Those Filler Paragraphs
James W. Adams observed in the Gospel Guardian, March 20, 1953, "As far as I am personally concerned, the question of fellowship with those who believe in and support institutional orphan homes should be the last to be raised. It is assumed that my brethren who differ from me on this point are completely sincere and that if and when they are convinced that they are violating scriptural principles, they will cease to so do. It seems to me more reasonable and more consonant with the spirit of Christ for us to continue to probe for an answer to our problem in the form of an unquestionable and universally acceptable basis upon which we can function in discharging our benevolent responsibilities. It is the conviction of this writer that the longer we delay in reaching such a solution and the more we complicate the situation by establishing new institutions and by harsh and bitter personal attacks on those of opposing views, the greater will be the danger to the peace and unity of God's people. May God help us to work and pray for common ground and unbroken fellowship."
Alexander Campbell: In 1825 Alexander Campbell was challenged, by a reader of the Christian Baptist, on his use of the term "full communion" as he applied the term to fellowship with Baptists. This was in a time when lines were not finally drawn between the "restoration churches" and the old line Baptists. At this point of time in the Restoration Movement, attitudes toward relationship and fellowship with Baptist bodies had not become crystallized. In defense of a limited fellowship with those in error, Campbell observed; ". . . I will unite with any Baptist society in the United States, in any act of social worship; such as prayer, praise, or breaking bread in commemoration of the Lord's death, if they confess the one Lord, the one faith, the one hope, and the one baptism: . . . But that congregations may be found, under the banners of this profession, with whom I would not unite in one single act of social worship, as well as individuals, I will cheerfully declare. And with not one would I unite in prayer, or praise, or breaking bread, if that act is to be interpreted into a full, perfect, and entire approbation of all their views, doctrine, and practice, as a society of individuals." The Christian Baptist, Vol. III 1825, pages 201-203, Gospel Advocate Reprint Edition, 1955.
SAND CREEK DECLARATION: James DeForest Murch sets forth the importance of this document, in the book "Christians Only." "The brethren in Shelby County, Illinois, had been gathering at Sand Creek for a yearly meeting since 1873. On this occasion it is said that six thousand persons were present. Daniel Sommer, editor of the Octographic Review, had been invited to address the assembly; and he harangued them for an hour and forty minutes on the state of the brotherhood charging the 'innovators' with being responsible for all the existing division, bitterness and strife. In the midst of the address P. D. Warren, one of the elders of the Sand Creek congregation arose and read a document which claimed to represent the views of Sand Creek, Liberty, Ash Grove, Union and Mode churches." This event and this "manifesto" were important factors in the cleavage among churches of the Restoration Movement. Read about it in Murch's "Christians Only," or in "Daniel Sommer, 1850-1940" compiled by Wm. E. Wallace, or in Brumback's History of The Church (now out of print). The Sand Creek meeting and declaration are important factors in the laying of foundations for 20th century church history.
August 1959: In an editorial Yater Tant printed the remarks of Batsell Barrett Baxter relative to listing preachers in Volume II of Preachers of Today. Baxter observed: "We do not wish — in this publication, or elsewhere — to draw a line, excluding our brethren with whom we do not agree on certain brotherhood issues." Tant wrote, "We share brother Baxter's reluctance to 'draw a line' against brethren, ..." It is interesting to note the number of men who are opposed to institutionalism and sponsoring churches who contributed their biographical sketches to the book. — Gospel Guardian, August 27, 1959.
THE LUNNENBURG LETTER: Homer Hailey, in "Attitudes and Consequences" points out the importance of the Lunnenberg Letter. "A discussion of the attitude toward the Scriptures gradually formulated among the Disciples and the crystallization of certain points of doctrine, would be incomplete without reference to the famous 'Lunnenburg Letter,' and Mr. Campbell's reply to it, which appeared in the September, 1837, issue of The Millennial Harbinger. A sister living in Lunnenburg, Virginia, had taken exception to some things said by Campbell in a former article in which he had made reference to one's finding Christians in all Protestant parties. It will be noted that Campbell's reply contains some of the most liberal statements ever made by him, although he affirms they set forth views held by him all the time." ("Attitudes and Consequences" is available at $3.00).
ROBERT WELCH, 1961: "A plea to my brethren is, that we do everything righteously possible to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; but that we be careful not to broaden our fraternal fellowship beyond the bounds of God's fellowship; that we seek to establish a disposition of moderation in our discussion of differences with one another; that we make no hasty and later to be regretted actions against our erring brother; that we stand unflinchingly against error and those who promote it; but that all we do be done in love. — 'Love the brotherhood.' " Gospel Guardian, July 27, 1961. (Note: For an excellent study on fellowship as regards problems and issues in the brotherhood see Robert Welch's series on Fellowship in Volume 13 of the Gospel Guardian.)
LESLIE DIESTELKAMP: "We enjoy fellowship with any brother in Christ, even though he may differ with us, so long as the fellowship does not: (I) involve us in wrong practice, (2) commit us to unscriptural doctrine, or (3) constitute an endorsement of his error." — Leslie Diestelkamp, Think, January 1, 1970.