Barton W. Stone on Fellowship

At the 2010 Freed-Hardeman University Bible Lectureship, William Woodson spoke on “Inconsistent Approaches to Deciding Fellowship:  Spirit-led Approaches.”  It was an excellent presentation and one is encouraged to obtain a copy either in manuscript, audio or both.  During his lecture he concluded with an important Postscript in reference to the use of Barton W. Stone by the agents of changes to liberalism.

Woodson wrote, “In recent years change agents have made much of the views of Barton W. Stone.  He is set forth as the virtual apostle of unity; his words are elevated as of supreme importance.  He was, so they imply, not one so legalistic and harsh as to refuse fellowship or unity with those who held to some unauthorized practices.  Perish the thought!  In fact, we are led to believe by their profuse praise, an unauthorized practice(s) does call for, let alone justify, the refusal of fellowship or prevent a united cooperation with them in all good things.  Consider the following words from Stone in light of this alleged insight concerning unity.”

He then quotes Barton W. Stone:

As might be expected, on some points there is a diversity of opinion among ourselves. But these opinions have no effect in severing our union; because we are constituted as churches on the New Testament, and not on a system of opinions, as others are.  True, a few, not understanding this distinguishing trait of our profession, and not entirely stript [stripped, ww] of the spirit of sectarianism, appear to be verging towards Egypt again.  A few years ago, our brethren in the east, forgetting that the churches were independent, and dazzled with the pomp of a general Conference, resolved among themselves to constitute one in the East—one in the South and another in the West.  We in the West were solicited to co-operate in this measure.  We saw it unauthorized by the New Testament, and therefore refused our cooperation.  The Eastern brethren soon discovered what we had plainly seen, and have lately dissolved the unscriptural thing among themselves.  We hope that they will also, before long, see how unauthorized is that small Confession, drawn up in many conferential resolves some months past.  This increasing light will consume, or it must be the cause of another sectarian establishment.  So we think; and the history of the church confirms our opinion.  We have no doubt but our brethren will soon be convinced that this measure is also inconsistent with their profession, and will abandon it. –Barton W. Stone, “Editor’s Address,” The Christian Messenger, Vol. 7, No. 2, Page 2.