As most of you know, I am a Church of Christ preacher. We are part of the Stone-Campbell Restoration movement - a movement comprising three groups - Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and conservative Christian Churches. On Wednesday nights I am teaching a class called "Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America." I am having the time of my life! History rocks! Here's why.
Like most people, including preachers, I too get disillusioned and fed-up. Conservative Churches of Christ can be a tough place to work - people tend to get sqeaky about silly things! The line between tradition and doctrine tends to get blurred out when anti-sectarian sectarians rage against sectarianism and the traditions of denominational trappings and artificial structures with the sectarian weapons of tradition and artificial structures! Go ahead, wrap your head in duct tape! However, history has given me a whole new appreciation for what lies at the core of Churches of Christ - Christian unity. We are a unity movement - sometimes off course, sometimes confused, sometimes too uptight, sometimes too traditional - but our reason for being is Christian unity. That is noble. That's why I love Churches of Christ. That's why I preach for the Church of Christ. The early restoration leaders did not see restoration of NT Christianity as an end in itself, but rather as a vehicle for the goal of Christian unity.
For the past two weeks I've taught about Barton W. Stone. He preached for the Presbyterian Church in Cane Ridge, Kentucky from 1796-1804. In 1801 he and other Presbyterian ministers held a revival meeting. Between 20 and 30 thousand people came! For five days no one cared who was Presbyterian, who was Methodist, who was Baptist! Stone was inspired by this event. Of course the Presbyterian hierarchy was not, and, to make a long story short, he and 5 others left the Presbyterian Church in 1804. They simply called themselves "Christians," committed to the principle that if all Christians could agree on a few essentials, and ditch everything that caused division, we could at last honor Christ's plea for love and unity. What a goal! What an ideal! Two hundred years later that goal is still held up by some of us in the Restoration movement. Like Linda Ronstadt sang, "I don't know much, but I know I love you, and that may be all I need to know."