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: May 10-16

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

May 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 13

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

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

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

May 14

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

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

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

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

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

May 15

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

“Shearer, J.D.

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

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

“O. A. Carr”

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

May 16

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

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

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

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

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

March 22

* March 22, 1829 – Today, for the first time, the Baptist church in Windham (in the ‘Western Reserve,’ as the western portion of Ohio is known at that time), begins observing the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. The church had been “constituted a church of Christ” the preceding May by Thomas Campbell and Marcus Bosworth. To be “constituted a church of Christ” a group of believers rejects existing creeds and confessions and begins to look to the “New Testament as a perfect rule, directory and formula for the faith, discipline, and government of the church.”

In a letter from William Hayden (a preaching partner with Walter Scott) to Thomas Campbell in May 1830, Hayden speaks of the period of change within the congregation from its existence as a Baptist church to a church within the Restoration Heritage. Matters of transition were not conducted overnight, but were gradually phased in.

“A wise forbearance ruled the church, and they eventually all came to the unity of the faith and practice of the apostolic order.”

In his letter to Campbell, Hayden also comments on the spread of the Restoration Heritage in the Western Reserve:

“The Word of God has great success with us. The churches are growing in knowledge, spirituality and numbers. New churches are rising up in very many towns on the Reserve, where we are laboring.”

* March 22, 1833 – On this day, thirty-three year old Absalom Rice, one of the earliest pioneer preachers in Missouri, pens a letter to Alexander Campbell reporting on some of the spread, trials, and influence of the Restoration Heritage in “the West” (i.e. – east central Missouri). Campbell publishes the letter in the Millenial Harbinger.

“Calloway County, MO., March 22, 1833

“Surrounded with opposition by all sectarian societies, and as far in the wilds and forests of the West, we, a few names, constituted ourselves on the second Lord’s Day of December [9], 1832, into a congregation of the Lord; there being only nine in number, three males and six females. We have since increased to twenty-three in number, and I am of opinion that the prospect is somewhat flattering for gaining many more. Our friends of the Baptists and other denominations have many hard sayings concerning our belief, but utterly refuse investigation. But I have succeeded in getting some of them to read for themselves, and they confess that they find no such views in your writings as are attributed to you. I received a request a few days ago to visit a Methodist society, 20 miles distant. They had got hold of the Harbinger, and in spite of all their priests can do, are about to blow up. Light is spreading, and men’s minds cannot be much longer manacled by sectarianism. – Absalom Rice

March 23

* March 23, 1827John Franklin Rowe is born just outside of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. He will grow to become a significant writer and publisher in the Restoration Heritage. He is most remembered for his work with the American Christian Review (1867-1886), his own paper (Christian Leader – 1886-1897), and, most significantly, his book entitled History of Reformatory Movements: Resulting in a Restoration of the Apostolic Church, with a History of the Nineteen General Church Councils (1884). Rowe’s book of history, virtually excising the record of Barton W. Stone and his influence from the work of the Stone-Campbell Movement, depicts Campbell’s work as the summit of the mountain that all preceding reformation movements have attempted to climb. This book helps seal this understanding of the Restoration Heritage’s place in history in the minds of many young ministerial students for nearly half a century. It is not until the appearance of F.W. Shepherd’s book The Church, the Falling Away, and the Restoration in 1929 (published by a son of John Franklin Rowe) that Rowe’s history is superseded.

* March 23, 1830 – On this day, Robert B. Semple, a prominent Baptist preacher in Virginia of the time, pens a letter to Alexander Campbell regarding the work of the Holy Spirit and the interpretation of Scripture. Campbell publishes Semple’s letter, and his reply, in the Millenial Harbinger (vol.1, no.3). In his reply to Semple, we learn of some of Campbell’s early quest and habits toward understanding Scripture, who he has read after, and what a change of approach and mind has taken place within him.

