Alexander Campbell was the main leader of the Restoration Movement (although there were many others as well). In the early 19th century he and his father wrote of document called the Declaration and Address. This was a document of 13 propositions all calling for unity among Christians. There were 3 main points behind this letter: Authority, Unity, and Fellowship. Last post, in this series, we summarized these 3 points. Today, we will talk about the other 2 points in the Restoration plea.
The restoration plea was deeper than just scriptural authority. While biblical authority for our actions as Christians and as a congregation is important, there is more to Christianity than “do and don’t.” It requires humility for the sake of unity (Rom. 14:1-4; 1 Pet.3:8 1 Pet. 5:5; John 17: 20-21; 1 Cor.8-9). When there is a matter of opinion, or a different interpretation about something not explicitly commanded in the Bible, it is necessary for Christians to be humble. Every person is important, but you can’t make every person happy. The congregation should always be humble for the sake of unity. Not just for unity with the people with a view that is seen as the “minority” view, but unity with the congregation as a whole. Sometimes this means we sacrifice a liberty, and sometimes this means we sacrifice a tradition. God calls us to selflessly love.
When people are joined in a covenant (mutual promise) with each other, they are in a covenant relationship. This relationship is called fellowship. With faith, we put on Christ, and are in fellowship with Him. Maintaining this fellowship is not about perfection, but direction. Conforming to the image of Jesus. No person is perfect in action or in deed. In other words, nobody is either morally or intellectually perfect. Grace says that Jesus saves us anyways so long as we are Christians who are trying to be like Him (1 Jhn. 1:7-10; 1 Jhn. 2:1-2; Rom. 8:28ff). As long as we walk in the light as Christians we have fellowship with God. If we have fellowship with God, we must have fellowship with those who also have fellowship with God. This includes all Christians; even those with whom we disagree. The church of Christ is not a physical body, but rather, a spiritual one. Christians are all at different points in their moral and intellectual maturity levels.
We should have biblical authority for what we do. We should have unity for things we disagree on. We should trust God’s grace for things we, and others, mess up on; not just morally, but also with secondary doctrines. Next post will be the last article in this series. I will ask “why does any of this matter?” – Jesse