Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 21, 1963

Campbell Spoke The Truth

Forrest Darrell Moyer

In 1809, Thomas Campbell, who had come to this country two years earlier, published what was known as the Declaration and Address. It was a document designed to call upon people to lay aside human creeds and go back to the Bible in all things. It was in this address that he called upon people to "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent." This address had a terrific impact upon the religious world of his day. It helped launch the most powerful religious movement of this country.... the restoration movement. It helped to start people back to New Testament Christianity. Among the things said in the address is this paragraph that should be well heeded today:

It is, to us, a pleasing consideration that all the Churches of Christ which mutually acknowledge each other as such, are not only agreed in the great doctrines of faith and holiness, but are also materially agreed as to the positive ordinances of the gospel institution; so that our differences, at most, are about the things in which the kingdom of God does not consist, that is, about matters of private opinions or human inventions. What a pity that the kingdom of God should be divided about such things! Who, then, would not be the first among us to give up human inventions in the worship of God, and cease from imposing his private opinions upon his brethren, that our breaches might thus be healed? Who would not willingly conform to the original pattern laid down in the New Testament, for this happy purpose? (Emp. mine, FDM)

Most certainly should those who claim to be members of the churches of Christ be willing to lay aside things of human invention and private opinion in order to see the body of Christ unified. The real tragedy is that too many people think more of their human inventions than they do of the unity of the church. it is admitted by all that the institutions among us (orphan homes, hospitals, colleges, etc.) are things of human invention. They are not prescribed in the New Testament. Their beginning was of a late date. Their connection with the church is causing division among brethren. We have no objection to these things in their proper places. But we most strenuously object to their being tied on to the church. Would not sincere brethren be willing to keep them separate from the church in order to have the unity of the Spirit? Surely it could be done so easily!

Campbell spoke of private opinion. There seems to be an increasing desire "to bite and devour" one another over things of private opinion.... things that do not pertain to the work, worship, or organization of the church but apply to individual choice and action. Why should anyone feel it necessary to force or bind his opinion on others? If a thing pertains to the worship, organization, or action of the church, let us be strong in "conforming to the original pattern laid down in the New Testament." But if something is a private opinion, let us keep it there

— 5140 Planet Parkway, Sacramento 23, Calif.