by Al Maxey

Issue #451 ------- August 13, 2010
Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of
mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.

Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza {1632-1677}

Emily H. Tubman
A Beautiful Benefactress

The Lord God commanded the following of the people of Israel: "Thou shalt not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded. ... Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart. ... There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers, and toward the poor and needy within your land" (Deut. 15:7-8, 10-11). The beloved apostle John, as he neared the end of his life, wrote, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?!" (1 John 3:17). The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the enduring quality of beneficence when He made this observation about the redeemed throughout the ages, "I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me" (Matt. 25:35-36).

When I think of an historical figure who clearly possessed just such a benevolent spirit, I can't help but call to mind one of the shining lights of the early years of our own Stone-Campbell Movement --- Emily Tubman. The focus of her entire life, and it was a rather long one, was to bring joy and comfort into the lives of those much less fortunate! Tubman fought tirelessly for the emancipation of slaves, as well as for the elevation of the social and educational status of women, and all this during a time when such efforts would bring her great criticism and even condemnation. Yet, with patience and determination she persisted in her quest to better the lives of those around her, giving of herself and her means to accomplish that end.

Mrs. Emily Tubman was also quite generous when it came to supporting the work of the Lord's church. For example, she funded the construction of a good many church buildings in different communities and states, as well as schools of higher education. Further, she contributed to the personal ministries of such men as Alexander Campbell, of whom she was a great admirer. As a beautiful and wealthy patron she even had the distinction of having danced with General Lafayette, one of the heroes of the American Revolution who served under General George Washington. To put it mildly, her life was a fascinating one, weaving in and out of our own national and religious histories.

Emily Harvie Thomas was born in Ashland, Hanover County, Virginia on March 21, 1794. While still just an infant, she left Virginia with her parents for the state of Kentucky, traveling along what was known then as "The Buffalo Trail." She grew up in Frankfort, Kentucky where her father, Edmund Pendleton Thomas, was the state's very first Land Registrar. "She grew to maturity in very prosperous circumstances" [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, p. 746], and lived in a large house located in downtown Frankfort. In the year 1818, while she was only 24 years of age, Emily made a trip to Augusta, Georgia to visit some of her relatives. While she was there she met, fell quickly in love with, and married Richard C. Tubman (1766-1836), an extremely wealthy land owner and exporter who was over twice her age at the time. He was an Englishman who had made a huge fortune exporting cotton, tobacco and indigo to the markets of Europe. They lived a very happy life together, and, according to all who knew them, were perfectly suited for one another. Eighteen years later, at the age of 70, her husband died in her arms. The couple had never had children, and so, at the age of 42, she found herself a widow, with no children, but with a huge fortune, for according to her husband's will, the entire estate, as well as his business enterprises, was left to her alone.

Following her husband's death, Emily asked her brother, who was a graduate of Yale, to teach her the basics of law, economics and running a large enterprise. She was an able student, quickly mastering the skills needed not only to maintain the business left to her, but to cause it to continue prospering. Emily Tubman, however, had a very benevolent spirit, often declaring that she was only the steward of her wealth, not its owner. She believed strongly in sharing what she had so that others less fortunate might be blessed. She herself had been blessed with an abundance, and she wanted to use it to abundantly bless others. In her mind, people were far more important than possessions. Emily was a very spiritually-minded woman, and had been baptized in the Kentucky River in 1828 by Silas M. Noel, a prominent Baptist preacher. She never joined the Baptist church, however, but chose to associate herself instead with the growing Stone-Campbell Movement, worshipping within the Christian Church. According to a tribute to this Christian woman, "Her faith was simple, direct and practical. Impatient with the complexities of doctrine and church order in mainstream churches, she was attracted to a young denomination, becoming one of its principal benefactors. Its founder, Alexander Campbell, was a frequent guest in her home" [from an article published by the Georgia Women of Achievement, Inc.].

