Reviews - What do customers think about Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union: Epoch-Making Statements by Leaders Among the Disciples of Christ for the Restoration of the Christian?
Helpful, but still a little lacking Apr 20, 2007
Historical Documents Advocating Christian Union is a collection of original source material with introductions. It was edited by Charles Young, who (as I understand it) was a member of the Disciples of Christ (I mean not the name for the entire movement that was used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but the more liberal third of the movement that came about around 1926). With that in mind, his introductions often hint, especially his last one to Garrison's The World's Need of Our Plea conveys his bias. However, that his bias is relatively minimal, considering the vast majority of the text was written before any division came about. The Documents are in a roughly chronological order, which is of help when the reader is attempting to understand the progression of thought and doctrine throughout the movement's history. Young, of course, includes the two most important documents: The Last will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery by Barton W. Stone and others as well as The Declaration and Address by Thomas Campbell and Thomas Acheson. These documents are truly the product of genius. They contain well-argued theology and clever satire. Truly, these two documents cast the vision of the Stone-Campbell movement, that of unity in the truth of New Testament Christianity. The next document in the book is Alexander Campbell's Sermon on Law. Of course, Alexander authored neither of the founding documents of the movement, but he is nevertheless considered the uncontested leader of the movement. This sermon is key in understanding the thought of Alexander. Nearly all histories of the movement, especially histories of Alexander's life, will mention this sermon and its result. The sermon is an appeal to abandon the focus on the law for a focus upon the Gospel. Alexander might have gone too far in considering the law inspired, but nearly worthless for the life of a Christian. However, his appeal that preachers stop preaching law as a preceding necessity to the Gospel is brilliant. He argues that one should appeal rather to conscience. I am in complete agreement with Alexander on this point. The final two documents are Isaac Errett's Our Position and James Garrison's The World's Need of Our Plea. These documents are written quite late, when compared to when the Sermon on Law was first preached. They are written by two editors of two of the most significant Restoration Movement periodicals, The Christian Standard and The Christian Evangelist. To quote Young, "[The Christian Standard and The Christian Evangelist] became two mighty advocates for Christian Missions, Christian Liberty, and Christian Progress." These documents clearly show the progression of thought, particularly regarding missions and baptism of the movement in the years after the authorship of The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery and The Declaration and Address. I truly learned a lot from this reading. I love the history of the Stone-Campbell movement (of which I am proudly a part of), but I do disagree with certain aspects of it. For instance, The Declaration and Address it written like it is a document of freedom from oppression of the old sects in Europe. The makes great historical sense, since the Declaration of Independence was only penned a few years before. This document attempts to be a declaration of religious independence from the corrupt systems of old Europe. Rather it should have been a declaration of independence from the pride and arrogance of mankind who think they alone can infallibly interpret the revelation of God. It should have been a contract of slavery to the Lordship of Jesus. Overall, though, I think that these documents are vital for the life of the Church. I feel deepened by having read them, and I wish deeply that the Stone-Campbell movement churches made more use of them.
If I could have, I would have probably given the book 3.5 stars, but I couldn't bring myself to give it four.