disconnect from parents and other adults being a part of the faith development of our children, and the mass exodus from church by young adults.”