One of her husband's final requests (and this was even incorporated into his will) was that his slaves be freed and allowed to live as free men and women in the state of Georgia. If the state would grant this request, he would bequest $5000 to the University of Georgia. The state legislature refused, however, and since the "Act of Emancipation" was still in the future, which meant slaves could not legally be permitted to live free, Emily Tubman decided to take matters into her own hands to fulfill her husband's request. She informed her slaves that they were all from that moment forward free, and she then gave them an option -- they could either remain on her estate as paid servants, or they could return to their homeland in Liberia, West Africa, and she would provide all expenses to get them there. About a third of these people chose to return to Africa (according to some sources this number was about 50 to 60 people), and she arranged their safe passage, even traveling with them through the state so that none would assume they were escaped slaves. Emily also continued to provide for their expenses for a time after they settled in Africa so that they might have a good start in life. In Liberia this group of former slaves took the name "Tubman" for themselves, and their farming community prospered -- a community that came to be known as "Tubman Hill."

Emily Tubman gave very generously to the disciples of Jesus in a number of communities, in both Georgia and Kentucky, so that they might purchase land and build church buildings. The cities of Augusta, Atlanta, Savannah, Athens and Sandersville, Georgia, for example, all had nice church buildings built through the generosity of this Christian woman. The same was true of a number of cities in Kentucky. She funded the building of low-cost housing units for widows and the elderly, known as the Widows House Society. She funded facilities that would provide care for orphans. Further, she also gave very liberally to help with the work of a number of Christian colleges. For example, she provided an endowment for an entire department at Bethany College, provided the major funding for the Kentucky Female Orphan School, which later became Midway College (see my issue on this: Reflections #445 -- Dr. Lewis Letig Pinkerton: The Melodious "Liberal" from Midway). Emily supported the American Christian Missionary Society, and then later helped fund the Foreign Christian Missionary Society. Tubman founded the first public high school for girls in the city of Augusta, Georgia. Today that school is known as the Tubman Middle School. Her benevolent efforts were so wide and extensive, and she was so well-loved, that a monument to her memory, erected by the city officials, stands in front of the First Christian Church at the corner of Greene and McIntosh streets in Augusta. And yet we know nothing of her great acts of love by virtue of her own records, for she refused to keep records. Her good works are remembered by those whom she helped. Her giving, she declared, was between her and the Lord. Therefore, she kept no records, feeling the only record needed was HIS.

"During the Civil War, Emily Tubman was concerned with the plight of the wounded soldiers, so to give relief of their suffering, Emily brought the first ice machine to America" [from an article published by The Disciples of Christ Historical Society, vol. 4, issue 3]. She also provided free transportation home for those soldiers in her area who had been wounded in the Civil War. George Darsie, who knew Emily Tubman personally, wrote (as recorded in John T. Brown's book "Churches of Christ," which was published in 1904), "The beauty of her giving lay in its cheerfulness and in the tender heart-gift that went with every contribution that she made. In consequence she found great joy and satisfaction in it. Again and again have I heard her say that it was the supreme happiness of her life. But the good she has done by her direct gifts, great as that is, seems to me to be even less than the good that she has done, and is still doing, by the unconscious influence of her great example. Being dead, she yet speaks to our whole generation, and proclaims the truth of Christ's great utterance, to which all human experience bears witness, that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

With regard to her spiritual convictions, George Darsie (in the above mentioned article) made the following statement: "Soon after this she met Alexander Campbell, and accepted with full and hearty confidence, no less than with complete intelligence, the religious views he advocated, becoming from that time on his life-long admirer and close friend. She believed implicitly that a return to primitive Christianity, the restoration of the apostolic faith and practice in all their essential features, and the union of all God's children on this imperishable basis, was the only hope for the ultimate triumph of the religion of Christ. But while her religious convictions were deep and strong, she had unfailing charity for all who differed from her, and loved all of every name who called on the Lord Jesus Christ out of a pure heart."

