[!--QuoteBegin--][/span][table border=\"0\" align=\"center\" width=\"95%\" cellpadding=\"3\" cellspacing=\"1\"][tr][td]Quote [/td][/tr][tr][td id=\"QUOTE\"][!--QuoteEBegin--]On another point, Charlie asked the question, how was the Restoration Movement impacted by the society it grew up in? I think the most important way was in the total hostility to any kind of authority that was common in the mountain South in those times. If you're interested in that, there's a book called \"Albion's Seed\" that, for a Church of Christ person, is like looking at an old, old photograph of a relative you never met and seeing yourself. The mixed bag of Scots, Welshman, Irish and English borderers who ended up in Appalachia in the late 1700's/early 1800's were completely unruly and wouldn't accept any authority from outside. That's the real root of our destructive \"autonomy\", not anything you can find in the Bible.
By denying that there is any authority other than the Bible, and then saying that every Christian can read the Bible and find out what it says independently, we have in fact placed ourselves in authority over our \"authority.\"
This is bigger than many might think, because it's the seed of the bumptious, contentious \"editor/bishops\" who have plagued our movement. Whether we like it or not (and Lee Freeman will hate this) any movement has to have some kind of authority to prevent total chaos. If there isn't any, the movement will lose its identity. Our opinionated friends (and I think that the folks like Rubel Shelly fit into this tradition just as much as Buster Dobbs does) know this, and think they are the ones to express those teachings. But because we don't recognize any authority, these guys end up competing with each other for influence. That's when the fun starts.
Just my two cents.
So it's my opinion that our society's biggest impact on the Church has been to cause us to reject any kind of outside authority, and that has had some very serious consequences.[/quote]
The Stone-Campbell Movement's views with regard to authority might have been impacted by the Scots-Irish heritage of many of its members, but this dioesn't explain all of it. Campbell was more influenced by the American ideal of democracy and individual freedom, only recently set in place after the American Revolution.
Campbell was also mistrustful of denominational hierarchies, because both he and his father had witnessed the abuse of clerical authority in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and America; Thomas himself fell victim to it.
They also worried that America might possibly at some point decide to establish a state church, whose negative effects they'd witnessed first-hand in the Old Country.
They weren't against authority per se, only it's abuse.
Their insistence on the individual's right to private interpretation only pertained to lesser, nonessential, non-salvation doctrinal issues; on what they viewed as essential to the faith, everyone should agree. But even this private right of interpretation was not an \"anything goes\" freedom to make the text say whatever we want. Campbell reiterated the need for commentaries, lexicons, etc. in order to make sound interpretations.
Would we really want someone interpreting scripture for us? The Campbells and Stone didn't. That was the problem they saw with creeds and confessions of faith-it was basically one group's interpretation of scripture which evryone was required to agree with before they could be saved. Credal churches were basicallly telling their parishoners what to believe, not only on essential doctrines, but on peripheral matters as well.
In this dogmatism, they were abusing their authority.
But the Church of Christ eventually grew to be just as dogmatic and unbending as the credal churches we preached against.
Campbell, Stone, Richardson, Larimore, Shelly, Lucado, Anderson, etc., all believe in authority-the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ first and most importantly. Secondly, they all teach and affirm the necessity of shepherds/elders to guide the flock. But if Jesus is in control, that's all that really matters.
Having met Rubel personally on a couple of occasions, I can say that there's not a more humble servant anywwhere.