“From the age of sixteen I read devoutly, at intervals, the most ‘evangelical writers.’ … ‘Dr. John Owen was a great favorite with me; I read most of his works …

“… how laboriously and extensively I … examined the question of faith. For the space of one year I read upon this subject alone. Fuller, Bellamy, Hervey, Glass, Sandeman, Cudworth, Scott, M’Lean, Erskine, cum multis aliis, were not only read, but studied as I studied geometry. And I solemnly say, that, although I was considered at the age of twenty-four [1812] a much more systematic preacher and text expositor than I am now considered, and more accustomed to strew my sermons with scores of texts in proof of every point, I am conscious that I did not understand the New Testament; not a single book of it. Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott were my favorite commentators. …

“… I began to read the scriptures critically. Works of criticism from Michaelis down to Sharp, on the Greek article, were resorted to. While these threw light on many passages, still the book as a whole, the religion of Jesus Christ as a whole, was hid from me.

“I took the naked text and followed common sense; I read it, subject to the ordinary rules of interpretation, and thus it was it became to me a new book.

“… as I learned my Bible I lost my orthodoxy, and from being one of the most evangelical in the estimation of many, I became the most heretical. I can only say for the spirit which actuated me, that it was a most vehement desire to understand the truth. I did most certainly put the world out of my sight. I cared no more for popularity than I did for the shadow that followed my body when the Sun shone. I valued truth more than the gold of Ophir, and I sought her with my whole heart, as for hidden treasure. My eye was single, as King James’ Translators said. I paid no court to the prejudices of the world, and did sacrifice every worldly object to the Bible.

“… I would only add that experience has taught me that to get a victory over the world, over the life of fame, and to hold in perfect contempt human honor, adulation, and popularity, will do more to make the New Testament intelligible, than all the commentators that ever wrote.”

March 24

March 24, 1818 – On this day, a Tuesday, Barton W. Stone, Sr. conducts a wedding for Rebecca Willamson Russell and a young veteran of the War of 1812, twenty year-old Thomas Miller (“T.M.”) Allen. Given his experiences in the war, T.M. has lost all interest not only in the church in which he was reared (Presbyterian), but in matters of faith altogether; however, the friendship that is kindled between him and Stone, and hearing Stone preach, ultimately leads to his baptism into Christ by Stone in May 1823.

T.M. is, if anything, a human dynamo, being diligent in focus and labor. Between his marriage (1818) and his baptism (1823), he studies law at Transylvania University, becomes a grand master in a Masonic Lodge (the same lodge in which Henry Clay is a member), and practices law for a time in Indiana with his law partner, James Whitcomb (who later becomes the Governor of Indiana, and then, a U.S. Senator). However, within two years of his baptism, T.M. takes up preaching and John Allen Gano is one of his first converts (July 1827).

In 1836, T.M. and Rebecca move to Boone County, Missouri, and T.M., now making a living by farming, becomes wealthy and purchases several slaves.  He treats his slaves well, so well in fact that despite the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War, most of his slaves refuse to leave the Allen family (and all keep connection with the family).

Throughout this time, T.M. continues to preach and though he continues to farm, he also travels through much of Missouri and even makes time in the early 1840’s to help edit Stone’s paper, the Christian Messenger. H. Leo Boles once said of T.M.:

“No man did more to spread the cause of Christ in the State of Missouri than did Thomas M. Allen.”

Over the course of his life, T.M. baptizes a total of 3,570 people and plants/organizes eighteen churches.

And what of John Allen Gano? It is an article regarding the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper that appears (1831) in the Christian Messenger, penned by John Allen Gano, that powerfully influences members of the Stone Movement and so, does much to pave the way the following year (1832) for official union between the Stone and Campbell Movements. Oh, and John Allen Gano is the father of Richard Montgomery (“R.M.”) Gano, a man we will speak more of in a future post.

March 25

March 25, 1857 – In the May 1857 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, Alexander Campbell reproduces a letter penned to him on this day, March 25, 1857, telling of the advance of the gospel in Alliance, Ohio. In it we’re allowed to listen in on and overhear the private conversation of a preacher and one coming forward to be baptized. The introduction and letter reads:

“Bro. P.K. Dibble writing to us from Canton [Ohio] under date of March 25 [1857], says – ‘On Monday night last I concluded a meeting of 16 days at Alliance, in this county, which resulted in the organization of a congregation of 53 members. Of this number, 12 confessed their faith in Christ Jesus and were immersed into his death; 6 united from the Baptists, 2 from the Methodists, and 4 reclaimed; the balance were disciples living in Alliance and the neighborhood, many of them not knowing that there were any brethren in the neighborhood besides themselves.

