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History in the Remaking?. Why is it important for us to know and to remember the past? Various reasons have been given; you are familiar with some of the famous answers: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

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history in the remaking
History in the Remaking?
  • Why is it important for us to know and to remember the past?
  • Various reasons have been given; you are familiar with some of the famous answers:
    • “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
    • “To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child always.”


    • “Knowing the past can change the future.” Historians
history in the remaking1
History in the Remaking?
  • Sometimes everyday experiences with the young shock us into the reality of how important knowledge of the past is.
  • “Two summers ago, I returned home from a trip to Berlin with a fragment of the now vanished Berlin Wall as a silly tourist gift for a bright college student of my acquaintance. The gift brought a question to mind. ‘How’d that wall get there in the first place?’” (D. J. Tice (Editorial writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press), “Nation’s Ignorance of History Hurts,” Newspaper Column 12/22/94
history in the remaking2
History in the Remaking?
  • One reason is biblical.
  • Take the place of remembering and its link to faith and obedience. You cannot have faith or obedience without remembering—and the principal example is the Lord’s Supper.
  • In the OT, it’s the Passover (and the other festivals), the various monuments (piles of stones) and more.
  • Deut. 8:2 “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.”
history in the remaking3
History in the Remaking?
  • One reason is biblical.
  • It is instructive just to check a big concordance for “remember” in the OT.
  • Do you remember Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7? History.
  • Do you remember Paul’s sermon at Antioch of Pisidia in Acts 13? History.
  • Can you imagine?? To get the Jews to listen, they used history!!
history in the remaking4
History in the Remaking?
  • Furman Kearley and the Dec. 1991 issue of the Gospel Advocate, “The Restoration Principle: Getting Back on Course”
  • “The Restoration Principle as Preached by the Prophets”—Rex A. Turner, Sr.
  • “Jesus’ Use of the Restoration Principle”
  • “………As Illustrated in Early Church History”
  • “……….As Illustrated by the Reformation.”
division in the church

Division in the Church

History in the Remaking?

the 1906 census
The 1906 Census
  • What division?
  • The division which took place over time in the late 1800s but is conveniently marked by historians at 1906.
  • The census bureau gave official recognition to the reality of a division between the Christian Churches and churches of Christ in its 1906 religious census, which was published in 1910.
the 1906 census1
The 1906 Census
  • On June 17, 1907, S. N. D. North, the Director of the Census, wrote David Lipscomb and asked whether there was a religious body called “church of Christ,” not identified with the Disciples of Christ, or any other Baptist body.”
  • And if there was such a church, North wanted information about its organization and principles, and how the Census Bureau could secure a complete list of churches.
  • Replying to North’s letter, Lipscomb outlined the basic principles of the Restoration Movement as formulated in Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address and charged that those principles had been betrayed when the missionary society and the instrument had been introduced and that division had resulted.

David Lipscomb


the 1906 census2
The 1906 Census
  • Lipscomb explained:
  • “The polity of the churches being purely congregational, the influences work slowly and the division comes gradually. The parties are distinguished as they call themselves “conservatives” and “progressives,” as they call each other “antis” and “digressives.”
  • “In many places the differences have not as yet resulted in separation. There are some in the conservative churches in sympathy with the progressives, who worship and work with the conservatives because they have no other church facilities. The reverse of this is also true. Many of the conservatives are trying to appropriate the name “churches of Christ” to distinguish themselves from “Christian or Disciples” Churches.”
the 1906 census3
The 1906 Census
  • A few months later, North visited the Advocate office and arranged for J. W. Shepherd, one of Lipscomb’s co-editors, to compile a list of the churches of Christ for the census report.
  • The Shepherd count was inexact, but even so, the 1906 census revealed two significant facts about the division in the Restoration Movement: 1) The Christian Churches were the larger body (982,701 members for Christian Churches, 159,658 for churches of Christ); and 2) Christian Churches had won the North, while churches of Christ found their numbers concentrated in the South (across the Midwest they outnumbered churches of Christ 19 to 1).
why the division
Why the Division?
  • First, it should be noted that the break did not come about in a few months or even a few years.
  • 1906 was much more a formal and symbolic date for the division than a literal date.
  • One could argue that the division had been in process for nearly 60 years.
  • Why the division?
    • There were several symptoms but one basic root cause.
    • First the symptoms.
why the division1
Why the Division?
  • Missionary Societies. Not very long after the union of the Stone and Campbell movements early in 1831 Alexander Campbell decided that if the movement was to have significant effect on the new nation it must be organized. In a lengthy series of articles in the Millennial Harbinger in the 1830s and again in the 1840s Campbell strongly urged the brotherhood to form a “general organization” among the churches. The result was that the American Christian Bible Society was formed in 1845 and the American Christian Missionary Society was formed in 1849.
why the division2
Why the Division?
  • The society never had the support of the entire brotherhood. Jacob Creath, Jr. was an early critic. In the 1820s when Campbell was publishing the Christian Baptist he had denounced missionary societies. He said the churches of the NT age “were not fractured into missionary societies,” for they “knew nothing of the hobbies of modern times.” They dared not “transfer to a missionary society, or Bible society, or education society, a cent or a prayer, lest in so doing they should rob the church of its glory and exalt the inventions of men above the wisdom of God. In their church capacity alone they moved.”
why the division3
Why the Division?
  • Creath reminded Campbell of these earlier views, “If you were right in the Christian Baptist, you are wrong now. If you are right now, you were wrong then. Churches and groups of churches adopted resolutions opposing the missionary society. The best known example of this is that from the church in Connelsville, PA, which said that the church was “not a missionary society, but emphatically and pre-eminently the missionary society—the only one authorized by Jesus Christ.”
why the division4
Why the Division?
  • Perhaps the most important opponent of the missionary society in the pre-Civil War years was Tolbert Fanning, probably the most influential preacher in the South during the 1850s and 1860s. When the society was formed Fanning was elected a vice president though he was not present. He supported the society through the early 1850s but came to question the NT authority for it. He founded the Gospel Advocate in 1855 with the “chief purpose” being to examine the subjects of church organization and Christian cooperation. The content of his early articles in the Advocate was strikingly similar to that of Campbell in the early Christian Baptist.

