Thor, Shorty, Nevertheless, Marc, et. al, greetings! Shorty, thanks for the nice stuff you said. I'm not worthy! But thanks. Say a prayer for me and Alice.
Thor when you say that A. Campbell was a Seceder, a Baptist and then a Christian, are you implying that Campbell was NOT a Christian while he was a Seceder and a Baptist? If so, how can you judge whether Campbell was saved or not?
Secondly, Barton Stone said to follow Stone and Campbell only so far as you see them following Christ. To which I say "Amen." They were not inspired as was Paul. But, I think we owe them a great deal of gratitude; without Stone and the Campbells the coC as we all know it would not exist.
Thirdly, the Campbells and Stone were not attempting to restore a NT church which had ceased to exist; "Restoration Movement" is not even an accurate description of their movement. They referred to their movement as "The Reformation," or "The Current Reformation," as they considered themselves reformers in the spirit of Luther, Calvin and Wesley. What they were trying to do is unite sincere believers from all the denominations around the core doctrines, or central tenets of the apostolic church. When Campbell spoke of a "pattern" he meant, not a complex pattern of doctrinal orthodoxy, but rather, the basics, or essentials, of NT faith. To Stone and the Campbells, this insistance on doctrinal orthodoxy was one of the chief causes of diviision in the first place.
For Campbell the essential tenets of the faith were; the death, burial and resurrection (the central tenet of the faith); adult immersion for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit; the Lord's day assembly; and weekly communion. Anything else, to Campbell, was an OPINION and as such not to be made a test of fellowship. Campbell realised that not every sincere believer understood every scripture just like he did; this is why he could refer to a German Dunkard who differed with him on the frequency of communion, as his brother. And in his 1809 "Declaration and Address," Thomas Campbell stated that inferences were not binding on a Christian further than she perceived the connection.
Both Campbells and Stone believed that the NT church had never ceased to exist and that their group was merely a fragment of a much larger church; they NEVER claimed to be the only Christians. Even as late as his second series of Tabernacle Sermons at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, N. B. Hardeman could say that his brethren were "Christians only, not the only Christians." Dr. Robert Richardson adequately expressed the goals of the Reformation in the MH of 1847. In his article "Reformation" he wrote:
"Were we, indeed, asked to define theoretically, in terms the most brief and expressive, the reformation which we urge, we should denominate it-a generalization of Christianity. It is in this character that it presents a basis of Christian union. It is in this point of view that it lays aside the differences; the peculiarities; the distinctions, which disunite and mark out sects; and retains the agreements, the universalities, the identities which secure harmony and peace."
Somewhere along the line the coC lost this emphasis on unity.
In an 1825 CB article Campbell says the only two requirements necessary for salvation and membership in the NT church are belief in Jesus and immersion; a person is a member of the church in the fullest sense of the word, Campbell says, the moment they have met the preceding two conditions, and no one, he says, has a right to ask them whether they hold Baptist, Quaker, Armenian, Calvinist, etc. views. But even while insisting that adult immersion was the only scriptural mode of baptism, Campbell nevertheless refused to condemn unbaptised believers. He fervently wished everyone would be baptized, but realised that if only immersed believers were saved that some of the most righteous and faithful Christians would be in hell, which he could not accept.
If Stone and the Campbells were here, under mainline coC tests of orthodoxy, they would all three be disfellowshipped as "change agents."
Some ask, "Who cares what Stone and the Campbells said?" To which I respond; what makes their teaching any less authoritative than preachers today?
Its all well and good to say that the coC somehow exists "outside" history, that we have not been in any way affected by culture or history, however, even a brief study of our history exposes the fallacy in this line of reasoning. I say again, the coC as we know it would not exist had it not been for Stone and the Campbells. No, Stone and the Campbells were not inspired; but we can still learn much from them if only we will listen. We owe them our very existence. This particular "change agent" hopes to point people back to their vision of one church united, not on some nebulous "pattern" of doctrine, but upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I apologize for the length of this post; I tend to get carried away talking about the Stone-Campbell Movement. Pax vobiscum.