Vol.VII No.VII Pg.6
September 1970

Action In 1845

Robert F. Turner

The July 70 issue of ACTION announced Jimmie Lovells latest brainstorm for all church work: a Bible Foundation to print and distribute the scriptures. He wrote, In order to get things moving we must clear all legal angles, select a name and get a corporate address. We must set up a board of national and influential directors — men and women of all faiths. I have heard that Pat Boone has been appointed as President.

Institutional churches are moving faster and faster toward universal church organization — with exactly the same principles that put an earlier digression there. Ponder the following quote from Search For The Ancient Order, by Earl West, Vol. 1, p. 164-f. And note how brethren reasoned in 1845. Today brethren follow the same path to organized folly.


One major step in this direction needs special attention, viz.: the American Christian Bible Society. It was the first attempt at anything similar to a brotherhood- wide organization yet promoted. It was founded by D.S. Burnet in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 27, 1845. Soon after its establishment, its constitution was widely published in brotherhood periodicals along with articles urging the support of the brotherhood to this society.

No sooner was the Bible Society organized than opposition poured down upon it. Aylette Raines, editor of the Christian Teacher, a Kentucky publication, doubted the practicability of the enterprise...J.J. Goss, editor of Christian Intelligencer of Virginia, thought it would be wiser to cooperate with the American and Foreign Bible Society, a Baptist organization, than to establish another. Campbell himself thought the Bible Society to be premature, thinking the brethren were not yet ready for it. Campbell also felt that the colleges— Bethany, Bacon, and Franklin — should be put on a more substantial financial basis before trying something like a Bible Society.

Burnet seemed to have been stunned by the opposition. For several issues of the Harbinger after 1845 he and Campbell defended themselves over the society. Burnet wanted to know if the brotherhood had been sufficiently consulted when Campbell established Bethany College. Campbells reply was that the nature of the two institutions was entirely different. Bethany College was a private institution, established from the funds of himself and his friends, whereas the Bible Society purported to be a brotherhood organization. Very little of the opposition to the Society came because brethren thought it was an organization, but only because it was inexpedient at that time to start it.

For eleven years the Bible Society existed with very little interest displayed in it. It was off to a bad start and never got much sympathy behind it. In 1856 the Ohio State Convention met and agreed to terminate the Bible Society and turn its funds over to the American Bible Union. This was done, and so ended the firs general brotherhood attempt at organization.