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

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

February 8

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

February 9

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

February 10

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

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

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

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

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

February 11

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

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

February 12

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

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

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

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

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

February 13

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

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

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

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

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

February 14

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

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

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

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.”

this went thru my mind

 

Equality & freedom: A Black Intellectual Writes to Thomas Jefferson by Bobby Valentine

On July 4, 1776 explosive words from Thomas Jefferson captured the hearts of men and women, white and black, in the British Colonies in America.  Those words read, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ … The letter of Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson on August 19, 1791 was laden with potential to renew the promise of the American Revolution. … Perhaps Banneker should be in the Canon of American Saints as much – perhaps more – than Thomas Jefferson.”

Faith & politics: The Real ‘Evangelical Disaster’ by Rachel Held Evans

“The great evangelical disaster is that evangelicalism has become synonymous with Republicanism rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. This happened long before the 2012 presidential election. It happened when we turned the Bible into a conservative position paper and Jesus into a flag pin. “

Generosity: Family Christian Stores Buys Itself, Pledges to Give 100% of Profits to Widows and Orphans

“Under the new ownership, Family Christian’s pledge is to contribute 100% of its profits to Christian causes and, specifically, ministries serving widows and orphans both in the USA and abroad.”

Thanksgiving: * An American Thanksgiving from a Global Perspective by Dan Bouchelle; * Tips for Teaching Your Children Thanksgiving! by Mark Woodward

* “I have traveled to all six populated continents and preached for churches in each place. I spend a lot of time listening to church leaders and disciple-makers describe the realities they face in their countries with all the joys and struggles that entails. I also have gotten to witness first hand the living conditions, social realities, political climates, and spiritual environments of many different parts of the globe. With that as the backdrop to my current life, I enter into this Thanksgiving season differently than I once did.”

* “If you want your children to be thankful—grateful—adults, you have a great opportunity to work on them during Thanksgiving.  This holiday can be so much more than Indians and pilgrims or eating and football!  We Christians have a great opportunity to re-capture the holiday from the secularists and materialists and instill in our children a grateful spirit rather than an entitled one!”

this went thru my mind

 

Competition: More Than a Sabbath: My Fast from Competing by Tyler Charles

“Personal success isn’t the goal, ultimately. Faithfulness is.”

Culture wars: God, I Thank You I’m Not Like Those Others: The Meta-Sin of Culture Wars by Kurt Willems

“… in light of the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector recorded in Luke 18:9-14 there is no righteous high ground for those slugging it out in the in the muddy trenches of the recent culture wars.”

Demeanor & manner: 4 Questions to Ask Regarding Your Manner by Jim Martin

“What does my manner say about me?”

History: Publisher Pulls Controversial Thomas Jefferson Book, Citing Loss Of Confidence

“Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that ‘basic truths just were not there.’ … In it, Barton calls Jefferson a ‘conventional Christian,’ claims the founding father started church services at the Capitol, and even though he owned more than 200 slaves, says Jefferson was a civil rights visionary.

“‘Mr. Barton is presenting a Jefferson that modern-day evangelicals could love and identify with,’ Warren Throckmorton, a professor at the evangelical Grove City College, told Hagerty. ‘The problem with that is, it’s not a whole Jefferson; it’s not getting him right. The book’s publisher came to the same conclusion.'”

Leadership & mission: Why “Leaders” Are Not the Church’s Greatest Need

“…  in the context of a business or an organization that is defined by a mission, these are appropriate and salutary principles. … Fine for business, but it is at this very point that we run into a problem when we talk about the church. Why? Because the church is not defined by her mission. Now it is right to say that the church has a mission, that the church is missional, that mission is a central component of what she does. It is not right, however, to define the church as a mission and subsume one’s entire ecclesiology under that rubric.”

Memory: To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes

“… evidence that a few minutes of wakeful rest may have an effect even on long-term memory consolidation.”

Ministry & results: Give Up On Results by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“… do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the righteousness, the truth of the work itself.”

Newcomers: 10 Ways to Ensure I’ll Never Revisit your Church by Ben Reed

“I’ve visited a lot of churches. … It’s one thing to get people in the door once. But to get someone to visit again, and begin to call your church their home? Much tougher. … there are a few things we’ve learned that will guarantee someone won’t come back.”

Nigeria: Five Things to Know About Religious Violence in Nigeria by Lauren Markoe

“While Muslims and Christians are attacking each other, the combatants also divide along ethnic and cultural lines, and grievances often have little to do with religion.”

Options: 7 Steps to Finding a Better, Third Option by Michael Hyatt

“We are a culture that is accustomed to thinking in terms of two options. … When two sides disagree, here are seven steps to help you find the third option …”

Passive-aggressive behavior: Passive-Aggressive Postures & Evangelical Culture by Tim Gombis

“I naturally share my culture’s destructive and manipulative tendencies and subtle grasping after power and leverage in relationships.  Exposing these tendencies through critical self-reflection can help us discern how to cultivate fruitful and life-giving relational dynamics.”

Spiritual deafness: For Lack of Ears by Dan Bouchelle

“We are limited in our time and energy and, like Jesus, we would be wiser to invest our time with those who have ears.”

Violence: * Batman, Neo-Nazis and the Good News of Jesus by Lee C. Camp [required reading]; * The Myth That Redemptive Violence is a Myth: Part 1 and Part 2 by Matt Dabbs [read the comments, too]

* “The non-violent, suffering love of Jesus was a direct challenge to the myth of redemptive violence. One of the dirty secrets of the early church is the fact that for the first three centuries of Christian history, the leaders of the church insisted that Christians do not kill — including in so-called justifiable war. This consistent and insistent teaching of the early church is so ignored by so-called conservative Christians as to be laughable, if it were not so tragic.”

* “Violence, as I understand it, is the ultimate idolatry in that we are putting ourselves into the place of God. We decide who is innocent. We decide whose life is most important. We decide who gets to live and who gets to die. It’s my opinion, that that is not our place.”

Water: Here’s Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

“The map itself isn’t hard to grasp. The colored areas show the world’s largest aquifers — areas which hold deposits of groundwater. The blue ones are doing fine; more rainfall is flowing into them than is being pumped out of them for homes or irrigating fields. … The aquifers that are painted red, orange, or yellow, meanwhile, are being drained rapidly. … See those large grey shapes, below the map? Each one is a magnified reflection of an over-exploited aquifer.”