The Stone/Campbell Movement: Reformation or Restoration?
Background: The religious atmosphere in the early 19th century on the Western
1. Puritans. British Dissenters. Strongly Calvinistic. Independent church structure.
The Great Awakening: Jonathan Edwards 1740?s, 50?s, ?Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.?
(The Puritans became the Congregational
2. Methodists. John Wesley (1703-1791) (and George Whitefield) Sought to reform Anglicanism. Ho
liness/Pietism movement Arminian theology. Emphasis on conversion, personal relationship with
God. Led to the idea of adult confirmation.
Methodism in the colonies: Francis Asbury, first ?bishop? of Methodist movement in the
U.S. Strong hierarchical structure.
3. Presbyterians. John Knox. Also strongly Calvinistic. Presbyterian = run by elders. Tended toward intellectualism.
4. Baptists: a blend of Anabaptist doctrine and Calvinistic theology. Mainly on the
5. This is the time when the Mormons, evangelicals, Christian Science, Adventists
go their start.
The Restoration Movement
Influences on the movement (especially on Thomas and Alexander Campbell)
? Francis Bacon and inductive logic: the scientific approach to the
facts of the Bible.
? John Locke: the ?Christian Philosopher?
? The Scottish school of Common Sense Philosophy (Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, etc.)
? The Seceder Presbyterians, the Sandemanians and other radical restorationist
James O?Kelly Methodist. Rejected organization and creed of Methodism. Established independent
congregations. We are ?Christians Only.? (1784)
The Christian Connection (western North Carolina, Kentucky)
Rice Haggard. More the theologian than O?Kelly. ?In opinions, liberty.? ?One thing I know, that
whenever nonessentials are made terms of communion, it will never fail to have
a tendency to disunite and scatter the church of Christ.? (Read SCM p.
Barton W. Stone:
Do you hold to the Westminister Confession? ?I do, as far as I see it consistent with
the word of God.?
The Cane Ridge Revival. 1801. Shaking in the Spirit. Evangelical in nature.
June 28, 1804 ?The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.?
Denounced human creed. The Bible only.
To be Called Christian only.
Local church government only.
Freedom of conscience, charity on matters of opinion.
Strong premillenial tendency. The millennium is almost upon us. Christianity to be the
These guys considered themselves reformers and uniters, not restorers.
Thomas Campbell. Born a Presbyterian (predestination). Influenced by Haldane, seceder Presbyterians,
Sandemanians. Joined a reformist movement. Moved to US 1807.
Became disillusioned with the Presbyterianism. Attempted to form an independent, non-denominational
1809 Published the ?Declaration and Address.?
Alexander Campbell. 1788- 1866 Son Very intellectual
Joined Thomas from Scotland 1809
Believers only baptism 1812 (SCM p. 180)
Formed Mahoning Baptist Association. but never called themselves Baptists. Called themselves Christians.
Campbell/Walker Debate 1820
The Christian Baptist 1823
The Millennial Harbinger 1830
Mahoning Baptist Association dissolved 1830
Bethany College 1840
1820?s an independent movement in Ohio, Pennsylvania
Walter Scott a very influential preacher. 1827 Hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized.
Did more to create the movement, perhaps, than Alexander Campbell. A much more effective
First evangelist in the movement
?Restored the gospel? in 1827
The five step ?plan? of salvation
Scott?s: faith, repentance, baptism, remission of sins, Holy Spirit
CoC today: hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized
The crowning event of the early years of the movement:
1824 Stone and Campbell met for the first time
1831 Decided to form a unified movement
1. Christian (Stonites) or Disciple (Campbellites)
2. Emotional vs intellectual movements (preachers vs teachers)
3. Teaching on baptism
4. Ordination of ministers
5. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
Alexander Campbell relied on Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. Believed we could use
the scientific method to study the Bible. Very solid hermeneutics, but sought the
?facts? of the Bible.
?Command, Example and Necessary Demonstrations.?
?Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent?
Sought Bible ?facts.? Weak on principles. Tended toward legalism.
The turning point:
Were they a unity movement (a reformation) or a restoration movement?
Stone and Campbell favored reformation (example; the Christadelphians)
Walter Scott, Benjamin Franklin, Tolbert Fanning, David Lipscomb and others
moved toward restoration. Sought ?the perfect pattern.?
Dominant influences in the movement:
? The Colleges (Bethany College, David Lipscomb College, Harding, ACU,
? The Periodicals (editor/bishops) (The Millennial Harbinger, The American Christian
Review, The Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, etc.)
