I meant to post this at the end of last week, but I didn’t get around to it. Oh, well. Better late than never. A lot of this is pretty interesting stuff, mostly about how the things Campbell tended to emphasize and his method of biblical interpretation have evolved into the spiritual values of the modern Church of Christ. We’ve been going for awhile now, and there are still several lessons to go. I hope my class is still learning something, or at least interested week to week. Here’s the handy printable version:
I. Developing a Theology
i. Shunned by early leaders as divisive in nature
ii. What is it?
1. study of God
2. book defines it as “Thoughtful reflections on the Christian faith”.
iii. You have a Theology whether you want to admit it or not.
b. Three parts of Campbell’s theology that still influence us
i. Unity and Restoration
1. New Testament practices would restore the Early Church
2. Campbell wrote extensively on what the church should look like in a series called “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things”
a. Dangers of creeds
c. Weekly communion
d. Church offices
3. Purpose of restoring the Ancient Order
a. NOT to be legalistically correct
b. Unity, of course
c. To make the church the model of discipleship that it was supposed to be.
4. Why did Campbell spend so much time on the church and neglect other doctrines (God, Christ, Holy Spirit, salvation, end times, etc.)
a. Not that he didn’t understand or think about them.
b. Believed most Protestant teaching about those doctrines was sound – those didn’t need restoring
c. For example: the Apostle’s Creed
i. Campbell preaches the danger of creeds, but he is willing to profess the Apostle’s Creed
1. “We never objected to a creed properly so called. We have a creed – and apostolic creed.”
2. Adds baptism for the remission of sins to it
ii. Campbell thinks everything in the Creed is important, that’s the stuff everyone believed, so he focused on what he thought was left out.
5. What this means for the Church of Christ today
a. Theology tends to be uneven
i. Overemphasize some things at the expense of others
1. doctrine of the church is strong
2. views on God and the Holy Spirit sometimes get left out.
b. Restoration is a means to unity
i. Some later leaders thought you had to choose one or the other
ii. Some later leaders even felt that restoration had been accomplished – though Campbell viewed it as something ongoing until the return of Christ.
ii. Biblical Interpretation
1. Enlightenment influenced
a. Read the Bible grammatically and historically
b. A scientific approach
2. Not a completely rationalistic approach
a. Bible must be read with more than the mind
i. Must be read with a desire to know the will of God
ii. The heart must be engaged as well
b. Wanted scholars who put the word into practice
a. Use the best contemporary methods of Biblical interpretation, but keep the focus on a heart-felt relationship with Christ
i. Helped avoid legalism
ii. Studying to arrive at correct teaching was important, but it’s secondary to the Bible’s picture of Christ
iii. Baptism and What it Means to be a Christian
1. Teachings on Baptism did more to separate the Stone-Campbell movement form other Christian groups than anything else (even Baptists didn’t emphasize it as much)
2. Divisiveness of Baptism was an Early Concern
i. Baptism might become a one-item creed
ii. Would exclude more Christians from union than any other creed
iii. In some cases, his worry became reality
b. Are only the immersed entitled to the name of Christian?
i. Campbell addressed this in the Millennial Harbinger after receiving a letter expressing surprise at his claim that he found Christians in all Protestant groups
ii. Campbell’s view
1. If no Protestant groups contained true Christians, then there would have been no Christians for centuries, and thus no church, making Jesus a liar.
2. therefore, other groups must contain Christians
3. plea for unity was a call to Christians to come out of sectarianism
a. if all the Christians were in the Stone-Campbell movement, then unity was already achieved
b. a plea to unity means there are Christians apart from one another, that need to come together
4. In short, Campbell did not believe that the Stone-Campbell Christians were the only ones going to heaven.
3. How did Campbell view baptism then?
a. Letter asked, “What act of yours gave you the name of Christian?”
i. Campbell preached believers baptism
ii. Campbell called on those baptized as infants to be immersed as adults
iii. A lot of his followers came to believe that only those immersed as adults were Christians
1. Campbell accused them of being legalists about baptism, or making baptism a savior
2. Refused to make baptism the standard of Christian faith
a. Who is a Christian, the one baptized as an infant, or as an adult?
b. Campbell would say, the one who loves Christ the most.
c. “Did I act otherwise, I would be a pure sectarian, a Pharisee among Christians.”
b. Baptism is important, but NOT more important than Christian character.
i. Saw it as a terrible offense to deny the name Christian to someone who displays the character of Christ
ii. It’s legalistic and sectarian
c. Did Campbell believe baptism was essential to salvation?
i. Yes, he did. But he’s willing to say that those who lack understanding of baptism can still be saved.
ii. “Can a person who simply, not perversely, mistakes the outer baptism, have the inward?”
d. Believed he kept a middle ground between essentialists and non-essentialists.
i. Didn’t advocate an open membership of the church. (Would not call everyone ‘brother’ who called God ‘father’).
ii. Obedience to Christ was necessary, and that included baptism.
1. claimed this agreed with Christians, Catholics, and Protestants alike
2. had to be baptized, but if you were ignorant of believer’s baptism, you weren’t unsaved because of your ignorance.