Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1950


C. L. Howard

The restoration of the ancient Church of Christ as it was known from A. D. 33 until the "falling away" foretold by Paul in 2 Thess. 2:3 was the combined efforts of such men as Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, John Smith, Walter Scott, Absalom Rice, and others. The restoration of the ancient order of Christian doctrine and practice did not spring into full fruition over night but was brought about gradually from its incipiency; from the statement of that gem of truth stated in the "Declaration and Address" in 1809, in which "Nothing would be taught as a matter of Christian faith or duty for which there could not be produced a 'Thus Saith the Lord' either in expressed terms or by approved precedence."

The time element was favorable and the receptive mood of the people was the "good ground." These persons who have lived in sectarian confusion and darkness were eager and ready for the glorious light and truth of God's power, the gospel (Rom. 1:16.)

No audience was too small, no "settlement" too remote, no meeting house too humble, even to brush arbors to dampen the zeal of these stalwarts of the restoration. Motivated by the love of God and a love for their fellowman they went everywhere preaching the Word, willing "to spend and be spent" without thoughts of financial remuneration or a "Sponsor." Through the tireless efforts of these servants of God they preached and labored to establish again the ancient order of the primitive church. They "earnestly contended for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3) They established congregations who worshipped and served God as of yore, and by the year of 1823 the church of Christ was restored. We are the recipients of their laborious activities. Do we appreciate it? Are we thankful for the real sacrifices they made? And what have we done with this priceless heritage?

For two generations their labors, under God's providence grew and spread, but by 1860 ambitious "leaders" appeared. Just as Paul had warned the elders of the Church at Ephesus, "Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them," so it happened in the church of Christ that had been restored here in America. Some men proved themselves traitors in the army of the Lord, where there was one united church up to this time. Schisms appeared, each separate communion claimed to be loyal to the Book. Distinctive names began to be applied. One party used the name "Christian Church." The other one still clung to the name "Church of Christ" and so far as name is concerned it has a scriptural name, "hast not denied my name." The "Christian Church" has its "liberal" and its "conservative" parties. It is torn by factions. The Church of Christ has its schisms, parties and divisions: college and anti-college factions, anti-class, anti-women teachers faction, premillennium faction etc. What is the reason? "Men shall arise speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them."

Such confusion is to be expected and looked for in the regular Protestant denominations, yes, even in the Catholics, they are divided into two main schisms, the Orthodox and the Roman, besides lesser parties. They have antagonistic schisms even as Protestants; but to "us" who boast that we have the truth that saves, and we do have, but I fear we are in the same category that Paul places the Jews in Rom. 2:17, 24. "Behold thou are called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will and approvest the things that are more excellent being instructed out of the law and art confident that thy thyself art a guide to the blind, a light to them which are in darkness and an instructor of foolish, a teacher of babes which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles (sects) through you." Jesus said that offences would come, "But woe unto him through whom the offence cometh."

In the early days of the Church in Jerusalem, its members were eager to tell good news. "At that time there was a great persecution of the church which was at Jerusalem: and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. They therefore that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the Word." They were all preachers, they waited not to be "sent", they went, so did the Christians in the restoration efforts.

The primitive church was less than 60 years old when schisms began to appear. Paul's letter to the church in Thessalonica written A. D. 51 was to correct erroneous ideas of the immediate —advent of Christ, telling them why. (2 Thess. 2:3) To the Colossians A. D. 62 Paul said: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit," evidently men of Greek or Oriental speculation. Again "Let no man judge you in respect of a holy day, or a new moon or the Sabbath." Manifestly Judaizing teachers of the Law. See also Acts 21:20. And in Corinthians Paul censures Christians for party names. Also some doubted, if not denied, the resurrection of the dead. I Cor. 15. John's first epistle was to warn the evil doers, and teachers of error. Some had denied that Christ had come in the flesh. I John 4:2, 3. The failing away came to the primitive church by the teachings of ambitious men, men who valued popularity and love of ease more than they did the approval of God. The tendencies of the present, can and will, if not checked, lead to the same end.