“‘On Monday night I went to the Mahoning and immersed a young lady; as I came out of the water, a physician of that place came forward and said, “Here is water, what hinders me from being baptized?” I answered, “If you believest with all thy heart thou mayest.” He replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” We both went down into the water, and I baptized him.'”

March 26

March 26, 1830 – On this day, the Book of Mormon makes its first appearance to the public. Not wanting to lend the Book of Mormon any publicity and hoping it will die a natural death by being ignored, Alexander Campbell does not publish a review of it until the following February (1831). He feels prompted to review it then only because rather than dying a quick death, Mormonism’s influence has been increasing. His review in the Millenial Harbinger is nothing less than a broadside and is entitled “Delusions.” Following are a few of Campbell’s comments on the Book of Mormon and the head of the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith:

  • Mormonism is “… the most recent and most impudent delusion which has appeared in our time.”
  • Joseph Smith is “as ignorant and impudent a knave as ever wrote a book …”
  • In publishing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith has set forth an “impious fraud.”
  • “This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. … But he is better skilled in in the controversies of New York than in the geography or history of Judea.”
  • The Book of Mormon is “without exaggeration the meanest* book in the English language … It has not one good sentence in it. … I would as soon compare a bat to the American eagle, a mouse to a mammoth, or the deformities of a spectre to the beauty of Him who whom John saw on Patmos, as to contrast it with a single chapter in all the writings of the Jewish or Christian prophets. It is as certainly Smith’s fabrication as Satan is the father of lies, or darkness the offspring of night.”
  • “Let the children of Mormon ponder well, if yet reason remains with them … Isaiah 44, and if they cannot see the analogy between themselves and the sons of ancient imposture, then reason is of as little use to them as it was to those of whom the prophet spake …”

In addition to the ‘Delusions’ article, Campbell adds a brief article entitled “Sidney Rigdon” (pp.100-101). Sidney Rigdon had once been a preacher in the Restoration Heritage, but had left to join the Mormons early on. Of Rigdon, Campbell has this to say:

“He who sets out to find signs and omens will soon enough find enough of them. He that expects visits from angels will find them as abundant as he who in the age of witchcraft found a witch in every unseemly old woman. I doubt not but that the irreverence and levity in speaking of the things of God, which have been too apparent in Sidney’s public exhibitions for some time past, and which he has lately confessed, may yet be found to have been the cause of this abandonment to delusion.”

[* As in “small-minded, ignoble, inferior in grade, of little consequence, or shabby.”]

March 27

March 27, 1824 – We all find strength in, and require strength from, others. And so we might ask: if those of us who are “mere mortals” look to “giants” in faith and scholarship for the articulate expression of matters, to whom do the giants turn? In a great many cases, we will never know, and in cases where we do, it is often people we have not heard of, or who for whatever reasons, are largely forgotten.

On this day, one is born who becomes one of those that one of the giants among us turned for insight into meaning and expression. Namely, on this day, Lanceford Bramblet (“L.B.”) Wilkes is born to Edmund & Cynthia Hartshorn (Houston) Wilkes in Maury County, Tennessee. He will become, among other things, a scholar, preacher, writer, and debater. And though not a name nearly so well remembered today as that of J.W. McGarvey, it was MaGarvey who once said of Wilkes:

“If my life were dependent statement of an argument, I would have Bro. L.B. Wilkes state it.”

March 28

March 28, 1855 – On this day, John Naylor writes a letter to Alexander Campbell from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The heart of his letter reads:

“I have been a pretty careful reader of your writings for years, with few intermissions, when I could not obtain them; and as the opportunity casually offers, to write to yourself … Dr. Jeter [Jeremiah Bell Jeter, a prominent Baptist critic of Campbell] charges you with materially modifying your views – or, rather, the expression of your views – and that you have altered your opinion of ministerial education, &c.