Tolbert Fanning


why the division5
Why the Division?
  • Fanning wrote, “The Church of God is the only divinely authorized Missionary, bible, Sunday School and Temperance Society; the only institution in which the Heavenly Father will be honored . . . and through no other agency can man glorify his Maker.”
  • Fanning addressed the missionary society convention in 1859 and took advantage of the occasion to explain that many Southern Christians could not conscientiously support the society. Further, he explained how three Tennessee congregations were cooperating “as churches, without the aid of a Missionary Society” to support J. J. Trott in mission work among the Cherokee Indians.
why the division6
Why the Division?
  • Fanning went on to say, “But I am happy to say, that from what I have heard on this floor, we are one people. With us all there is one faith, one God, one body and one spirit.” Differences on a significant issue had not yet produced division.
why the division7
Why the Division?
  • Instrumental Music. Instrumental music was not used, or its use even discussed, in the early days of the Restoration Movement. The first discussion came in 1851 when a reader asked the editor of the Ecclesiastical Reformer if its use would not add solemnity to worship. The editor, J. B. Henshall, spoke against it, but carried some articles by others favoring its use. Seeing those articles, John Rogers wrote Campbell asking his opinion. Campbell replied that if churches had “no real devotion or spirituality in them,” instrumental music might be “an essential prerequisite to devotion.” But he added, “To all spiritually-minded Christians, such aids would be as a cow bell in a concert.” After that the question was not discussed for ten years.
why the division8
Why the Division?
  • As far as is known, the first congregation to introduce instrumental music (a small melodeon) into the worship was the Midway, KY church around 1860. Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, the preacher, writing in 1860 claimed to be the only preacher in KY to advocate it and Midway the only congregation to introduce it. The reason was poor singing which was so bad it would “scare even the rats from worship.”

Dr. L. L. (Lewis Lettig)



why the division9
Why the Division?
  • The first extended discussion of the music question came in 1864-65. W. K. Pendleton, editor of the Millennial Harbinger after Campbell and also Campbell’s son-in-law, conceded that instrumental music was not used in the early centuries of Christian history, but nevertheless said it was a matter of “mere expediency.”
  • Isaac Errett, editor of the Christian Standard, in 1870 counseled the churches against introducing the instrument on the basis of the law of love—that its use would disrupt the unity of the church. He said, “We have no conscientious scruples against the use of instruments.”

Isaac Errett


why the division10
Why the Division?
  • (One can’t help but note that already in our own city brothers have indicated that they would not introduce instruments though they did not believe the use of them to be wrong.)
  • Benjamin Franklin realized that when brotherhood attitudes changed, Errett’s advice would also change.
why the division11
Why the Division?
  • Central Christian Church. In Feb. 1872 the Central Christian Church in Cincinnati, OH dedicated a new building. (The Central church building had been the meeting place of the missionary society.) It was the largest church building in Cincinnati (seating over 2000), had the largest stained glass window in the country, cost of $140,000 and had an $8,000 organ. Benjamin Franklin called it a “temple of folly and pride” and said he would blush to speak of the “ancient order” or the “gospel restored” in such a place. In a week of preaching that opened the building, Baptist, Methodist and Congregationalist preachers had been used. (I can’t help but note that similar things again have been done in our own city, to so say nothing of joint worship services with various denominations in other cities.)

