pastor (7)

pastor: n. a Christian minister; a shepherd

[ This post is #7 in a 22-part series. To understand this series best, first read the intro to the opening installment (posted Mon., Oct. 2). ]

Clayton Waller. In mentioning Clayton here, I’m perhaps going a bit afield from my original parameters for this series in that he was technically not, as we say, a “located preacher” when I got to know him. But, he had recently returned to the U.S. from years of missionary labors in what was then northeastern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) – and, sadly, had been deeply hurt in the experience. And of all places, he and his sweet wife, Ina, had put down roots in my home church in Duncan, OK. When the Westside School of Bible & Preaching came to be, Clayton was tapped to become one of its instructors. It was in his class on Romans that I, now a student in that school, first met him.

And what a meeting it was! Highly skilled in the Bible’s original languages (especially Hebrew) and with a keen sense of “the big picture” of Scripture and how it all tied together, Clayton obviously viewed Christian faith through a very different set of lenses than any other preacher I had met before. While most seemed to typically saturate their messages with verses strung together from all over the New Testament (“going everywhere preaching the gospel” – LOL) and spoke a great deal of what we’re to be about doing today, Clayton invariably focused on a single passage, drilled deep, and focused primarily on how what God did and is doing affects us, and so, only then, what we do.

He didn’t “skin the denominations” when he spoke of churches or preachers outside of our specific heritage, either. In fact, he was content to quote whoever and give credit for whatever true good was done in the name of Christ by anyone. “Truth is truth no matter who says it and good is good no matter who does it.” Further, whenever he spoke he frequently used two words it seemed I only rarely heard from the lips of others (with the exceptions of Robert Gregg and Stanley Sayers): “grace” and “mercy.” And the Holy Spirit – oh, to Clayton, the Spirit was alive and well and working today, directly, and not only indirectly.

But, perhaps most startling of all to me was what I will call his “openness.” While some others clearly started with the expectation that we can know and explain even matters of very fine detail in seemingly all things faith-related and that such is our God-given responsibility and task – that is, that we can, and must, answer nearly all the faith-questions that can be conceived of and asked – Clayton quite deliberately swam against that stream. While others dwelt on ascertaining certainty, Clayton was clearly content to often live with mystery. He seemed to have a whole pallet of colors with which to paint, while most others appeared to have only black and white at hand. Consequently, he was a constant contrast to much of what I heard throughout the rest of the week, be it in school, sermons, Bible classes, or reading that had been assigned or suggested to me.

This was, to me, to say the least, curious and amazing, new and shocking. And, terrible to say, were ways that some others even actively urged me to reject and strongly resist.

How I wish I could tell you otherwise, but it is simply the truth: it would be several years before I began to embrace my Clayton’s perspective. At the time I knew him, I listened to him, but I rejected his perspective. (sigh) But, in time, that would change. And it was Clayton Waller who first challenged me to do so.

Father God, thank you for my brother, Clayton Waller. Thank you for sparing and carrying him and Ina through their ordeal in Rhodesia. Thank you for his ceaseless attempts to fit my eyes, and the eyes of many, with a new set of glasses. Thank you for your grace and mercy, for being patient with me, and for giving me time and temper to come to accept them. Thank you for Clayton’s shepherding of my mind with his staff and rod. Thank you for using Clayton to crack open my then rapidly closing mind and giving me an expanded – and still expanding – vision of you and your work. Thank you for teaching me, through him, that how I go about thinking is just as important as what I think. May it be Christ who is glorified in it all, and through whom you hear my prayer. Amen.

a preacher’s prayer at sunrise on Sunday

 

Father, who will give attention to you this morning? And should you allow me the privilege once more to speak of you, who, I ask, will hear you through my feeble, fumbling words? Will it be those who have heard many times before? Let them not be indifferent or complacent through familiarity. Will it be some who have never heard you before? Do not allow any of us to not encounter you. Work out my words, work through my words, work despite my words this morning – just work what you will in the moment, Father.

