The last posts (Restoration Movement Part 2: In the Beginning) have discussed the Restoration Movement. The movement that started the churches of Christ as we know them. In the first post, we talked about the 1st century church until the 17 and 18 hundreds. The second post talked about how the Restoration Movement wasn’t intended to start a new name (AKA: denomination), but to plea for unity of all Christians no matter the name.
Starting this post, we will discuss the plan to make this unity happen. Alexander Campbell was the main leader of this movement (although there were many others as well). In the early 19th century he and his father pushed a document called the Declaration and Address. This was a document of 13 propositions, all calling for restoration among Christians. There were 3 main points behind this letter: Authority, Unity, and Fellowship. The remainder of this series will be summarizing these 3 points.
“Speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent.” This was an important phrase in the Restoration Movement. The idea was to make the Bible our only authority. We should trust in God rather than man. There was a problem with creeds, according to our leaders. A creed is a list a beliefs in a particular denomination. Creed literally means “I believe.” If a congregation has a set name and a creed then, by definition, it is a denomination. The Restoration Movement wanted every congregation to be autonomous (aka: self-governed). This is a biblical view point. The churches in the first century had elders and the congregation to study and pray for themselves and see what the Lord wanted them to do instead of having a set creed. Unfortunately, the churches of Christ have not stood by this. Generally speaking, we now have many creeds and a set name. Furthermore, generally speaking, we are sectarian in our view points. This is not only an abandonment of the biblical principles, but of the principles of the founders of our movement as well. Just because someone has a verse associated with what they believe doesn’t mean that verse is in context. We must study for ourselves instead of trying to take someone’s word for it, or binding our own opinions to others (Matt. 15:3, Col. 2:8, Rom. 16:17). Having a creed is not inherently bad. We all have a subconscious creed in our minds. However, in the time of the movement, creeds were looked at with almost the authority of the Bible. I wonder if we are ever guilty of this? – Jesse