7 Mar 2007

Genes in our DNA: Unity & Diversity Can Co-Exist

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Alexander Campbell, Restoration History, Sectarianism, Unity

The following quotations testify to a gene that flows in our veins as heirs of the Stone-Campbell Movement. It is at times a recessive gene for sure but it is there nonetheless. The quotations speak for themselves so I will let them stand. This point of view is what started the “reformation” of the 19th century. It is always healthy to revisit our roots from time to time.

I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be ONE.” – Jesus

Barton Stone

“IMPRIMIS. We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one Body, and one Spirit, even as we were called into one hope of our calling …

Item. We will, that preachers and people, cultivate a spirit of mutual forbearance; pray more and dispute less . . .” (Barton W. Stone, Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery, 1804, in Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union).

“The scriptures will never keep together in union, and fellowship members who have not the spirit of the scriptures, which spirit is love, peace, unity, forbearance, and cheerful obedience. This is the spirit of the great Head of the body. I blush for my fellows, who hold up the Bible as the bond of union yet make their opinions it tests of fellowship; who plead for union of all-Christians; yet refuse fellowship with such as dissent from their notions. Vain men! Their zeal is not according to knowledge, nor is their spirit that of Christ. There is a day not far ahead which will declare it. Such anti-sectarian sectarians are doing more mischief to the cause, and advancement of truth, the unity of Christians, and the salvation of the world, than all the skeptics in the world. In fact, they make skeptics” (Barton W. Stone, “Remarks,” Christian Messenger, August 1835, p. 180).

Thomas Campbell

“Let the ministers of Jesus but embrace this exhortation, put their hand to the work, and encourage the people to go forward upon the firm ground of obvious truth, to unite in the bonds of an entire Christian unity; and who will venture to say that it would not soon be accomplished? . . . Nothing ought to be inculcated upon Christians as articles of faith; nor required of them as terms of communion, but what is expressly taught and enjoined upon them by the word of God… Division among Christians is a horrid evil, fraught with many evils. It is antichristian … It is antiscriptural . . . It is antinatural” (Thomas Campbell, Declaration and Address, 1809, in Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union).


Alexander Campbell

(Alexander Campbell- during a long series of articles “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things” responded to a Dunkard {a German Baptist who immersed 3x} who queried him on footwashing, frequency of the Supper, and the Holy Kiss [all of which J.H. believed Campbell to be in error on]. Campbell’s reply shows the heart of the Stone-Campbell Movement like nothing else — Bobby Valentine])

“DEAR BROTHER — For such I recognize you, notwithstanding the varieties of opinion which you express on some topics, on which we might NEVER agree. But if we should not, as not unity of opinion, but unity of faith, is the only true bond of Christian union, I will esteem and love you as I do every man, of whatever name, who believes sincerely that Jesus is the Messiah, and hope in his salvation. And as to the evidence of this belief and hope, I know of none more decisive than an unfeigned obedience, and willingness to submit to the authority of the Great King” (Alexander Campbell, “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things, No. XI,” Christian Baptist, 1825, p. 223). Read more about the remarkable union with these Dunkards in my blog: Coming Together in 1827.

Robert Richardson

“Christian Union on the Bible alone, has, from the beginning, been the watchword of our religious movement. To effect a union of the pious of all denominations upon this basis was its original and cherished purpose … For it has been our happiness to learn, and to show to others, that the Christian faith is not a belief in doctrines, as has been generally supposed, but that it is simply a TRUSTING IN CHRIST — A PERSONAL reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. Such was the Christian faith in the beginning . . .

It is not to inferences and abstractions that the homage of the affections, the trust of the soul and the beneficent and self-denying life of the true Christian are devoted. It is a PERSON and not a particular set of doctrines, that are the object of his faith, hope and love … Inferences drawn from facts, are ever to be carefully distinguished from the facts themselves … It is hence Christ in the faith, Christ in the heart; Christ in the life, that constitute genuine orthodoxy” (Robert Richardson, “Union of Christians,” Millennial Harbinger. March 1866, pp. 98-101.)

David Lipscomb

“So long as a man really desires to do right, to serve the Lord, to obey His commands, we cannot withdraw from him. We are willing to accept him as a brother, no matter how ignorant he may be, or how far short of the perfect standard his life may fall from his ignorance…We will maintain the truth, press the truth upon him, compromise not one word or iota of that truth, yet forbear with the ignorance, the weakness of our brother who is anxious, but not yet able to see the truth …Why should I not, when I fall so far short of perfect knowledge myself? How do I know that the line beyond which ignorance damns, is behind me, not before me? If I have no forbearance with his ignorance, how can I expect God to forbear with mine? …So long then as a man exhibits a teachable disposition, is willing to hear, to learn and obey the truth of God, I care not how far he may be, how ignorant he is, I am willing to recognize him as a brother.” (David Lipscomb, Gospel Advocate, April 22, 1875).

“A sectarian is one who defends everything his party holds or that will help his party, and opposes all that his party opposes. This partisan takes it for granted that everything his party holds is right, and everything the other party holds to be wrong and is to be opposed. Hence the party line defines his faith and teaching. He sees no good in the other party. He sees no wrong in his own party . . .

