|Volume 21 Number 6 June 2019||
Gary C. Hampton
Thomas Campbell came to the United States from Ireland for health reasons. His journey came in the midst of a long struggle with the division he saw in the religious world of his Irish homeland. Thomas discovered that the religious climate of the United States was no better.
He became part of what was known as the Christian Association of Washington, Pennsylvania. Thomas played a key role in writing the Declaration and Address, first published in 1809. One statement in that document shows the tenor of his work. He pleaded that:
all speak, profess, and practice, the very same things, that are exhibited upon the sacred page of New Testament Scripture, as spoken and done by the Divine appointment and approbation; and that this be extended to every possible instance of uniformity, without addition or diminution; without introducing anything of private opinion, or doubtful disputation, into the public profession or practice of the church. (page 50)
He set forth a series of propositions that he saw as the only reasonable basis for unity. Number 5 stresses the importance of going back to the Bible for our authority.
That with respect to the commands and ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the scriptures are silent, as to the express time or manner of performance, if any such there be; no human authority has power to interfere, in order to supply the supposed deficiency, by making laws for the church; nor can anything more be required of Christians in such cases, but only that they so observe these commands and ordinances, as will evidently answer the declared and obvious end of their institution. Much less has any human authority power to impose new commands or ordinances upon the church, which our Lord Jesus Christ has not enjoined. Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church; or be made a term of communion amongst Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.
We live in a time of high religious division. May we realize the importance of unity and lend strong voices to calling for all to go back to the Bible, practicing only such as is as old as the New Testament.
Living Peaceably with Others
Ronald D. Reeves
The ideal congregation lives peaceably with others. This applies to Christians individually and collectively as we regulate relationships in the church, in personal families and in social and workplace relationships. Paul said, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). With this as our goal, may we see the wisdom in never allowing any judgmental matter to generate division, especially in the Lord’s church (Romans 14-15). We may recognize the wisdom and righteousness of such a course while failing to regularly practice this in daily living. May we as well never allow personal pride to hamper relationships in our search for peaceful coexistence. Though peace is a wonderful goal to pursue, may our allegiance to the Word of God never be sacrificed in the pursuit of peace. If we cannot maintain peace with men, though seeking it, let us maintain reconciliation and peace with God through faithfulness to biblical precepts. May the Lord bless us in our search for peace as we dedicate ourselves anew to acquiring and enjoying the peace that passeth all understanding.