on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: January 18-24

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

January 18

1851 – On this day the State of Missouri issues a charter for a female college to be known as Columbia Classical Female Institute. This is the result of effort on the part of a preacher, David Patterson (“D.P.”) Henderson, a man who had been one of Barton W. Stone, Sr.’s closest friends (Stone having died in 1844). Henderson’s efforts will ultimately result in the formation of what will become known as Christian University and, as it is known today, Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri, now associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

1926 – William Jesse (W.J.) Fears dies in Tatum, Texas at the age of 72. Not long after his wife of nearly thirty years had left him and taken their children with her (due to her disgust with the trials involved in being a minister’s wife), Fears came to be one of the earliest missionaries in Indian Territory (1905) from the Restoration Heritage. His ministerial work and influence will primarily be felt in what will become (in 1907) southeastern Oklahoma.

January 19

1819 – In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jesse Babcock Ferguson is born to Robert French & Hannah Champlain Babock Ferguson. Baptized in 1838 and starting to preach very shortly thereafter, he will quickly come to be regarded as the most eloquent preacher the South has to offer. His influence among Restoration Heritage churches in Nashville, TN is deep and wide for a decade (1842-1852).

However, upon revealing his beliefs that ultimately no one can be eternally lost and that every person will be saved (universalism) … and that he attempts to communicate with the dead (spiritualism) … Ferguson begins a rapid fall. Alexander Campbell’s strong opposition to Ferguson will prove to be the deciding factor in his falling into disfavor. Still, it will be four years after starting to advance his views (1856) that Ferguson’s church family in Nashville will finally cut ties with him. Never again will he have any real connection with the Restoration Heritage. And yet, those aligned with the Restoration Heritage in Nashville are fractured and devastated over the ordeal.

Ironically, in the early 1840’s Ferguson had co-edited a paper entitled The Heretic Detector. He will die in 1870 at the age of 51 while planning to establish a spiritualist settlement in rural Tennessee.

January 20

1858 – Having served for two decades as a missionary in Jamaica for Congregationalist churches (1838-1850’s), Connecticut-born Julius Oliver (“J.O.”) Beardslee returns today to Jamaica, this time as a missionary within the Restoration Heritage. He is sent to Jamaica now by the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS) and his labors are not without some immediate fruit.

However, Beardslee has been an active abolitionist for over two decades prior to the start of the war and his only son who will live to be an adult, Thomas, serves as a soldier in the Union Army. Consequently, funding for Beardslee’s work will quickly evaporate due to the arrival of the Civil War, the ACMS’ adoption of a resolution in 1863 in support of the Union, and the withdrawal of funding by southern churches for the ACMS.

January 21

1831 – Granville & Ann Lipscomb of Franklin County, Tennessee welcome the birth of their second-born son, David. David’s parents are Baptists; however, while David is still quite small, his parents are persuaded to adopt a Restoration Heritage perspective of things after reading several issues of Alexander Campbell’s Christian Baptist. David Lipscomb will grow up to become the single most influential figure among southern churches of the Restoration Heritage from the mid-1800’s until his death in 1917.

January 22

1798Aylette Raines is born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He becomes a preacher with Universalist views of the salvation of all of humankind. However, in 1827 he hears Walter Scott preach a sermon on his favorite chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15. This chapter contains a verse upon which Raines has grounded his Universalist perspective (vs.22). As Scott preaches and brings his sermon to a head, he points straight at Raines (who, along with some of his comrades, is located front and center among those present) and asks him if what has just been preached isn’t so. Raines, blown away with Scott’s message, responds: “I presume it is so.”

Following Scott’s sermon, Raines’ somewhat frustrated companions gather around him and ask to see the notes they presume he has taken during the sermon. Raines holds up a blank piece of paper and says: “Here are my notes, all of them. I have never in all my life heard just such a speaker, or just such preaching. … I am not now prepared to deny what he says, nor am I ready to accept all. … I have so far been unable to detect the slightest flaw in any of his arguments. I must think on these things.” And that he does until, a number of weeks later, he and a friend baptize each other “for the remission of sins.”

Raines will soon begin preaching in the Restoration Heritage, though now keeping his ongoing Universalist perspective to himself. The knowledge of Raines’ now privately held convictions are troubling to some and they strongly agitate for Raines to be shunned. Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott all rush to Raines’ defense, arguing that his views are now privately held opinions and therefore, must not be made a test of faith fellowship. The dissent quiets down and melts away and so, Raines’ faith, acceptance, and ministry continue on.

Raines will cherish his friendship with the Campbells and Scott. Thomas Campbell and Raines become particularly close, Thomas commonly referring to him as “my Timothy.” Raines will continue to preach until his death (in 1881) in a number of places in Kentucky, his state of residence for the last seventy years of life.