A truth lover and seeker always looks into whatever party he comes in contact with, and will first look to see what truth the party holds … The love of truth is a spirit of kindness and love toward all, even to the holder of error. He loves the holder of truth because he receives truth and strength from him” (David Lipscomb, “A Sectarian and a Truth Seeker,” Gospel Advocate. June 27, 1907, p. 409.)

Ours is a heritage of unity within diversity.

Stoned-Campbell Disciple

19 Responses to “Genes in our DNA: Unity & Diversity Can Co-Exist”

  1. Ancient Wanderer Says:

    I like to think of it in terms of ‘Forgive them Father they just don’t get it yet’.


  2. Tim Archer Says:

    I agree with Don. I can’t wait for people to mature to my point of view. 😉

    Good post Bobby. I always count on you to be my “history resource.”

    Have a great day!

    Grace and peace,

  3. Steve Puckett Says:

    I like Carl Ketcherside’s quote:

    “Wherever God has a child, I have a brother or a sister.”


  4. lisa leichner Says:

    I love history. It’s amazing the the words that applied to the 1800s that still apply today. Would that we all only and always had the Word to unite us, rather than letting our opinions divide us.

  5. Neva Says:

    Powerful words and a powerful post. Words for the present as well as the past.


  6. Greg Says:

    The evidence is there … it requires a change of heart. I particularly liked the quote, “The scriptures will never keep together in union and fellowship members who have not the spirit of the scriptures….”

    Good stuff, as usual, Bobby.

  7. Gary Cleveland Says:

    Great post, as usual, Bobby. I do stop off at Stoned-Campbell often even if I don’t post a comment. Two things before I get on to another cup of java….

    your latest comment on my blog was uncalled for…the nerve of telling me how warm it is down South and me with my tongue frozen to my snow shovel.

    An finally…I did indeed add Kingdom Come to my list mania at Amazon.com Sorry for that oversight.

    Your cheesehead Bama buddy

  8. Brian Nicklaus Says:

    that last part of the last lipscomb quote is one of my favorites.

    “The love of truth is a spirit of kindness and love toward all, even to the holder of error.”

    too many today think the love of truth is a reason to bash, ridicule, mock, judge, insult, condemn, etc. and etc. and yes I am talking about spiritual sword, firm foundations, tennesse bible college, christianity then and now, etc. and etc.

  9. cwinwc Says:

    “Unity within diversity.” Now that sounds very “1st Century-ist.”

  10. Josh Says:

    Great post. I wish more people had your passion for diversity.

  11. Matt Says:

    I really think these guys would be disfellowshiped in some places today!

  12. Alan Says:

    Here is another:

    W. Carl Ketcherside:
    It is not a choice between “the instrument party” in error, and “the non-instrument party” with no error. The fact that there are two dozen factions in the non-instrument segment proves that we are not free from error. It is a question as to which brothers in error I will associate with openly and freely. I do not endorse any of their errors, nor do I expect them to endorse any of mine. Therefore, it is really a choice of brethren, and not of errors. But I have no choice of brothers. I can no more choose my spiritual brothers than I could my fleshly brothers. Brotherhood is established by fatherhood; fraternity is the result of paternity. I shall love all of my brothers and move among them as they will allow, sharing in what they can convey, sharing with them what little I have learned. I shall receive them as God received me, not because of perfection, but in spite of imperfection.

  13. DJG Says:

    I would love if unity was emphasized in our heritage and diversity was tolerated. I know that it opening up and changing in many places…everything seems to appen slower in the South…

  14. Dee O'Neil Andrews Says:

    I love all of those great quotes, Bobby. They sound very much in pace with today’s more “progressive” thinkers and seekers within the churches of Christ and would be right at home.

    I happen to agree with all that all of them said and have just in the past few days realized how much I had up until now been too “churchy” and prejudiced against other believers who are not of our “flock,” so to speak, and how wrong I was in my critical feelings toward them deep in my heart. When God struck me with that knowledge, I was deeply appalled at my own lack of understanding and love, deep down inside me and I repented of my own failures to be a loving Christian to all and in all.

    Thanks for these insights that so lighten my load and brighten my day as a Christian. Thanks for always holding up that great lamp of truth and love before our eyes and may we learn from these men what we did not learn from more recent speakers in this movement we have been born into.


  15. Brian Nash Says:

    I know that I will come off as being a bit naive, but I think that if more people would simply stand-up to the sectarians and let them know that we will not allow ourselves to be bullied by them any longer, the more sensible among them, will back down. All of us need to remember that the Church belongs to Christ, not to anyone of us.

    Thanks Bobby for those very insightful quotations.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    “What they said.” -Frank Bellizzi

  17. Danny Says:

    Amen brothers! Thanks for recalling these words for us.

  18. jmy Says:

    I have linked to this post at http://wherefromhere.wordpress.com/2007/05/01/doctrines-or-jesus/

    Thanks for the post!

  19. john acuff Says:

    Thanks Bobby for putting it all together. I was a friend of Carl and of Leroy Garrett and some others who believed this and then I found Don Finto and the Belmont Church for several years before I tried a coC that did not and asked me to leave. I back in one learning these truths again and it is a joy and it was evident at the Lipscomb Summer Celebration this summer that a new wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing through the Churches of Christ

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