1884 – A Very Sad Year
Six thousand brethren gathered at Sand Creek, Illinois on August 18. Northern editor and preacher Daniel Sommer (1850-1940) delivered his “Address and Declaration,” calling for total separation from the Disciples.
ADDRESS AND DECLARATION
By the Congregations Represented by Their Respective Church Officers in a Mass-meeting Assembled at Sand Creek, Shelby Co., Ill., August 17, 1889
To All Those Whom It May Concern, Greeting:
You doubtless know that we, as disciples of Christ, with scarcely an exception, many long years ago took the position that in matters of doctrine and practice, religiously, “Where the Bible speaks we speak, and where the Bible is silent we are silent.” Further, we held that nothing should be taught, received or practiced religiously, for which we could not produce a “Thus saith the Lord.” And doubtless, many of you also know that, as long as the above principles were constantly and faithfully observed, we were a prosperous and happy people. Then we were of one heart and of one soul; we lived in peace and prospered in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then what was written as doctrine and for practice was taught and observed by the disciples of Christ. And it may not be amiss in this connection to say that many–yes, very many–in the sectarian churches saw the beauty, consistency, and the wonderful strength and harmony, in the plea as set forth by the disciples for the restoration of primitive or apostolic Christianity in spirit and in practice, and so came and united with us in the same great and godly work.
It is, perhaps, needless for us to add, in this connection, that we, as a people, discarded all man-made laws, rules, disciplines and confessions of faith as means of governing the Church. We have always acknowledged, and do now acknowledge, the all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to govern us as individuals and as congregations. And as an apostle has said: “All Scripture is given us by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
And now, please to allow us to call attention to some painful facts and considerations. There are among us those who do teach and practice things not taught or found in the New Testament, which have been received by many well-meaning disciples, but rejected by those more thoughtful, and in most instances better informed in the Scriptures, and who have repeatedly protested against this false teaching and those corrupt practices among the disciples. Some of the things of which we hereby complain, and against which we protest, are the unlawful methods resorted to in order to raise or get money for religious purposes, viz: that of the church holding festivals of various kinds, in the house of the Lord, or elsewhere, demanding that each participant shall pay a certain sum as an admittance fee; the use of instrumental music in the worship; the select choir, to the virtual, if not the real, abandonment of congregational singing. Likewise the man-made society for missionary work, and the one-man, imported-preacher pastor to feed and watch over the flock. These, with many other objectionable and unauthorized things, are now taught and practiced in many of the congregations, and that to the great grief and mortification of some of the members of said congregations.
And now, brethren, you who teach such things and such like things, and those who practice the same, must certainly know that they are not only not in harmony with the gospel but are in opposition thereto. You surely will admit that it is safe, and only safe, to teach and practice what the divine record enjoins upon the disciples. To this none can reasonably object. This is exactly what we want and for which we contend.
And now we may say that we beg of you that you turn away speedily and at once from such things, and remember that though we are the Lord’s freemen, yet we are bound by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that it is by keeping his commandments, and not the commandments of men, that we have the assurance of his approval. Therefore, brethren, without addressing you further by using other arguments, and without going further in detailing those unpleasant and, as we see them, vicious things, you must allow us, in kindness and in Christian courtesy, and at the same time with firmness, to declare that we can not tolerate the things of which we complain, for if we do we are (in a measure, at least) blamable ourselves. And let it be distinctly understood this address and declaration is not made in any spirit of envy or hate or malice, or any such thing. But we are only actuated from a sense of duty to ourselves and to all concerned; for we feel that the time has fully come when something of a more definite character ought to be known and recognized between the Church and the world. Especially is this apparent when we consider the scriptural teaching on the matters to which we have herein referred. Such, for instance, is the following:
“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
It is, therefore, with the view, if possible, of counteracting the usages and practices that have crept into the churches that this effort on the part of the congregations hereafter named is made. And now, in closing up this address and declaration, we state that we are impelled from a sense of duty to say that all such as are guilty of teaching or allowing and practicing the many innovations and corruptions to which we have referred, after having had sufficient time for meditation and reflection, if they will not turn away from such abominations, that we can not and will not regard them as brethren.
P. P. Warren, A. J. Nance, Daniel Baker, J. P. K. Rose, James Warren,
Officers of Sand Creek Church.
Randolph Miller, Charles Erwin, W. K. Baker, Wm. Cozier,
Officers of Liberty Church
Wm. R. Storm, Ash Grove Church
J. H. Hagan, Union Church
Isaac Walters, Mode Church.