by Al Maxey

Issue #417 ------- October 18, 2009
Great men, taken up in any way, are profitable
company. We cannot look upon a great man
without gaining something from him.

Thomas Carlyle {1795-1881}

Campbell's Declaration and Address
Quintessential Quotes from a Defining Document

On February 1, 1763, in County Down, Ireland, Thomas Campbell was born. He would be the oldest of eight children. His father, Archibald, had been raised up in a Roman Catholic family, but when he married he renounced his former religion, embracing the teaching and tradition of the Church of England. It was in this Anglican environment that young Thomas and his siblings were reared. "He was educated in a military regimental school where all the students received an English classical education. This consisted of studies in English grammar and reading, Latin and Greek, writing and arithmetic" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 139].

Thomas Campbell has more than once been described by biographers as a bold young man with a "deeply religious nature," however he was also possessed of an extremely independent mind. He dared to think for himself, and was not given to submitting blindly to the thinking or dictates of others ... and that included the religious preferences of his own family. Finding the formalism of the Church of England far too rigid and stifling, he chose to associate himself with the Anti-Burgher Seceder Presbyterians, much to the chagrin of his father, who had attempted for quite some time to prevent his son from having any fellowship with this group. Although Campbell was working as a school teacher, he truly desired to spend his life preaching the gospel. A fellow Seceder, John Kinley, a man of considerable wealth, was so impressed with the young Campbell that he offered to pay for his higher education if he would honor his vow to preach God's Word. Taking advantage of this great opportunity, Thomas entered the University of Glasgow in 1783, not long after his twentieth birthday.

He graduated with honors in 1786, and then in 1787 entered the School of Theology run by the Presbyterians. "The school week consisted of a general lecture on Monday, sermons by the students on Tuesday, a lecture in Latin on systematic theology on Wednesday, an examination on the theology lecture on Thursday, more student sermons on Friday, and, on Saturday, a lecture on the Confession of Faith. He finished his course in 1791" [ibid]. It was not long after entering this school that he met the young woman who would soon become his wife: Jane Corneigle (1764-1835), who was a direct descendant of the French Huguenots. They were married in June, 1787, and the following year, on September 12, 1788, they had their first child: Alexander Campbell, who would go on to eclipse his own father as one of the great religious leaders in American history. Indeed, Dr. Leroy Garrett wrote, "Thomas Campbell's greatest gift to the Movement was his own son. If he was its initiator who laid out the design, his son was its executor" [The Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 114].

After his graduation, Thomas taught school to help support his family, but also preached for various Seceder congregations in the surrounding area. In the meantime, he and his wife had two more children, both daughters: Dorothea and Nancy. Around 1798 he was formally ordained in the Presbyterian Church and he accepted a call to become the new pastor of a newly established congregation. During the next few years, as he worked among his brethren, he increasingly came to deplore and lament the extent of the religious conflict within the church. On a number of occasions he led movements to try and unite the various Seceder factions, but these divisions were far too established. "From the late 1790's to 1807 he labored unsuccessfully in Northern Ireland and Scotland to bring about unity among disparate Presbyterian groups" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 138]. During this time, Thomas and his wife continued to produce children: two more daughters (Jane and Alicia) and two more sons (Thomas and Archibald). With seven children to feed and clothe, and very little income from his teaching and preaching, as well as a growing discouragement over his failed attempts to bring about unity among his brethren, Thomas Campbell finally decided to leave Ireland and immigrate to America. In 1807 he left Alexander (who at that time was 19) in charge of the family, and he sailed away. It would be two years before his family joined him in America.

Upon arrival in America, Campbell went to the city of Philadelphia, since the Associate Synod of North America was at that time in session. This organization was made up of his own Seceder Presbyterians, and therefore he felt he might receive a warm welcome. He applied for, and he was granted, a congregation in western Pennsylvania: in the town of Washington. He wasn't there long, however, before he found himself in deep trouble with those in authority above him. In an attempt to facilitate greater unity -- yes, his denomination was divided in America also -- he had allowed other Presbyterians (those who were not of his own Seceder party) to participate in a Communion service. For this "grievous offence" he was censured by the church powers, although it was later overturned by the Synod on appeal (under the condition he never again commit such an abomination). Perceived as a "maverick," Thomas came under intense scrutiny and even persecution for daring to seek unity with those "out of favor" with the church "powers that be." Finally, in disgust, he resigned his ministry, although he continued to preach the gospel as an independent evangelist whenever and wherever he could find people willing to listen. Thomas "preached wherever he had opportunity, always speaking out against partyism within the church. He rarely had access to a church, his meetings being in the open air or in barns or homes" [Dr. Leroy Garrett, p. 103]. Campbell had no desire whatsoever to start up a new denomination; indeed, he spoke out against such for years!! "It was his desire to work within the existing churches as much as possible, sowing seeds of peace and unity" [ibid].