[Sidebar: Raines had a son named after him, Aylette Raines, Jr., who served as an assistant surgeon in Confederate cavalry during the Civil War (CSA, 11th Kentucky Cavalry; aka: Chenault’s Cavalry). In 1863, Jr. was captured by Union troops and was imprisoned in Fort Delaware until his death in 1864. My g-grandfather, William Anderson Smith, also served in Confederate cavalry and was imprisoned in Fort Delaware from 1864-1865, but he, unlike Raines, and one in every twelve others imprisoned there, survived the ordeal.]

January 23

1893Kenny Carl (K.C.) Moser is born on a farm near Johnson City (Blanco County), Texas to a “tent-making” preacher, J.S. Moser & his wife. [note: some sources list his date of birth as Jan. 2] K.C. is a born-teacher and will spend his life in education and preaching ministry. Many of his steady stream of articles that appear in the Firm Foundation and Gospel Advocate in the 1920’s and 1930’s will emphasize, as it came to be summarized, “not the plan, but the man.” Consequently, from this point on in life he will serve as a brotherhood lightning rod, perceived by many as being at best, misguided, and more nearly, a heretic. Or as John Mark Hicks has put it (RQ 37:3): “As a preacher, he was hounded by others for his views on grace. As a lecturer, he was persona non grata at various religious events, such as the Abilene Christian College lectureships.”

Moser will go on to become, while in his 70’s, arguably the most influential professor ever to teach on staff at Lubbock Christian College (mid-1960’s thru mid-1970’s) and though his name and writings are not well-known today outside of students of ministry, his perspective and works continue to powerfully reverberate within – and still test – Churches of Christ.

Again, John Mark Hicks has stated things best: “Moser … was one of the key players – if not the most important one – in renewing a theology of grace among Churches of Christ in the midst of polemical exchanges that amounted to ecclesiological perfectionism. Contemporary ministers within Churches of Christ owe a great debt to the perseverance and courage of K. C. Moser who taught a theology of grace when it was quite unpopular and regarded as treason. … We stand on his shoulders and I am grateful for his life-long struggle to proclaim the gospel of grace in the midst of a people who resisted his message.”

[Sidebar: Moser went on to be with the Lord the same week I came to know the Lord. Moser preached in Frederick, Oklahoma (1926-1933) while he was formulating his watershed work The Way of Salvation and I, too, preached in Frederick (1984-1987). Though I did not learn that Moser had preached in Frederick until several years after I had left there, it was primarily while I was in Frederick and doing off-campus graduate work through Abilene Christian University that I first began to read some of his writings with real earnest and came to adopt an orientation of grace and faith myself.]

January 24

1854 – A son is born today to Restoration leader Benjamin Franklin. He will name this son “Walter Scott Franklin.” Not surprisingly, two years earlier he had named one of his sons “Alexander Campbell Franklin.” Such not only speaks as to how highly Benjamin & Mary Franklin regarded two of the Restoration Heritage’s key figures, but serves as a good example of how a great many children in the mid-1800’s who were born in the eastern half of the United States will be named after such.

Though the choice of such names then are certainly not as common as those inspired by Presidential or military figures (e.g. – Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Albert Sydney, Robert E., etc.), through the years I have often encountered first and middle name combinations in the mid and late-1880’s such as “Alexander Campbell,” “Walter Scott,” “Barton Warren,” etc.  in my Civil War, genealogical, and historical studies. Naturally, and invariably, if I’ve been able to learn more about an individual named thus (e.g. – Walter Scott Lavender), I’ve found some strong connection between them and/or their parents with the Restoration Heritage.

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: January 11-17

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

January 11

* 1850 – Daniel Sommer is born to John & Magdalena (Wymanin) Sommer in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Sommer will become a powerful influence among Churches of Christ in the North, no small part of that influence coming through his purchase and editorship of the American Christian Review in 1886. Sommer, in his younger and middle years will be an iconoclast, vigorously urging brethren to sever all ties with brethren who make use of instrumental music in worship or who help financially support missionary societies. A very influential work in which he plays the most prominent part in 1889 will become known as the Sand Creek ‘Address and Declaration’ and that address concludes with these words:

“… we are impelled from a sense of duty to say that all such as are guilty of teaching or allowing and practicing the many innovations and corruptions to which we have referred, after having had sufficient time for meditation and reflection, if they will not turn away from such abominations, that we can not and will not regard them as brethren.”

However, in his latter years of life, and much to the dismay and disgust of many friends and some of his immediate family members, Sommer’s spirit and views will radically change and he will work hard, though largely in vain, to build bridges between differing believers and to promote attempts at reconciliation.

* 1861Thomas Withers (“T.W.”) Caskey leads the opening prayer for the fifth day of meeting by the Mississippi Secession Convention. In his prayer he prays that the state of Mississippi:

“… be permitted peacefully to withdraw. … But should the dark cloud of war hover over us, and dangers gather along our path, give us true hearts to pursue the right.”

