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Formally Binding? Scriptural Authority and Private Opinion in Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address and in the Apostle Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

William R. Baker
Cincinnati, OH
scjeditor@aol.com

 

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Abstract

Thomas Campbell’s 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 Thomas’s 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 God’s 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. Campbell’s 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.

 
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Volume 23 Issue 1

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VOLUME 23, No. 1
Spring 2020

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