Give us your attention, Lord, even as we ask your help in our giving you our own; give us audience as we seek you. Take us by our hands to the Father and plead our need with your outstretched hands. Open our minds and break open our hearts, shining all you are on all that we are that we might change more into the likeness of you. Let us be all about you – entralled and enraptured with you, adoring you and freshly committing ourselves to emulating you.

Spirit holy, your ways and words are beyond our grasp, and yet, it is your words and words that must touch us, stir us, trouble us, settle us, and teach us. And so, I pray you will handle us and hold us this morning, working into each spirit present things far beyond what any of us can see and hear with our eyes and ears. As you have arranged for this time and place, our providential meeting with you in the presence of others, do walk among us and talk to us.

Begin this work with me, I pray. Where I need to tremble afresh, make me tremble. Where I need to rest confident in you, please plant me there. In all things today, work through me for the blessing of others and so bless me to that end.

In the name of my Savior, with trust, I come asking.

Amen.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: May 3-9

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

May 3

* May 3, 1824 – Before both God and man, what does true honesty – or dishonesty – look like in the pulpit? What place ought prayers and sermon notes have – or not have – in connection with sermon delivery? And, did Alexander Campbell ever skip school, cheat on exam, or receive corporal punishment in his youth?

Today, in an article in the Christian Baptist entitled “Pulpit Honesty,” Alexander Campbell us gives answer to all of the above. He writes:

“When I was a boy I sometimes played truant, and fearing the ferula, I would sometimes write off my lesson on a slip of paper, cut according to the dimensions of my book; and with this before me, I was enabled to translate with some degree of fluency. I was lately reminded of my boyish tricks, when attending ‘the divine service’ of a popular divine, of a neighboring county … His text was, ‘Among whom shine ye as lights in the world.’ After a ‘solemn prayer’ for divine assistance in delivering a suitable message, he opened his Bible, in which he had very ingeniously inserted his manuscript. He held the book in his right hand, and with considerable sleight of hand turned the leaf seven or eight times, during the pronunciation of this heaven dictated message. He must have read 14 or 16 pages of matter, no doubt well arranged and condensed. His eyes turned askance to the right, at proper intervals, furnished his tongue with inspiration. Thought I, this is a sure method of obtaining an answer from heaven for a suitable message: first to have it in writing, and then to ask it from God. But the recollection of the double portion of the rod, which I used to receive for such a trick, (for I was whipped, when detected, first for not having my lesson, and secondly, for striving to cheat my preceptor) brought such a train of reflections to my mind, that I was ready to charge the parson with having been the cause of ‘my thinking my own thoughts,’ while ‘he was shining a light in a dark place.’

“I thought that the sacred desk was never elevated to be a protection against the detection of theft. I thought how deleterious to morals was such an example. To see a character so sacred, on so sacred an occasion, strive to cheat the eyes of gallery critics, by the agility of his fingers, and the charms of a well directed glance of the eye. In vain to remonstrate against hypocrisy when the finger is separating the concealed leaves; in vain to recommend honesty to the youth, when the pen, and perhaps the words of another, are made to speak what was never felt, and to act the part of a prompter behind the curtain; in vain to teach sincerity in our prayers to God, when the parson prays with apparent sincerity for a sermon, while he has it in his pocket. In fact, I was so mortified by this clerical fraud, that I could not but commend the honesty of the Catholic priest, and the Episcopahan curate, who, when he reads his sermon, manfully and honestly lays it before him in the presence of all, and never dares to ask from heaven what he has in writing, as if to impose upon the superstition of his hearers.”

* May 4, 1824 – How ought a church leader handle the reception of an anonymous letter? Today, in the same issue of the Christian Baptist just cited, we learn how Alexander Campbell dealt with such.