Campbell soon realized that if unity was to become a reality in America, he would need the resources and support of some group or association larger than himself -- "not a church as such, but a society that would rally support for the goals he had in view, one that could involve concerned people from all the churches" [ibid]. Campbell soon expanded his fellowship horizons, and "began to preach for and to cooperate with all Christians, of whatever persuasion" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 140]. He refused to recruit people from out of their churches to a "new church," but instead sought to bring together people in all the denominations who shared his vision of One Body in Christ Jesus -- brethren who would remain within their respective groups, but who would work to bring a loving acceptance of one another, rather than continued partisanship and lack of fellowship. This resulted, in 1809, in a group of like-minded unity-loving individuals that came to be known as The Christian Association of Washington. It was also at this time, during the summer of 1809, that his family joined him in America, both events certainly helping to lift his spirits.

It wasn't long before those within this Association felt the need to draw up a document explaining their purposes and objectives in establishing such a society; what it was they hoped to accomplish for the Lord, as well as providing some assurance to the various churches as to what they did not desire to accomplish. They most certainly did not intend to establish a new denomination, nor did they desire to further the divisions already extant. At a meeting on August 7, 1809, twenty-one men were selected to confer with and assist Thomas Campbell "to determine upon the proper means to carry into effect the important ends of their association" [from the Preface of the Declaration and Address]. After a period of prayerful consultation among themselves, Campbell penned the document that presented their purpose for being. It was read and approved by the Association at a special meeting on September 7, 1809. It was then published for general consumption during the latter part of that very same year. The full title of this document was: Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington.

This document has clearly become, with very little argument from historians, the defining document of our movement, even though it came five years after Barton W. Stone's "Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery" (June 28, 1804) --- see my discussion of this earlier document in Reflections #131. At the centennial commemoration of Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address it was declared, "September 7, 1809, is universally accepted as bearing the same relation to the people now known as Disciples of Christ, Christians, or Churches of Christ, that July 4, 1776, holds to the United States of America" [from the Introduction to the Centennial edition of the Declaration and Address, printed in Pennsylvania in 1908, a copy of which I am extremely privileged to have in my possession]. Historians tend to agree that this particular document would become the primary "design for the Movement, particularly in the Campbell wing," and "a prospectus of the reformation." Dr. Leroy Garrett observes: "While the Stone forces had the primacy in time, they did not provide a prospectus or design to sustain a reformation movement. It is reasonable to conclude that without the Declaration and Address the Stone-Campbell Movement would not have made it" [p. 99].

The leaders of the Presbyterians were not overly thrilled by this document, and they basically blew it off as the ramblings of a malcontent in their midst. One wrote, "Sir, these words, however plausible in appearance, are not sound. For if you follow these out, you must become a Baptist." The members of this new Association (numbering around 200 souls) began meeting weekly (although they maintained their membership in their various denominations) to discuss their common goals and to hear both Thomas and his son Alexander preach. For several months they would meet in homes, but finally built a log cabin outside of Washington, Pennsylvania, which doubled as a meeting place and schoolhouse for their community. "The Association was rapidly taking on the characteristics of a church," and "Thomas was greatly concerned over this development" [ibid, p. 141], as the last thing he wanted to do was create yet another sect within Christendom. His was a plea for unity, not further division. Sadly, this wasn't to be. Indeed, two centuries later, the Movement he helped establish has not only become a separate denomination (actually several denominations), but it has the sad distinction of being one of the most divided as well as divisive movements in religious history. However, in keeping with Campbell's original vision and the prayer of our Lord in John 17, many of us today (200 years after the Declaration and Address) are seeking once again to bring about a Reformation, not only of our Movement, but, more importantly, of Christendom as a whole. It is time for the fragmentation and dismemberment of the One Body to forever cease, and for saints to cease being separate, and to come together in sweet fellowship. It is not a plea for all denominations to merge into a single entity, but for God's people to simply recognize one another as beloved brethren, cease the factional feuding, and embrace one another in sweet fellowship. To this end Thomas Campbell labored; to this end labor many of us.

