What Happened to the Restoration Movement?

What Happened to the Restoration Movement?

Compiled by Paul R. Blake

            “The Restoration Movement (also known as the American Restoration Movement or the Stone-Campbell Movement) is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening (1790–1870) of the early 19th century. The movement sought to restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament." Members do not identify as Protestant but simply as Christian.”

            “The Restoration Movement developed from several independent efforts to return to apostolic Christianity, but two groups, which independently developed similar approaches to the Christian faith, were particularly important. The first, led by Barton W. Stone, began at Cane Ridge, Kentucky and called themselves simply as "Christians". The second began in western Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia) and was led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell; they used the name "Disciples of Christ". Both groups sought to restore the whole Christian church on the pattern set forth in the New Testament, and both believed that creeds kept Christianity divided. In 1832 they joined in fellowship with a handshake.” (The Stone/Campbell Movement)

            The Restoration Movement has been characterized by several key principles:

1) Christianity should not be divided; Christ created one church.

2) Creeds divide, but Christians should be able to find agreement by standing on the Bible itself

3) Traditions divide, but Christians should be able to find common ground by following the practice of the early church.

4) Names of human origin divide, but Christians should be able to find common ground by using biblical names for the church.

            There are a number of watchwords that have been used in the Restoration Movement, which are intended to express some distinctive themes of the Movement:

1) "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent."

2) "The church of Jesus Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one."

3) "In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things love."

4) "No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible, no law but love, no name but the Divine."

5) "Call Bible things by Bible names."

            What has resulted from the two centuries of efforts by countless disciples striving to practice New Testament Christianity as it is revealed in the scriptures? Consider recent church statistics (Institutional and Non-Institutional combined):

1) Churches of Christ constitute the 12th largest religious group in America

2) Churches of Christ are the 6th fastest growing church in America.

3) Churches of Christ rank 4th in the nation in total congregations.

4) Churches of Christ rank 5th in the nation in the number of counties in which there is a congregation.

5) Churches of Christ rank 1st in the nation in distribution of congregations

6) Churches of Christ rank 1st in the nation in weekly attendance.

7) Churches of Christ rank 1st in the nation in giving.

            Give God the glory; His way works, even in this fallen world.

Empower Through Expectation

By Krystal Dunlap

            Poll my students, and I imagine that many would say I am a mean teacher. Though there may be bias due to the fact that I teach high school math, I cannot argue too much. Compared to some, I am a mean teacher. I expect them to come to class, to participate, to submit their assignments on time, to show their work, and all sorts of tough rules. Students have openly complained of how difficult it all is.

            Somehow, though, students succeed in meeting my requirements, even to my own surprise at times. Ironically, I have noticed over the years that some will pass my class even when they fail all others. For a time, it seemed curious that they would make it through a course that they felt was so impossible. Then, a past student who failed all but my class shed some light on it, telling me: “You were the only one who expected it of me.”

            Despite what some critics may say, I believe expectations can be liberating rather than belittling. They can provide confidence in someone who might not otherwise feel capable. Consider the spiritual expectations of God. He sets standards for His people that are truly challenging, even daunting at times (Matt.7:13-14; Heb.4:11-13). Note, though, that the Lord does so with the confidence that anyone who wills to can meet them and be saved (1 Tim.1:15-16; 2:3-4; 1 John 5:3). If the Father, who knows me better than I do, believes I can meet His expectations, shouldn’t I? How can I doubt myself?

            As God does, I think that we should approach all who are around us with the belief that they can spiritually succeed. We should not fear that the ones we approach will not make it. We should not err on the side of softening or oversimplifying the truth. Instead, we should boldly teach with the confidence that they can meet the Lord’s expectations. After all, we did and continue to strive everyday to do so. Are we stronger or smarter than the lost ones we know? Are they not just as capable as us of accepting His grace?

            We all have heard the saying, “Children live up to your level of expectations.” I see a spiritual application in it. God knows everyone can meet His standards. Share His true expectations. You might be surprised by who lives up to them.

Test Your Communion Knowledge

When was the Lord’s Supper established? ________________________

Who ate that Supper while planning betrayal? ________________________

How often is the Lord’s Supper to be eaten? __________________________

What is to be eaten? ______________________________________

What do these things represent? _________________________________

Who may eat it? _____________________________

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