“Well, it seems to me, my dear Sir, that he is somewhat correct in some of these matters. You formerly used some terms, and advanced some sentiments, which do not agree with your late publications. I cannot refer to the Christian Baptist at present; but, if my recollection serve me, I think I could cull out a few paragraphs, and not take them from their connection either, which would not quite tally with your late efforts for Colleges.

“However, no person who has ever written one-tithe of the matter that you have done, is less open to the charge than yourself; and it would certainly be very strange if, by garbled extracts, such discrepancies could not be shown.”

Campbell’s reply in Millenial Harbinger begins with these words:

“Touching these changes of which you have spoken, and to which you allude, I have leisure, at present, only to state, that I am not conscious of any change in any Christian doctrine since I wrote the first volume of the Christian Baptist. That my horizon has been much enlarged during the last thirty years, I should be ashamed not to avow. But it has mainly been in deepening my impressions of the great departure, in the exhibition and practice of the present Christian world, from Primitive Christianity.”

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

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

March 15

March 15, 1943 – While the exact day of writing is not known, it is during the month of March 1943 that Bennie Lee Fudge pens the preface to his book entitled Can a Christian Kill for His Government?

Note the date of publication: early 1943. World War II is in full swing and the outcome of the war is still up for grabs, an Allied victory not even being a clear likelihood at this point. It is in this stormy context of Allies vs. Axis powers that Fudge pens and publishes his work, offering it to a brotherhood that, though once strongly pacifist in nature, is now anything but. In his work, Fudge argues that the Scriptures teach that a Christian must not kill for his government. Obviously, this is not a popular position to take at this time and in the book’s forward, Fudge faces that very matter head-on:

“Somebody is teaching error. Either I am wrong in advising Christian boys against accepting combatant service, and I will be held responsible before God for encouraging them to shirk their duty, not only to their country, but to God; or those are wrong who teach young men to go willingly into combatant service, and will be held responsible in the judgment for encouraging them to violate one of the most sacred commands of God in shedding the blood of their fellow men.”

“Many preachers far removed from the conflict itself, and under the pressure of public opinion, will remain neutral now, or will encourage the boys to go on into the business of bloodshed. Later, when the war is over, as popular enthusiasm dies, they can think calmly, and as the inevitable reaction against the war sets in, they can change their position. The tragic part is that many of the boys who have gone into the slaughter with their blessing will not come back and will not have a chance to change their positions. A gospel preacher is assuming a tremendous responsibility when he encourages a sincere, conscientious young man to  deliberately take the life of his fellows, made in the image of God, believing on the basis of the preacher’s word that he is doing God a service.

“May God hasten the day when churches of Christ shall present a united front on this vital question, when all speak as the oracles of God, speak where the Scriptures speak, and be silent where the Scriptures are silent.”

Bennie Lee Fudge is the father of current day author, minister, and attorney, Edward Fudge, popularly known for his digital ministry gracEmail.

March 16

March 16, 1912 – Who was your favorite teacher/professor in school? Why did you admire them? And who did ‘The Sage of Bethany,’ Alexander Campbell, think was the best student to ever walk the halls of Bethany College?

From an article penned by R. H. Crossfield, and published in the Christian Standard on this date in 1912, we learn that Campbell thought Bethany’s best student was Charles Louis Loos (1823-1912). Campbell said of Loos:

“… no better mind, no apter scholar, had ever come under observation and tuition.”

As soon as Loos graduated from Bethany in 1846, Campbell hired him on at Bethany as both a professor and his personal secretary. He taught there for a total of twenty-five years (1846-1849,1858-1880) until Kentucky University in Lexington successfully wooed him away in 1880 to make him not only a professor there, but their president (1880-1897).

