links to 10 items worth your time

1. Now Streaming: The Entire Catalogue of ‘Sesame Street’ Songs

“… new ‘Sesame Street’ music will soon be released on a consistent schedule, for the first time in more than two decades.”

2. I’ll Have Consequences

“… I have no magic formula for dealing with disobedient and unruly children, and certainly in a world where some children’s behavior has been malformed almost from the very start, we should not underplay the difficulties and frustrations parents face. But surely we also want to place the bond between parents and children within that circle of deeply personal relationships.”

3. Why you need a little resistance in your life

“We need the rain and the occasional storm.”

4. Why Did Early Christians Prefer the Codex to the Bookroll

“When we say ‘book’ today, we generally mean a tome of bound pages. Known as the ‘codex,’ this common book form has always (over the past two millennia, anyway) looked the same — like any book on your desk. While the origins of the codex are not sufficiently explained, evidence shows that the preserved early Christian manuscripts are more often codices (plural of codex) than the then-established bookrolls. Why?”

5. Science and Theology: Two Witnesses to Reality

“… we generally have it backwards in how we think the reasoning process works. We tend to think that we work out our conclusions through the process of reasoning about the topic. But the controlled studies show pretty clearly that most of the time we already have a conclusion based on our instincts and that our process of reasoning is employed to justify what we already think. And it’s not like the smarter you are, the more open you are to other possible conclusions. The higher your IQ, the better you are at producing reasons to support your views; you’re no more likely to change your views than people with lower IQs. This might be depressing to those who have an exalted view of the human intellect, but it sure explains the inability for rational discourse to move us closer together, even when the facts are overwhelmingly on one side.”

6. Archaeologists map centuries of history beneath world’s oldest cathedral

“So far, that data has helped create a 3D digital reconstruction of what the basilica would have looked like in the 4th century. And Haynes and his colleagues are also trying to understand what it would have sounded like. Using the laser scans and information from earlier excavations, they created a simple 3D model to reconstruct the acoustics of the original cathedral.”

7. The Costs of the Confederacy

“‘It was like we were not even there,’ she said, as if slavery ‘never happened.'”

8. ‘Prosperity preachers’ like Joel Osteen can cause risky financial behavior, university report says

“The University of Toronto recently released a report saying preaching the ‘prosperity gospel’ — which centers around the belief that material wealth is part of God’s will — can lead to unrealistic optimism and risky financial behavior. The report used Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church as an example of a televangelist who touts this belief.”

9. The 25 Healthiest Foods You Can Buy for $5 or Less

“… cooking your own meals and having snacks on-hand will drastically cut the amount of money you spend on food throughout the week.”

10. The Steward of Middle-earth

“Now, after more than 40 years, at the age of 94, Christopher Tolkien has laid down his editor’s pen, having completed a great labor of quiet, scholastic commitment to his father’s vision [J.R.R. Tolkien]. It is the concluding public act of … the last member of a club that became a pivotal part of 20th-century literature: the Inklings. It is the end of an era.”

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

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

March 8

March 8, 1965 – In response to the events occurring in Selma, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday,” Fred D. Gray – a preacher within Churches of Christ and an attorney for Martin Luther King, Jr. – along with other lawyers on behalf of Hosea Williams, John Lewis, Amelia Boynton, themselves, and other plantiffs who are “similarly situated,” files a complaint, a motion for a temporary restraining order, and a motion for a preliminary injunction with the United States District Court in Alabama. The defendants in the resulting case are George C. Wallace (the Governor of Alabama), Al Lingo (Director of Public Safety for the State of Alabama), and James G. Clark (Sheriff of Dallas County, Alabama).

“The plaintiffs seek to have this Court guarantee their right to assemble and demonstrate peaceably for the purpose of redressing their grievances concerning the right to register to vote in the State of Alabama without unlawful interference. Included in the rights plaintiffs seek and ask this Court to adjudicate is that of walking peaceably along the public highway in the State of Alabama between Selma and Montgomery. Plaintiffs also ask this Court to enjoin and restrain the defendants and all persons acting in concert with them from arresting, harassing, threatening, or in any way interfering with their peaceful, nonviolent march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, for the purpose of protesting injustices and petitioning their State government, particularly the chief executive officer — the Governor — for redress of grievances.”