On June 9, 1885, at the age of 91, Emily H. Tubman passed from this life at her home in Augusta, Georgia. Her final words were reported to be, "Father, I am weak and weary. If it please Thee, let me rest." Her funeral service was held at the First Christian Church in Augusta, after which the pew where she sat and worshipped remained draped for the remainder of the year in her memory. In this church building, which her funds helped to build, and whose members she so greatly impacted by her life of devotion, a black marble tablet may be found with this inscription: "If you seek her monument, look around." After her funeral service in Georgia, her body was taken to Frankfort, Kentucky. She lies buried in the Old Frankfort Cemetery near the grave of another great figure in American history: Daniel Boone. In her will were benevolent bequests that totaled $195,800. Even in death, she continued to give quietly, but liberally, in the name of her Savior.

At the end of his tribute to this marvelous woman, George Darsie penned these fitting words: "Simple in her tastes and manners, natural in her speech and behavior, sincere and genuine in all things, one could approach her as easily as the child its mother. Free from haughtiness and affectation, those who knew her best loved her most, and all who sought her friendship were sure to obtain it. I count it one of the great blessings of my life to have known her and to have learned from her afresh the joy-bringing power of a life spent in doing good. What a glorious example she has left to our great brotherhood, and unto Christian people everywhere, of the supreme blessedness of giving! May her great life be like the seed that fell on good ground, which, after its own kind, brought forth thirty, sixty and a hundred fold." Amen!!

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

A 193 page book by Al Maxey

One Bread, One Body
An Examination of Eucharistic
Expectation, Evolution and Extremism

A 230 page book by Al Maxey

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Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Ohio:

Dear Brother Al, I haven't written anything lately, but just wanted to drop a line and let you know that I have finished reading your first book Down, But Not Out. I have also ordered and received your second book One Bread, One Body. I have already perused a few of the chapters and I can see that I'm in for a real treat. Thank you so much, brother, for all your scholarly work on the grace, love and will of our Father. Hopefully we can have lunch again soon when I am back in your area, and I might even get lucky enough to have the author sign my copy of his new book! As for Down, But Not Out, this was a very well done book that I truly wish would become required reading for everyone in the Stone-Campbell faith-heritage. Keep up the great work, and I will check back in with you after reading One Bread, One Body.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Dear Bro. Maxey, Enclosed please find a check for a copy of both your books Down, But Not Out and One Bread, One Body. Your autograph would make these books even more special for us!! My husband and I are faithful readers of yours and appreciate all that you do to further the kingdom of God in such a loving way. Keep on keeping on!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I would like to purchase a copy of your book Down, But Not Out for the minister at our church (a check is enclosed). He told us today that he had borrowed a copy of your book from a friend, but before he could finish it, the friend needed the book back. So, I hope I am able to purchase your book for our minister (a signed copy) before he gets out and buys it for himself. Thank you very much!

From a Minister in New Jersey:

Dear Brother Al, I just finished reading your new book One Bread, One Body last night. You're going to have to write much longer books, or far less interesting ones! I read it much more quickly than it usually takes me to get through one. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed it, probably because it expresses my beliefs so well. To me, the best and most insightful paragraph in the book was the first full paragraph at the top of page 90 -- a paragraph that could very well have been repeated at the end of the book.

From a Reader in Kansas:

Brother Al, Thanks so much for your Reflections article on inductive versus deductive reasoning. It hits me where I live (the field of criminal investigations), as it is a common understanding that one is innocent until proven guilty. However, for the investigator, we neither think of the suspect as either innocent nor guilty -- they are just a suspect. We take a "blank sheet" and add to it only that evidence which can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Then, and only then, are presumptions of guilt determined. After 30 years in a legalistic, patternistic Church of Christ, I decided to apply my own craft to interpreting my biblical belief system -- throw out all of those "traditionally held" views (which is never easy) and start with a blank sheet, adding to it only that evidence which, to me, was beyond a reasonable doubt (mostly the "thus sayeth the Lord" commands). Needless to say, my views are starkly different today than they used to be!! Inductive reasoning is a very powerful and proven process!

From a Reader in Georgia:

Dear Bro. Al, Thank you for your latest issue of Reflections. As a police officer and investigator, I have used both methods that you mentioned to obtain evidence and convictions in cases. However, I am well aware that making use of the deductive method can be extremely dangerous, especially when you are talking about someone's freedom. The danger is even more magnified when you talk about eternity.