Returning to the early days of our Movement's history, we discover that the Association, in the spring of 1811, built a church building in the valley of Brush Run, and they essentially declared themselves to be a "church," embracing the Congregationalist form of church government. "They also adopted immersion as the Scriptural form of baptism. For these two actions their Presbyterian neighbors bitterly attacked Thomas Campbell and his followers, calling them 'reformers'" [ibid]. Alexander Campbell was ordained on January 1, 1812 and became their minister. In short order he also assumed leadership of the Movement, and his father, Thomas, moved into the background, although for the next forty-two years he was a devoted supporter and advisor to his son and the Movement's leadership. "With the adoption of immersion, Thomas and Alexander Campbell were brought into fellowship with the Baptists. Between 1812-1814 increasingly friendly relations with the Baptists led the Campbells to apply for admission to the Redstone Baptist Association" [ibid]. This was finally granted, though not without some debate among the Baptists, in September, 1815. Eventually, however, conflict with the Baptists would lead to the termination of this relationship. In 1823, Alexander began publication of a paper known as the Christian Baptist, for which Thomas wrote, and even occasionally edited. In 1830, the greatly respected publication The Millennial Harbinger was begun, for which Thomas also wrote. In 1835 his wife died, and he thereafter made his home with his son Alexander. "Thomas remained in fair health until just a few weeks before his death. About the middle of December 1853, he was stricken with digestive difficulties. Patient and calm during those three weeks of illness, he passed away on January 4, 1854. Surrounded by his children and grandchildren, he quietly slipped away and was laid to rest in the Campbell cemetery beside his wife, Jane" [ibid].

Quintessential Quotes -- Declaration

If you have never read and studied the Declaration and Address, you need to! It is a fascinating document, and an extremely important piece of American religious history, and should be of special interest to those within the Stone-Campbell Movement, as it details the thinking upon which our Movement was originally formed, and to which, in large part, we would do well to return. It further shows the great divide between what our Movement has become and what it was originally called forth to be. It truly is a very eye-opening read! I spent a good many hours over the past weeks, late into the nights, examining the Declaration and Address line by line once again. It was a beneficial exercise. In the remainder of this present issue of my Reflections I would like to share just a few "quintessential" quotes from that defining document of our Movement. "Quintessence," by the way, simply refers to the "pure essence" of something; thus, these quotes reflect the very essence of the nature of Campbell's perspective at that time in his spiritual journey. I hope and pray that you will all take time to reflect upon these quotes; let them "soak into" your hearts and minds, and let them challenge you to further reflection upon where we've been, where we are, and where God would have us to go.

We are persuaded that it is high time for us not only
to think, but also to act, for ourselves; to see with
our own eyes, and to take all our measures directly
and immediately from the Divine Standard: to this
alone we feel ourselves divinely bound to be
conformed; as by this alone we must be judged
... and not by any human interpretation of it.

In many ways, Thomas Campbell's plea was to return to the Word of God for guidance in all things, rather than appealing to the rulings and interpretations of mere men through their Councils and their creeds, which, by their very nature, were subject to being imperfect at best and downright fallacious and divisive at worst. Why not simply rely upon that revelation which was perfect, and allow men the freedom to pursue their own understanding of it without the heavy hand of religious authority seeking to dictate to them the ultimate outcome of their investigation into the inspired Scriptures. Yes, our understandings will not all be the same, and thus our preferences and practices will vary, but these should never become the basis of our unity, Campbell argued. Our unity was in Christ Jesus, NOT in our various perceptions of Christ.

Tired and sick of the bitter jarrings and janglings of a
party spirit, we would desire to be at rest. ... Our desire,
therefore, for ourselves and our brethren would be, that
rejecting human opinions and the inventions of men, as of
any authority, or as having any place in the church of God,
we might forever cease from farther contentions about such
things; returning to, and holding fast by the original standard;
taking the divine word alone for our rule; the Holy Spirit for
our teacher and guide, to lead us into all truth; and Christ
alone, as exhibited in the word, for our salvation.

