by Alexander Campbell

Introduction by Jack Langford

The most prominent figure in what is called the "Restoration Movement" was Alexander Campbell (1788-1866).

The effort to establish a Biblical church life apart from the scandal of sectarianism had been attempted by many, and in most cases the result was only the creation of new sects more subtle than those before. As one primarily responsible for the theology of this movement, Mr. Campbell was wrought by many questions in his efforts — not the least of which was, "Are there any Christians among the Protestant Parties?"

Alexander Campbell responded in very clear and decisive arguments to the affirmative! However, most ministers in modern "Churches of Christ" (so-called) will not dare agree with him. They find this admission embarrassing to the basic claims of their organizations that they alone are the "True Church." To admit there are true Christians outside their communion in Protestantism is to admit that "their Church" is NOT in fact the all-inclusive "church of Christ" of the Bible, but only a sect (or sector) of it.

The elementary Bible fact is that all true Christians —everywhere, throughout the age, and under any guise—compose the true "church of Christ"—see Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; I Cor. 1:11, 12; & 12:13. To argue that the modern sect (or sects) known as "The Church of Christ" has ALL the Christians in IT presents inescapable enigmas.

The arguments by Mr. Campbell contained herein have never been successfully refuted by any man.

From — The Millenial Harbinger, New Series, Number IX, Vol. I, Sept. 1837, Pg. 411 ff.

"I observe, that if there be no Christians in the Protestant sects, there are certainly none among the Romanists, none among the Jews, Turks, Pagans; and therefore, no Christians in the world except ourselves, or such of us as keep, or strive to keep, all the commandments of Jesus. Therefore, for many centuries there has been no church of Christ, no Christians in the world; and the promises concerning the everlasting kingdom of Messiah have failed, and the gates of hell have prevailed against his church! This cannot be; and therefore, there are Christians among the sects."

"But who is a Christian? I answer, Every one that believes in his heart that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God; repents of his sins, and obeys him in all things according to his measure of knowledge of his will."

"I cannot, therefore, make any one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and in my heart regard all that have been sprinkled in infancy without their own knowledge and consent, as aliens from Christ and the well-grounded hope of heaven. 'Salvation was of the Jews,' acknowledged the Messiah; and yet he said of a foreigner, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, a Syro-Phenician, 'I have not found so great faith — no, not in Israel.' "

"And should I see a sectarian Baptist or a Pedobaptist more spiritually-minded, more generally conformed to the requisitions of the Messiah, than one who precisely acquiesces with me in the theory or practice of immersion as I teach, doubtless the former rather than the latter, would have my cordial approbation and love as a Christian."

"True, indeed, that it is always a misfortune to be ignorant of anything in the Bible, and very generally it is criminal. But how many are there who cannot read; and of those who can read, how many are so deficient in education; and of those educated, how many are ruled by the authority of those whom they regard as superiors in knowledge and piety, that they never can escape out of the dust and smoke of their own chimney, where they happened to be born and educated! These all suffer many privations and many perplexities, from which the more intelligent are exempt."

'The preachers of 'essentials,' as well as the preachers of 'non-essentials,' frequently err. The Essentialist may disparage the heart, while the Non-essentialist despises the institution. The latter makes void the institutions of Heaven, while the former appreciates not the mental bias on which God looketh most."

"There is no occasion, then, for making immersion, on a profession of the faith, absolutely essential to a Christian — though it may be greatly essential to his sanctification and comfort. My right hand and my right eye are greatly essential to my usefulness and happiness, but not to my life; and as I could not be a perfect man without them, so I cannot be a perfect Christian without a right understanding and a cordial reception of immersion in its true and scriptural meaning and design. But he that thence infers that none are Christians but the immersed, as greatly errs as he who affirms that none are alive but those of clear and full vision."

"And while I would unhesitatingly say, that I think every man who despises any ordinance of Christ, or who is willingly ignorant of it, cannot be a Christian; still I should sin against my own convictions, should I teach any one to think that if he mistook the meaning of any institution, while in his soul he desired to know the whole will of God, he must perish forever."
"So I reason; and I think in so reasoning I am sustained by all the Prophets and Apostles of both Testaments."

From — The Millenial Harbinger, New Series, Number XII, Vol. 1, Pg. 561 if.

