Alexander Campbell 

Of those churches which trace their origin to nineteenth century celebrity preacher Alexander Campbell's teaching, some are liberal Protestant churches like any other of that tribe. Some are another story.

Restoration or Devolution?

Make a Joyful Noise Saved by Faith
Baptismal Regeneration Natural Innocency
Error Begets Error Divide and Conquer
Thomas Jefferson

Make a Joyful Noise

"Speak, if you are old — it is your privilege — but come to the point and do not interrupt the music." (Wisdom of ben Sirach, 32:3).

Many of the churches in the tradition of Alexander Campbell will not allow instrumental music, even though there is a long Biblical tradition of use of music in worship. The prophets often recited their revelations to musical accompaniment:

“After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.” (1 Samuel 10:5-6).

“'But now bring me a musician.' Then it happened, when the musician played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.” (2 Kings 3:15).

King David performed his psalms to harp accompaniment, and musical instruments resounded in the temple:

"It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving-kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument on ten strings, on the lyre, and on the harp, with harmonious sound." (Psalm 92:1-3).

"They have seen Your procession, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the maidens playing timbrels. Bless God in the congregations, the Lord, from the fountain of Israel." (Psalm 68:24-26).

"Sing to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of a psalm, with trumpets and the sound of a horn; shout joyfully before the Lord, the King." (Psalm 98:5).
"Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp." (Psalm 149:2-3).
"Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 150:3-6)

Oft-times what God says is good, man says is bad, and vice versa: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20). His own like God's ways best: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:..." (John 10:27).

In the Old Testament, God not only allowed instrumental music, He commanded it:

"Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation." (Leviticus 23:24).

"Sing aloud to God our strength; make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. Raise a song and strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute. Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob." (Psalm 81:1-4).

Instrumental music was part of temple worship:

"And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets - indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: 'For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,' that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God." (2 Chronicles 5:11-14).

They had a worship band! This musical tradition was well-established and long-lasting. Jerusalem in the temple era used to resound with music: "The rabbis taught: The orchestra of the thanks-offering consisted of violins, fifes, trumpets on every corner as well as on every elevated stone in Jerusalem and used to play [Psalm xxx. 2]: 'I will extol thee, O Lord, for thou hast lifted me,' etc., and also [ibid., 91]." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume 17,Tract Shebuoth, Chapter II, Kindle location 68481).

The 'Church of Christ' relies upon the early church writers to justify their ban on instrumental music, but most of these writers say nothing about music, instrumental or otherwise. Some say nice things about David and his harp, "Moreover, King David the harpist, whom we mentioned just above, urged us toward the truth and away from idols. So far was he from singing the praises of daemons that they were put to flight by him with the true music; and when Saul was possessed, David healed him merely by playing the harp." (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, Chapter 1).

Those few church writers who do insist on the stripped-down musical minimalism that would come to be known as Gregorian chant may be reflecting existing cultural biases against music. Plato banned most forms of music, and most musical instruments, from his Republic:

"Our songs and airs, then, will not need instruments of large compass capable of modulation into all the modes, and we shall not maintain craftsmen to make them, in particular the flute, which has the largest compass of all. That leaves the lyre and the cithara for use in the town; and in the country the herdsmen may have some sort of pipe." (Plato's Republic, III 399 Cornford).
"We might, in fact, see an analogy between this luxurious living and that style of music which uses every variation of mode and rhythm. Variety there engendered license in the soul, and simplicity temperance. So in the body, variety breeds maladies and simplicity health." (Plato's Republic, III 404 Cornford).

Plato would only allow musical modes suited for patriotic ditties and the like into his Republic. Some church writers inherited this cultural bias; it certainly doesn't come from the Bible: "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." (Exodus 15:20). Saints in the Old Testament praised God with musical instruments like Miriam's timbrel. Saints in heaven praise God with musical instruments, "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints." (Revelation 5:8).

The saints of the Jewish church hung out in the temple, where God was praised with musical instruments: "And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people." (Acts 2:46-47). Did the saints cover their ears when the musicians started up?