Today, Campbell responds to a man who has sent him an anonymous letter containing seven questions. Campbell responds to the anonymous request by answering the man’s questions … in public print, in the Christian Baptist. Yes, he publishes the letter and his responses to the seven questions … and then, taking the gloves off, adds seven questions of his own for the man to respond to in reply, the first of which reads:

“What is your name? Should you honor me with another epistle and suppress your name, I cannot answer it, because I could not then consider you an honest and well-meaning lay-man who fears not the light.”

Campbell’s response brings to mind the “bubbles” superimposed over fight scenes in the original ‘Batman’ TV series (e.g. – “WHAM!,” “POW!,” etc.).

May 4

* May 4, 1842 – The future president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, pays a visit to Alexander Campbell and Bethany College.

Davis is impressed with Bethany College and so, leaves William J. Stamps* of Wilkinson County, Mississippi, his favorite nephew, with Campbell for enrollment in Bethany. In a lengthy letter published in the August 6, 1903 edition of the Christian Evangelist under the title “The First Graduating Class of Bethany College,” J.A. Dearborn tells of how Davis esteemed Alexander Campbell and his work. Dearborn writes:

“I remember … that Jefferson Davis remained at Bethany for several days, and that he was said to be a warm admirer of Mr. Campbell and sympathized with the grand religious enterprise that Mr. Campbell had in charge.”

[* Not many months later, in early 1843, Stamps dies on the campus of Bethany College from injuries he suffered in a fall while ice-skating on nearby Buffalo Creek.]

* May 4, 1871 – Today, a letter penned by the famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee is published in the Apostolic Times.* It is a letter Lee originally penned to a friend, telling him of what he (Lee) thought of Alexander Campbell:

“As Dr. Symonds said of the great Milton, so may I say of the late President of Bethany College, ‘That he was a man in whom were illustriously combined all the qualities that could adorn or elevate the nature to which he belonged. Knowledge, the most various and extended virtue that never loitered in her career, nor deviated from her course. A man who, if he had been delegated as the representative of his species to one of the many Superior worlds, would have suggested a grand idea of the human race. Such was President Campbell.”

* [Both Campbell and Lee are dead when this letter appears in the Apostolic Times; Campbell having deceased in 1866 and Lee having passed on in 1870.]

May 5

May 5, 1889 – Today, one week after “Harrison’s Horse Race,” a one-armed preacher organizes the first Restoration Heritage church in the newly opened “Unassigned Lands.”

The church is located in the city now known as “Guthrie.” With the land run a week ago, Guthrie went from non-existence to being a city of ten thousand, quite literally, overnight. James M. Monroe leads the church’s organization efforts and he and Dick T. Morgan serve as shepherds of the twenty-one member congregation. The fold for this little flock is a 12′ x 15′ cabin that has walls, but doesn’t yet have a roof or floor.

Guthrie? But, what of Oklahoma City, you ask? A nineteen-member church will be organized there one week from now. Guthrie (Logan County) will serve as the capital of the Indian Territory until the region is granted statehood in 1907 and it will serve as the capital of Oklahoma until 1910, at which time Oklahoma City takes over that role. Oklahoma City is located just north of the center of the state and Guthrie is on the northern edge of what is now the greater OKC metroplex.

What do we know of James M. Monroe? Monroe is born in northeastern Ohio in 1843. During the Civil War he serves as a Private in Company G of the U.S., 42nd Ohio Infantry Regiment … yes, your memory serves you correctly, the 42nd Ohio is the regiment James A. Garfield raises up and leads. Monroe suffers the loss of an arm in the siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. His debilitating wound marks the end of his military service, but affords him time to attend college – Hiram College, Alliance College, and Butler University (where he receives a Master’s degree). In the 1870’s he serves as a college professor and president in California. In 1886 (in Ohio) and 1890 (in Ohio) he makes unsuccessful bids as a candidate for Congress on the Prohibition ticket.

By 1904 – fifteen years after the land run and still three years prior to statehood – the land now known as Oklahoma can claim to have over three hundred Restoration Heritage churches with over sixteen thousand members. At least one congregation can be found in every county of the state and no community with a population of least one thousand is without a Restoration Heritage church.