Thomas Campbell was very, very adamant that "this society" (The Christian Association of Washington) should "by no means consider itself a church," but rather its members must always regard themselves as "voluntary advocates for church reformation." How tragic that this caution would largely go unheeded by those within this Association, and that even Campbell himself would stray from this resolve, although I believe, based on his writings, that this always grieved him to some extent.

Quintessential Quotes -- Address

Is it not then your incumbent duty to endeavor, by all
scriptural means, to have those evils remedied? Who will
say that it is not? And does it not peculiarly belong to you,
who occupy the place of gospel ministers, to be leaders
in this laudable undertaking. Much depends upon your
hearty concurrence and zealous endeavors.

The "evils" of which Thomas Campbell spoke were Christians "biting and devouring one another" over their various personal and party perceptions, preferences and practices. They had allowed their many tedious traditions to tear them apart, just as the various sects and schisms and factions today have done. It is shameful, and it is "high time," declared Campbell, for such godless foolishness to cease! And yes, you Ministers of the Gospel, it's up to YOU to take the lead in this reformation of the people of God.

The cause that we advocate is not our own peculiar,
nor the cause of any party, considered as such; it is
a common cause, the cause of Christ and our
brethren in all denominations.

Yes, Campbell rightly believed God to have children, and thus he had brethren, in all the denominations. The problem was: these brethren wouldn't acknowledge one another; they were estranged from each other, which was a horrid and deplorable condition among the disciples of Christ. Seeking to bring about unity among brethren should not have been the private cause of any one person or party -- it should have been the burning desire of ALL Christians!! Campbell simply couldn't imagine why anyone would oppose such a noble cause! Was this not, he reasoned, exactly what our Lord prayed for on the night of His betrayal and arrest (John 17)? Would not, therefore, opposition to unity among brethren in all denominations be in opposition to the desire of Jesus Himself?! Perhaps this would be a rather good time to suggest to the readers a careful reading of Reflections #115 -- The Lunenburg Letter: Alexander Campbell's Controversial Correspondence with a Sister over Saints in the Sects. We all have our cherished traditions and "sacred cows." Thomas Campbell admitted this truth, but urged his brethren not to let this be the cause of continued division. Rather, we must rise above these matters for the sake of unity. He wrote, "Our dear brethren, of all denominations, will please to consider, that we have our educational prejudices and particular customs to struggle with as well as they." Yes, unity requires significant sacrifice ... by all of us ... but it was to this unity, Campbell wrote, that "we call, we invite, our brethren of all denominations, by the sacred motives which we have avouched."

To you, therefore, it peculiarly belongs, as the professed
and acknowledged leaders of the people, to go before
them in this good work -- to remove human opinions and
the inventions of men out of the way; by carefully separating
this chaff from the pure wheat of primary and authentic
revelation; -- casting out that assumed authority, that enacting
and decreeing power, by which those things have been
imposed and established. ... Ministers of Jesus, we can
neither be ignorant of, nor unaffected with the divisions and
corruptions of His church. His dying commands, His last and
ardent prayers for, the visible unity of His professing people,
will not suffer you to be indifferent in this matter. You will not,
you cannot, therefore, be silent, upon a subject of such vast
importance to His personal glory and the happiness of His
people -- consistently you cannot; for silence gives consent.

It is incumbent upon leaders to actually lead, and not just be "followers out in front." This does not always make one popular, and it will often bring persecution in its wake. But, if you are called of God to lead His people, then you had better be doing so, regardless of the nature or severity of the opposition, or from whom or where it originates! Timidity and cowardice are not qualities conducive to good leadership. I have often been criticized and condemned for speaking out against the ills that beset the Body of Christ. "Why can't you just be content to keep quiet and keep your own little flock happy? Be silent; be invisible; be unknown." Well, if ministers are little more than hirelings, then perhaps that is a reasonable course to follow to preserve their positions and pensions!! It is NOT the path to follow, however, if one truly cares what GOD thinks. We are called to serve Him, not ourselves, and we do this by calling the lost to Christ and the saved to reform, when such reform is genuinely needed! Campbell wrote, "This you cannot do while you run every man to his own house and consult only the interest of his own party." In love, he challenged, "Come, then, dear brethren, we most humbly beseech you, cause your light to shine upon our weak beginnings, that we may see to work by it. Evince your zeal for the glory of Christ, and for the spiritual welfare of your fellow Christians, by your hearty and zealous cooperation to promote unity, purity and prosperity of His church."

