Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 18, 1957
NUMBER 49, PAGE 1,5b

A Great Service Rendered

John T. Lewis, Birmingham, Alabama

The Gospel Advocate has rendered a great service in reprinting the Christian Baptist — the paper published by Alexander Campbell from 1823 to 1930. It was during that period and through that periodical that the denominational world was shaken from center to circumference and from stern to stem. Brother Goodpasture says: "Robert Semple, a prominent Baptist preacher of Virginia, said of the Christian Baptist: 'It is more mischievous than any publication I have ever known and has succeeded in sowing seeds of discord among the brethren to an alarming extent'." Brother Goodpasture continues: "Denominationalism and infidelity have not yet recovered from the wounds inflicted through the columns of the Christian Baptist."

I want to join Brother Goodpasture in urging every one that can to order a set of the Christian Baptist NOW, and especially gospel preachers and elders, because the majority of them are ignorant of the teaching that cut the Gordian knot that was strangling New Testament Christianity in the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, and started the gospel light flowing, as a silver thread, down the corridors of time.

On August 3, 1823, Mr. Campbell wrote in the Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, pages 6 and 7: "They knew nothing of the hobbies of modern times. In their church capacity alone they moved. They neither transformed themselves into any other kind of association, nor did they fracture and sever themselves into divers societies. They viewed the church of Jesus Christ as the scheme of heaven to ameliorate the world; as members of it, they considered themselves bound to do all they could for the glory of God and the good of men. They dare not transfer to a missionary society, or Bible society, or education society, a cent or a prayer, lest in so doing they should rob the church of its glory, and exalt the inventions of men above the wisdom of God. In their church capacity alone they moved. 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 do in this capacity, they had nothing left for any other object of a religious nature. In this capacity, wide as its sphere extended, they exhibited the truth in word and deed. Their good works, which accompanied salvation, were the labors of love, in ministering to the necessities of saints, to the poor of the brotherhood. They did good to all men, but especially to the household of faith. They practiced that pure and undefiled religion, which, in overt acts, consists in 'taking care of orphans and widows in their afflictions, and in keeping one's self unspotted by (the vices of) the world."

Will Brother Goodpasture join me in saying that this is the kind of teaching that lifted the church of our Lord out of the quagmire of the denominational and sectarian swamps of that day and placed it upon the high plane of scriptural authority for its work and worship? Or will he join Robert Semple, a prominent Baptist preacher of Virginia, in saying the Christian Baptist is "more mischievous than any publication I have ever known and has succeeded in sowing seeds of discord among the brethren to an alarming extent"? And thereby help bind up the "wounds of Denominationalism and infidelity inflicted through the columns of the Christian Baptist." We will wait and see.

Mr. Campbell later wrote: "With regard to Bible societies, they are the most specious and plausible of all the institutions of the age. No man who loves the Bible can refrain from rejoicing at its increasing circulation. But every Christian who understands the nature and design, the excellence and glory of the institution called the church of Jesus Christ, will lament to see its glory transferred to a human corporation. The church is robbed of its character by every institution, merely human, that would ape its excellence and substitute itself in its place . . . Let every church of Christ, then, if it can only disseminate twenty Bibles or twenty Testaments in one year, do this much. Then it will know into what channel its bounty flows; it will need no recording secretary, no president, no managers of its bounty. It will send all this pageantry, this religious show, to the regions of pride and vanity, whence they came. Then the church and its king will have all the glory." (Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, pages 33 and 34.)

I would like to ask Brother Goodpasture a question, and the only medium I have is through the Gospel Guardian. Here it is: Brother Goodpasture, if Alexander Campbell were living today, would you allow him to publish the above in the Gospel Advocate? Or would you join "Robert Semple" in accusing Mr. Campbell "of sowing seeds of discord among the brethren to an alarming extent"? This is an honest question and I hope you will not ignore it.

When Mr. Campbell suspended the publication of the Christian Baptist, and began publishing The Millennial Harbinger on January 4, 1830, the Baptists were still griping about the teaching and influence of the Christian Baptist. In Volume 1, page 27 of the Millennial Harbinger, Mr. Campbell wrote: "Now I say to one and all of these men, Point out one error in the Christian Baptist, one ruinous doctrine, except to the would-be priest, and I will thank you. I challenge you to the conflict for the faith once delivered to the saints. You can, Idoubt not, excel me in all the acts of calumny and all the logic of the vantage ground; but take some one topic; discuss it. My pages are open to you. Yes, you may send the antidote with the poison to every fireside. Come on, gentlemen. Only be a little more courteous in your manners, and you shall have page for page, line for line, and period for period with me." Brother Goodpasture have you ever felt that secure in your Editorial Chair? If not, why not?

On page 60 of the same Volume, Mr. Campbell writing about the charges the Baptists made against him, said: "I am unsound in the faith, because I will not patronize aid, abet, and flatter, the spirit of Holy and benevolent enterprises; big with promises, whispered, trumpeted into the ear, but broken to the heart! Because I will not say to the tract, missionary, and the thousand societies with their presidents, managers, secretaries, and treasurers — aye, their treasurers, God bless you!" There is no doubt about Alexander Campbell being a church buster in his early writings. Now will Brother Goodpasture tell the readers of the Gospel Advocate what kind of churches Mr. Campbell was busting, and what kind of preachers accused him of "sowing seeds of discord among the brethren"? (More to follow)