Sent: Sunday, May 09, 2004 6:39 PM

Mr. Winford Claiborne,
the transcript reader for The International Gospel Hour, sponsored by the West Fayetteville Church of Christ, Fayetteville, Tennessee, says:

"We can and must do what men like Alexander Campbell, Barton Warren Stone and other faithful gospel preachers have done.  We must return to the clear Bible teaching about baptism." Transcript #1908

Church of Christ preachers -- and especially their debaters -- have always had a first class "problem" with Alexander Campbell.

They would like very much to extol Mr. Campbell and embellish his work in the 1800s for allegedly "restoring" the church, the gospel, and the "ancient order of things," but in reality none of them can even approve of Mr. Campbell's personal experience in regard to what he regarded as his salvation. I do not envy the position which Mr. Winford Claiborne and other Church of Christ ministers are in with respect to Mr. Campbell. He is indeed a virtual Albatross around the neck of their cause.

Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) and his early associates, Thomas Campbell (Alexander's father), Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott, were the virtual founders of the movement from whence the present-day "Church of Christ" in due course of time developed.

Needless to say, today the modern Church of Christ is not what the Campbell movement was in the 1809-1830 formation period.

NONE of the founding fathers, or "pioneers" as they wont to be called, was baptized in accordance with the "plan of salvation" which is required in the Church of Christ of today. In fact, all of these early leaders claimed to have been converted PRIOR to being baptized, and not a one of them was ever baptized "in order to obtain the remission of sins," as the Church of Christ of today insists that one must do to be saved.

The truth is, the modern Church of Christ could not accept any one of the founding fathers -- Alexander Campbell, Thomas Campbell, Barton Stone, or Walter Scott -- into their fellowship, for based on the modern teaching none of the four could have been saved, if the modern doctrine on "baptismal remission" is true.

Neither Mr. Claiborne nor any other minister of the Church of Christ who teaches "baptismal remission" can possibly find a way whereby that can affirm that any one of the pioneers entered the Kingdom of God and still maintain the teaching on the necessity of baptism for salvation.

The record of what Mr. Campbell regarded as his own salvation experience is on the Internet, posted in the Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, volume 1, chapter 3:

As he had an excellent knowledge of the Scriptures, and as the chief points in the divine plan of salvation had been long familiar to him, he, in the course of his meditations, became awakened to a livelier consciousness of their importance, and began to feel an unwonted personal and individual interest in them. As his convictions deepened, he underwent much conflict of mind, and experienced great concern in regard to his own salvation, so that he lost for a time his usual vivacity, and sought, in lonely walks in fields and by prayer in secluded spots, to obtain such evidences of Divine acceptance as his pious acquaintances were accustomed to consider requisite; it being universally held by the Seceders that "an assured persuasion of the truth of God's promise in the Gospel, with respect to one's self in particular, is implied in the very nature of saving faith." Of this particular period in his religious history he himself gave, many years afterward, the following account: "From the time that I could read the Scriptures, I became convinced that Jesus was the Son of God. I was also fully persuaded that I was a sinner, and must obtain pardon through the merits of Christ or be lost for ever. This caused me great distress of soul, and I had much exercise of mind under the awakenings of a guilty conscience. Finally, after many strugglings, I was enabled to put my trust in the Saviour, and to feel my reliance on him as the only Saviour of sinners. From the moment I was able to feel this reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, I obtained and enjoyed peace of mind. It never entered into my head to investigate the subject of baptism or the doctrines of the creed."

This was when Campbell was 17 years old (page 47) and the family lived in their native Scotland where they were members of the Presbyterian church. Campbell's experience is described in his Memoirs as "one which any Baptist church would have cheerfully received"  (Vol. 2, pages 111, 112). Note this excerpt from volume two of the Memoirs:

   "On the next morning we parted company with the balance of the preachers, and Brother Campbell and myself started for Mt. Sterling. Much interesting conversation took place on the way, and conduced much to my correct understanding of his views. I will not attempt to relate all that passed. One little incident I will relate. Having crossed Licking River and riding slowly up the bank, I asked Brother Campbell to tell me his experience. He readily did so, and in turn asked a relation of mine, which was given.       "After hearing his experience, I would cheerfully have given him the hand of fellowship. It was one which any Baptist church would have cheerfully received, and was almost substantially such as mine. He took occasion to say [111] that he had never discarded the existence of such experience on the part of the sinner, but objected to the use made of such things, as determining the proper prerequisites of baptism, and went on to explain the necessity of taking the word of God, rather than our feelings, as guides in such things.


Mr. Campbell's BAPTISM came much later than what he regarded as his salvation experience in Scotland, and was only after the family had come to America. He was baptized in 1812 by a Baptist preacher, Matthias Luce, in Buffalo Creek, Brush Run, near Bethany, West Virginia and west of Washington, PA. Pastor Larry Keenan and I visited the area in 1979 when I was in a debate with Garland Elkins in Parkersburg, West Virginia. At the time, we beheld some buzzards circling over the area, and wondered if perhaps they were signifying the site of Mr. Campbell's baptism!

All the information about his baptism are on the Internet in chapter 17 of Memoirs. And though they repudiated their "infant baptism," and were baptized by immersion, they did not at that time believe what they later supposedly "discovered" and alleged to be the "restoration" of the "ancient gospel."

The Memoirs say, "The necessity felt for unity brought them to the Bible alone; this led them to the simple primitive faith in Christ, and this, in turn, had now guided them to the primitive baptism as the public profession of that faith. The full import and meaning of the institution of baptism was, however, still reserved for future discovery" (Vol. 2, page 405).

It was not until 1823 that Campbell claimed to have finally understood the purpose of baptism, and even then it was not put into practice for the "first time" until 1827 when Mr. Walter Scott baptized William Amend, a man who later joined the Mormons. The Mormons learned their doctrine on baptism from apostates from the Campbell movement, foremost of which was Mr. Sidney Rigdon, at one time Mr. Campbell's assistant in debate. It is believed by some historians, such as William Whitsitt, that Rigdon is responsible for the "restorationist" views adopted by Joseph Smith and his early followers.

Now, if we are follow the advice of Mr. Claiborne of The International Gospel Hour, and "do what men like Alexander Campbell" did, then we must be saved before baptism, and later be baptized by a Baptist preacher. That is what Mr. Campbell did, and he never professed any other salvation or received another baptism.

My books on the Campbell movement and current Church of Christ doctrine and practice delineate the entire account of this alleged "Restoration Movement." If you desire to make a further study, then we recommend the following books:

Campbellism, Its History and Heresies ($6).
Acts 2:38 and Baptismal Remission ($4)
The Restoration Movement ($5)
Campbellites, Cowbells, Rosary Beads and Snake Handling ($5)

You have have all four books plus a number of other related booklets and articles for $25 postpaid. Consult the Pilgrim Publications website for more information about these titles.

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