[A sidenote: The northern half of Oklahoma and the southern half of Oklahoma are somewhat different from each other and no small part of those distinctions can be traced back to who settles these areas. A much higher percentage of the earlier settlers in north and northeast Oklahoma come from states that were associated with the Union during the Civil War than do those who comprise the populace of the south and southwestern portions of the state. Many of the those living in the southern half of Oklahoma came to the land from Texas (which aligned itself with the Confederacy). The evidence for such can clearly be seen by simply walking some of the older cemeteries in the state. Gravestones inscribed with the initials “G.A.R.” (“Grand Army of the Republic;” i.e. – the Union Army) are far more common in the northern half of the state than in the southern half. Walk some of the cemeteries on, or shortly after, Memorial Day and you’ll notice a much higher percentage of small Confederate battle flags posted on graves in the south than you will on graves in the northern portions of Oklahoma. In fact, southeastern Oklahoma is still referred to by some today as “Little Dixie” and a community once existed in my home county in south-central Oklahoma (Stephens) that was known simply as “Dixie.”

May 6

May 6, 1864 – The birth of a child has, for the first time, made you a parent. You have been thrust into a brave, new world! What do you need to know, and always remember, most of all? And just what sort of advice or help might you expect to receive from your father or father-in-law at such a time? Or, looking from the other direction, who can understand, much less communicate, the depth of joy and thankfulness, pride and hope, that well up in the heart of a grandparent at the birth of a grandchild? And, just how is a parent to relate well to his adult child and son-in-law with sensitivity and the offering of advice?

We learn some of the answers to these things as a man pens a letter today to his son-in-law and his youngest daughter upon the birth of their first child, a girl. The letter’s author is Alexander Campbell, the recipients are John & Decima Barclay, and it is the birth of Virginia Huntington Barclay that provides the occasion. The Barclays are overseas at the time, in Larnaca, Cyrpus. Let me encourage you to read this letter very slowly, so as to truly savour the state of mind and the choice of words and phrasing by father-in-law/grandfather Campbell.

“My dear son and daughter:

“We cordially congratulate you in the reception of an heir from the Lord. This is a rich and precious gift from the Lord, which the wealth of the richest monarch on earth could not purchase, though possessed of all the gold of Ophir. It constitutes you parents, and lays upon you an obligation of paramount importance. For such a precious gift kings would sometimes give a kingdom. But all the gold of Ophir could not purchase it. Still, it is to be nourished, cared for, protected, and brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many are the duties incumbent upon us for such a present from the Lord. In the reception of it our heavenly Father virtually says to us: ‘Take this child, educate, and train it for me, and great shall be your reward.’ It is, indeed, withal, a pleasing task. But to secure this, the Lord has wisely, kindly, and deeply planted in the maternal and paternal heart – a paramount affection. Mothers have more generally a deeper and a more enduring natural affection than fathers. Because, we presume, they need it most. Their faithful efforts are, indeed, well rewarded. Children generally love their mothers more than their fathers; and so, me thinks, they ought; for a mother’s affection is generally stronger and more enduring than a father’s.

“But there are exceptions to all general rules. We have all, if observant, seen some of them in this case. To love and to be loved is, in all the relations of life, the richest and the greatest blessing, on earth which we can achieve. We cannot buy it. We must earn it. To be loved we must love. But to love not only our friends, but our enemies, is required by the great Teacher. This is godlike. When we remember this, we cannot but examine ourselves. And, indeed, it is to us all-important that we should habitually examine ourselves, and say to the Lord, ‘Search me, O Lord! and try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and show it to me, and lead me, and guide me in the way everlasting!’

“We have peace and tranquility in our position in [West] Virginia. College is in session, with a considerable increase of students. And, were it not for our newspapers, we should not know that there was any war in our country; for which blessing we should be most grateful to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Everything here moves on in its wonted channel. Civil wars are very uncivil things, and wholly contraband to both the letter and spirit of the gospel of the God of peace.