The class action suit (Williams v. Wallace) results in Governor Wallace and the State of Alabama being ordered by the court to no longer oppress, but actively protect, those who will march from Selma to Montgomery. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the ultimate consequence of these actions.

March 9

March 9, 1889 – A preacher’s wife dies in Paris, Texas. The notice of her death, penned by John T. Poe, appears in the Gospel Advocate on March 27. Sadly, the story and some of the circumstances it references, are not terribly unusual. The notice reads:

“The wife of Bro. M. H. Lynn, died March 9, while he was away in the country preaching. He had been for some time on a preaching tour, and as his work was in destitute places, far from telegraphs and railroads, his children could not reach him with the news of her sickness. He did not hear of her death until the 15th, six days after death. He is left with a family of little children to mourn the loss of the good wife and mother. Her great desire was to see him again before death. She called for him in her last hours, but he was far away doing service for Jesus. Thus another instance is presented of sacrifice that must be made by the wife of the poor, pioneer preacher. While he preached she took care of family and family interests at home as best she could. And when battling at last with grim death, she wanted him with her, and called for him, but he could not hear. She was a Christian, and who shall say her crown will not be bright? We tender our sympathy to Bro. Lynn, but he needs more than that. He has traveled and preached many weary months, and was paid scarcely anything. Some churches in fair standing called him for meetings and did not pay his expenses to and from, although his preaching was good, and many have been baptized through his labors. Will not those churches where he labored make up some amount and send him word in this hour of need? Send to M. H. Lynn, Paris, Texas. Brethren if you are sorry for Bro. Lynn, just send an expression of your sorrow in something substantial to help the poor preacher in his hour of trial.”

March 10

March 10, 1845 – Alexander Campbell, Sr. sets out on a two-month, 2,500 mile preaching tour through a portion of the South. His itinerary consists (in this order) of travels through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Some of his major stops along the way include time in Augusta, Baltimore, Charleston, Frederickburg, Richmond, and Wilmington.

Earlier, in 1838, Campbell had conducted a far more extensive tour of the South, covering twice the distance, through Alabama, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia.

Significantly, this 1845 tour through the South begins just one month after Campbell initiates a fascinating article series in the Millenial Harbinger, the title of which is “Our Position to American Slavery.” Campbell’s stance on slavery is careful and nuanced; there is something in it to excite, and disappoint, everyone, no matter their perspective. To the abolitionist, Campbell comes across as an unquestionable ally, but a needlessly weak one; something like a thin walking cane. To the slaveowner, Campbell is most certainly challenging, to say the least, but at least he seems more sensible and less offensive, than the abolitionists.

We can summarize much of Campbell’s take on “the peculiar institution” in the form of a brief question-and-answer session:

Q. Is Campbell a slaveowner? A. At this time, no. While it is true that he once owned slaves, he freed them. Q. Is slavery a moral matter; a question of sin? A. No. “… there is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting it, but many regulating it. It is not, then, we conclude, immoral.” Q. Should slavery be a test of faith and fellowship? A. Since it is not immoral, most certainly not. Q. Is slavery even an issue then at all? A. Absolutely – as a matter of politics and practicality. Q. What of slavery now in the U.S.? A. “… in this age and in this country it is not expedient.” The peculiar institution might, “in certain cases and conditions,” be “right,” but this is no longer the right time in this country. Slavery is an institution that finds itself at the wrong time in the wrong place for it is “not favorable to individual and national prosperity” and is “not in harmony with the spirit of the age …”

Many, especially those who have more of their roots in the Stone, rather than Campbell, wing of the Stone-Campbell Movement, will urge Campbell to make slavery a more central issue and to see it as a core value, a matter of faith and fellowship. However, Campbell will consistently ignore such appeals, seeking instead to pursue what he believes to be a much deeper value, a more necessary goal, namely, the union of Christians.