Central Christian Church

Cincinnati, Ohio

why the division12
Why the Division?
  • Liberalism in the Christian Church. While it was still in the process of dividing from the churches of Christ, the Christian Church began to feel the strain of serious internal tensions. The root of the problem was theological liberalism. The new liberal theology and higher Biblical criticism, which had arisen in Germany and moved to England and then the U.S., was widely accepted by American Protestants in the 1880s and 1890s and the Christian Churches did not escape its influence.
  • While not the first to accept conclusions of Biblical criticism, Dr. R. C. Cave shocked the brotherhood in 1889 with a sermon which openly denied the biblical story of creation, the account of the flood and such fundamental doctrines as the virgin birth and bodily resurrection.
why the division13
Why the Division?
  • Cave said, “He who brings himself, according to his measure of knowledge and ability, into obedience to the will of Christ and into oneness of life and character, with Christ, is a Christian.”
  • David Lipscomb responded to such events as this and it is interesting to note in this period that he wrote many articles in the Advocate on the role of women.
  • Ahead of his time, Cave soon left the church, but after the Disciples Divinity House was established at the U. of Chicago in 1894, many young men from the Christian Churches began doing graduate work in religion at Chicago and Yale.
why the division14
Why the Division?
  • As a result, theological liberalism was soon widespread among the Disciples. The liberals had a strong editorial champion after 1908 when Charles Clayton Morrison became editor of the Christian Century. Later this publication severed its ties with the Disciples and became the voice of liberal Protestantism in America and it still is today—97 years and counting.
why the division15
Why the Division?
  • But the above items are symptoms, not the root cause.
  • The root cause, to which Lipscomb had alluded in his letter to S. N. D. North, was that the basic NT principles of unity through restoration had been abandoned. The long controversy had focused on the missionary society and instrumental music, but the basic problem underlying these two issues was the rise of two antagonistic interpretations of the restoration principle.
why the division16
Why the Division?
  • Alexander Campbell had formulated the strict view in the Christian Baptist when he insisted that the NT was a blueprint for the church and that any practice not specified in this pattern was forbidden.
  • Later, as the movement grew and the first traces of a denominational mentality began to appear, many interpreted the restoration principle less rigidly by allowing many practices as “expedients.”
why the division17
Why the Division?
  • The basic issue was the same whether the practice in question was the society or the organ.
  • They were defended as “expedients,” and opposed by others as unauthorized by the NT pattern.
  • Moses Lard proved to be correct when he warned in 1869 that “expediency” might be the rock on which the Restoration Movement went to pieces.

Moses Lard


why the division18
Why the Division?
  • Open Membership.
  • When division was recognized in the 1906 census, it was a division with the churches of Christ on one side and Christian Churches/Disciples of Christ on the other.
  • But there was already turmoil on the Christian/Disciple side.
  • In just two decades, with the increasingly liberal direction taken by the Disciples (and specifically the practice of “open membership” (accepting the unimmersed to church membership) by liberal missionaries on the foreign mission fields, Christian Churches/Disciples of Christ divided.
why the division19
Why the Division?
  • The “Conservative” or “Independent” Christian churches broke away in 1927 and formed the North American Christian Convention.
  • By 1955 the North American Convention had its own yearbook of “loyal” ministers, churches and agencies.
  • With the culmination of the Disciples “restructure” in 1968 and the formation of a full-fledged denomination (Christian Church/Disciples of Christ) the separation was complete and official.
disciples of christ
Disciples of Christ
  • Osborn one of editors of 3-vol. restudy of the Disciples (1963).
  • “Many of the papers constituting this volume and the two succeeding volumes in this series explicitly repudiate restorationism, as do numerous other studies recently written by Disciple scholars. as an interpretation of apostolicity, restoration is no longer feasible.” The Reformation of Tradition, p. 318.
disciples of christ1
Disciples of Christ
  • Ralph Wilburn, Dean of Lexington Theological Seminary, wrote in the same volume, “The restoration idea is basically a false concept. . . . It would seem wise to abandon the use of the term altogether.”
why the division20
Why the Division?
  • No Place for Compromise
  • There is also a lesson to be learned about the ultimate futility of trying to work with both extremes.
  • J. W. McGarvey, one of the great Biblical scholars of the 19th c., head of the College of the Bible and preacher for the Broadway congregation in Lexington, KY, left the Broadway congregation in 1902 when it brought in the organ.
  • At about the same time he shared his disillusionment with Jesse P. Sewell.