Caskey will go on to serve in the Confederate Army and will become known as “The Fighting Parson.”

January 12

* 1892 – Bunyan Augustus (‘Gus’) Nichols is born in Walker County, Alabama to William Calvin & Velma Elizabeth (Wyers) Nichols. He will become one of the first preachers in the Restoration Heritage to make use of “charts” (i.e. – painted bedsheets) to illustrate his sermons.

January 13

* 1837 – Today marks the first day of public debate in Cincinnati, Ohio between Alexander Campbell, Sr. and Roman Catholic Bishop John Purcell.

January 14

* 1773 – John Mulkey is born to Jonathan & Nancy (Howard) Mulkey in South Carolina. He, like his father, will become a Baptist preacher, but John will go on to preach himself out of Baptist fellowship, they deeming him a heretic. Mulkey will embrace some of the views of, and will enjoy fellowship with, the Stone-Campbell Movement and will preach over 10,000 sermons in a ministry spanning over half a century.

January 15

* 1861 – Regarding what appeared to be imminent war with the Confederacy, Restoration Heritage preacher James A. Garfield writes in a letter to a friend:

“Peaceable dissolution is utterly impossible. Indeed, I cannot say as I would wish it possible. To make the concessions demanded by the South would be hypocritical and sinful. … I am inclined to believe that the sin of slavery is one of which it may be said that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission.'”

* 1892 – Eighty-four year old J.B. Wilmeth dies the day after his wife, Nancy (Ferguson) Wilmeth, died. Their bodies are interred together, side-by-side, in the same grave in the McLarry Cemetery in McKinney (Collin County), Texas. J.B. and his family, along with a brother and his family (Francis “Frank” Crawford Wilmeth; my ggg-grandfather), first arrived in TX (at then barely existent Dallas) the day after Christmas 1845. However, due to the fear of Indian attacks, the families soon determined to move back east to Tennessee (likely McNairy County, where J.B. & Nancy had met and married in 1826). The trip back had hardly begun when Nancy put her foot down and announced that she would never move back east again, and so, the families decided to stay in north Texas, and settled in what is now known as Collin County.

Consequently, J.B. and Frank plant, and strongly influence, the earliest churches in north central Texas in the Restoration Movement. Two of J.B.’s sons, James Ransom and Collin McKinney, become prominent preachers in Texas in the Restoration Heritage.

* 1898 – J.W. McGarvey writes that he can discern no valid reason for the inclusion of the Song of Solomon in the Biblical canon.

January 16

* 1839 – While Alexander Campbell is away from Bethany and is halfway through a six-month preaching tour throughout the South, his youngest sister, Alicia Ann Clapp, dies at the age of 32. Having suffered through some illness that lasted at least two months, her husband, Matthew Smith Clapp, will write regarding her death:

“I am compelled to exclaim with the Psalmist, ‘I will sing of mercy and of judgement.’ The Lord dealt very mercifully with her.”

Alicia’s body will be interred beside that of her mother, Jane (Corneigle) Campbell, just as her mother had wished, in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.

Less than six months after his sister’s death, Alexander will also suffer the loss of a daughter (Eliza Ann), the fifth of his children to die.

An aside: In 1828, Alicia’s husband, Matthew Smith Clapp, had been baptized in Mentor, Ohio by Sidney Rigdon’s brother-in-law, Adamson Bentley, two years prior to Rigdon’s embrace of Mormonism.

January 17

* 1836 – Today, roughly three hundred members of a Restoration Heritage church originally located in the northwestern corner of Alabama (Lauderdale County) arrive in en masse in the northeastern corner of (what will become) Red River County, Texas. They settle in, and around, Clarksville (which had its beginnings just three years earlier). This church has been led to Red River County during the last half of its journey by Dr. Mansil (“M.W.”) Matthews* and Benjamin Lynn D’Spain (since their original guide, Davy Crockett, had grown impatient with their slow progress and broke company with them at Memphis, Tennessee).

Why did they come to Texas? As with many others, the prospect of the availability of cheap land was the driver. This church in Red River County is arguably the first Restoration Heritage church ever to appear in Texas, but even if it is not the first, it is most certainly the largest.

[* The spelling of Dr. Matthews’ first name is open to debate as some sources use the spelling “Mansil” while others make use of “Mansell.”]

on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: January 1-10

At one time, many years ago, I had the dream to create either a calendar, or full-blown almanac, of some of the significant events within the history of what is commonly known today as the Restoration Heritage here in the United States. The Restoration Heritage (or Restoration Movement) came to be what is known today as the Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Independent Christian Church and my desire in researching such information was to (1) simultaneously learn more of the roots of my faith and these expressions of Christian faith and (2) to capture the same for the benefit of others.

However, not terribly long after starting that project, I started moving it further and further back on the stove. The demands of life and ministry simply spoke of greater priorities.