Throughout his time at Bethany College and Kentucky University, Loos was a favorite of ministerial students. His zeal in teaching the Biblical languages, especially Greek, and his devotion to his students, earn him (at least at Kentucky) the nickname of “Daddy Loos.” Given the following a description of him by W.T. Moore, we can readily understand some of the reasons behind his popularity:

“Professor Loos is just five feet ten inches high, has dark hair, light hazel eyes, and weighs about one hundred and forty pounds. His personal appearance and manners indicate his French origin [his father was French], while his speech is decidedly German [his mother was German]. The influence of these two races is still more clearly marked in his mental characteristics. The studious thoughtfulness, the philosophical acumen, the plodding industry, and the generous hospitality of the German are happily blended with the volatile spirit, fire, and enthusiasm of the French. He is a deep, earnest thinker, and generally takes a broad, comprehensive view of things. As a public speaker, his style is very original. His gesticulation is rapid, and, when warmed up, his thoughts flow like a torrent. His whole soul seems to be absorbed in his theme, and sometimes, in his happiest moods, he speaks as if he were inspired.”

When Loos dies in 1912, the simple inscription on his gravestone reads:

“A teacher come from God.”

March 17

March 17, 1846 – On this day perhaps* the first known meeting of a congregation of those of the Stone-Campbell Movement west of the Rocky Mountains takes place in the home of Amos Harvey (1799-1877) on the banks of the Yamhill River in Oregon Territory. Thirteen people are present. In an article published in an 1848 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, Amos recounts some of the happenings in the first years of life of that church family and the immediate area:

“I came to this country late in the fall of 1845, and learned that a few families of Disciples lived on Yam Hill, west of the Willamette river. I settled there in January, and in March we organized a congregation upon the Book alone — and this was the first congregation built upon this foundation in the Territory. We numbered at first but thirteen members. We met, as the disciples anciently did, upon the first day of the week, to break the loaf, to implore the assistance of the heavenly Father, to seek instruction from his word, and to encourage each other in the heavenly way. …

“During the summer five persons in our neighborhood made the good confession, and were immersed for the remission of sins …”

“The immigration of 1846 brought two proclaimers (brothers Dr. James M[c]’Bride and Glen O. Burnett) who, though encumbered with the care of providing for large families, in a new and uncultivated country, have spent much of their time in proclaiming the word. Their labors have been particularly blessed, and their success beyond any thing that could have been anticipated in a new and thinly settled country.

“The immigration of last year [1847] brought three other proclaimers. Our meetings are well attended, and generally more or less make the good confession at every meeting where the gospel is proclaimed.

“There are many calls from various neighborhoods which the teaching brethren are entirely unable to fill. Would to Heaven that we had a number more brethren of teaching talent and Christian character, to teach the way of life and salvation to an inquiring population!

“We now outnumber in the American population any of the sects, and if we only live up to our high profession, Oregon will soon become as noted for the religion of Jesus Christ, as it already is for its ever-verdant pastures, its grand and varied scenery, and its mild and healthy clime.”

How had Amos come to have connection with the Stone-Campbell Movement? As a youth, Amos had lived in the same county in which Thomas & Jane Campbell, lived: Washington County, Pennsylvania. And though Amos was a Quaker, as he became a man he came to regularly read the periodical published by Thomas’ son, Alexander – the Christian Baptist. Further, whenever he was given half-a-chance to hear Alexander speak, he would make the effort to go hear him. And so, shortly after thirty-three old Amos married a nineteen year-old young lady by the name of Jane Ramage in 1832, Amos and Jane both were immersed into Christ by Dr. A.W. Campbell, an uncle of Alexander Campbell.

[* Several historians record the date of March 17 as the first day of meeting for the little congregation. However, March 17 fell on a Tuesday, not a Sunday, in 1846. As we read in Amos’ account recorded above the church first met “upon the first day of the week.” I construe Amos’ account to refer to the congregation’s regular practice and assume that the historians are also correct in their stating that the first meeting was on a Tuesday. Naturally, this assumption might not be correct. I am not aware of any of Amos’ records specifying the specific day in March the congregation first met and, likewise, am not aware of the historians’ sources for such information.]

March 18

March 18, 1929 – Arguably the finest, and most widely loved and respected, Restoration Heritage preacher of his time, Theophilus Brown (“T.B”) Larimore, Sr., dies at the age of 86 in Santa Ana (Orange County), California due to complications from a broken hip. His body is buried in the Fairhaven Memorial Park Cemetery there in Santa Ana.