J. W. McGarvey


why the division21
Why the Division?
  • McGarvey told Sewell, “You are on the right road, and whatever you do, don’t let anybody persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it. I have tried. I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I’ve never held membership in a congregation that uses instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach without distinctions between churches that used it and churches that didn’t. I’ve gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have
why the division22
Why the Division?
  • taught the truth as the New Testament teaches to every young preacher who has passed through the College of the Bible. Yet, I do not know of more than six of those men who are preaching the truth today. It won’t work.”

(J. P. Sewell, “Biographical Sketches of Restoration Preachers,” Harding College Lectures, 1950, p. 75).

why bother with history
Why Bother With History?
  • Why look at these lessons?
  • Because today’s church culture is shockingly similar to that of the last part of the 19th century.
  • As they did, we face churches that practice open membership, fellowship with error and employ worship styles that are producing dissension and divisions.
  • Once more biblical authority is minimized or disregarded.
why bother with history1
Why Bother With History?
  • Accepting the Unimmersed (“Open Membership”).
  • Today some in churches of Christ advocate that pious, unimmersed people are saved, brothers in Christ, and fully members of the church.
  • Rubel Shelly and John York in The Jesus Proposal argue that churches of Christ ought to give up rigid judgmentalism and embrace a generous spirit toward those in various denominations (pp. 171-179).
  • John Mark Hicks in his book, Down in the River to Pray, holds that salvation is a process rather than an event and the transformed unimmersed ought to be included in the grace of God (pp. 179-199).
why bother with history2
Why Bother With History?
  • All these authors admit that baptism is immersion.
  • They claim that they teach immersion for the remission of sins, but in practice they fellowship the sprinkled and those who believe they are saved before immersion.
  • We wonder by what principle of interpretation one can substitute a human practice for a biblical one.
  • What commandment of God may any person ignore, dismiss or disobey and still remain pleasing to God?
  • By what authority can we dismiss immersion for “general obedience”?
  • If a person believes and is baptized, can we propose an alternative to repentance?
why bother with history3
Why Bother With History?
  • Instruments of Music in Worship.
  • Just as the Disciples a century ago believed they could embrace instruments of music in worship, so some today are embracing them.
  • Weary arguments on psallo and psalmos have spread widely, as if they had never been answered.
  • Christian concerts with instrumentation appear on our college campuses and at large youth rallies.
  • The desire for instruments arose in the 1800s when proponents introduced them to our Sunday schools so that our youth could learn to sing better; in time they reasoned that if they could do it in class, they could also do it in the worship assembly.
why bother with history4
Why Bother With History?
  • Today our youth are desensitized by contemporary Christian music.
  • The distinctions between entertainment and worship have become so blurred that many of the naïve hardly know the difference.
  • Teachers and youth leaders quietly tell their students that Jesus did not die over instrumental music, so whether we use it or not is not a “salvation issue”.
why bother with history5
Why Bother With History?
  • Other Practices.
  • In the last year, the number of congregations overtly preaching and practicing unbiblical doctrines has increased dramatically.
  • An increasing number of churches, both large and small, urban and rural, are practicing doctrines such as:
why bother with history6
Why Bother With History?
  • Worshipping with instruments
  • Encouraging women to lead publicly in worship and teaching
  • Substituting Saturday worship as an acceptable replacement for worship on the Lord’s Day
  • Observing the Lord’s Supper at any time the time seems right
  • Aligning themselves with denominational congregations in work and worship with the implication being that their differences in doctrine are inconsequential preferences
  • Changing the name of their congregation because of the “baggage” associated with the name “church of Christ”
why bother with history7
Why Bother With History?
  • Just as the “symptom” doctrines and practices in the late 1800s were signs of a fundamental cause—the differing views regarding the authority of Scripture--so, contemporary differences in doctrine and practice grow out of conflicting understandings of the authority of Scripture.
why bother with history8
Why Bother With History?
  • It is now 2005, but the same issues confront us that confronted our brethren a century earlier.
  • How will we respond?
  • Will we claim we want unity, but sacrifice our brethren to follow after our personal preferences and desires?
  • Will we seek unity with other groups by compromising our beliefs or convincing ourselves that “they aren’t salvation issues”?
  • Will we cave in to the culture of the day and change the teaching of Scripture so that we can be more effective in reaching the unchurched?
why bother with history9
Why Bother With History?
  • What Are We To Do?
  • The story of the differing and antagonistic interpretations of the restoration principle is clear and the story of the resulting consequences in the three bodies that share a common history in the American Restoration Movement are just as clear.
  • While the circumstances in which we seek to shepherd may be complex, challenging and downright dangerous, the question, I think, is simple.
  • Do we want to see history repeat itself in the congregations we lead?
  • I hope you will give it serious consideration.
  • My answer is absolutely not!!