“Your description of the island of Cyprus, published in the April number of the ‘Harbinger,’ has been read with great interest and pleasure, as we learn from all quarters. It is, indeed, a feast to us all; when finished by you, we shall dilate more fully upon it. I am not sure, indeed, but that a full history of it from your pen would be a most useful and interesting volume. … Think of it, and gather and keep all documents of interest, … and on your return give a history of your whole tour. I am constrained, though with reluctance, to close this scroll with an apology. All our family at home unite with me in all affection to you and Decima, father and mother.

“Most affectionately,

“A. Campbell”

Sadly, “Virgie” will live to see only eighteen years of life here. And, perhaps not surprisingly, it is her gravestone that is by far the most unique and elaborate of the nearly three hundreds graves that comprise the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.

May 7

May 7, 1827 – Have you ever come to be viewed with suspicion simply because you read religious writings penned by those who see things differently? Have your ever found yourself on a trajectory away from some matters you once held to dearly in terms of faith? Have you ever found yourself shot at by the very people you felt sure would support you in your quest for more certain faith? Have you ever been shaken to the very core because it became clear to you that a great many others are infinitely more concerned with status, tradition, control, or power than they are with Scripture, truth, consistency, or purpose?

Well, no matter what it feels like, you’re by no means alone and it isn’t a new experience. And, by means of a letter by “S.E. S______,” reproduced today in Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist (CB), we’re reminded of such.

“Brother Campbell,

“You will, undoubtedly, be surprised to hear of the unparalleled proceedings of ‘The Northumberland Particular Baptist Association,’ relative to the Little Muncey church [in Mingo County, WV; the opposite end of the state from Bethany]. I never knew any body of men, religious or political, guilty of such glaring inconsistencies, before. Neither did I think that any body of people, regarded even MEN, would have hazarded their reputation in such a manner. It is some time since I become convinced that confessions of faith, when used as TESTS of orthodoxy, are attended with great mischief in the church of God. Of this I was convinced by the proceedings of the above association.

“As soon as I was thoroughly convinced, I publicly, unequivocally, and solemnly entered my protest against them, and drew upon my head the united opposition of the sects in this country. Some declared me to be a SOCINIAN [Unitarian]. Others affirmed that I was a UNIVERSALIST. Some of the Baptists were apprized of my taking The Christian Baptist, and consequently blamed YOU with my ‘departure from the faith.’ The news had no sooner reached the WHITE DEER, than THOMAS SMILEY said he must be put DOWN. This FIELD MARSHALL mounted his ROZINANTE [‘Rozinante’ was the name of Don Quixote’s old, broken-down horse] and hied [hurried] him away to Shamokin [in Pennsylvania], to the largest division of this little army, and gave orders that they should be in readiness the next August when the whole forces would be collected, (or rather REPRESENTED) in that place, to transact important business. He informed them that ‘a certain young man,’ who had, not long since been ORDAINED, had renounced ‘THE PHILADELPHIA’ [the Philadelphia Confession of Faith of 1742], and all other confessions of faith. He reminded them that they, by their delegates, had solemnly subscribed it, and concluded by expressing his hopes that they would never relinquish it. He also hoped that they be forward to contend for it at the NEXT ASSOCIATION.

“Having heard that WAR was declared against me, I declined attending the association that year, as a DELEGATE. I, however, attended, as a spectator, the second day. Not long after my arrival the GENERALISSIMO began cannonading. I returned a few shots. Night coming on, we could not get into actual engagement. I was in hopes the storm of battle would blow over.

