SOME GREAT LEADERS OF THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT
In the movement to bring about a restoration of original, apostolic, undenominational Christianity—Christianity as it existed in New Testament times—there are literally hundreds of men who stand out as stalwart leaders. Over the next three weeks (D.V.) we shall provide vignettes of nine of them, three per week. Continue reading
THE BAPTISM OF ALEXANDER CAMPBELL
Following is the account of Alexander Campbell’s baptism (as well as that of other members of his family) as reported by him in the Millennial Harbinger of May 1848, Vol. V, Number V. These are Campbell’s own words (including his spelling and punctuation) in describing the baptisms and the events leading up to them. It will be noted that the baptisms occurred one year to the month following Campbell’s sermon on “Humble Beginnings,” the subject of last week’s “News & Views.” (Note: I have inserted numbers into the body of Campbell’s account to indicate explanatory notes which I provide at the end of the account.) Continue reading
“We have no system of our own, nor of others, to substitute in lieu of the reigning systems. We only aim at substituting the New Testament in lieu of every creed in existence; whether Mahometan, Pagan, Jewish, or Sectarian. We wish to call Christians to consider that Jesus Christ has made them kings and priests to God. We neither advocate Calvinism, Arminianism, Arianism, Socinianism, Trinitarianism, Unitarianism, Deism, or Sectarianism, but New Testamentism.”
Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, No. 5, 1 December 1823
“For the divine nature may be communicated or imparted in some sense; and indeed while it is essentially and necessarily singular, it is certainly plural in its personal manifestations. Hence we have the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit equally divine, though personally distinct from each other. We have in fact, but one God, one Lord, one Holy Spirit; yet these are equally possessed of one and of the same divine nature. Some conceive of God as mathematical unit; and as a thing cannot be both mathematically singular and plural, one and three, at the same time and in the same sense, they deny the true and proper divinity of the Son of God and of the Spirit of God. But it would seem to us, that they reason not in harmony with the sacred style of inspiration. But why should we imagine that there cannot be a plurality of personal manifestations in the divine nature any more than in the angelic or human, especially as man was created in the image of God?” — Alexander Campbell, The Christian System, p. 8.
“OFTEN have I said, and often have I written, that truth, truth eternal and divine, is now, and long has been with me the pearl of great price. To her I will, with the blessing of God, sacrifice every thing. But on no altar will I offer her a victim. If I have lost sight of her, God who searcheth the hearts knows I have not done it intentionally. With my whole heart I have sought the truth, and I know that I have found it. Not all truth but the lifegiving truth of Jesus. But I ask no man to take my word for it. Neither my devotion to the truth professed, the earnestness nor the industry with which I have sought it, the sacrifices which l have made in the pursuit of it, nor any aid supernatural which I have received in the discovery of the truth, shall ever be plead by me as reason why any person should receive any single saying of mine upon my authority. Nor shall I plead the success which has attended my labors, the great revolution in sentiment, feeling, and practice, which is every day progressing, as a proof, or as any evidence of truths for which I am the humble advocate. No authority of great names, no authority of great success, no authority of great devotion, no authority but that of the Apostles and prophets shall ever be urged by me in proof of any proposition respecting the religion of Jesus Christ.”
— Alexander Campbell, Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 1, No. 3, March 1, 1830
“If there was no error in principle or practice, then controversy, which is only another name for opposition to error, real or supposed, would be unnecessary. If it were lawful, or if it were benevolent, to make a truce with error, then opposition to it would be both unjust and unkind. If error were innocent and harmless, then we might permit it to find its own quietus, or to immortalize itself. But so long as it is confessed that error is more or less injurious to the welfare of society, individually and collectively considered, then no man can be considered benevolent who does not set his face against it. In proportion as a person is intelligent and benevolent, he will be controversial, if error exist around him. Hence the Prince of Peace never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while he lived. He drew it on the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away.”
— Alexander Campbell, “Religious Controversy,” Millennial Harbinger, Vol. 1, No. 1, January 4, 1830.
“The Sage of Bethany”
“Some religious editors in Kentucky call those who are desirous of seeing the ancient order of things restored, ‘The Restorationers,’ ‘the Campbellites,’ and the most reproachful epithets are showered upon them because they have some conscientious regard for the Divine Author and the divine authority of the New Testament–This may go down very well with some; but all who fear God and keep his commandments will pity and deplore the weaknesses and folly of those who either think to convince or to persuade by such means.”
— Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptist, Buffaloe (Bethany), Brooke County, Virginia (West Virginia), Volume 4, Number 4, November 6, 1826.
I have been enjoying Eva Jean Wrather’s Alexander Campbell — Adventurer in Freedom the past several weeks. I have completed the first volume which covers Alexander Campbell’s birth, coming to American, printing of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration & Address, and his first debate which was with John Walker, Seceder Presbyterian. I just finished her writing on the debate with W. L. MaCcalla in Kentucky, and Alexander Campbell’s launch of his new periodical The Christian Baptist in Wrather’s second installment of her Alexander Campbell Trilogy.
I can understand why Alexander Campbell’s writings generated so much controversy then, as I have been discussing various points of doctrine with friends who do not agree with my teaching’s of the New Testament. I am struck by how forceful and powerful Alexander Campbell’s writings were in his day which motivates me to read more about him and his writings. For example, Alexander Campbell attacked the Presbyterian Moralists Societies for their binding of Sundays as a “Christian Sabbath” even going so far as having people fined by magistrates for not adhering to their view on “Christian Sabbaths” and other matters. If a citizen witnessed someone doing work on Sundays, then they could report them for a portion of the fine imposed.
Alexander Campbell’s essay on the subjection of “Christian Sabbaths” in 1823 was very powerful, and it would bring people to the discussion who may have otherwise never meditated on such matters. Consider this statement from his essay:
“No two days are more unlike in their import and design, than the Sabbath and the first day. The former commemorated the consummation of the old creation, the cessation of creation work; the latter commemorates the beginning of the new creation. The former was to Israel, a memorial that they were once slaves in Egypt—the latter assures us that the year of release has come. The former looked back, with mournful aspect, to the toils and sorrows entailed upon the human body, from an evil incident to the old creation—trie latter looks forward, with en eve beaming with hope, to perpetual exemption from toil, and pain, and sorrow. The sabbath was a day of awful self-denial and profound religious gloom—the resurrection day is a day of triumph, of holy joy, and religious festivity.”
(Alexander Campbell, Editor, “Address to the Readers of the Christian Baptist, No. 3,” The Christian Baptist, Vol 1, No. 7, February 2, 1824)
Alexander Campbell had completed a tour of eastern Virginia. In the May 1856 issue of the Millennial Harbinger he delivered a report of his tour. In the course of the report, he made an important statement which should serve as a reminder to us, including myself, when we pursue various works under the theme of “Systematic Theology”:
I also added, that I was led by parental authority to memorize much of the Christian Scriptures, and especially the Epistles of Paul; and pre-eminently, that to the Romans and that to the Hebrews. These were my systematic theology, or, rather, my doctrinal Christology, to which I owed more than to all my memorizing of the creeds and catechisms of the present Scotch orthodoxy. To this faith I pertinaciously adhered, and on it alone I founded all my future prospects, in time and eternity.
— Alexander Campbell, Millennial Harbinger, Volume 6, Number 5, May 1856