Some modern-day followers of Alexander Campbell retort that God did not command playing musical instruments in the New Testament...and therefore it is forbidden. Following this principle consistently: that whatever is not commanded is forbidden,— will lead to unhappy results. Here's one to keep the saints crossing and uncrossing their legs: the Bible does not command that you go to the bathroom before leaving the house for church, nor does the Bible command that you go to the bathroom upon arriving at church. Therefore, it is forbidden to go the bathroom, either before leaving for church or upon arrival.


Saved by Faith

On the issues that came up during the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, the followers of Alexander Campbell, strangely enough, range themselves on the side that eventually found expression in the Council of Trent.

Saved by Faith Righteousness from God
The Just Abraham
The Heart Ashamed
Tower of Babel Merited Favor?
What is Faith? What are Works?
Devils Antinomianism
Surely He has borne our Griefs Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Without One Plea Piece-Work
Everyone What must I Do?
What have you Got? Savior Will?
Altoona Ungodly
Justified by Faith Faith Plus Works
Whosoever Believeth Cannot Sin
Show Me The Work of God
Supernatural Lung Cancer
Wheelchair Watchmaker God
All our Works Nothing
Leopard's Spots His Mercy

Baptismal Regeneration

The theory of baptismal regeneration, which originated with Cyprian and other early church writers, teaches that baptism is an effectual sign: that it causes that which it signifies. Roman Catholics, followers of Alexander Campbell and 'Oneness' Pentecostals teach this doctrine. The phrase 'baptismal regeneration' is not a slur, but a recap of what adherents of this doctrine are prone to say: "When the recipient has the correct disposition, baptism produces a spiritual rebirth." (Catholic Encyclopedia, Article 'Baptism,' 1965). Is it Biblical?

Dead Men Walking The Like Figure
Flag Factory Living Waters
Thief on the Cross Frozen Lake
Preach the Gospel Wind Blows
Martin Luther John Calvin
Answer New Lives for Old
Heart of Flesh Prayer Wheels
Born Again John Gill
Whosoever Believes Synonym
Nature of Sin Mark 16
Infant Baptism

Acts 2:38

Acts 2:38 "Salvation Plan"

 Is Acts 2:38 a "Salvation Plan"?

Salvation Plan No Faith
See Malta and Die What is the Question?
Go to Damascus Watch a Video
Messianic Expectations They Don't Get It
Into For
John the Baptist Savior Peter?
Fallacy of Composition Cornelius and the Gentiles

Natural Innocency

The Bible teaches that all are sinners. As Alexander Campbell put it,

"Man unregenerate is ruined in body, soul, and spirit; a frail and mortal creature. From Adam his father he inherits a shattered constitution. He is the child of a fallen progenitor; a scion from a degenerate stock.

"Superior to Adam, the exile from Eden, in physical, intellectual, and moral nature, none of his descendants can rise. It is not in nature to improve itself; for above its fountain the stream cannot rise. Cain, the first born of Eve, was in nature the image and likeness of him that begat him. Education failed to improve him, while Abel, his younger brother, obtained the excellency which faith in God's promise alone bestows. The first born, it will be conceded, was at least equal to his younger brother: and who can plead that in nature he excels Eve's eldest son!" (Alexander Campbell, Regeneration, The Christian System).

There is only one exception to this rule, our Lord Jesus Christ. A child of one day is no exception:

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:..." (Romans 5:12).
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:23).
"What is man, that he could be pure? And he who is born of a woman, that he could be righteous? If God puts no trust in His saints, and the heavens are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!" (Job 15:14-16).
"For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin." (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." (Psalm 51:5).
"When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near;..." (1 Kings 8:46, 2 Chronicles 6:36).
"So He said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.'" (Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18).
"Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?" (Proverbs 20:9).
"What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one...'Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God...For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." (Romans 3:9-23).
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10).