And yet, in recent weeks, not wanting to see what research I had done in years past simply remain in rarely-visited sectors of my computer’s hard drive, I recently decided to start publishing – in a new post roughly every Saturday – what little I have squirrelled away through the years and, to a relatively small degree, augmenting the same with some current gleanings from my reading.

I am painfully aware that the info that will appear here in these posts barely scratches the surface and, further, I have made no effort whatsoever toward anything like some resemblance of connectivity, balance, or flow of thought. I leave that for you and others. Likewise, I leave it to you to discover the significance of the personalities, institutions, publications, and events that are named. I offer what I post here as simply a place to start, and I hope, for you to enjoy learning more.

And so, among the things that happened on these days in American Restoration Heritage history we find the following:

January 1

* 1832 – The formal merger of the Stone/Campbell movement is accomplished in Lexington, Kentucky.

* 1845 – The first session of school for Franklin College takes place. Tolbert Fanning serves as college president.

* 1856 – The first issue of the American Christian Review (ACR) rolls off the press. It is a monthly publication at the start.

* 1866 – The first issue of the Gospel Advocate (GA) to be published following the Civil War is dated today. Tolbert Fanning and David Lipscomb are the editors.

January 2

* 1820 – Issac Errett is born in New York City.

* 1832 – The first issue of The Evangelist (TE), a monthly paper edited by Walter Scott, is published. Length? 24 pages. Subscription cost? $1.00 per year (if paid in advance).

* 1832 – Alexander Campbell writes: “The christian religion has been for ages interred in the rubbish of human invention and tradition.” (Millenial Harbinger [MH], “Introductory Remarks”)

* 1835 – Alexander Campbell pens the preface to the first edition of his book entitled The Christian System.

* 1862 – Thomas Munnell writes a letter to David Oliphant regarding what he considers to be the necessary attitude for brethren to take in order to stay united during the Civil War. This letter was published in the Banner of Faith (BF) one month later (Feb. 1862). Munnell says: “Were we to become loud, outspoken partizans, and denounce either party in our pulpits, we would destroy half the churches in Kentucky in a month. For the sake of the kingdom of God we therefore take no more part in these discussions while in the pulpit, than if we were to totally ignorant of all governmental matters. … By such a course of mutual forbearance we hope, when the war is all over, to stand a united people. We hope not to divide into North and South churches as other large religious bodies have, but to show a new thing under the sun.”

* 1941 – Joseph Sale (J.S.) Warlick dies. He dies at his home in Dallas, Texas (911 West Tenth St.).

January 3

* 1823 – Walter Scott married Sarah Whitsett, his first wife. Their marriage would last 26 years, ending with Sarah’s death in 1849. Upon her death, Walter wrote: “Best of wives, tenderest of mothers, the most faithful of friends, a Christian in faith, works and charity.” She is buried in the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County), Pennsylvania.

* 1894 – In Sherman, Texas, T.B. Larimore begins preaching his longest “protracted meeting” (Jan. 3 thru June 7, 1894). During this time he preaches three sermons on Sundays and two sermons every other day of the week (333 sermons total). Larimore’s close friend, F. D. Srygley, wrote Larimore and asked him how he was making it. Larimore responded: “Nothing can be better for me than to preach twice every day and three times on Sunday, unless it is to preach three times every day and Sunday, too.” Reports vary from 200 to well over 300 people who were reckoned as “additions to the church” in Sherman between Jan. 3 and June 7.

January 4

* 1830 – The Millenial Harbinger (MH) begins publication with Alexander Campbell as editor. Campbell simultaneously continued publication of The Christian Baptist (CB) for another six months.

* 1854 – Thomas Campbell dies at the age of 89. He is buried in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.

January 5

* 1858 – The subscription base of Benjamin Franklin’s two-year old monthly paper known as the American Christian Review (ACR), based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has now grown to such an extent that it becomes a weekly publication with the issue on this date. The ACR continues to grow and comes to wield a very large influence within the Restoration Heritage, although with the approach and arrival of the Civil War, the pacifist perspective of its editor does limit its influence in those years. Still, the ACR serves as the darling of the most conservative-minded within the Restoration Heritage, ultimately tagged by its supporters as “The Old Reliable.” After Franklin’s death in 1878, the ACR ultimately comes under the editorship of Daniel Sommer, who gives it an even harder “right turn,” and it remains in publication under various titles through the years (Octographic Review, Apostolic Review, then back to American Christian Review) until it ceases publication in 1965, a close to 110 year run without interruption. And yes, the Benjamin Franklin that is this paper’s founder is related to the better-known Benjamin Franklin of American history, being a great-nephew of his.

* 1881 – John O’Kane dies. His body is interred in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis (Saint Louis County), Missouri. O’Kane’s influence was great in Indiana and Missouri.