Proposition 1 -- That the church of Christ upon earth is essentially,
intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in
every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to Him
in all things according to the Scriptures, and that manifest the
same by their tempers and conduct.

This is the first of thirteen propositions in the Address portion of this document, and is perhaps the most quoted statement in all of the Declaration and Address. It presents as essential truth that the Body of Christ on earth was intended by God to be ONE, and that this One Body consists of ALL those persons who profess and evidence an active, obedient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our oneness and unity is not based upon agreement in matters of human perception or preference. It is not based upon a pattern of some party, but rather upon a Person. Does "oneness" among believers necessitate them all meeting in a single structure and sharing similar traditions? Of course not. There can be great unity in diversity, as Campbell points out in his second proposition: "Although the church of Christ upon earth must necessarily exist in particular and distinct societies, locally separate one from another, yet there ought to be no schisms, no uncharitable divisions among them. They ought to receive each other as Christ Jesus hath also received them to the glory of God."

Proposition 5 -- That with respect to the commands and ordinances
of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the Scriptures are silent, as to
the express time or manner of performance, if any such there
be, no human authority has power to interfere, in order to supply
the supposed deficiency, by making laws for the church. ... Much
less has any human authority power to impose new commands
or ordinances upon the church, which our Lord Jesus Christ
has not enjoined.

Proposition 6 -- That although inferences and deductions from
Scripture premises, when fairly inferred, may be truly called the
doctrine of God's holy Word, yet are they not formally binding
upon the consciences of Christians farther than they perceive the
connection ... no such deduction can be made terms of communion
... no such deductions or inferential truths ought to have any place
in the church's confession.

In his seventh proposition, Campbell made it clear that "inferential truths ought not to be made terms of Christian communion." Yes, each of us, as we study God's Word, draw our own conclusions as to what is being taught therein, and our assumptions, deductions and inferences may or may not be true. Thus, because of the fallible nature of every man's reasoning ability, no such inferences or assumptions should ever rise to the level of LAW for the Body of Christ. We may order our own lives by our understandings, but to seek to impose them upon our brethren is beyond the limits of our authority, and any attempt to do so only results is further division within the church. Indeed, in his eleventh proposition, Campbell declares, "An assumed authority for making the approbation of human opinions, and human inventions, a term of communion by introducing them into the constitution, the faith, or the worship, of the church, are, and have been, the immediate, obvious, and universally acknowledged causes, of all the corruptions and divisions that ever have taken place in the church of God."

To advocate the cause of unity while espousing the interests of
a party would appear as absurd. ... How to love and receive our
brother, as we believe and hope Christ has received both him and
us, and yet refuse to hold communion with him, is we confess, a
mystery too deep for us. If this be the way that Christ hath
received us, then woe is unto us!

Those individuals who are entrenched in partyism have, by the very nature of their sectarian spirit, excluded themselves from union with Christ. Indeed, Paul, in the Galatian epistle, described them as "fallen from grace" and "severed from Christ" [Gal. 5:4], for they had replaced the Lord with the Law. Rules and regulations are not redemptive, yet legalists and patternists are blinded to this truth. Campbell concluded the Address section of this document by writing, "Instead of her catholic constitutional unity and purity, what does the church present us with, at this day, but a catalogue of sects and sectarian systems, each binding its respective party ... What a sorry substitute these, for Christian unity and love. ... May the Lord soon open the eyes of His people to see these things in their true light." Amen!

Quintessential Quotes -- Appendix

We have no intention to interfere, either directly, or indirectly,
with the peace and order of the settled churches. ... Neither do
we consider it our duty to forbid, or discourage people to go to
hear them (their Ministers), merely because they may hold some
things disagreeable to us; much less to encourage their people
to leave them on that account.