March 11

March 11, 1811 – Barton W. Stone, Sr. and Reuben Dooley embark on a preaching tour through the state of Ohio and are exceedingly well received by those who hear them. In his journal, while on this tour, Stone comments:

“We preached and baptized daily in Eaton [Preble County] for many days. No house could contain the people that flocked to hear. We had to preach in the open streets to the anxious multitude. At night, after service, the cries and prayers of the distressed in many houses around were truly solemn. Almost the whole town and neighborhood were baptized and added to the Lord. We left this place and preached and baptized in many other places.”

Historian and author James DeForest Murch (Christians Only; p.91) adds that:

“… in Adams County [Stone] converted Matthew Gardener who became a giant in evangelism. In this area many churches sprang up which Stone visited every year for twenty years. In Meigs County, he went to baptize William Caldwell, with whom he had a long correspondence, and stayed to bring almost every Baptist church in the country into the ‘Christian Connection.'”

Stone and Dooley set out on this preaching expedition with precious few resources. Stone, in his journal, notes:

“We were poorly clad and had no money to buy clothes. Going on at a certain time through the barrens, a limb tore Brother Dooley’s striped linen pantaloons very much. He had no other, nor had I another pair to lend him. We consoled ourselves that we were on the Lord’s work and he would provide. He tied his handkerchief over the rent, and we went on and preached to the people. That night we lodged with Brother Samuel Wilson, whose wife presented Brother Dooley a pair of home-spun linen pantaloons.”

March 12

March 12, 1811 – At the age of twenty-three, Alexander Campbell, Sr. marries his first wife, Margaret Brown, who is twenty years of age.

Margaret (Brown) Campbell is the daughter of John & Eliza Ann (Grimes) Brown, John being is one of the most successful businessmen in that part of Virginia. Alexander and Margaret will enjoy sixteen years of marriage and the birth of four children (Jane Caroline, Alexander, Decima Hemans, and William Pendleton) before Margaret is taken away by death at the age of thirty-six in 1827. The inscription on her gravestone in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia reads, in part:

She was in truth a good wife, a tender
mother, a faithful and affectionate friend.
She lived the life of a christian and died full
in the hope of a blessed resurrection unto Eternal Life.

The Last Lines she had sung declared her praise
and feeling in the prospect of death and the grave.

‘No terror the prospect begets,
I am not mortality’s slave;
The sunbeam of life as it sets,
Paints a rainbow of peace on the grave.’

The words of this song, The Angels That Watched Round the Tomb, were penned by William Bengo Collyer and first published by him in 1812. Years later in 1911, not many months before his own death, J.W. McGarvey will quote the words of this same song, in its entirety (eight stanzas), in a chapel talk to his students at the College of the Bible in Lexington, KY. Its meter is such that it could be sung today to the tune of Without Him I Could Do Nothing.

March 13

March 13, 1812 – At 3:00 p.m. today, Alexander & Margaret (Brown) Campbell welcome the birth of their firstborn child, a daughter. They name her after Alexander’s mother, Jane Caroline. Jane will grow up to marry (at age sixteen) Albert G. Ewing. She and Albert will make their home in Tennessee (Nashville) until Jane dies at the age of twenty-four of “consumption” (aka: tuberculosis; TB), the same illness that claimed her mother.

Alexander is twenty-four years of age at Jane’s birth. Robert Richardson, Alexander’s first biographer, tells us of the powerful effect Jane’s birth had on her father’s theology, particularly his understanding of soteriology:

“Soon after this event, a considerable change took place in his views in regard to baptism. His wife, with her father and mother, was still a member of the Presbyterian Church, and, as the child grew, it is natural to suppose that the question of infant baptism became to him one of immediate practical interest. It is certain, at least, that up to this period he does not appear to have given to the subject of baptism a sufficiently careful attention. The unity of the Church, the overthrow of sectarianism and the restoration of the Bible to its primitive position, had been the leading objects with him, and with his father; and, regarding the question of baptism as one comparatively of small importance, they seem to have left it, in a good degree, undecided in their own minds.” (Memoirs of Alexander Campbell)

March 14

March 14, 1854 – The man the famous statesman and orator Henry Clay once referred to as the finest natural orator he had ever heard, Jacob Creath, Sr., dies at the age of seventy-seven in Lexington, Kentucky.