January 6

* 1819 – In New Antioch, Ohio, Samuel & Elizabeth Irvine Rogers welcome the birth of their oldest son, John I. Rogers. It can be difficult to keep in order the men named “Rogers” who made some of the earliest leadership in the American Restoration Heritage. John I’s father was an important figure, and John I. would grow up to be something like a Timothy to John T. Johnson. John’s I’s uncle, John Rogers, was a close associate of “Racoon” John Smith. John I. was especially known for his compassion. On more than one occasion he bought “negroes to save them from the slaves going South.”

* 1845 – In Overton County, Tennessee, William A. Sewell is born. In years to come, William will become the first preacher ever to do “local work” in Texas, preaching for the church at Corsicana, Texas. His salary? $50 per month. He will become the father of Jesse P. Sewell.

January 7

* 1815 – At age 30, John Smith suffers the death of two of his children (Elvira, age 5, and Eli, age 7) in a house fire. Shortly thereafter, his wife of eight years, Anne, also dies. John will come to be commonly referred to as ‘Raccoon’ John Smith in August of this same year.

* 1828 – Alexander Campbell, Sr., in an article entitled “Ancient Gospel – No. I,” writes in his paper The Christian Baptist (vol. 5, p.128) regarding baptism and when exactly it was that he came to be fully convinced of the connection between baptism and the forgiveness of sin:

“Immersion in water into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the fruit of faith in the subject, is the most singular institution that ever appeared in the world. … In my debate with Mr. Maccalla in Kentucky, 1823, on this topic, I contended that it was a divine institution designed for putting the legitimate subject of it in actual possession of the remission of sins – that to every believing subject it did formally, and in fact, convey to him the forgiveness of sins. It was with much hesitation I presented this view of the subject at that time, because of its perfect novelty. I was then assured of its truth, and, I think, presented sufficient evidence of its certainty.”

* 1893 – J.W. McGarvey begins writing a regular column in the Christian Standard concerning ‘Biblical Criticism.’ These columns, in later years, will be collected and published as a book. Later this same year, McGarvey’s Class Notes are published in book form.

January 8

* 1951 – The body of Robert Lafayette (R.L.) Whiteside, a former president of Abilene Christian College (1908-1909), staff writer for the Gospel Advocate, and editor of the Gospel Advocate‘s Annual Lesson Commentary (1937-1944) is interred in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Denton, Texas. He had passed away at the age of 80. Aside from a multi-volume series of books he co-authored with C.R. Nichol entitled Sound Doctrine, Whiteside is perhaps best known today for his 1945 commentary on Romans (New Commentary On Paul‘s Letter to The Saints At Rome). This commentary was a direct response to K.C. Moser’s ground-breaking work entitled The Way of Salvation (1932). Moser, in response to Whiteside, would later pen a commentary on Romans (The Gist of Romans, 1957), which was essentially a condensed, reflective adaptation of his earlier work (The Way of Salvation). The contrast in reading Whiteside’s commentary and Moser’s commentary side-by-side is exceedingly strong and instructive as to how matters of grace and faith have, and have not, been well understood and emphasized in the Restoration Heritage to this very day.

January 9

* 1886 – Jacob Creath, Jr. dies at age 85 at his long-time home in Palmyra (Marion County), Missouri. His body is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Palmyra. Creath, like a number of the earliest leading figures in the American Restoration heritage, will become an ardent pacifist and unhesitatingly spoke and wrote against Christians having a part in military service, violence, and/or war. Palmyra, his home since 1846, was by no means exempt from the terrors of the Civil War (being the site of the Palmyra Massacre on 10/10/1862) and the events and passions of war served only to confirm Creath’s convictions against any involvement by Christians in such. Creath summed up his values thus:

“I … could not be induced by honors nor money to go to war. … I hold it to be the greatest of crimes … hatred of war is an essential feature of practical Christianity.”

January 10

* 1862 – Today the Battle of Middle Creek takes place in eastern Kentucky (Floyd County). Union troops led by Col. James Abram Garfield succeed in driving off Confederate forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Humphrey Marshall. As a result, Col. Garfield will be commissioned a brigadier-general tomorrow, making him the youngest general in the Union Army.

Five months earlier (Sept. 1861), President Abraham Lincoln, a native of Kentucky, had said: “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole ball game.” It’s easy to appreciate then how Garfield’s victory at Middle Creek, and resulting commission, rocketed Garfield’s potential in the political realm. As Jerry Rushford noted in his outstanding work entitled Political Disciple:

“The ‘Battle of Middle Creek,’ the only one in which Garfield was destined to command, was essentially a day-long skirmish in which neither side demonstrated any convincing superiority. However, Garfield’s command accomplished its mission, and Marshall’s forces were sent streaming out of Kentucky and back to Virginia. Although the campaign had little or no bearing on the outcome of the war, the victory-starved North hailed it as a smashing triumph. Garfield’s leadership was lauded by newspapers across the North, and detailed accounts of the campaign were given generous space in the Ohio press.”

