The May 2010 issue of Christianity Today featured an interview article with James Davison Hunter, author of the recently released To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2010). In the interview, Hunter, Professor of Religion, Culture, and Social Theory, University of Virginia, explains his view that culture groups vary in the weight they bring to bear on American society. Sometimes, this is out of proportion to their size; some cultural groups have a lot of cultural clout despite their relatively low numbers; other large cultural groups have very little cultural clout.
The focus of his analysis is American Christianity. This cultural group, as Hunter states, "has produced a huge cultural economy, but it operates on the periphery of status rather than in the center" (34).
One example of this axiom is the fact that "evangelicalism boasts a billion dollar book publishing industry, yet the books produced are largely ignored by The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Book World, and other key arbiters of public intellectual argument" (34). This analysis of evangelical clout even within American Christianity made me think about the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement. What is its clout within evangelicalism or other aspects of American Christianity? We have some big numbers in terms of adherents to the movement. Christian Churches (independent) have hundreds of megachurches plus a vast network of successful church planting operations. Disciples of Christ are major leaders in the National and World Council of Churches. Churches of Christ (A Cappella) have some very smart professors (Everett Ferguson) and ministers (Max Lucado) who have demonstrated clout within evangelicalism and beyond. However, I think we would have to admit by and large that we are at the far periphery in terms of clout amidst evangelical Christianity and even further out with regard to American Christianity. I have come into contact with hundreds of evangelicals over the years, particularly academics, who, when I mention the church group I come from, give me that "look" that demonstrates they have absolutely no idea who we are or where we fit in the American landscape of Christianity. I suspect this has happened to most readers of SCJ as well.
This situation has improved in the last decade or so as more of our prize college and seminary graduates head off to major academic institutions and then are publishing their work within the mainstream of evangelical publishers or even more academic publishers. One of the most important roles of SCJ and the SCJ conference is keeping these students connected to the movement during those crucial years when they are pursuing their higher level degrees. We do this in a number of ways: the promising scholar awards for college and seminary graduates, the student Stone-Campbell Journal 14 (Spring, 2011) 12paper competitions at SCJ conference, and "quotables" chosen by graduate students that occupy the top, center of the SCJ welcome page. I believe we will continue to make progress in establishing our cultural clout that is at least in proportion to our numbers.
Believe it or not, this gets me to the focus of this issue. Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address, written at the very dawn of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement in 1809, was the center of attention at a conference hosted by Johnson Bible College on September 17-19, 2009, with the theme Thomas Campbell's Declaration & Address: Past, Present, and Future. This conference was attended and received addresses by people from all three streams of the movement: Christian Churches (independent), Churches of Christ (A Cappella), and Disciples of Christ. Those who attended the conference were enthusiastic though not great in number. This is a microcosm of the impact of the Address when it was first published. Only a handful of people heard or saw it when it was written. Though Alexander took up its principles as his life work, as the movement advanced in the American landscape, the Declaration itself receded from the limelight. Despite its lack of cultural clout even within the Stone-Campbell Movement and the movement's lack of cultural clout within evangelicalism and American Christianity as a whole, this foundational document deserves far more attention. Within it is the heart of the movement and a compelling plan to unify Christianity.
To add to the cultural clout of the Declaration and Address and to and make available to posterity the value of the document, this issue features four presentations from the conference at Johnson. Tom Smith, Professor of History and Theology (Johnson Bible College), provides a historical introduction to Campbell's Declaration and Address. Mark Weedman, Professor of Biblical and Historical Theology (Crossroads College) assesses the interpretive principles at work in the Address. Paul Blowers, Dean E. Walker Professor of Church History (Emmanuel Christian Seminary) derives six conditions for creating consensus among believers contained in the address. My presentation keys in on one of the thirteen propositions of the Address and the connection of the Declaration and Address to 1 Corinthians.
Rounding out this issue is Ron Heine's (Northwest Christian University) article on spirituality as explicated by Origen, which was his presentation at the 2010 SCJ conference. Carl Bridges (Johnson Bible College) offers another of his brief but clear examinations of an issue in the Gospels, this time regarding whether or not Jesus taught that judgment will result in varying rewards and punishments.
Finally, I am pleased to announce that SCJ articles are available electronically, both at our website and now with ATLA serials from most college, university, and graduate schools. This allows for a much wider array of students to find the many fine articles by our contributors.
William R. Baker, Editor
This paper examines the biographical sources of Thomas Campbell's life and ministry in the years preceding the publication of the Declaration and Address and the historiography of this foundational document in the major histories of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement since the mid-twentieth century. The first section offers a revision of the standard chronology and nature of some events in Campbell's life and an evaluation of the sources, influences, and direct causes of the Declaration and Address. The second section suggests a framework for understanding the various interpretations of the document's two major themes.