Born in Jefferson County, Tennessee and living there until the age of 9, T.B. and his family moved to the Sequatchie Valley in Bledsoe County, Tennessee. At the age of 17 (1859) he enrolled in Mossy Creek Baptist College (known today as Carson-Newman College) and attended there until 1861, doing extremely well in his studies in Greek, history, Latin, literature, mathematics, morals, natural sciences, and philosophy.

During the Civil War, T.B. filed as a conscientious objector and so, came to serve as an unarmed scout in Co. H of the CSA, 35th Infantry Regiment. Captured by Union troops in the fall of 1863, T.B. was one of the fortunate ones who did not have to spend the rest of the war in a prison camp, being granted release instead upon his oath not to ever take up arms against the Union. He kept his word and no longer served with the Confederacy in any capacity (a somewhat uncommon occurrence among Confederate troops who managed to gain early release and were in good health in the early and middle part of the war).

Upon his release, T.B. returned to the Sequatchie Valley, but he and his surviving family members soon relocated to Hopkinsville (Christian County), Kentucky. It was there that his mother (Nancy Elizabeth Brown Larimore) entered the Restoration Heritage and, shortly thereafter, on his twenty-first birthday (July 10, 1864), T.B. was baptized into Christ. T.B. then entered Franklin College (near Nashville, Tennessee; think Tolbert Fanning) and graduated from there, as class valedictorian, in 1867, having simultaneously occupied himself as a student, preacher, and logger. The title of the first sermon he ever preached was “Christian Union” and that theme soon ascended to dominance in his life and work.

In 1871, T.B. and his wife, Ester, founded and operated a school for boys and girls at Mars’ Hill, near Florence, Alabama. Daily memorization of the Bible was strongly emphasized in this school and no small number of graduates from Mars’ Hill went on become preachers. In 1885, the Larimores closed the school so that T.B. could devote all of his time to full-time evangelistic preaching and that he did until 1912.

Throughout the late 1860’s until the mid-1920’s, T.B. was a traveling preaching machine, keeping his calendar heavy with evangelistic preaching meetings across the States as well as occasionally out of country (e.g. – Canada, Cuba, and Mexico). Deliberately distancing himself from hot button issues of his time (e.g. – instrumental music, missionary societies, located preachers, attendance at ‘cooperative meetings,’ etc.), T.B.’s ministry was not only highly sought after by churches from every quadrant of the Stone-Campbell Movement, but even by other tribes, too (Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.). He preached wherever he could speak and, having the choice of speaking virtually anywhere, anytime, he deliberately chose to speak across the spectrum of faith expression within our heritage, and to a degree, outside, all the while emphasizing unity among all who claimed faith in Christ. While he had his own views on sensitive subjects, he flatly refused to make any of them tests of fellowship or reasons for the erection of barriers to Christian unity, which, coupled with his humble demeanor, only endeared him all the more to many.

T.B.’s speaking skills put him in great demand for engagements outside of a strictly religious context; however, T.B. consistently turned down such opportunities so as to dedicate his time and efforts toward preaching the gospel and uniting believers, his two great passions in life. We can see how T.B.’s focus on preaching, unity, and deflection of hot button issues merge in a snippet from one of his preaching experiences. During the course of a sermon, after referencing how he was often asked to speak at the exceedingly popular Civil War veterans’ reunions of the time, he said:

“I do not have the time to attend a Veteran’s Reunion.”

He went on from there to explain that he must focus his attention on preaching instead.

As he advanced in years, T.B. slowly scaled back his speaking engagements and devoted time to “local work” in Henderson, Tennessee (1914-1915), Berkley, California (1918-1922), and Washington, D.C. (1922-1925), but he did not give up his extensive travels until 1926 when he moved back to California at the age of 83.

T.B. married twice in life (Julia Ester Gresham [1845-1907] and Susan Emma Page [1855-1943]) and, sadly, he outlived his firstborn son, Theophilus Brown Larimore, Jr. (1872-1903).  And, it was T.B.’s brother-in-law, Rufus Polk Meeks, who came to be a powerful influence in the life of a young college student, resulting in that student’s conversion to Christ in 1890; that student soon to become a well-known preacher in our tribe of the next generation: N.B. Hardeman.

