1848 HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST.
BY PROF. R. RICHARDSON, OF VIRGINIA.
THEIR RISE, PROGRESS, FAITH, AND PRACTICE.
THE religious society, whose members prefer to be known by the primitive and unsectarian appellation of “Disciples of Christ,” or by that of “Christians,” the title first given to the followers of our Lord at Antioch A. D. 41, but who are variously designated in different sections, as “Baptists,” “Reformed Baptists,” “Reformers,” or “Campbellites,” had its origin in an effort made, a few years since, to effect a union of the pious of all parties, by the ties of a common Christianity.
1849 Birth of the American Christian Missionary Society in Cincinnati.
1851 Eighty-eight year old Thomas Campbell (now blind for three years) preached his “valedictory” sermon at the Bethany, VA church. His sermon was based on Matt 22:37-40. He expressed amazement that Jesus did not call for some marvelous deed as the greatest comandment, but simply to love God with all that we are.
1855 Tolbert Fanning and William Lipscomb found the Gospel Advocate. Until the death of longtime editor David Lipscomb (1831-1917) in 1917 it was the Advocate’s practice to air both sides of every issue.
1856 Ben Franklin founds the American Christian Review, a conservative voice.
1857 Dr. Robert Richardson (1806-1876), who had delivered the sermon at the funeral of Alexander Campbell wrote:
“the philosophy of Locke (John) with which Bro. Campbell’s mind was deeply imbued in youth has insidiously mingled itself with almost all the great points in the reformation and has been all the while like an iceberg in the way – chilling the heart and benumbing the hands, and impeding all the progress in the right direction.”
A quote from Locke, writing in 1690, illustrates his philosophy:
“No proposition can be received for divine revelation, or obtain the assent due to all such, if it be contradictory to our clear intuitive knowledge…. Reason must be our last guide and judge in everything.
1859 Introduction of an organ into the worship of the congregation at Midway, KY.
Tolbert Fanning, a vocal opponent of the missionary society, stood on the floor of the annual meeting of the American Christian Missionary Society in 1859 and declared, “I am happy to say from what I have heard on this floor we are one people.”
1860 200,000 members in approximately 1,200 restoration congregations in the North and about 800 in the South.
1861-1865 War between the States. North becomes more liberal, south more conservative. North viewed conservatism as “southern.” The majority of church members held pacifist views. Leading preachers like Alexander Campbell, Tolbert Fanning, Moses Lard, J.W. McGarvey, Ben Franklin, and David Lipscomb urged Christians to stay out of the war. McGarvey, writing to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy said:
“I would rather ten thousand times be killed for refusing to fight than to fall in battle, or come home victorious with the blood of my brethren on my hands.”
1861-63 The American Christian Missionary Society passed resolutions condemning all who supported the southern rebellion. Brotherhood relations were not helped when, following the War, members of southern congregations in positions of leadership, specifically David Lipscomb, appealed to their northern brethren for financial aid for the southern destitute with little positive response.
1864 Christadelphians (Brothers of Christ) movement founded by physician John Thomas (1805-1871) who had left the Disciples of Christ in 1844, because of a number of theological disagreements. He started a periodical that same year, called “The Herald of the Future Age”. Thomas wrote a book in 1848, titled “Elpis Israel – An Exposition of the Kingdom of God.” He founded a number of groups, starting in 1848; they were commonly referred to as the Thomasites. His motivation was to return to what he believed to be the beliefs of the very early Christian church. In 1864, the group adopted a formal name, the Christadelphians (Brothers of Christ).
The movement survived the death of its founder in 1871. However, a conflict started during the 1880’s in the US over the topic of resurrectional responsibility. The Unamended group believe that only the deceased who are “in Christ” will be raised from the dead and have eternal life; the rest will simply remain dead, without conscious existence. The Amended group believe that all who are responsible will be raised from the dead at the time of the Final Judgment. Those who are not responsible (that is have had no exposure to the Gospel) will not be raised. The righteous will be judged according to their works, rewarded appropriately, and live forever. The wicked will be annihilated, and cease to exist. Neither group believes in a Hell where the unsaved will be tormented forever. This difference of belief led to a schism in the movement within North America. In the rest of the world, Christadelphians follow the Amended belief system.