Thomas Campbell's vision for unity in the Declaration and Address left his followers with a choice of whether to emphasize unity or the unique "Scripture only" hermeneutic. Second-generation Campbellites reversed Campbell's emphasis on unity by instead emphasizing the priority of the hermeneutic; unity remained important but secondary to the hermeneutic. Rereading the Declaration and Address helps us recognize the importance of a "unity ecclesiology" to Campbell's argument and understand that such an ecclesiology might help us move forward with his plea for unity.
Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address (1809) adds itself to a long Christian tradition East and West of attempts to cultivate consensus among the Christian faithful on the interpretation and performance of the "faith once delivered to the saints." On the one hand, his restorationism simplified the process by appealing to supposedly "self-evident" truths in Scripture. But Campbell was not utterly naïve to the complexities of interpretation and consensus-building. Instead of simply proposing a list of the non-negotiable truths, he spends more time on the conditions for achieving consensus. This essay identifies six such conditions in Campbell's discourse, the last being the ecclesial imperative to strive for the "mind of Christ."
Thomas Campbells Declaration and Address emerges out of his experiences in
Ireland and the new possibilities available in the new American landscape. Though obscure in its day, it demonstrated its unique significance over time and in the life work of Thomass son Alexander. The intense desire to set realistic principles for church unity fell heavily to Proposition Six, which asserts that Scripture indeed is formally binding when it speaks Gods word directly. However, when its truth is being articulated via the theological calculations of its many readers, this is not binding but is open for dialog and ongoing education within the church. The key to unity is for all Christians, as individuals, groups, and denominations, publicly to assert a unified front regarding the binding truths of Scripture that are expressly stated while at the same time asserting that inferred truths be part of a healthy, respectful, ongoing, private dialog. Campbells heavy use of 1 Corinthians to support these proposals is justified in that Paul too maintains a distinction between his apostolic authority and his efforts to persuade believers of the truth of his arguments.
Origen believed that the entire Bible was a book about Christ. He asked the questions of a text that the scholars of all ancient Greek texts of his day asked. However, his assumptions about the biblical text, and the way he put the questions allowed him to uncover Christ in the text. He believed that this Christcentered approach to the Bible was derived from Jesus himself. The ultimate goal of this way of reading the Bible was to form a Christ-like person.
Jesus taught degrees of punishment and reward in the final judgment. Luke 12:47-48 makes the case for degrees of punishment, and other passages make the case for degrees of reward. Preachers and teachers can present these truths cautiously in conjunction with the other biblical teaching of uniform salvation or condemnation.
John M. IMBLER, ed. A Passion for Christian Unity: Essays in Honor of William Tabbernee
John Howard SMITH. The Perfect Rule of the Christian Religion: A History of Sandemanianism in the Eighteenth Century
Finis Jay CALDWELL, Jr. Dr. David Caldwell: An 18th Century Flame for Christ, 1725?1824
Glenn S. SUNSHINE. Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home
Gerald R. MCDERMOTT. The Great Theologians: A Brief Guide
Harvey COX. The Future of Faith
Thomas Jay OORD. Creation Made Free: Open Theology Engaging Science
Paul COPAN and William Lane CRAIG, eds. Contending with Christianity?s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors
Francis J. BECKWITH. Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft
Stephen FALLER. Reality TV: Theology in the Video Era
Michael J. GILMOUR. Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s Popular Music
Shirl James HOFFMAN. Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sports
Mark A. NOLL. The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith
Stanley HAUERWAS. A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching
Edwards, J. KENT. Deep Preaching: Creating Sermons That Go Beyond the Superficial
C. Jeff WOODS. On the Move: Adding Strength, Speed, and Balance to Your Congregation
Yosef GARFINKEL and Saar GANOR, eds. Khirbet Qeiyafa, Vol. 1, Excavation Report 2007-2008
Richard B. HAYS, Stefan ALKIER, and Leroy A. HUIZENGA, eds. Reading the Bible Intertextually
AnneMarie LUIJENDIJK. Greetings in the Lord: Early Christians and the Oxyrhynchus Papyri
Raymond WESTBROOK and Bruce WELLS. Everyday Law in Biblical Israel: An Introduction
Peter J. LEITHART. Deep Exegesis: The Mystery of Reading Scripture
Richard A. HORSLEY. Covenant Economics: A Biblical Vision of Justice for All
G.K. BEALE. The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority
Nathan MacDONALD. What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat?