The brigade Garfield leads at Middle Creek, the 18th Brigade, includes his own regiment, the U.S., 42nd Ohio Infantry. Garfield had become its colonel by personally recruiting and organizing the ten companies that made up the 42nd. Most of his successful recruiting for the 42nd came through his many personal connections with the churches in the Restoration Heritage with which he was familiar, and had served with, prior to the war. He appealed from church pulpits for recruits on a number of occasions and a great many who had responded in time past to his preaching of the good news of Christ responded now to his plea for military service.

Through the course of the Civil War, the 42nd would be no stranger to suffering and combat, being present, and/or engaged, in a number of larger, more significant battles in the South (e.g. – Arkansas Post [aka: Fort Hindman], Port Gibson, Champion Hill, the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River campaign, etc.). The Official Record states that over the course of the war the 42nd Ohio suffered the loss of 240 men (181 dying of disease and 59 more being killed or mortally wounded).

On a personal note, it’s of special interest to me that Garfield organized the 42nd Ohio at Camp Chase in Columbus, OH. Camp Chase is where my great-grandfather, William Anderson Smith, was initially imprisoned for six months following his capture by Union troops in Aug. 1863.

151 years ago today in Beech Grove, Tennessee


On this day, Nov. 13, in Beech Grove (Coffee County), Tennessee, in 1862, a number of elders and preachers from several Churches of Christ in that area met together and drafted a letter to the President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. A copy of this same letter was also sent to then governor of Tennessee, Andrew Johnson. A portion of the letter read:

“A large number of the members of the Churches of Jesus Christ throughout this and the adjoining counties of the State of Tennessee … are firm in the conviction of the truth, that no man, who regards the authority of God … can in any manner engage in, aid, foment, or countenance the strifes, animosities, and bloody conflicts in which civil governments are frequently engaged, and in which they often involve their subjects …

“With these considerations of what our duty to God requires at our hands, the enforcement of the ‘Conscript Act’ for the purpose of raising and maintaining an army, for the carrying on of this unhappy war in which our country is involved, cannot fail to work indescribable distress to those members of our churches holding these convictions.” (Restoration Quarterly 8:4 [1965]: 235)

Their plea was heard and resulted in Jefferson Davis extending an exemption law already passed by the Confederate Congress that allowed members of some churches to claim conscientious objector status. As a result, a huge percentage of the men who were members of Churches of Christ in central Tennessee chose not to, and were not forced to, join the military. Writing in light of such four years later, David Lipscomb said:

“The position assumed by the Churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee in hours of fearful trial and trouble … alone saved them from almost total ruin.” (Gospel Advocate [July 3, 1866]: 419)

Consider this:

what it must have been like for Christians to stand their ground of conviction regarding nonviolence even as the lives of their own family and friends were at stake and the lust for war raged ever higher;

how it is that both our understanding of Christian faith and the practical expression of it has come to change so very much across the decades, to the point that we are now quite unlike our ancestors in faith;

and how we as Christians today would best serve our Lord and Savior – yes, their Lord and Savior – by doing likewise.

And so:

let our own minds be made up now, in a relative time of peace, to serve Christ Jesus in this way – nonviolent ways – always, lest when the time of war does arrive, as it always does, we be swept up and swept along with our passions and the fever of war that always sweeps so many away;

may the heroes we celebrate and hold up to our children and grandchildren as models and examples of truly great and mature Christian faith be those who fight the battles of this life not with weapons made by human hands, but with decidedly the opposite – the ways of Jesus Christ;

and let us pray. Come, Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, and swiftly, that all bloodshed and war, hatred and strife, would forever cease. Amen.

links: this went thru my mind


Anger, culture, morality, outrage & thinking: Addicted to Outrage

“I fear that outrage has become an addiction for many people of faith. I’m caused to wonder if certain endorphins are released when we feel anger over a just cause; an emotional, pseudo-spiritual ‘rush’ that just keeps us coming back for more. In order for us to feel ‘righteous,’ has it become essential that ‘indignation’ be an inseparable companion? ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers… twerkers.’ Reread the context of Luke 18:9-14 to be reminded of why Jesus told this parable.” The more I am consumed by moral outrage, the less time I have to dwell on those things that are ‘true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute; things that are excellent and worthy of praise,’ (Philippians 4:8).”

Community, generosity, greed, poverty, stinginess & wealth: As We Become Richer, Do We Become Stingier?

“…  the effects that wealth has on people: ‘We become more individualistic, less family and community oriented.’ … Greenfield’s findings and theories dovetail with a variety of other studies and research projects, including Robert Putnam’s 2000 book, Bowling Alone, which explores the decline in community relationships in the U.S.”