[Personal sidebar: Prior to (and after) the Civil War, my great-grandfather, William Anderson (“W.A.”) Smith and his family, lived in the Sequatchie Valley not far from the Larimore family. They knew each other. W.A. and several of T.B. Larimore’s kin, including a brother (Cassander Porendo; aka: ‘Prendo’ or ‘Prends’) served in the same company during the Civil War, Co.F of the CSA, 2nd Tennessee Cavalry (Ashby’s). W.A. spent time as a POW in Camp Chase and there is some evidence that one of the Larimore kin might have been imprisoned with him there and even died there. In 1888, W.A. had a son, my grandfather, whom he named “Brown Wadsworth Smith.” Since W.A. had been a teacher for a time in life, my family always knew where the name “Wadsworth” came from; however, we’ve always wondered how the name “Brown” came about. Now, after learning that the “B” in “T.B. Larimore” stands for “Brown,” I’m left to wonder if my grandfather was named after the beloved preacher, T.B. Larimore!]

March 19

March 19, 1857 – While on a tour through the South, Alexander Campbell pens a letter to his wife, Selina, from New Orleans. The purpose of his tour was “the pleading of the cause of original Christianity” and “the claims of Bethany College as an institution of learning and science, based on the true philosophy of man as developed and taught in the Holy Bible in reference to his present and future usefulness and happiness as a citizen of the universe, and with special reference to his present development and mission as a citizen of the United States of North America in the second half of the nineteenth century.”

[Whew! Campbell can be, at times, one of the true masters of the run-on sentence. Whenever I feel I might be nigh unto death with that disease myself, I simply read a little Campbell and I typically, and quickly, feel much, much better.]

Campbell’s letter to his wife – remarkably free of run-on sentences – gives us a wee bit of a peek into some of his private world and how the preacher in him is ever preaching, even when he converses with his wife. I suspect our wives can relate. But then again, if I’m separated from my wife for even just a few days out-of state, this isn’t how I talk with her. How about you?

Campbell’s letter reads:

“My dear wife: I am thinking of leaving here in the course of the day. I have had a good night’s sleep, and feel somewhat better. Alexander [Jr.], too, enjoys fine health, and is very good company for me. I could not get along without him. He anticipates all that I want and is very much interested in my comfort in every particular. My visit here has been, on the whole, an advantage and profit to the great cause that I plead. But this is a worldly, sensual and generally a mere fashionable theatre. Still, there is some salt here that preserves the mass from absolute sensuality. I am still more attached to home the farther I am from it. There is no place on earth to me like it. But we have no continuing city here, and should always act with that conviction. We should feel that, wherever we are and whatever we do, we are on our journey home. There is nothing beneath the home of God that can fill the human heart, and that should ever rule and guide and comfort us. There are few pure, single-eyed and single-hearted professors of the faith and the hope. It is only here there we find a whole-hearted Christian. Like angels’ visits that are few and far between. But I am again called out and must say farewell. – Alexander Campbell”

Robert Richardson, commenting on the time Campbell spent on this trip in New Orleans, says that he “assisted D.P. Henderson, President Shannon, and others in the reorganization of the church there, which consisted of about forty members.”

Upon his arrival back home in Bethany, West Virginia, Campbell will write in the Millenial Harbinger of his general disappointment with the overall condition of local, ministerial leadership:

“In my recent excursion through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia, I found … The ministry are not now, anywhere, leading the people as they were wont some forty years ago. The people now rather lead them. And so it will be, because so it has usually been.”

March 20

March 20, 1849 – On this day, someone with the initials “R.O.W.” writes Alexander Campbell a letter, requesting him to define “the difference between the words Fact and Truth …”

Campbell publishes his reply in the April 5, 1849 issue of the Millenial Harbinger, and in doing so, relates these matters to God’s existence and God’s good news. His answer reads, in part:

“Truth and Fact are neither synonyms nor contrasts. Truth is the expressed agreement of words with things. Fact, is something done. To place them in antithesis,-fact, is an event, or something done; verbal truth, is the exact statement of it. Facts are proved by witnesses, truths, by demonstration of the agreement of words with things. All truths are not facts, even when enunciated, but all facts are substantive truths, when fully expressed.