? These were forces for unity and for division
Causes of disunity:
? Evangelism and inter-church organization (the Missionary Society)
(are para-church organizations OK?)
(p 254 SCMovement)
? The Civil War: pacifism, slavery, etc. (The Missionary Society supported
? The ?instrument.? Moses Lard: ?No preacher should enter a church where an organ
? Daniel Sommer and David Lipscomb.
? 1906 US Census acknowledged two separate groups: The Church of Christ and
the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ.
Northern churches allowed for organization, more liberal. Became ?The Christian Church? and
?The Disciples of Christ?
Southern churches fiercely independent, became ?Church of Christ?
SC Movement: p 573,574
No sense of history (very different from Campbell!!)
Church government based on elders and ministers or evangelists
David Lipscomb (1831-1917)
?Father? of the Church of Christ
Founder of Lipscomb University
Editor of the Gospel Advocate 1866-1917
Very strong dependence on the Bible. Doctrinally oriented. Watch your life and your doc
Became legalistically oriented. Split over very minor issues (one cup, instruments in churches,
etc?) No issue too small to divide over. (scientific hermeneutics and restorationist
?Watchdog? for the brotherhood.
?Daniel Sommer was a militant who left a legacy of legalistic wrangling and
Following his lengthy sermon, during which he blasted the "liberals" for their
many "sins," a prepared document was read to the assembled crowd by elder Peter
Warren. This powerful document, whose chief author was Sommer himself, is known
as the Address and Declaration. It is an obvious play on the "Declaration and Address"
which was authored and published in 1809 by Thomas Campbell and was a platform,
contained in thirteen propositions, for unity among all believers. Sommer’s
"Sand Creek Manifesto," however, was just the opposite. It was a call for d
ivision. Larry Miles, in his study of Sommer’s life, noted that this day "will go down
in our history as a day when the lines of demarcation were drawn." Dr. Leroy
Garrett seems to agree — "The date was Sunday, August 18, 1889, and while it is
risky to attempt to pinpoint the origin of any church, this would be a suitable
date for the beginning of the Churches of Christ" (The Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 392).
Sommer was determined to lead the faithful away from the larger body of Disciples
of Christ, and he came to refer to those loyal to his own plea as the "Churc
h of Christ," whereas all others were the "So-called Christian Church." He was
condemned for this in the Christian Standard — "Daniel Sommer is trying to get control
of some of our congregations, and form a distinct religious body. He would thus
start a new sect. Its bond and union would be its opposition to certain methods
of Christian work done by us." Thus, Sommer’s followers came to be referred to as
"anti brethren," since they were opposed to so many things. Sommer also frequently
insisted that his people were the "only Church of Christ in town." With extremism
always comes exclusivism.
The matter effectively was brought to a head by one statement in particular
on this occasion. Sommer declared, "In closing up this address and declaration,
we state that we are impelled from a sense of duty to say, that all such innovations
and corruptions to which we have referred, that after being admonished, and having had
sufficient time for reflection, if they do not turn away from such abominations, that we can
not and will not regard them as brethren." The words had been uttered! "For the first
time in its history a substantial segment of the Stone-Campbell Movement made
a test of fellowship and a bond of union over issues that had generally been
considered matters of opinion" (Dr. Leroy Garrett, The Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 392).
Daniel Sommer was devoted to division, and on May 24, 1892, wrote in his Octog
raphic Review, "The Sand Creek Declaration is being adopted, and those who will not
do right are purged out as old leaven. In course of a few years the Church
of Christ will be entirely separated from the Christian Church. Then there will
be no more fellowship between them as there now is between the Church of Ch
rist and any other branch of sectarianism. Hallelujah." In other words, Praise God
for this division of His people!!
20th Century controversies:
? One cup, Sunday School, ?anti? churches
? For the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ; The Ecumenical Movement. Op
? UCMS (United Christian Missionary Society) vs. NACC (North American
? Two denominations by about 1950
Church of Christ: Conservative
Christian Church: Moderate
Disciples of Christ: Liberal
Lessons to be learned:
? Unity is extremely difficult to maintain without strong hierarchical
? Separating essential matters from the non-essential is harder than
? A movement without a strong hierarchical structure needs instruments
to maintain unity.
? Careful thinking about theology, church structure and history are
required for long term growth and unity.
? It is extremely difficult to avoid overreacting to groups with whom