Faith, grace, law, OT, NT & works: Law and Grace, Faith and Works

“When we think that what Jesus did was substitute one written code for another, we fall into the trap that Paul condemned in the Galatian letter. When we depend on law, any kind of law, then we are no longer depending on grace.”

Fasting, peace, prayer this Saturday & Syria: A Fast for Peace September 7th [count me in, too; how about you?]

“… a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

Food stamps, poverty & the poor: On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps [required reading]

“No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires. Yet as lawmakers cast the fight in terms of spending, nonpartisan budget analysts and hunger relief advocates warn of a spike in ‘food insecurity’ among Americans who … ‘look like we are fine,’ but live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and rationing food.”

Jesus, sin & sinners: * He Looked Like a Sinner; * Jesus is Not Mr. Rogers

* “Jesus didn’t look like a saint. Jesus didn’t look holy. He hung out with prostitutes and drank too much wine. He was a convicted criminal. He was given the death penalty. And he died under God’s curse. Jesus looked like a sinner.”

* “Jesus wasn’t always the nicest guy.”

Leadership, momentum & morale: 16 Practices that Reignite Momentum

“Working on positives more than negatives. Avoid taking the wind out of people’s sails.”

Singing: Love the Lord with All Your Voice

“Singing is a forgotten—but essential—spiritual discipline. … We might ask … why we could not simply speak the words of Scripture as if they were our own. What is gained by singing them? Just this: In song, we learn not just the content of the spiritual life, but something of its posture, inflection, and emotional disposition.”

Restoration Heritage & the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian History Magazine Puts a Focus on Stone-Campbell Movement

“Restoration scholars Richard Hughes and Doug Foster served as advisers on the project and ‘provided a fair amount of content, along with other well-known authors/scholars in the movement’ … Download the full issue for free.”

excerpts: Disciple of Peace (2)


Disciple-of-Peace-WattsFollowing are some more quotes from Craig M. Watts’ fine work entitled Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence, and the State (Doulous Christou Press, 2005).

* On the death penalty Tertullian wrote, “Even if he appeals to the power of the State, the servant of God should not pronounce capital sentences.” Such was the dominant position during the first three centuries of the church, just as pacifism was the prevailing position during this time in regard to war. The earliest Christians regarded all use of deadly force as incompatible with their faith. (p.113)

* The cross provides the lens through which we see the world and provides the form by which we are to live in it. It is for this reason that claims made from the time of Augustine to our own that Christian soldiers can kill in war and practice love even in that very act are not credible. Surely it is possible to kill and destroy without hate … But if love is defined by the cross, there is no room for making victims and creating misery either in one’s personal life or for the sake of a nation-state. Love reflective of the cross endures suffering rather than inflicting it and accepts death rather than causing it. Christ-centered love is cross-centered and for that reason is non-violent in all of its way. Campbell’s support of capital punishment was possible only because he failed to be cross-centered in his pacifism. (p.121)

* The cross is not an emblem of victimization so much as an eloquent demonstration of love by One who willingly took his place with victims to save both them and their oppressors. The cross is not just the means of salvation but the shape of Christian existence. To affirm one without the other is to be left with a fragmented, incomplete faith. (p.123)

* … pacifism arises from the call to be like Jesus regardless of the consequences. … It is a life lived in the conviction that God more desires to use our vulnerable faithfulness than our most clever calculation of consequences, and that God will make history come out right without our violent measures. (p.123-124)

* In Campbell’s view, to see war simply as a conflict between nations is not to see it truthfully. So long as Christians are involved in the conflict the rightful reign of Christ is distorted and misrepresented before the watching world. … Insofar as the churches throughout the world fail to repudiate the Christian participation in warfare, oneness in Christ will be treated as dispensable and subject to the Christian’s loyalty to the separated and often hostile nations. Only a nonviolent church can be united sufficiently to witness to Jesus as Lord that the world might believe. (p.125)

* Only as the church detaches itself from the narrow unity rooted in and fostered by the nation-state will it be able to develop a faithful global imagination and act in view of it to minister to the world as it ought. When the church in the United States – or any other nation – compliantly helps reinforce national unity, inevitably this compliance will weaken the credibility of the church’s witness to the God who loves the entire world. … The church does not exist to bolster any of the pieces of the fragmented world against any other, but to offer an alternative to them. The church exists to show that its brokenness is not necessary. (p.126)

* … the determination to utterly submit to God as Master and Sovereign … requires a willingness to live according to the standards of the world to come – to love defenselessly, serve indiscriminately, forgive persistently – without regard to the pride, preferences, or interests of the powers of this present world. To live in this way leaves no room for the preservation of hostile divisions or the use of deadly force but demands a willingness to share in the sufferings of God in Christ. (pp.133-134)