“The next morning, however, they fired at me at least one hour with a LARGE GUN, which they obtained from NEW-JERSEY. It contained nothing but BLANK charges. They spent one hour more in firing at me with a POP-GUN, which they called HENRY CLACK. Finding that I was still on the ground, the CHIEF-GENERAL concluded that he would let loose upon me. But some of the most influential members of the Shamokin church, hearing several gentlemen declare that they would leave the ground ‘if Mr. S______ was not allowed to speak,’ determined that I should have the next SHOT. I arose and had the satisfaction of seeing some of their VETERANS leave the ground before I concluded. The FIELD MARSHALL endeavored to rally his forces, but in vain. I knew of but one who would stand by me in the day of battle, but to my great surprise I heard, a NON-COMMISSIONED officer of the Shamokin department declare that my cause was just, and that he also renounced confessions of faith. ‘I then thanked God and took courage.’

“There are several in this department who are disgusted with ecclesiastical tyranny; but they can’t fight – I am, however, not alone. The people in this section of country, who have never been MARRIED to creeds, I believe, are universally opposed to them.”

“S.E.S______

“Moreland, the 30th of January, 1827”

[Note: In his letter, S.E.S______ placed emphasis on certain words by two means: italics and ALL CAPS. In the reproduction of his letter above, I’ve retained S.E.S______’s use of ALL CAPS where he used them, but have converted his use of words in italics to ALL CAPS.]

May 8

May 8, 1886 – Imagine a Presbyterian Church inviting you, a Restoration Heritage preacher, to “hold a meeting” for them. Yes, imagine that.

Today is a Saturday, and every night this week T.B. Larimore has been preaching at the Presbyterian Church in Florence, Alabama. No, the Restoration Heritage churches in Florence have not borrowed the Presbyterian’s building in which to conduct their own evangelistic effort. Rather, Larimore is conducting a meeting at the invitation of the Presbyterian Church in Florence. The local paper, the Florence Gazette, reports that his preaching this week has been “to large congregations” and “with marked effect.”

And yes, like you, I’m still working on that “imagine” business.

May 9

May 9, 1895 – Why is it the greatest antagonism is typically shown between people who have the least differences, while kinder and gentler words and ways are selected for those with whom we have far less in common? Is it not because money and material things are worth so very much to us? And do we think those of the world who are yet to believe, don’t notice?

The year 1906 is generally recognized as the year the major split in the Restoration Heritage is officially recognized. But, of course, the rip in the fabric of the heritage had been growing for several decades prior. Serious church fights are all too common from the 1860’s onward and, as a result, lawsuits over church property have steadily increased.

Due to this very problem a letter from the pen of Thomas R. Burnett is published today in the Gospel Advocate. Burnett counsels brethren to take the hit and not take matters of church property into civil courts for decision. But, his letter also speaks of the great bitterness that boils in the hearts of many brethren who disagree over matters such as church government, instrumental music, missionary societies, and open or close communion … his own heart, not excluded.

“Brethren, proceed to re-establish the ancient order of things, just as if there never was a Church of Christ in your town. Gather all the brethren together who love Bible order better than modern fads and foolishness, and start the work and worship of the church in the old apostolic way. Do not go to law over church property. It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. Build a cheap and comfortable chapel, and improve it when you get able. It is better to have one dozen true disciples in a cheap house than a thousand apostate pretenders in a palace who love modern innovations better than Bible truths.”

“True disciples” and “apostate pretenders.” (sigh) One has to wonder how the division between our religious ancestors might have played out – and what witness of Christian spirit might have been given to the world – if churches then had simply not sought to own property at all in the first place, choosing instead to gather together as the church first did in Jerusalem – in public places and in private homes. And, some of us wonder why churches need to own billions of dollars property today … and whether Christ’s kingdom is really better off for it or not.