Though having never attended school, Creath had been ordained as a Baptist preacher in 1798. His unusually fine speaking skills, coupled with great ability to just get along with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, had lead to his being something of a force among Baptists in Kentucky. However, at the age of fifty (1827), nearly thirty of those years being invested in Baptist ministry, Creath left the Baptist Church for the Restoration Heritage. His decision, long in coming and filled with much soul-searching, resulted in a significant number of Kentucky Baptists following him into the Restoration.

Alexander Campbell, upon hearing now blind Creath preach in 1850 (Creath was totally blind the last seven years of his life), wrote of him in the Millenial Harbinger:

“Though his once brilliant eye is quenched in darkness and his subduing voice is broken into weak tones, he rises in his soul while nature sinks in years; and with a majesty of thought which naught but heaven and hope can inspire, he spoke to us a few last words, which so enraptured my soul, that in the ecstasy of feeling produced by them, when he closed there was silence in my heart for half an hour; and when I recovered myself, every word had so passed away that nothing remained but a melancholy reflection that I should never again hear that most eloquent tongue which had echoed for half a century through Northern Kentucky with such resistless sway as to have quelled the maddening strife of sectarian tongues and propitiated myriads of ears and hearts to the divine eloquence of Almighty love. Peace to his soul; and may his sun grow larger at its setting, as his soul expands in the high hope of seeing as he is seen, and of loving as he has been loved.”

Note: Jacob Creath, Sr. is not to be confused with Jacob Creath, Jr. (cf. the post for Jan. 9 in this series). The Jacob Creath, Sr. (1777-1854) spoken of in today’s post is the uncle, not the father, of Jacob Creath, Jr. (1799-1886).

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

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

February 22

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

“To the Editor Of The Globe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“An Acceptable Evangelist of the Church of Christ.”

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

February 23

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

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

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

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

February 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 25

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

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

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

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

February 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 27

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

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

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

February 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

links: this went thru my mind

 

Church: * We’ve Seen Megachurch. But How About Micro-Church? [me like!]; * Slow Church (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5; this entire series is essential reading; read part 1 and you’ll understand why)

* “We’ve designed a space to direct people toward God, not by turning their eyes to a far-removed altar, but by turning instead to one another. The most dominant feature will be three ovular tables for ten. The bowed shape ensures that everyone at the table can make eye contact with everyone else. In addition, we’re crafting a space that intentionally invites people to participate. Open shelves holding plates and glasses encourage newcomers to jump in and set tables. It’s easy to see where everything is stored — easy to take part. Like a Montessori classroom, the design to encourages interaction with both materials and people.”

* “In their revelatory new book, Slow Church, Chris Smith and John Pattison reflect …”

Corporate worship, times of services & worship gatherings: 5 Reasons We Worship in the Afternoon

“I  had to struggle to close down evening services at the last two churches I served. Both were holdovers from a previous era, a time when people would go to church several times a week. These services had dwindled to a dozen or so older worshipers who faithfully sang the old hymns and turned out to hear a preacher, who was tired from two or three services earlier in the day, deliver a warmed-over homily. In winter, when earlier darkness prevented many of them from driving to church, attendance could be a mere handful. It was hard to end a ministry which had ceased to be productive long ago. So it’s amusing to me, now that I’m planting a new church, that our primary worship service is in the afternoon! We meet at 4:30 p.m.”

Food, shrimp & slavery: Revealed: Asian Slave Labour Producing Prawns for Supermarkets in US, UK

“Slaves forced to work for no pay for years at a time under threat of extreme violence are being used in Asia in the production of seafood sold by major US, British and other European retailers … including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.”

Sexuality & self-righteousness: * Why I Didn’t Wait; * Homosexuality: Have I Changed My View? [required reading]; * Sex, The Sinner, and Jesus

* “All this said, for those of us who walked that road of casual sex and now struggle to feel forgiven and pure, I write these things not to condemn you, but to remind you that you can choose differently now. You can remind yourself of the precious gift of sex, in the right way with the right person at the right time, that it truly is worth waiting for.”