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Brother Al, Webster defines the term "hermeneutics" as "the study of the methodological principles of interpretation." If, as many of the legalistic patternists foolishly proclaim, the Bible is in no need of interpretation ("it says what it means, and it means what it says"), then why do all their preacher training schools have a course in hermeneutics?! All too often, I think, it is just to indoctrinate their students in their approach to "proving" their preconceived ideas and theological positions, and to give these students practice in deductive reasoning. As you correctly stated, Al, only serious and honest students of the Scriptures are confident enough to apply the inductive method boldly and without fear of where such study may lead them.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, "Two Interpretive Approaches" was a great article! Well written, well researched, and affectionately laid out -- as usual. I feel a need to weigh in on the concepts you so adequately covered. I have had a plethora of conversations with an elder at our congregation, a brother who is completely consumed with the need to be right. I respect him, and continue to serve under him, but cannot align with some of his doctrine. We have differed on elements across the board, ranging from instrumental music to singing during the Lord's Supper. I find that all of his defenses are wrapped into a single mindset of picking out passages that appear to fit what he already believes and/or wishes to be true, and then applying those passages as the backbone of "God-ordained doctrine." The challenge, as it pertains to me, is not to become entrapped myself in a reciprocating process -- i.e., attempting to engage a deductive belief with a stronger deductive formula of my own. The older I get, the more I am experiencing the blessing of being more loving than "right." Thanks for all you do, brother!

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, Excellent article, with a good, clear explanation of the differences between these two ways of approaching the Word of God in our attempt to understand it. As always, I appreciate the time and effort you put into your writing ministry, as well as the tone of your comments toward your detractors. Some, I am sure, will criticize you for not hitting your detractors more harshly, but you can't please everyone!!

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, You are reaching many, many souls who have been lost in all the legalistic jargon and the vicious hatred of their religious forefathers. I rejoice with each and every person who is finally finding God's Truth through your teachings!! I suppose the bestselling author Ann Rice might also be considered one who has now finally found Truth, and I liked her disclosure statement this past week. Here is just a part of what she wrote in that statement: "My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I don't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers."

From a Reader in California:

Brother Al, I've been considering the interpretive approach of some of our brethren for many years now. When it comes to "necessary inference," this is essentially humanism -- mere men deciding what is right and what is wrong. This is the greatest danger of the deductive method as you described it in your Reflections piece this week. The deductive method is humanism at its zenith, in that men's inferences and deductions are treated as if they are directly from God.

From a Reader in Hawaii:

Al, Where in the New Testament does it say that a Christian is to reason inductively and/or deductively?! Whatever happened to knowledge given by revelation from the Holy Spirit? All of these fleshly inductive and deductive conclusions do not amount to a "hill of beans" in God's eyes. Christians who are born from above and baptized in the Holy Spirit are not "reasoning animals." This teaching that Christians are to make use of reason in acquiring knowledge is enmity toward God and an insult to the blood of Christ.

From an Elder in Florida:

Brother Al, In my own personal judgment, your teaching on the two approaches to biblical interpretation (inductive and deductive) was your very best ever!! Most of the real fusses among Christ's followers is not about what is IN the Book, but rather over views concerning what is NOT in the Book. So many of the problems, schisms, divisions, sects and cults are the product of otherwise sincere folks simply employing the deductive method to their reading and studying (or mishandling) of the Word of God. I was both the preacher, and one of the elders, for the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York City for a period of nine years, and during that time I completed two degrees at the New York Theological Seminary, a school that had been founded for the defined purpose of guiding men and women in the inductive approach to Bible study, rather than a creedal approach which basically approached the Scriptures with already established essential tenants of the Faith, and using Scripture as little more than a source of "proof texts." This is why some still insist one cannot come to the Lord without coming to Him through their creedal system and without joining their "brand name church." Al, I find myself deeply respecting your quest for Truth, and for the bold sharing of your conclusions. It would truly be nice to meet you in person this side of heaven!! May God bless you, my brother!

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