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Doctrinal Discussions:

History Of The Church Of Christ

July 21, 2006

This is a revision of my 2002 article titled, "History Of  The Church Of Christ". I noticed that most people never make it to the end of that article. I have decided to reverse the chronology, working backwards through the history, rather than forward.  I hope that this encourages more people to examine the true history of the Church of Christ, as well as to see where we need to go from here. Bernie Parsons

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History Of The Church Of Christ

By Bernie Parsons - May 30, 2002  Revised July 21, 2006

Part 2

The Twentieth Century Church of Christ

The Latter Half of the Century

There is today a dichotomy in the Church of Christ, consisting of the "liberal" and "conservative" branches. Many trace the divergence all the way back to the early 20th century, when forces centered in Nashville, Tennessee, under the influence of David L. Lipscomb, and others under Austin McGary, in Austin, Texas, took differing stances on the role of grace and faith in one's salvation, as opposed to the work of the word--described as "the gospel plan of salvation". (This can, in turn, be traced to the spirituality of Barton W. Stone versus the scientific approach of Alexander Campbell.)

Doctrines found in the current Church of Christ have evolved at the hands of persuasive orators and writers over the decades. From the Campbells and Stone, to Lipscomb and McGary, on down through Foy E. Wallace, Jr., and others, the churches have adopted the reasoning of first one, and then another, of subsequent movers and shakers.

The following excerpt is from this Web site: It shows the names of influential men and their publications in the Restoration Movement, and the later, conservative branch known as the Church(es) of Christ. Begin excerpt:

1. The Christian Baptist (1823-30) was edited by Alexander Campbell with emphasis on "A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things." Campbell's Millennial Harbinger (1830-70) continued this emphasis but moderated to promote the missionary society and similar organizations unauthorized by the ancient order of things.

2. The Gospel Advocate (1855-61, 1865-present) has been edited by Tolbert Fanning, William Lipscomb, David Lipscomb, E.G. Sewell, F.D. Srygley, J.C. McQuiddy, A.B. Lipscomb, H. Leo Boles, James A. Allen, Foy E. Wallace, Jr., John T. Hinds, B.C. Goodpasture, J. Roy Vaughn, Ira North and Guy N. Woods jointly, and F. Furman Kearley. In the early years, the Gospel Advocate was a stalwart in defending the Bible pattern against the onslaught of instrumental music and missionary societies. F.B. Srygley said of "the second generation of writers for the Advocate," "Soft preaching was not characteristic of the preaching of any of them" (Gospel Advocate, 2 Mar. 1939, p. 193). Under Goodpasture (1939-77), the Gospel Advocate began to moderate and drift. The Gospel Advocate became an advocate of many things not found in the gospel such as institutionalism and related practices.

3. The American Christian Review (1856-87), edited by Benjamin Franklin, helped to hold the line against instrumental music and missionary societies in the north and midwest.

4. Lard's Quarterly (1863-68), edited by Moses E. Lard, carried many strong articles and protested any departure from the truth but tried to accommodate the missionary society.

5. The Octograph (1883-87), Octographic Review (1887-1913), Apostolic Way (1914-40), and Apostolic Review (1920-40) were edited by Daniel Sommer, who was influenced greatly by Benjamin Franklin.

6. The Firm Foundation (1884-present) has been edited by Austin McGary, G.H.P. Showalter, Reuel Lemmons, William S. Cline, and H.A. Dobbs. In its early years, it helped hold the line against instrumental music and missionary societies west of the Mississippi River. Lemmons led the Firm Foundation away from the firm foundation of truth on institutionalism and related practices.

7. The Gospel Guardian (1935-36) was edited by Foy E. Wallace, Jr., and the Bible Banner (1938-49) by Foy E., Jr. and Cled E. Wallace jointly, with much help from Roy E. Cogdill beginning in March of 1946. Both were strong papers during the battles over premillennialism and the rising tide of pseudo-unity movements. The Bible Banner openly opposed and restrained the move to get colleges in church budgets.

8. The Gospel Guardian (1949-80) began with Foy E. Wallace, Jr.'s blessings and was edited by Yater Tant, William Wallace, Eugene Britnell, and James W. Adams. Roy E. Cogdill was owner and publisher of the Gospel Guardian during 1949-62, and wrote often in its pages. It focused on defending the Bible pattern against the onslaught of institutionalism and related issues. After the last copy of the Gospel Guardian appeared in December of 1980, it merged with Truth Magazine to form the Guardian of Truth.

9. Truth Magazine (1956-80) has been edited by Bryan Vinson, Jr., Cecil Willis, and Mike Willis. Roy E. Cogdill was close to Cecil Willis and had a significant influence on Truth Magazine until his death in 1985. At first, Truth Magazine focused on modernism in the Chicagoland area, where seventeen preachers had been lost in seventeen years. Then, the paper faced the onslaught of institutionalism, and fought back a false unity movement in the 1970s-80s. Under the name Guardian of Truth, it continues to provide a forum for preaching the gospel and defending sound doctrine in the face of current dangerous trend.

10. Searching the Scriptures (1960-92) was first edited by H.E. Phillips and James P. Miller jointly, then by Connie W. Adams. Searching the Scriptures was a strong voice for the truth first in Florida, then in the southeast and finally nationwide. After the last copy appeared in December 1992, it merged with Guardian of Truth.

End excerpt.

The Twentieth Century Church

The Church of Christ is a 20th century church, so denominated by David L. Lipscomb, in a letter to S. D. N. North of the Census Bureau of the federal government in 1906. It sprang from the so-called American Restoration Movement--dubbed these days by most as the Stone/Campbell Movement--of the 19th century. That movement was fostered by Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell, two Presbyterians who sought to become only Christians, or merely disciples of Christ. They urged the relinquishing of various denominated church names, as well as the creeds and confessions subscribed to by the various religious bodies. They wanted all to merge into one body of Christ.

The influences of those two pioneers of the American Restoration Movement still reverberate, and often clash, in the current Church of Christ theology. Stone tended more toward to the effects of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian, whereas Campbell rejected that influence, maintaining that the Word of God (the facts of the Bible) was enough to produce salvation of one's soul.

Two main thrusts early within the Restoration Movement led to controversy and division. In 1849, the American Christian Missionary Society was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the purpose of preaching the gospel all over the world. The main voice of the Movement, Alexander Campbell, had argued in his Millennial Harbinger in favor of an instrument capable of carrying out this worldwide ministry. Many argued that such an organization was both unnecessary and unscriptural.

In 1859, an organ was introduced into the worship of the congregation at Midway, Kentucky. The use of mechanical instruments during assemblies became a divisive issue, causing splits within congregations, and the unwillingness of members of some churches to fellowship with those of others, with whom they disagreed on this practice.

By the close of the 1900s, because of dissension, there had sprung three main religious bodies from that movement. They were denominated the Disciples of Christ, the Churches of Christ, and the Christian Church. While the Disciples of Christ, and to a lesser degree, the Christian Church, worked hard to become recognized as "mainstream churches", the Churches of Christ, especially the conservative branch, strove to be recognized as non-denominational, or un-denominational.

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