* “… I (still) believe homosexual behavior is sin. The difference, though, is that now I know why. … Hopefully, now, my view is based on the Bible and not my upbringing or assumptions. So I haven’t changed my view. However, I have changed my posture. … Jesus stood against extortion, yet didn’t mention extortion when he encountered extortionists (Matt 9:9-13; Luke 19:1-10). Jesus stood against violence, but didn’t mention violence when he befriended a leader of a violent superpower (Matt 8:5-13). Jesus opposed adultery and even took a hyper-conservative view on sexual ethics (Matt 5:27-32), but he didn’t front sexual sin when he encountered people engaged in it (Luke 7:36-50). Jesus didn’t often lead with law; instead, he led with love and he loved people into holiness.”

* “I’m not trying to make light of sexual sin or any sin for that matter. But I do believe the grace of God is bigger than any of our sins. But when sexual sin is singled out or when we think we are on higher ground because sexual sin is not our sin, something is afoul.”

links to the land

 

Ancient Israelite daily life: Ancient Israelite House

“Photos of a replica of an ancient Israelite house from the Houses of Ancient Israel exhibit at the Semitic Museum at Harvard University.”

Jacob’s well, Joshua & Shechem: Shechem Still Shouts for Us to Choose God Today

“I’m convinced that’s why Joshua gathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem, which lay between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. The geographical context of his words played a significant role. What he said that day still applies to us.”

King David & Khirbet Qeiyafa: Claim: Palace of David Discovered in the Foothills of Judah

“Professor Yosef Garfinkel has announced the discovery of two royal public buildings in his excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa. According to the press release, one is the palace of David and the other was the king’s storehouse. … To my conservative friends, I’d urge caution before making any bold claims based on Garfinkel’s work. Or any claims at all. Let’s wait and see how credible archaeologists evaluate his stratigraphy. If he’s correct, we’ve lost nothing by being patient.”

Kir-hareseth: The Topography of Kir-hareseth

“Kir-hareseth figures prominently in a story recorded in 2 Kings 3.”

Mount Arbel & the Sea of Galilee: The Sea of Galilee and Mount Arbel from the NW

“From this point we can see the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Today we know it as the Golan Heights. In Old Testament times it was known as Bashan (Joshua 21:27). Golan was one of the cities of Refuge located in the area. In New Testament times this was the area of the Decapolis (Mark 7:31), and probably the country of the Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28).”

Nazareth: The Quest for the Historical Nazareth

“… the historical existence of Nazareth at the time of Jesus has been a controversial topic. … religious scholars tend to talk up the size of Nazareth, while skeptics tend to question whether Nazareth even existed at the time.”

Slavery: What Was Life Like for Roman Slaves?

“Archaeology in Aphrodisias, Turkey, reveals the story of Zoilos the slave. … Life was horrible for most Roman slaves, and their names are long forgotten. But Zoilos is one who made it past his difficult circumstances.”

Temple Mount: Temple Mount Virtual Tour

[Since the site is written in Hebrew I can’t comment on the text, but the photography of a “virtual tour” is helpful]

Writing: Roman Writing Tablet from c. 80-120 AD

“Scratched onto a wax layer, the lettering on this early 2nd century wooden writing tablet has survived. It is a deed of sale for a young female slave called Fortunata, described as ‘healthy and not liable to run away’. She cost 600 silver denarii – 2 years’ pay for a legionary soldier.”

this went thru my mind

 

Christians, faith, gun control & idolatry: * A New American Idol – The Second Amendment by Paul Smith [required reading]; * Christianity & Guns 1; * Pray and Put Up a (Nonviolent) Fight by Rachel Stone

* “Ever since the massacre of the school children in Newtown, CT, I have been bombarded with evidence that America has fallen completely in love with another idol, and this one will destroy us just as surely as the golden calves caused the destruction of Northern Israel. The idol is the United States Constitution, and nowhere is it more directly visible than in our repulsive adoration of the second amendment. …

“The murders in Newtown changed me forever. … The cataracts over my eyes were ripped off in horrific fashion. …

“I really do not think you can be a follower of Jesus the Christ and still support the 2nd Amendment as it is so devoutly defended by the NRA. And I truly do not think your Christianity amounts to a thimble of water if you are a member of the NRA – if you defend their most diabolical pronouncements. …

“I want the freedom that is in Christ – the freedom that comes from surrendering my rights – and that means my so called 2nd Amendment right to own a gun designed to kill another human being.”

