by Dan Coker

"Restoration Movement" is a title that suggests significantly different messages to the various religious groups who claim it as the raison d'etre for existing as a separate-and separatist-influence in the complicated world of "Christendom." For our own purposes and definitions, this series of inquiry will be limited to three primary sources: 1) the thoughts of certain leaders in the Stone-Campbell movement in the United States of America; 2) the reactions of those outside the USA who equate our political and socioeconomic image with our religious values; and 3) the Bible.

Lesson One: Our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29)

What is Restoration?
1. What is the Biblical perspective? Is 1:21,26,27; Zec 8:3; Rev 2:5
2. Has the kingdom ever ceased to exist? Da 2:44; Mt 16:18; Lk 18:8

What needs to be restored first?
1. A pure heart: Ps 24:3,4; Joel 2:12; Mt 5:8; Ac 2:37; 7:51; Ro 10:9,10; 2Ti 2:22; Jas 1:26
2. Humility: Pr 8:13; 16:8; Col 4:6; Jas 4:6,10; 1Pe 5:5
3. Respect for the worth of others: Mt 5:22; 7:1-5

How can we restore ("reconcile" 2Co 5:20) others to God?
1. By being who we say we are: 1Pe 2:9; cf. Mt 23 (Are we"Christians Only" or "The Only Christians?")
2. By practicing what we preach: Mt 7:15-20; 23:1-3; 1Co 4:6 ("Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent")
3. By letting God have His way and His say: Jn 10:16; Mr 9:38-40; Mt 7:1,2 ("Nothing ought to be included upon Christians as articles of faith, nor required of them as terms of communion . . . but what is expressly enjoined by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles upon the New Testament Church, either in express terms or by approved precedent." - T. Campbell)


1. Polycarp, disciple of the apostle John: "He who raised Him up from the dead will also raise us up-if we do His will and walk in His commandments."

2. Clement of Rome, probably the one mentioned by Paul in Php 4:3: "Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those who wait for Him. By earnestly seeking the things that are pleasing and acceptable to Him. By earnestly doing things that are in harmony with His blameless will."

3. Shepherd of Hermas, possibly a contemporary of John: "Only those who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God."

4. James O'Kelly left the Methodist Church in order to establish a "scriptural plan of church government," ordaining elders in each congregation. O'Kelly and his brethren accepted Rice Haggard's suggestion to wear the name "Christian." (1794). The Christian Church grew rapidly (20,000 members in 1809).

5. Elias Smith and Abner Jones became dissatisfied with Calvinism, deciding that believers should be "guided only by Scripture" (1801).

6. Barton W. Stone, at odds with the Presbyterian Church (in which he had been ordained a minister), organized with others the Springfield Presbytery, but soon became convinced that such organizations were not authorized in Scripture: "We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large" (Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery, 1804).

7. David Purviance and Reuben Dooley (Stone Movement) led in the turn to immersion as the scriptural form of baptism for all believers (1807).

8. John Mulkey, a Baptist preacher, rejected Calvinism and decided to follow the Bible to the exclusion of every human creed (1809).

9. Thomas Campbell: "Let us do as we are there expressly told they did, say as they said; that is, profess and practice as therein expressly enjoined by precept and precedent, in every possible instance, after their approved example; and in so doing we shall realize and exhibit all that unity and uniformity that the primitive Church possessed" (1809).

10. Alexander Campbell: "I contend that the constitution of the church and its laws are found explicitly declared in the New Testament" (1825).

11. Raccoon John Smith: "Let us, then, my brethren, be no longer Campbellites or Stoneites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any other kind of lights, but let us come to the Bible and to the Bible alone, as the only book in the world that can give us all the light we need" (Lexington Unity Meeting, 1832).

12. Cline Paden: "We're so autonomous, we're practically anonymous" (sometime during the twentieth century).

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Last updated November 13, 2001.