Many of Alexander Campbell's modern-day followers deny this Bible truth. It was by equating the 'birth of water' of John 3:5 with 'water baptism' that Augustine convinced Catholics to adopt infant baptism en masse. Yet Alexander Campbell's troops inherited from the Baptists the conviction that, Biblically, baptism is for believers. If baptism is for professed believers, yet John 3:5 means none unbaptized may enter the kingdom of heaven, then what of the little ones? This: John 3:5 means that none unbaptized may enter the kingdom of God...except for all those who are unbaptized who may enter the kingdom of God. I think that is called, driving a truck through the passage, to judge by the huge hole it left. As they say, error begets error. Wouldn't it be better to abandon the erroneous interpretation of John 3:5 which led to this dilemma in the first place!


Error Begets Error

One of the founders of the 'Restoration Movement,' Barton Stone, was an anti-trinitarian of the Jehovah's Witness stripe, denying the Deity of Jesus Christ:

Barton Stone

Where do they stand today on this question? It would be safe to say they do not stress the trinity. Some, it would seem, still actively deny this doctrine, the keystone of Christian orthodoxy. Gail Shamblin Lara, for example, a popular diet guru who recently perished in a plane crash, comes from this tradition. She denied the Nicene Creed (which incidentally does not incorporate the word 'trinity'), saying instead:

“Three hundred years past the death of Christ, a council met in Nicea, and they started developing a totally new concept that was both foreign to the Jews and the early Christians. This man-made creed, now known as "the trinity," has been summarized as follows: 'Are there more Gods than one? There is but one only, the living and true God. How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.' (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, 1963). . .

“Prior to the release of the "god-head" trinity statements, there were no books written on the essence of God, nor were there any controversies, for everyone knew that God was God and that a Messiah would come. There was no discussion of three heads, three "persons" or three anything. God had never been referred to as a person or a "triune being." There was no need for debate given that this concept never crossed anyone's mind until 325 A.D. (Gwen Shamblin Lara, Remnant Fellowship Website, retrieved 5/30/22)

Is this a fair assessment? Is the doctrine Biblical or not?:

Her history is not any more exact than her Biblical exegesis. Words like 'trinity' and 'triune' had been used in the Christian centuries leading up to Nicaea, for instance in Tertullian's debates with the Monarchians like Praxeas. These folks taught what she believes the trinity doctrine to teach: that Jesus is the Father. Words like "trinity" are a shorthand to express Biblical teachings which would otherwise require a complex and wordy recitation. I do not know how common or uncommon her views are in this denomination today; but whether common or uncommon, what they never will be is Biblical. Her view makes Jesus into a godlet, a trainee, a lesser but still kind of sort of quasi-divine being.

Arianism and semi-Arianism stage a revival from time to time, which, however, is not any proof of the robustness or desirability of these ideas.


Divide and Conquer

To 'denominate' means to give a name to: "To give a name or epithet to; to name, call, style, or designate." (Webster's International). A 'denomination' is a body of believers thus awarded an epithet. Strangely, this denomination denies being a denomination, as if merely by avoiding so denominating themselves, they could avoid falling under the Lord's condemnation:


“For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4).

Thomas Jefferson

One recent, and, one must surmise, unwilling convert to the Restorationist viewpoint is the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Popular author David Barton has reassigned this important historical figure away from his natural affinities with the Unitarians, to the Christian roots movement led by the Campbells:

"Perhaps it was because Jefferson was so drawn to the cooperation and acceptance of early Restoration and Primitivism that he also accepted so many of their other Unitarian beliefs. Nevertheless, he found early Unitarianism to be personally satisfying and hoped it would sweep the country, optimistically declaring, 'I confidently expect that the present generation will see Unitarianism become the general religion of the United States.'" (David Barton, The Jefferson Lies, p. 188).

This is a bum rap. The Restorationists sowed more than their fair share of doctrinal confusion, but they were not responsible for Unitarianism, a viewpoint with its own history stretching back to Faustus Socinus of the radical Reformation, and before him to Theodotus the tanner:

Thomas Jefferson was a Socinian type of Unitarian, not an Arian. Arianism is not Biblical. Organizations which teach it in the present day incude the Jehovah's Witnesses Over the years, in church history, this deviation from orthodoxy has cropped up from time to time. No less a luminary than Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of gravity, would seem to have been an Arian:


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