Clearly, Campbell refused to foster an "Us - Them" mentality with respect to disciples of Christ who may differ with him on various matters of personal conviction and practice. He had no desire to "bash the denominations" from the pulpit every week (as too many do today), or to "preach a party." Instead, the whole purpose of the Association that was created by him was that they might be "a society formed for the express purpose of promoting Christian unity, in opposition to a party spirit." The latter was made evident by people promoting their own views as Truth, and withdrawing from all who dared to differ with them. Campbell, however, strongly asserted "what everyone that pretends to reason must acknowledge: namely, that there is a manifest distinction betwixt an express Scripture declaration, and the conclusion or inference which may be deduced from it ... and that unity and love ought not to be set aside to make way for exalting our inferences above the express authority of God." He continued: "Thus we reason, thus we conclude, to make no conclusion of our own, nor of any other fallible fellow creature, a rule of faith or duty to our brother." Oh, that this were the attitude of more of us today!!

Many of the opinions which are now dividing the church, had
they been let alone, would have been, long since, dead and gone;
but the constant insisting upon them, as articles of faith and terms
of salvation, have so beat them into the minds of men, that, in
many instances, they would as soon deny the Bible itself, as
give up with one of those opinions.

By insisting upon our own personal or party preferences/practices, and lambasting those who will not bow to them, we only succeed in continuing the fragmentation of the Family of God over our silly shibboleths. We do not have to be twins in order to be brethren; we can have differing associations, centered around personal convictions, and still be One Body centered around JESUS. "We are speaking of the unity of the church considered as a great visible professing body, consisting of many coordinate associations." Or, as our Lord suggests in John 10:16, there are many sheep folds, but only one flock. The reality is that "each will understand" the Scriptures "his own way, and of course practice accordingly." For any man or party to insist his/its understanding is superior to that of all others the world over is the epitome of arrogance and foolishness, and the very root of the divisions among us. "It is neither anything more nor better than the judgment or opinion of the party composing or adopting it, and therefore wants the sanction of a Divine authority -- except in the opinion of the party which has thus adopted it." Within their minds, of course, their understandings and their practices are EQUAL to divine Truth ... while every other person on earth is simply duped by the devil and bound for the fires of hell. Again, how can we ever expect unity, harmony and oneness in the Body when such thinking prevails?

To all those, then, that are disposed to see and think for
themselves, to form their judgment by the divine Word itself,
and not by any human explication of it ... to all such do we
gladly commit our cause; being persuaded that at least they
will give it a very serious and impartial consideration.

Thomas Campbell was astute enough to perceive that the success of his cause -- of Christ's cause -- depended on the willingness of men to think independently for themselves, rather than mindlessly parroting the party shibboleths. It has been exactly 200 years since this great man penned those insightful words!! Sadly, history has reflected there have been far more of the latter group than the former parading through the Hallowed Halls of Christendom. And the effect upon the One Body has not been a positive one. The plea of Campbell in his Declaration and Address -- indeed, of Christ in the Scriptures -- is just as valid today as it was then. Let us lay aside all that prevents us from bringing to fulfillment the prayer of our Lord as He faced the cross: That they may all be one, that the world may believe! [John 17]. May we each say "Amen" -- let it be so -- and may we each labor tirelessly to make it so!

Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707

Readers' Reflections

From Morris Bowers in Alabama:

Al, I read your latest article ("Identifying Salvation Issues"), and you were doing great until you went off the deep end and stopped talking about what the Bible tells us to do to be saved. The second half of your article was pure trash. It is no more the truth than the Book of Mormon. If you're going to have fellowship with those who say they believe, and who love God and love their neighbor, but who use the instrument in their worship, then you are going to have a lot of explaining to do on the Day of Judgment. You've really dug yourself a deep hole with your last Reflections article! You threw away Scripture and only gave us your own "two cents worth." Why did you do that? To appease your liberal audience! There can be no other reason, for what you said surely isn't from God's Word. You are pathetic. You call yourself a preacher of the pure gospel of Christ, but you are more of a Gnostic than anything!

From an Elder in Alabama:

Dear Brother Al, Thank you very much for your article "Identifying Salvation Issues." I couldn't agree with you more!! ... and with your work in general. You are to be commended for helping others to see past the works-based salvation concept that developed in our Movement over the years. I truly wonder how we all missed the truth of "salvation by grace through faith" for so long!! I finally woke up on this issue about seven years ago, and it was like getting out of jail. I don't know if you still bother to read all the many emails sent out by Morris Bowers, but the one he sent to you about your last article he also sent to several others, including me, in the "CC" line. I have known Morris for about ten years (I used to be one of the elders at the congregation where he is now attending). Personally, I do not intend to engage him anymore; he does not seem to be capable of reason -- he just reacts. I surely do appreciate you, brother!! You have demonstrated in your Reflections that you are an independent-minded, serious student of the Word.

