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Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell (February 1, 1763 – January 4, 1854) was a Presbyterian minister important in the Second Great Awakening of the United States. Born in County Down, northern Ireland, he began a religious reform movement on the American frontier. He was joined in the work by his son Alexander Campbell. Their movement was later known as the Campbell-Stone movement.

Contents

Role in the early Restoration Movement

The Campbell wing of the movement was launched when Thomas Campbell published the Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington in 1809. The Presbyterian Synod had suspended his ministerial credentials. In The Declaration and Address he set forth some of his convictions about the church of Jesus Christ, as he organized the Christian Association of Washington, in Washington County, Pennsylvania, not as a church but as an association of persons seeking to grow in faith.[1 ]:108-111 On May 4, 1811, the Christian Association constituted itself as a congregationally governed church. With the building it constructed at Brush Run, Pennsylvania, it became known as Brush Run Church.[1 ]:117 When their study of the New Testament led the reformers to begin to practice baptism by immersion, the nearby Redstone Baptist Association invited Brush Run Church to join with them for the purpose of fellowship. The reformers agreed, provided that they would be "allowed to preach and to teach whatever they learned from the Scriptures."[2]:86

Thomas and his son Alexander worked within the Redstone Baptist Association during the period 1815 through 1824. While both the Campbells and the Baptists shared practices of baptism by immersion and congregational polity, it was soon clear that the Campbells and their associates were not traditional Baptists. Within the Redstone Association, some of the Baptist leaders considered the differences intolerable when Alexander Campbell began publishing a journal, The Christian Baptist, which promoted reform. The Campbells anticipated the conflict and moved their membership to a congregation of the Mahoning Baptist Association in 1824.[1 ]:131

Theological influences

Thomas Campbell was a student of the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke.[3]:82 While he did not explicitly use the term "essentials," in the Declaration and Address, Campbell proposed the same solution to religious division as had been advanced earlier by Herbert and Locke: "[R]educe religion to a set of essentials upon which all reasonable persons might agree."[3]:80 The essentials he identified were those practices for which the Bible provided "a 'Thus saith the Lord,' either in express terms of by approved precedent."[3]:81 Unlike Locke, who saw the earlier efforts by Puritans as inherently divisive, Campbell argued for "a complete restoration of apostolic Christianity."[3]:82 Thomas believed that creeds served to divide Christians. He also believed that the Bible was clear enough that anyone could understand it and, thus, creeds were unnecessary.[4]:114

Thomas Campbell combined the Enlightenment approach to unity with the Reformed and Puritan traditions of restoration.[3]:82,106 The Enlightenment affected the Campbell movement in two ways. First, it provided the idea that Christian unity could be achieved by finding a set of essentials that all reasonable people could agree on. The second was the concept of a rational faith that was formulated and defended on the basis of a set of facts derived from the Bible.[3]:85,86

Life events

First Meeting house of the Disciples in Brush Run, Pa. It was built in 1811 by the Christian Association of Washington.

References

  1. ^ a b c McAlister, Lester G. and Tucker, William E. (1975), Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, ISBN 9780827217034
  2. ^ Davis, M. M. (1915). How the Disciples Began and Grew, A Short History of the Christian Church, Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing Company
  3. ^ a b c d e f C. Leonard Allen and Richard T. Hughes, Discovering Our Roots: The Ancestry of the Churches of Christ, Abilene Christian University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-89112-006-8
  4. ^ Ron Rhodes, The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations, Harvest House Publishers, 2005, ISBN 0-7369-1289-4
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0802838987, 9780802838988, 854 pages, entry on Campbell, Thomas
  6. ^ Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0802838987, 9780802838988, 854 pages, entry on Campbell, Alexander

Sources

External links

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