Vol.X No.VIII Pg.6
October 1973

140 Years Ago

Robert F. Turner

In March, 1827, five or six couples formed "a society for the investigation of Scripture subjects." They were Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and noncommunicants. I must condense their story, found in History of Disciples on Western Reserve,, by Hayden."We assumed that the Christian religion, in its fullness and perfectness, was recorded in the N. T., and what could not be there found was no part of Christianity. We also assumed that this was an intelligible document, for, if not adapted to the common intelligence of mankind, it could not be received as a revelation from God to man."

"Sometimes we discussed the intelligibility of the Scriptures, their all-sufficiency for the purpose of enlightenment, conversion, Christian perfection, church government. Then the 'special call' to the ministry: how does faith come; how many kinds of faith; which is first in order -- or repentance; can a sinner believe and obey the gospel ... without some super-added spiritual influence from above; should an unbeliever pray for faith; is the gospel a dead letter, or does it possess quickening power; when, where, and by whom was the gospel first preached. The difference between the first and second commission which Christ gave to his apostles; apostolic succession; the abrogation of the Mosaic dispensation; the subjects, mode, and design of baptism; should a sinner be baptized on the confession of his faith in Christ, or on an approved experience. All of these subjects were under earnest discussion for about one year.

These were great questions, and on account of our old theologies, they were exceedingly perplexing. No doctrinal standard was appealed to. All human authorities were ignored. The Bible was our book; Jesus Christ and his apostles were our umpire; and our work was personal in its object. We were sick of denominationalism."

"We had but two alternatives between which to choose; either to transmit religious partyism, with all its bitter fruits, to our rising families, and live and die in that state of doubt and uncertainty, vascillating between hope and fear, the inevitable result of a mixed profession; or to find relief by going back to the old record, to 'look up the old paths and walk therein."'

"In the month of May, 1828, we determined to enter into church relations." Two preachers, concurring with our principles, were asked "to preach for us, and administer baptism, and assist in a formal church organization on the N.T. basis. On Saturday preceding the second Lord's day in June, 1828, these brethren came. Before preaching, a few were baptized, and more on the day following. Then thirteen 'gave themselves to the Lord and to one another."'

Thus began the Deerfield church of Christ in the Western Reserve-- a section now known as Ohio. These people had honest hearts, faith in God's word, and courage to stand by their convictions. Where is their kind now?