From a Minister/Author in Arkansas:

Dear Brother Al, I know Morris Bowers. He sent me a copy of his letter to you. That letter tells me that he really needs help, as in it he sounded like a real dodo bird. I think he means well, however. But, he is what is called an "Anti" -- which is more than a doctrine, it is a mindset ... a very blinding mindset. It is not easy to understand such a fellow. To me, Morris is a lot like Saul of Tarsus was before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He has a lot of zeal for God, but it is badly misguided. If he could only come to see that, his zeal could be quite useful to the cause of Christ.

From a One Cup Minister in Missouri:

Brother Al, I see that you too have met old Bro. Al Waysright. He's a cranky old codger isn't he?! I'm sure that the list of things one must DO in order to be right with God will continue to grow ... at least in the minds of people like Bro. Al Waysright. For example, there is actually an article on the Old Paths Advocate web site about the "proper" way to make the loaf for the Communion. Is that ridiculous, or what? I wonder how many of our dear sisters are now afraid for their souls because they didn't make the loaf "according to the biblical standard" (as spelled out by the Pharisees at the OPA)? Good Grief.

From a Reader in New Jersey:

Brother Maxey, I am a member of the One Cup church, and your Reflections article "Identifying Salvation Issues" was just what I needed. I must say, I have been struggling with this matter in my mind for years. I have been studying your Reflections for years, and you have helped to set me free of what I now understand and believe to be simply traditions of men. Yes, you have inspired a freedom in me to stand up and speak out against the teachings that have been so destructive in my life. Please keep up the good work with your writings. There are a lot more like me out there who really need such insight. In fact, I have shared your web site with several other brethren who have some of my same concerns. As you might suspect, these concerns stem from the many splits, negative attitudes and outright "witch hunts" I have personally witnessed over the past 30 years in the One Cup movement.

From a Reader in Florida:

Bro. Al, Your paper on "Identifying Salvation Issues" should be read by all Christians!! I can only add my "Amen" to your following statement: "If eternal salvation was something we received by complying with some legal list of patternistic practices, then it would no longer be a gift freely given, but rather wages earned." Bro. Al, Thank You for proclaiming the Truth of God's incredible Grace!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I am deeply moved by this article ("Identifying Salvation Issues"). I feel that you have absolutely "nailed it." Thank you for all that you do to enlighten those of us who are willing -- and not afraid -- to be enlightened.

From a Minister in California:

Right on, Bro. Al. The list of "salvation issues" is much shorter than most of us think, and the list of the saved is much longer than most of us allow!! Keep writing; Keep loving; Keep including! You are a bright light for a lot of people in darkness!!

From a Minister in Tennessee:

Brother Al, Thank you for another excellent article. Legalism cannot approach Faith without trying to tie it to a number of "essentials" on their lists. In the view of some, the eunuch wasn't really saved until he found the right "brand" of Church of Christ and "placed membership" with it. Of course, even then, he was probably forced to repent of some unknown "error" before they would fully accept him!!

From an Elder in Tennessee:

Brother Al, I wish you well in your continuing struggle against legalism and for unity among brethren. You are aiding tremendously in many sectors. Your armistice message is being heard by more and more folks every day!! But, sadly, it is still being largely drowned out by cannon fire from the opposition where I live.

From a Reader in Georgia:

Brother Al, I just read your article "Identifying Salvation Issues." You did a really good job with a very difficult topic!! I have attempted to convey similar thoughts to yours in an adult Sunday School class, but without much success. My experience is: such ideas need some "soak time" in order for fertile minds to buy into them. I hope and pray that this article of yours bears much fruit!!

From an Elder in Texas:

Bro. Al, I got my copy of your article "Identifying Salvation Issues" this morning, and have just now read it. As usual, you are "spot on." Keep up the good work!

From a Reader in Kansas:

Thank You, Bro. Al, for reflecting the Truth! May you continue to be blessed. I really look forward to hearing you in person this March at the Tulsa Workshop.