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

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

February 8

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

February 9

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

February 10

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

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

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

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

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

February 11

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

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

February 12

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

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

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

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

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

February 13

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

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

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

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

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

February 14

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

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

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

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Addiction, brain, children, communication, health, parenting, reasoning, teens & youth ministry: Why Teens Are Impulsive, Addiction-Prone And Should Protect Their Brains [essential reading]

“‘The last place to be connected — to be fully myelinated — is the front of your brain,” [Dr. Frances] Jensen [who is a neurologist] says. ‘And what’s in the front? Your prefrontal cortex and your frontal cortex. These are areas where we have insight, empathy, these executive functions such as impulse control, risk-taking behavior.’ This research also explains why teenagers can be especially susceptible to addictions — including drugs, alcohol, smoking and digital devices. …

“‘Just like learning a fact is more efficient, sadly, addiction is more efficient in the adolescent brain. That is an important fact for an adolescent to know about themselves — that they can get addicted faster. It also is a way to debunk the myth, by the way, that, “Oh, teens are resilient, they’ll be fine. He can just go off and drink or do this or that. They’ll bounce back.” Actually, it’s quite the contrary. The effects of substances are more permanent on the teen brain. They have more deleterious effects and can be more toxic to the teen than the adult.'”

Attitude, expectations, helpfulness, ministry, preaching & teaching: Fighting Blue Monday: Be Helpful, Not Great

“In preaching and teaching, aim to be helpful. Do not waste any time attempting to be great.”

Bible study, Google Earth, teaching & preaching: Google Earth Pro is Now Free!

“I have frequently blogged about the value of Google Earth (a free program) for exploring and understanding the biblical lands. Somewhat amazingly, Google has now released Google Earth Pro for free. (It used to be a $399 upgrade.)”

Church decline & church health: 10 Behavior Patterns of Inwardly-Focused Churches

“In our survey [of 557 churches] we found ten dominant behavior patterns of members in these churches.” They are …”

Exercise, health, jogging, running & working out: When Exercise Does More Harm Than Good

“… those with the lowest risk of dying during the study period were people who ran less than three times a week for one to 2.4 hours, at a slow to moderate pace. … too little running and too much running are linked to higher rates of death … [the] sweet spot is closer to the ‘less’ side of the curve than the ‘more’ side. That dovetails with the mounting research that so-called micro-workouts—high intensity but brief workouts that could be as short at 1 minute, according to another recent paper—may be better for the body than long and continuous workouts.”

links: this went thru my mind

Christmas & displacement: Christmas for Those Who Feel Left Out

“He came to all who feel out of place in the world to give them a place in his world.”

Health, sleep & technology: Reading On A Screen Before Bed Might Be Killing You

“The best recommendation … would be to avoid use of light-emitting screens before bedtime …”

Kingdom: On the Term ‘Kingdom’

“… the expectation for anything using the word ‘kingdom’ would be a people governed by a king — and what was the biggest hope was that this people would be ruled by God. (And Messiah gets attached over time to God’s end-time rule over his people.) What would Jews have heard when Jesus said ‘kingdom’? That’s a question we must ask. (It would not have meant only God’s rule. It always involves a people ruled by a king.)”

Jesus, nonviolence, peace & violence: The Prince of Peace (parts 1, 2 & 3) [essential reading]

“… in the name of honesty, Christians ought either to quit fighting or quit calling themselves Christians. …”

“The use of force is one thing, the use of violence and especially lethal violence, violence with intent to do serious bodily harm or kill, is another. It is the latter that absolutely nothing in the teachings of Jesus sanctions, and much in his teaching completely rejects. …”

“”The Christian followers of Caesar have thus committed themselves to an absurdity that they can neither resolve nor escape: the proposition that war can be made to serve peace; that you can make friends for love by hating and killing the enemies of love. This has never succeeded, and its failure is never acknowledged, which is a further absurdity. … Jesus called us to self-sacrifice, not to a life of self-protection and self-preservation. If the whole or major rationale for allowing private citizens to carry guns is ‘self-defense’, then it is in order to point out that Jesus called us to give up that modus operandi and embrace another one— self-sacrifice.'”

Preaching, sin & spiritual sickness: Pope Francis: the Fifteen ‘Diseases’ of the Curia [essential reading]

“Francis invites his collaborators to examine their conscience to confess their ‘sins’ in today’s speech. He mentions vainglory and feeling essential, as well as ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’ and hoarding money and power. The Pope also speaks of closed circles and worldly profit, as well as the ‘terrorism of gossip.'”