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Barton W. Stone

Barton Warren Stone (December 24, 1772-November 9, 1844) was an important preacher during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century. He became first a Presbyterian minister, then was expelled for his beliefs in faith as the sole prerequisite for salvation, after the Cane Ridge, Kentucky revival. He became allied with Alexander Campbell, forming the Restoration Movement. His followers were first called "New Lights" and "Stoneites". Later he and Campbell simply tried to bring people together in a simple way most in keeping with the Scriptures.


Early life and education

Stone was born to John and Mary Stone in Port Tobacco, Maryland. During his childhood, the boy grew up within the Church of England, then had Baptist, Methodist and Episcopal church influences as well. Preachers representing Baptists and Methodists came to the area during the Second Great Awakening, and Baptist and Methodist chapels were founded in the county.

After going to Guilford Academy in North Carolina, founded by David Caldwell [1], Stone heard James McGready (a Presbyterian minister) speak. He became a Presbyterian minister himself. But, as Stone looked more deeply into the beliefs of the Presbyterians, especially the Westminster Confession of Faith, he doubted that some of the church beliefs were truly Bible-based. He found the Calvinistic insistence on man's total depravity to be inconsistent with his interpretation of the Scriptures.


Stone also took issue with the doctrine of the Trinity, and argued against it. "Revelation no where declares that there are three persons of the same substance in the one only God; and it is universally acknowledged to be above reason" (Address to the Christian Churches, 2nd Edition [1821]).

At the massive Cane Ridge, Kentucky revival of 1801, which attracted an estimated 20,000 people, Barton W. Stone revealed his new-found conviction of faith as the only prerequisite for salvation. This was not in keeping with the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church, which accused Stone of Arminianism. Although he left the Kentucky Synod of the Presbyterian Church, he continued to work to bring people to Christ.[citation needed]

Grave of Barton Stone at Cane Ridge, Kentucky

In 1803 Stone and others with the same theology formed the Springfield Presbytery. After reexamination, Barton and others in the presbytery felt compelled to dissolve the organization, believing that it was still too close to "Romanization" and creating a human institution, rather than coming together in the way suggested by Scriptures. This led to the famous "Last Will and Testament of The Springfield Presbytery." From 1819-1834, Stone and his family lived in Georgetown, Kentucky. Stone purchased land in Morgan County Illinois and in 1834 moved to Jacksonville Illinois, in part, because of his opposition to slavery.

In 1807 a group of farmers of the community in Jackson County, Alabama had been gathering for several years to read the "Bible" aloud to find out what it told about planting and harvesting of crops. They also found out what the Bible said about the after life here on earth and the eternal life with God and His son. About this same time two other groups were doing the same thing—one in Oklahoma and another in Warren County, Tennessee. The Tennessee group formed officially in 1804. The Alabama group decided to call the community Antioch and that they did what the Bible taught on the day of pentecost and were simply Christians. Some years later Barton W. Stone came to their little log building where they gathered on the first day of the week and preached to them. In 1847 the congregation turned the building over to the colored breathern and built a building two miles away at Rocky Springs, Jackson County, Alabama and called their group the church of Christ.[citation needed]

In 1824 in Kentucky, Barton W. Stone met with Alexander Campbell, a meeting that led to the partial unification of the "Christian" (Stone) movement and the "Reformed Baptist" (Campbell) movement into what is commonly called the Restoration Movement. Campbell had been working in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, mostly among Baptist groups. Stone had been preaching to Presbyterians in Kentucky and Ohio, although trying to lead them from "denominational bondage". Campbell had been publishing the Christian Baptist and Stone the Christian Messenger, starting in 1826. Through these publications they began to bring their followers closer together in uniting under Christ.[1] This movement was especially powerful among the churches in the backcountry and on the western frontier.

Congregations that were part of Stone's original movement but chose not to join with Campbell and his followers, merged with similar Christian Churches in other parts of the country. They formed the Christian Connection.[citation needed]

Barton W. Stone died on November 9, 1844 in Hannibal, Missouri at the home of his daughter. Stone's body was buried on his farm in Morgan County, Illinois. Later, when the farm was sold he was reinterred at Antioch Christian Church east of Jacksonville. In 1847 his remains were moved to Cane Ridge, Kentucky. A marble shaft marks the spot: "The church of Christ at Cane Ridge and other generous friends in Kentucky have caused this monument to be erected as a tribute of affection and gratitude to Barton W. Stone, minister of the gospel of Christ and the distinguished reformer of the nineteenth century. Born December 24, 1772: died November 9, 1844. His remains lie here. This monument erected in 1847."[2]

Legacy and honors


  1. ^ H. Leo Boles, Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers, Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1932, pp.28-32
  2. ^ H. Leo Boles, Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers, Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1932, pp.28-32

External links


  • West, Earl Irvin (2002). The Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. 1. Gospel Light Publishing Company. ISBN 0-89225-154-9
  • Foster, Douglas A.(Editor), Blowers, Paul M.(Editor), Dunnavant, Anthony L.(Editor), Williams, D. Newell(Editor). The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. ISBN 0-8028-3898-7


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