Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 13, 1950

Quotes And Comments

C. L. Howard, Kiowa, Kansas

In the first decade of the Nineteenth Century, Thomas Campbell, one of the leading ministers of the Presbyterian Church in North Ireland came to America. Deploring the distracted condition of the religious world, and convinced that its divisions were unscriptural and injurious to society, resolved to make a public effort to restore the original unity of the church.

A meeting was called consisting of persons of different religious denominations. After a full conference, it was unanimously agreed to form a religious association. The result of the conference was the drawing up of a "Declaration and Address" which was agreed upon and ordered printed.

This "Declaration and Address" was not meant to be the constitution of a church, but was simply a declaration of a purpose to institute a society of voluntary advocates of church reform, the purpose of which was to promote simple, evangelical Christianity.

They resolved to countenance and support only those ministers who practiced that simple, original form of Christianity, who would teach nothing as a matter of Christian faith or duty for which there could not be produced a "Thus saith the Lord," dither in expressed terms or by approved precedent.

"In the spring of 1823, in the prospectus of the Christian Baptist,' published by Alexander Campbell, 'the Christian Baptist shall espouse the cause of no religious sect, excepting that ancient sect called Christians first at Antioch. Its sole object shall be the eviction of truth, and the exposure of error in doctrine and practice. The editor acknowledges no standard of religious faith in doctrine and practice. The editor acknowledges no standard of religious faith or works, other than the Old and New Testaments, and the latter as the only standard of the religion of Jesus Christ, will intentionally at least, oppose nothing which it contains and recommend nothing which it does not enjoin." (Quoted from Life of Elder John Smith, pages 152-153).

"The societies called churches, constituted and set in order by the ministers of the New Testament, were of such as received and acknowledged Jesus as Lord Messiah, the Saviour of the world and had put themselves under his guidance. The only bond of union among them was faith in Him and submission to His will. In the apostle's doctrine and in the apostle's commandments they steadfastly continued. The Church, they considered the pillar and ground of the truth; they viewed it as the temple of the Holy Spirit, as the house of the living God. They considered, if they did all they could in this capacity, they had nothing left for any other object of a religious nature." (Ibidem, pages 154-155).

"When there is a voluntary association of any number of disciples of Christ, met in any one place to attend to the duties and privileges of a church, should they call any one of their own number, who possess the qualifications belonging to the bishop or overseer laid down by the Holy Spirit in the written word and should they appoint him to office, as the Holy Spirit has taught them in the same written word, then it may be said to such a person 'take heed to yourself and to the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer' but this bishop of whom we have now spoken is neither priest, ambassador, minister of religion, nor a reverend divine; but is simply one that has the oversight of one voluntary society, who, when he leaves that society, has no office in any other, in consequence of his being an officer in that. His discharge of the work of a bishop is limited by, and confined to, the particular congregation which appointed him to office. If he should travel abroad and visit another congregation, even of the same views of that of which he was a bishop, he is then no bishop; he is then in the capacity of an unofficial disciple. To suppose the contrary, is to constitute different Orders of Men, or to divide the church into the common classes of clergy and laity; than which, nothing is more essentially opposite to the genius and spirit of Christianity." (Ibidem, pages 157-158).

"In the meantime, the bishop of the church, in their weekly meetings, teaches the religion in its sublime and glorious doctrine and bearings, and thus the members are still educating and building up in the most holy faith. The church of the living God is thus independent of theological schools and colleges for its existence, enlargement, comfort, and perfection; for it is itself put in possession of all the means of education and accomplishments, if these means be wisely used." (Ibidem, page 241).

"My very soul is stirred within me when I think of what a world of mischief the popular clergy have done. They have shut up everybody's mouth but their own, and theirs they won't open unless they are paid for it. No man believes any fact but he can tell the reason why, and produce the evidence on which he believes it. This is all the New Testament means, and all I mean by preaching. A bishop must be apt to teach; but nothing is said about being apt to preach, for teaching and preaching are two things essentially different. To have said that a bishop must be apt to preach in that age would have been absurd, when women as well as men could preach. Paul mentions women of note who were his fellow-laborers; and all know how Priscilla explained to the eloquent Apollos the way of God more accurately. Euodia and Syntiche are mentioned as women who labored with the Apostle Paul in the publication of the Gospel. Yet, in the church, they were not allowed to teach, nor even to speak in the way of asking questions." (Ibidem, pages 241-242).

This entire article is composed almost exclusively of quotations taken from the book "Life of Elder John Smith," which in turn quotes the "Christian Baptist," a religious journal edited by Alexander Campbell, dating from 1823, and will be used for a basis for further articles of like nature and comments which are to follow.