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The Restoration Movement (3) Alexander Campbell

Thomas’ son Alexander came to the US to join him in 1809. Before long, he assumed the leading role in the movement. The Campbells 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 quickly became clear 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. Campbell anticipated the conflict and moved his membership to a congregation of the Mahoning Baptist Association in 1824.

Alexander used The Christian Baptist to address what he saw as the key issue of reconstructing the apostolic Christian community in a systematic and rational manner. He wanted to clearly distinguish between essential and non-essential aspects of primitive Christianity. Among what he identified as essential were “congregational autonomy, a plurality of elders in each congregation, weekly communion and immersion for the remission of sins.” Among practices he rejected as non-essential were “the holy kiss, deaconesses, communal living, foot washing and charismatic exercises.”

In 1827, the Mahoning Association appointed Walter Scott as an evangelist. Through Scott’s efforts, the Mahoning Association grew rapidly. In 1828, Thomas Campbell visited several of the congregations formed by Scott and heard him preach. Campbell believed that Scott was bringing an important new dimension to the movement with his approach to evangelism.

Several Baptist associations began disassociating congregations that refused to subscribe to the Philadelphia Confession. The Mahoning Association came under attack. In 1830, The Mahoning Baptist Association disbanded. The younger Campbell ceased publication of the Christian Baptist. In January 1831, he began publication of the Millennial Harbinger.

(This was edited and adapted from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia listing on Christian Restoration. The copies of portraits, photographs, references, sources, and sections on future issues along with some charts are not included. You are encouraged to read the full posting at Wikipedia.com.)