From a Reader in California:

Bro. Al, "Identifying Salvation Issues" was Excellent!! I grew up in the deeper parts of the deep south, and so I was taught a version of "grace" that basically said: when we have done all we can do to earn our salvation, then God's grace crosses the distance between what I have done and what He expected of me. It took me a few years of studying the Bible to finally discover what God was really saying. As always, Al, I love your weekly Reflections. When I was preaching, they were a great blessing to me personally, and to my study of the Word. Today they continue to bless me greatly, but in different ways. With much love and appreciation from the SoCal desert!!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I have not written in quite some time, but just wanted to say Thank You for your continued Reflections studies. The last issue --- "Identifying Salvation Issues" --- was really amazing! I have already shared this with several friends and family members. I have some within my family I truly wish would read this, but I know they won't. They are from a very legalistic background and will not even look at material such as this! I can only pray that someday they will come to a better understanding of God's amazing grace! I must also say that I very much enjoy your audio sermons on your congregation's web site. I've been waiting for the site to be updated with more recent sermons, but it's been a while. I also think you sound younger than your age. Not that I'm saying you're old. I just think God gave you an incredible voice for teaching His Word. Your sermons are precise and clear; I really enjoy them!

From a Reader in Florida:

Dear Brother Al, About two years ago one of our congregation's "snow bird" couples told me about you and your writings. Praise the Lord!! I went and read one of your Reflections articles and immediately asked to be put on your mailing list. Through diligent study of your writings, I have discovered that I am not alone in my questioning of many of the SILLY rules and traditions of our movement. In fact, there's a specific term for all of these silly things that have bothered me for so many years -- adiaphora. I had never even seen or heard of this word until I read Reflections #414 -- The Adiaphoristic Controversy. I can't even begin to tell you how much I have learned through reading and studying your writings!! I'm sure you know by now that I'm a Maxey fan!! I tell everyone about you, and I encourage others to go to your web site and review your writings. I have learned more about the Bible (and about the Churches of Christ) during the two years that I've been "Maxied" than I ever did in the previous 50+ years I have spent as a member of this so-called "non-denomination" group. If you could be a fly on the wall when I'm reading your Reflections, you would hear all of my enthusiastic verbal exclamations ("Amen!" ... "yes, yes, YES!" ... "right on, brother!"). My husband says he can always tell when it's "Maxey Time," because that's when he hears me "having a one-sided conversation with the computer." God bless you, Al, for opening my eyes and heart to the incredible love of my sweet Lord!!

From a Pastor in California:

Dear Pastor Maxey, While doing an Internet search for information regarding the Lord's Supper, I came across your Reflections. I will be presenting a message this Sunday at our Community Church titled "Taking God Home" in which I will be encouraging our men to take a greater role in the leading of worship in their homes. I plan on preparing a handout for them that instructs them in conducting the Lord's Supper with their families. So, I am writing to request your permission to include some of your Reflections insights in my handout. I have nothing to offer in return for that permission except my heartfelt thanks!

From a Reader in Missouri:

Brother Al, I wanted to let you know just how much the "Readers' Reflections" section really impresses me! Nearly every time I read them I find a story that sounds a little like my own story in some way or another. This week the last reader from Oklahoma sounded a lot like my story. I grew up going to church every week and sitting in nearly every class hearing over and over the same lines about how "THEY don't teach the truth" ... "THEY don't know the Bible" ... "THEY clearly do not know that verse is in the Bible" ... "THEY are just a 'social club' and not the One True Church" ... "THEY don't do this right" ... "THEY do that wrong" ... and on and on and on! It was a constant carping on what THEY do as opposed to what WE do. It took me quite a long time to dig myself out of that mindset!! Anyway, I just wanted to say how many times the readers sound just like me! I can often relate. You know, one of the great things about what you are doing, Al, is bringing together through this medium a great many disciples who will probably never meet one another, and yet who are nevertheless discovering that they are not the "only ones left" --- that there are many who are thinking and seeing and feeling the same things they are! You have given us a way to discover each other as we discover God's Truth about God's Gift.

From a Reader in California:

Dear Brother Maxey, Obviously you DO see the forest despite the trees! How utterly refreshing!! Thank you for helping to remove the blinders from the eyes of so many. I have often said that far too many in our churches today are "Biblicists" -- worshipping the words of God instead of the God revealed through those words. Brother, you are a blessed gift from God that Christians the world over need at this moment.

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