"With all despatch, then, I hasten to show that I have neither conceded nor surrendered any thing for which I ever contended; but that, on the contrary, the opinion now expressed, whether true or false, is one that I have always avowed.
1. Let me ask, in the first place, what could mean all that we have written upon the union of Christians on apostolic grounds, had we taught that all Christians in the world were already united in our own community?

2. And in the second place, why should we so often have quoted and applied to apostate Christendom what the Spirit saith to saints in Babylon — 'Come out of her, my people, that you partake not of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues' — had we imagined that the Lord had no people beyond the pale of our communion!

3. But let him that yet doubts, read the following passages from the Christian Baptist, April, 1825: — 'I have no idea of seeing, nor wish to see, the sects unite in one grand army. This would be dangerous to our liberties and laws. For this the Saviour did not pray. It is only the disciples dispersed among them that reason and benevolence would call out of them,' . . . 'I suppose all agree that among Christians of every name there are disciples of Jesus Christ, accepted of God in him, real members of his body, branches in the true vine, and therefore all one in Christ.' October, 1826, vol. 4, p. 53. . . . 'and if I thought there was any man on this continent who would go farther than I to heal all divisions and to unite all Christians on constitutional grounds, I would travel on foot a hundred miles to see him and confess my faults to him.' vol. 5, p. 15 . . . 'I rejoice to know and feel that I have the good wishes, the prayers, and the hopes of myriads of Christians in all denominations.' vol. 6, p. 239."

"Some of our brethren were too much addicted to denouncing the sects and representing them en masse as wholly aliens from the possibility of salivation — as wholly antichristian and corrupt . . . These very zealous brethren gave countenance to the popular clamor that we make baptism a savior, or a passport to heaven..."

"The case is this: When I see a person who would die for Christ; whose brotherly kindness, sympathy, and active benevolence know no bounds but his circumstances; whose seat in the Christian assembly is never empty; whose inward piety and devotion are attested by punctual obedience to every known duty; whose family is educated in the fear of the Lord; whose constant companion is the Bible: I say, when I see such a one ranked amongst heathen men and publicans, because he never happend to inquire, but always took it for granted that he had been scripturally baptized; and that, too, by one greatly destitute of all these public and private virtues, whose chief or exclusive recommendation is that he has been immersed, and that he holds a scriptural theory of the gospel: I feel no disposition to flatter such a one; but rather to disabuse him of his error. And while I would not lead the most excellent professor in any sect to disparage the least of all the commandments of Jesus, I would say to my immersed brother as Paul said to his Jewish brother who gloried in a system which he did not adorn: 'Sir, will not his uncircumcision, or unbaptism, be counted to him for baptism? and will he not condemn you, though having the literal and true baptism, yet dost transgress or neglect the statutes of your King?' "

"As in the judgment of many, some make the profession right and live wrong; while others make the profession wrong, but live right; so they have adopted this style — `I don't know what he believes, nor how he was baptized, but I know he is a Christian.' Thus Adam Clarke quotes some poet —

'You different sects who all declare,
     Lo! Christ is here, and Christ is there!
Your stronger proofs divinely give,

     And show me where the Christians live!' "

From — The Millennial Harbinger, 1837, and quoted in "The Disciples of Christ" pg. 227.

"We cheerfully agree ... that the term Christian was given first to immersed believers and to none else; but we do not think that it was given to them because they were immersed, but because they had put on Christ . . . Now the nice point of opinion on which some brethren differ, is this: Can a person who simply, not perversely, mistakes the outward baptism, have the . . . inward baptism which changes his state and has praise of God, though not of men? .. . To which I answer, that, in my opinion, it is posisble."

From — The Campbell-Rice Debate, pg. 496.

"I suppose there are many conscientious, religious, moral and CHRISTIAN Presbyterians; and that, although our Saviour has no Presbyterian church in Heaven, or earth, yet I doubt not but that he has had many, very many, that loved and honored Him in that worldly church, whom He will honor in the world to come. So has He in other Protestant communities in this cloudy and dark day . . . I presume, when I was a Presbyterian, nay, indeed, I recollect perfectly well, that I used to look over my church as the almost exclusive boundary of the elect. Salvation was of us, and a few like us. But since I became a man, I have put away childish things . . . and while I cannot find it (the church) in any of these Pedo-baptist `branches,' I can find Christian people among them all! There is as much truth as wit in the saying — `There are Christians without a church, and there is a church without Christians.' "

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