James MCKEOWN. Genesis. The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary. J. Gordon McConville and Craig Bartholomew, series eds
J. Robert VANNOY, ed. Philip W. COMFORT. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 1-2 Samuel
Craig G. BARTHOLOMEW. Ecclesiastes. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series
Leslie C. ALLEN. Jeremiah. OTL
Carl R. HOLLADAY. A Critical Introduction to the New Testament: Interpreting the Message and Meaning of Jesus Christ
William D. MOUNCE. Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar, 3 rd ed. and William D. MOUNCE. Basics of Biblical Greek: Workbook, 3 rd ed.
Lynn H. COHICK. Women in the World of the Earliest Christians: Illuminating Ancient Ways of Life
Thomas R. SCHREINER. Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology
Roger E. OLSON. How to Be Evangelical without Being Conservative
Michael F. BIRD. Are You the One Who Is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question
Mark Allan POWELL, ed. Methods for Matthew. Methods in Biblical Interpretation
Holly J. CAREY. Jesus? Cry from the Cross: Towards a First-Century Understanding of the Intertextual Relationship between Psalm 22 and the Narrative of Mark?s Gospel. Library of New Testament Studies, n. 398
R.A HORSLEY, J.A. DRAPER, and J.M. FOLEY. Performing the Gospel: Orality, Memory and Mark; and Whitney SHINER. Proclaiming the Gospel: First-Century Performance of Mark
Dawn O. WILHELM. Preaching the Gospel of Mark: Proclaiming the Power of God; and Mary HEALY. The Gospel of Mark. CCSS
Graham TWELFTREE. People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke?s View of the Church
Seyoon KIM. Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke
Gordon D. FEE. The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, NICNT
Richard BAUCKHAM, Daniel R. DRIVER, Trevor A. HART, and Nathan MACDONALD, eds. The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology
H.W. BATEMAN, ed. Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews
Karl-Wilhelm NIEBUHR and Robert W. WALL, eds. The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition
C. Marvin PATE. Reading Revelation: A Comparison of Four Interpretive Translations of the Apocalypse
Brian K. BLOUNT. Revelation: A Commentary
Quotables for this issue were chosen by Tyler Stewart, Lincoln Christian University -- Seminary.
"Our biblical canon did not fall from heaven but was itself a product of tradition, formed over a long period of time through a hard-won consensus in and among early Christian communities."
Ministering in a time of political rebellion (1798): "As his parishioners were affected by these events, [Thomas] Campbell took an active role in opposing the secret societies' that fomented much of the political unrest. In this dangerous context, he developed disgust for political wrangling that undoubtedly transferred to religious contention."
In the Declaration and Address, "Campbell's claim about the nature of the church implies that there is a correlation between the gospel and the church. How we understand one derives from how we understand the other. If that is true, then the claim that the church is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one is really a claim about the gospel itself, because to say the church is necessarily one is also to say that the gospel holds unity as a matter of prime concern. Unity is truth, therefore, because to have the gospel is to have unity and to have unity is to have the gospel."
"In appealing to the authority of the NT, we are dealing with what is itself a consensus of diverse witnesses, the tensions and divergences among which are precisely what fund and enrich the authority and credibility of the canon."
"Campbell seems to want to retain the whole of Scripture as 'essential' in so far as it continues to reveal its truths successively throughout church history to the church and continually to individuals as well. However, he recognizes that neither the church nor the individual will ever exhaust its value and for both there is a progressive unfolding of its truth."
"Paul's way of conducting himself with regard to correcting people in the churches was to persuade them at all cost to come to his view without ever decreeing to them what they must do based on his so-called apostolic authority."
Origen "believed that the most important thing for a person wanting to read the Bible was not a knowledge of the biblical languages of the biblical languages, though he knew those. [. . .] Neither did he think knowledge of hermeneutics was the most important requirement for reading the Bible. [. . .] for Origen, the most important asset a person needs who wants to understand the Bible is a deep and active prayer life."
"We all find what we go looking for in texts. I don't mean that we read our own conclusions into the text. [. . .] What I mean is that we don't usually find what we are not looking for. Texts rarely surprise us. If we read a text looking for nothing, that is usually what we find."
"Much of believers' concern about the doctrine of hell springs from an intuition that some people deserve more punishment than others and from an upsoken fear that God will impose a one-size-fits-all condemnation on those who do not know him. Wise preachers and teachers will convey both ideas: salvation by grace and judgment by deeds."
"Although Jesus targets leaders with his stories, it takes only a small and justifiable interpretive step to apply them to anyone in the church." Pg 84