“That God exists, is a truth, but not a fact. That he created the universe, is a fact. The expression of this, in adequate terms, is a truth. …

“The belief of the gospel is the belief of joyful facts;-the death of Christ for our sins,-his resurrection for our justification,-his conquest of Satan four our eternal liberation from his malice and power. Hope, is the expectation for future good,-the hope of the gospel is the hope of eternal good;-‘glory, honor, and incorruptibility.'”

March 21

March 21, 1794Emily Harvie (Thomas) Tubman is born. She grows up to become one of the South’s best-known philanthropists and a strong financial benefactor of works of the Restoration Heritage.

Born into a a wealthy family and marrying into an even wealthier one, Emily never knows material want, but her life is not free from loss. One day in 1836 her husband of sixteen years, Richard Tubman, dies in her arms while they are on their way to visit Emily’s parents. As he dies, Richard expresses to Emily his dying requests: (1) free their 140 slaves and (2) continue their customary trip each year from Augusta, Georgia to Frankfort, Kentucky (not only to see her family, but to avoid the annual plague of yellow fever in Georgia). Forced to temporarily bury her husband’s body by the side of the road, Emily firmly resolves to keep her husband’s wishes.

However, due to the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831, freeing one’s slaves in Georgia is now essentially impossible, requiring a special piece of legislation by the State Legislature for each and every individual who is emancipated. And so, after conferring with prominent statesman Henry Clay – her legal guardian following the death of her father when she was just nine years of age – Emily makes this offer to her slaves: stay with her or move to a portion of Africa now known as Liberia. Everyone who chooses to stay with her will receive some land and a steady salary to become independent farmers. Those who choose to move to Liberia will have their travel expenses paid for and will be emancipated in Liberia. Half of the Tubman slaves vote to stay with her and half vote to move to Liberia. Those moving to Liberia take the name “Tubman” as their own and form their own community called “Tubman Hill.”

Emily now turns to her brother, Landon Thomas, a graduate of Yale University, for advise as to how to invest her monetary assets. She learns quickly from Landon and soon becomes a very savvy investor on her own, ultimately tripling her net worth.

But we must trace Emily’s journey to faith. Such begins with her baptism at the age of thirty-six by a Baptist preacher, just eight years (1828) before her husband’s death. However, Emily is soon strongly influenced by Phillip Slater (“P.S.) Fall, a former Baptist who had, just a few years earlier, led the First Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY into the fold of the Restoration Movement. In time to come she meets Alexander Campbell and is mightily impressed with him, becoming an avid reader of his paper, the Millenial Harbinger. Ultimately, about the time of her husband’s death, she becomes a member of the First Christian Church in Augusta – and a summer-time member of the First Christian in Frankfort, KY. And, whenever Campbell finds himself in Kentucky or Georgia, he typically pays Emily a visit.

Following her husband’s death, being the sole possessor of great wealth, and never remarrying, Emily sets about a ministry of giving to fund good works of many kinds associated with the Restoration Heritage. She endows a professorial chair at Bethany College. A number of students find their college education supplemented or paid for completely by her. When the building of the Christian Church in Frankfort, KY burns down, it is Emily who pays to rebuild it. The American Christian Missionary Society and the Foreign Christian Missionary Society receive no small sums of money. She builds low-cost housing for widows and the elderly in Augusta. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

When Emily dies in 1885 at the age of 91, she is a legend of generosity and assistance in her own time. And years later, William S. Tubman, a third generation descendant of her slaves who made the move from her plantation’s fields to Tubman Hill in Liberia, becomes the nineteenth President of Liberia (1944-1971).

Emily’s body is buried in the Frankfort Cemetery (Franklin County) in Franklin, Kentucky.

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

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

February 22

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

“To the Editor Of The Globe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“An Acceptable Evangelist of the Church of Christ.”

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

February 23

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

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

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

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

February 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25

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

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

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

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

February 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27

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

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

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

February 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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