* So long as we are convinced that the historical results we desire for our nation, our cause, or ourselves should arbitrate the decisions we make about violence, we will trust ourselves rather than trust the God who raised Jesus from the dead. The practice of nonviolence requires that we relinquish our imagined control over our consequences and rely instead, upon the eschatological power of God. Violence can be seen as an option – even if it is limited to being a “necessary” last resort – only when we insist that we know what victory looks like and that we are responsible for insuring it is achieved. (p.135)

excerpts: Disciple of Peace (1)


Disciple-of-Peace-WattsHave you ever wondered …

what the earliest members of what we know today as “Churches of Christ” in the United States tended to believe regarding war, military service on the part of Christians, capital punishment, self-defense, etc. …

what Alexander Campbell, the leading figure in the Restoration Heritage in that time, thought about such …

or what Bible-based arguments for nonviolence might sound like …

then I have just the book you’ll want to read. Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence, and the State (Doulous Christou Press, 2005) by Craig M. Watts discusses all of the preceding in a clear, thoughtful, and well-documented way.

Following are some quotes from this work. I’ll reproduce some additional quotes from it in a post here this Friday.

* … Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) was the single most important influence in the American religious movement that produced the Disciples of Christ, the Church of Christ, and the independent Christian church. … Many of Campbell’s convictions remain apparent in the life of the present day churches that trace their history back to him. … However, other facets of his teaching, while once widely embraced by members of these churches, are no longer a conspicuous part of the churches’ teaching and practice. One such fact that is notably absent is a clear commitment to pacifism. (pp.9-10)

* Among the first generation of those in the religious movement he helped found – which he preferred to call Disciples of Christ – virtually all who committed their views to print opposed the participation of Christians in warfare. In the writings of the early Disciples, it was support of war, rather than opposition to it, that was exceptional. … [Alexander Campbell’s] peaceable views were not refuted but rather out-shouted by those who raised their loud and impassioned voices for the so-called “necessity” of war. (pp.10-11)

* The commitment of Campbell to restore primitive Christianity included a commitment to the primitive church’s practice of nonviolent love that leaves no room for war. (p.15)

* … [Alexander] Campbell’s pacifist convictions were widely shared by the early Disciples. Many of the best known Disciples leaders were pacifists. These include his father, Thomas Campbell, Barton Stone, Jacob Creath, Benjamin Franklin, Racoon John Smith, Phillip Fall, Robert Richardson, Tolbert Fanning, Moses Lard, J.W. McGarvey, and others. (p.18)

* … Campbell held that in the time since Christ, there has been no divine warrant for war. Any presence on the battlefield by Christians is not only without God’s authorization but contrary to the command of Christ. (p.32)

* Campbell deplored the practice of elevating military heroes to a stature comparable to saints and of speaking of those who fall in battle as if they are martyrs. (p.34)

* For Campbell, it is not just the exceptional heroic individual who is called to nonviolence. Rather, it is the nature of the Christian community itself that demands nonviolence, not an individualist focus on moral perfectionism. (p.34)

* Campbell stood against the idea that war is a legitimate means for a just authority to oppose an unjust power that oppresses the weak and deprives people of their rights. … Campbell considered such a notion self-deceptive, spiritually hazardous, and biblically ignorant. (p.35)

* In Campbell’s writings on war and peace no words of scripture are cited more often than Jesus’ statement to Pilate … John 18.36. For Campbell, this passage alone was sufficient reason to restrict Christians from the battlefield. (p.37)

* Campbell stated, “Patriotism, it is conceded, has no special place in the Christian religion. Its founder never pronounced a single sentence in commendation of it.” As Campbell knew, Jesus Christ had a love that recognized no borders, “and as patriotism is only an extension of the principle of selfishness,” patriotism being a love of what is one’s own, “he deigned it no regard, because selfishness is the great damning sin of mankind.” … Campbell’s objection to patriotism implied nothing critical of natural affection for one’s own country. Rather he opposed that patriotism which promotes the love for and promotion of the interests of one’s own country at the expense of other peoples and nations or to the neglect of the needs of those beyond the boundaries of one’s own country. (pp.63-64)

* At the outbreak of the Civil War, Campbell lifted his pen to call for peace and to dissuade Christians from participating in the conflict. As he had in the past, Campbell again reminded his readers that “no Christian man who fears God and desires to be loyal to the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, shall be found in the ranks of so unholy a warfare.” (p.66)

* Since the purpose of the military was to prepare for, and when called upon to do so, participate in war, Campbell saw no place in it for Christians. (p.84)

* All of Alexander Campbell’s writings on war indicate that he was an absolute pacifist. He condemned wars of aggression and defensive wars alike. Repeatedly he insisted that Christians had no place in the military because the practice of war is utterly at odds with the spirit of Christianity. Further, Campbell taught that self-defense is contrary to the Christian life. In all areas he stood for nonviolent solutions to human conflict. However, he made one exception. Campbell supported capital punishment as the penalty for the crime of murder. Such a position seems incompatible with his pacifism. However, even Campbell himself recognized as much. (p.103)