* “It is not God’s will that 82 to 84 people die every day as a result of gun violence. The nonsense of the Gun Empire is that guns don’t kill people and that the answer to gun violence is more guns.”

* “Ever since Constantine had his soldiers put a cross on their shields, Christians have been divided on something that Jesus was shockingly unambiguous about: violence perpetuates violence perpetuates violence perpetuates violence perpetually–and you don’t get to wield or excuse or perpetuate violence in Jesus’ name. That’s blasphemy.

“But in many quarters, it seems, to break ranks with conservative American values and say ‘enough with the guns that have no purpose except to kill people’ is a greater blasphemy.

“If the name of Jesus is on you–and if you call yourself Christian, it is–then for someone to perpetuate violence in your name is blasphemy. And so I say to lawmakers who won’t stand up to the NRA, who won’t require insurance companies to provide adequate coverage for mental health care, who wage undeclared wars, who criminalize those who should be hospitalized: not in my name.

“Yes, this is a time to pray. To pray, and to put up a (nonviolent) fight.”

Evil, heart & murder: Murder: This is a Heart Issue by John T. Willis

“All of us are deeply disturbed by the 28 murders recently committed at a grade school in Newtown, Connecticut. The murderer was identified as Adam Lanza, age 20. He murdered his mother, six teachers, and 20 small students. In all cases, people want to know, WHY did this happen? And out of this come numerous questions which face all of us. Why didn’t God intervene and prevent this from happening? Why didn’t Adam’s mother raise him as a good citizen? Why didn’t counselors detect Adam’s problems? People pounce on this kind of issue, and declare that Adam had psychological problems or suffered from paternal abuse or was wired as an evil person at birth, and the theories go on an on. Let’s be honest. The REAL issue is the HEART. “

Human trafficking & slavery: Slavery’s Global Comeback by J.J. Gould

“There are now twice as many people enslaved in the world as there were in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade. … The leading demographic accounts of contemporary slavery project a global slave population of between 20 million and 30 million people.”

this went thru mind

 

Israel/Palestine: Challenges in Defining an Israeli-Palestinian Border

“… explore some of the contentious issues that negotiators will face in drawing borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state.”

Kingdom of heaven: Patheos Interview: Heaven on Earth (required reading; Q & A with Josh Graves)

“…  this is about a wedding of all the things of heaven with all the things in earth.”

Non-violence & self-defense: Video Q&A: What if Violence is Necessary to Protect a Loved One? [required viewing; 4 min. video clip of an interview of Greg Boyd]

“… there’s all sorts of things you can do.”

U.S history: * Everything You Know About the 1960s is Wrong by James T. Patterson; The Monster of Monticello by Paul Finkelman

* “As late as 1964, the decade looked like the ’50s.”

* “… while many of his contemporaries, including George Washington, freed their slaves during and after the revolution — inspired, perhaps, by the words of the Declaration — Jefferson did not. Over the subsequent 50 years, a period of extraordinary public service, Jefferson remained the master of Monticello, and a buyer and seller of human beings. Rather than encouraging his countrymen to liberate their slaves, he opposed both private manumission and public emancipation. Even at his death, Jefferson failed to fulfill the promise of his rhetoric: his will emancipated only five slaves, all relatives of his mistress Sally Hemings, and condemned nearly 200 others to the auction block. Even Hemings remained a slave, though her children by Jefferson went free.”

Will of God: What is God’s Will for My Life? by Patrick Mead

“Ready? God’s story is not about plot. It is about character development.”