The Restoration Movement (Ten)

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It is written:

1 Corinthians 3:6- I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

The Restoration Movement called men and women from all denominations to return to the Word of God. Roman Catholicism had long since done everything it could to dilute the Apostolic faith in the world: yet now the Word of God was abounding and people were throwing off the shackles of sectarianism to return to the old paths where the good way is!

One of the great leaders of the American Restoration Movement was a man named Alexander Campbell. He was born in September of 1788 in Louth Neagh, Ireland, Alexander Campbell was the son of Thomas Campbell (a minister Presbyterian church). Thomas believed in strict religious discipline for his children and family, and often spent a great deal of time with them all before the Lord. There is a story told that Thomas once engaged in prayer for so long with his family that his elderly father (who suffered from numerous health conditions) began to strike him with his cane for keeping him so long in prayer!

Alexander set course for the United States in 1808 but (due to a shipwreck in Scotland) enrolled in the University f Glasgow where he met a family named the Haldanes. They believed in the principles of returning to the Bible and hence rejected man-made creeds. In 1809, Alexander sailed to the United States and was reunited with his father, Thomas. Together, they began to encourage others to return to the ancient order of God’s Word. The restorationists created a document known as The Declaration And Address to try and crystallize what their goals were.

“A Presbyterian minister referring to the proposition that “nothing should be required as a matter of faith or duty for which there cannot be expressly produced a „Thus saith the Lord’,” said to A. Campbell, “Sir, these words are not sound. If you follow them out you must be a Baptist.” “Why,” said Mr. Campbell, “is there in Scripture no express precept or precedent for infant baptism?” “Not one, sir,” was the reply. Stating the difficulty to his father he merely answered, “We make our appeal to the law and to the testimony. Whatever is not found therein we must of course abandon.” Why should we deem it a thing incredible, they reasoned, that the Church of Christ in this highly favored country should resume that original unity, peace, and purity which belong to its constitution and constitute its glory? Is anything necessary for this desirable purpose but to conform to the model and adopt the practice of the primitive church expressly exhibited in the New Testament? Were we in our church constitution and management to exhibit a complete conformity to the apostolic church would we not be in that respect as perfect as Christ intended us to be? Who would not willingly give up his human inventions in worship and cease imposing his private opinions on his brethren and conform to the original pattern laid down in the New Testament that our divisions might be healed? The whole object was to “come firmly and fairly to original ground and take up things just as the apostles left them,” and thus “becoming disentangled from the accruing embarrassment of intervening ages” to stand upon the same ground on which the Church did at the beginning. “Never before,” says Dr. R. Richardson, “had any reformer taken distinctly such ground as this. Never before had anyone presumed to pass over so lightly the authorities and usages and decisions of so many intervening centuries. Here, indeed, was the startling proposition to begin anew—to begin at the beginning; to ascend at once to the pure fountain of truth, and to neglect and disregard, as though they had never been, the decrees of Popes, councils, synods, and assemblies, and all the traditions and corruptions of an apostate church. Here was an effort not so much for the reformation of the Church, as was that of Luther and Calvin, but for its complete restoration at once to its pristine purity and perfection. By coming at once to the primitive model and rejecting all human imitations; by submitting implicitly to the Divine authority as plainly expressed in the Scriptures, and by disregarding all the assumptions and dictations of fallible men it was proposed to form a union upon a basis to which no valid objection could be offered. By this summary method, the Church was to be at once released from the controversies of eighteen centuries, and from the conflicting claims of all pretenders to apostolic thrones, and the primitive gospel of salvation was to be disentangled and disembarrassed from all those corruptions and perversions which had heretofore delayed or arrested its progress.”” (Frederick Power, Sketches of Our Pioneers (Restoration Movement History), 27-28 (Kindle Edition); McLoud, OK: Bradley Cobb)

The power of God’s Word continued to work in Campbell and the others hearts…and this led to even greater changes!

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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