Jacob Creath, Jr.: Willing to Be Ruined

Jacob Creath, Jr. (1799-1886) was one of many preachers in the nineteenth century who began to question the commonly held doctrines among the denominations of which they were a part. Creath had been associated with the Baptists. In 1826, he received a letter of commendation from the Baptist Church in Great Crossings, Scott County, Kentucky in which he was called a “beloved brother,” a “faithful minister,” and one who “earnestly and zealously contends for ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’” (Memoir of Jacob Creath, Jr., p. 24-25). However, in 1829, Creath received another letter from this same congregation, requesting that he address reports of the “heresy” that he was preaching.

“DEAR BROTHER — I send you the request of the greatest portion of the Crossing Church. Their desire is, that you will give your views of man as a sinner, and how the change takes place, so as to constitute him born again. Or, in our familiar way, as Baptists, we want your views of experimental religion; how a sinner is brought from a state of enmity against the Saviour to be a lover and worshiper of Him.

“This request has grown partly from reports, and partly from a number of brethren, who have heard you preach since your return from the South, conceiving that you had abandoned your old mode and views of preaching, under which their hearts were many times gladdened, and have sat under your ministry with great delight; and we would ask our divine Master to grant you his Spirit, that you may rightly divide the word of truth, giving saint and sinner ‘his portion in due season.’” (Ibid., p. 29)

When Creath’s uncle, Jacob Creath, Sr., heard of the letter, he paid a visit to discuss it and see how the younger Creath intended to respond. Both men were connected to the Baptist Association at that time; and while Creath’s uncle agreed with him on this matter, he wanted to be more cautious in dealing with the issue. When he heard what his nephew planned to reply, the elder Creath said “it would ruin our cause.” The younger Creath answered, “What I had said was true; and if truth ruined us, I was willing to be ruined” (Ibid., p. 30).Continue Reading

Daniel Sommer: Caring for Our Bodies Better Than We Do for Our Souls

Daniel Sommer: Caring for Our Bodies Better Than We Do for Our Souls

Daniel Sommer (1850-1940) lived ninety years and spent about seventy of those years preaching the gospel. This would be an amazing feat in our modern time; yet for one who was born in the mid-nineteenth century, his longevity was truly remarkable. However, while there are some who almost idolize their physical health to the neglect of their spiritual health, Sommer saw the folly of that. He recognized that the well-being of one’s soul was far more important than bodily nourishment or outward appearance. He made the following remark in one of his sermons:

“‘Man is what he eats.’ This is an old saying, and it is as true of man spiritually as it is of him physically. Man’s body is made up of that which he eats, or receives into his system by eating, drinking, and breathing. The same is true of him educationally, socially, politically, morally and spiritually. In view of this we do not wish our bodies to be imposed on, nor poisoned, with impure foods. But we are not, generally, so careful about food for our souls. Though, as a rule, we do not take the best care of our bodies, yet we care for them better than we do for our souls. We wash our hands and faces several times each day, and pay some attention to the hairs of our heads. As a rule, we are much more concerned about the appearance of our bodies before mankind than we are about the appearance of our souls before God. If we go into a picture gallery and have a photograph taken of our facial expression we may be so pleased with it that we will order an extra dozen photos made to hand around among our friends. But suppose we could have a picture taken of our souls, especially if we have not fed them well on the word of God. We certainly would not wish the extra dozen of such pictures made. But what avails a well-kept, well-nourished body, if our souls are in a starving condition?” (Plain Sermons, p. 107).

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Studying the History of Fallible Religious Leaders

Restoration Movement Leaders

Besides studying the Bible, the topic I enjoy learning about the most is religious history – particularly the history of the Restoration Movement (sometimes called the Stone-Campbell Movement). This was a period in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States in which many were troubled by the divisions they saw in the religious world and endeavored to correct this by striving to simply go back to the Bible and follow it alone as their only rule of faith and practice.

Some of the more influential figures in this movement were Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott. Usually when people think of this history today, these are the men who come to mind. As we begin to study this history, we learn of others who played a significant role in the direction of this movement – men like Moses Lard, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Sommer, and David Lipscomb. Going deeper into the study of this history, we can learn about the contributions of others like David Purviance, Pardee Butler, Samuel Robert Cassius, and more – men who may have been largely forgotten, but can provide us with some valuable lessons.*Continue Reading

I.B. Grubbs’ Six Rules of Biblical Hermeneutics

I.B. Grubbs, rejecting legalism

When it comes to studying the Bible, it is common for people to come away with their own understanding of the word of God. Many see nothing wrong with this, despite the varied and sometimes conflicting interpretations people have of the Scriptures. However, when Paul wrote to the brethren in Ephesus, he said, “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:4). He did not expect each of them to have their interpretation of the epistle he wrote by inspiration. Instead, he expected them to have the same understanding as he did. The only way this could happen is for each one to follow a common set of principles as they try to determine the meaning of a particular passage under consideration.

Isaiah Boone Grubbs (1833-1912) was a preacher and also a professor at the College of the Bible in Lexington, KY at the end of the nineteenth century and into the early part of the twentieth century. In the introduction to his material on the epistles of First and Second Corinthians and Galatians,* he outlined six hermeneutical rules that would allow students of the Bible to properly interpret the text. (Hermeneutics simply means “the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of the Bible).”**) These principles are not unique to Bible study; rather, they are the same principles that can be used to correctly identify the meaning behind any body of instruction or teaching.

So let us briefly consider these six rules for Biblical hermeneutics.Continue Reading

“Raccoon” John Smith: Alexander Campbell Was a Fool

"Raccoon" John Smith and Alexander Campbell

“Raccoon” John Smith (1784-1868) was one of many preachers in the 19th century who saw the division in the religious world and the departures from the New Testament that had occurred. As a result, he became associated with an effort to restore the doctrines and practices of the New Testament.

Smith was also known for his quick wit and colorful statements. One example of this was in a conversation with a certain Baptist preacher who wanted to discredit another well-known preacher associated with the Restoration Movement – Alexander Campbell – by exposing an inconsistency in his teaching. He planned to point this out to Smith and boasted to his brethren that Smith would never be able to answer it.

“‘How does it come to pass,’ observed Elder F—, addressing Bro. Smith, ‘that Alexander Campbell in his debate with McCalla took the ground that Paul was really pardoned when he believed, but formally pardoned when he was baptized, and in his debate with Mr. Rice affirms, in substance, that no man is really pardoned until baptized? Here is a glaring contradiction—an irreconcilable inconsistency. What will you do with it, my brother?’

“Bro. Smith looked the Elder full in the face, and instantly replied: ‘When Alexander Campbell said that Paul was really pardoned when he believed and formally pardoned when baptized, he was then debating with Wm. L. McCalla in the year of our Lord 1823, was a member of the Baptist Church, and just about as big a fool as you are. Now, sir, any further contradictions? If so, I am ready to reconcile them.’

“The Baptist brethren roared with laughter, and Elder F— proposed no further puzzling questions on that occasion.” (Recollections of Men of Faith)

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Resolutions from the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery

Mutual forbearance

On June 28, 1804, Barton W. Stone (1772-1844) and five other men signed the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. This document was one of the most significant of the Restoration Movement. It expressed a desire to dissolve their recently-formed body (the Springfield Presbytery) as they recognized that all such denominational bodies and creeds were inherently divisive. The Last Will and Testament also encouraged the members of other such bodies to do the same and unite together simply upon the teachings of the Bible.

“We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one Body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.”

“We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose; for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.”

“Finally, we will that all our sister bodies read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.”

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A Sermon Delivered in the Dark

A. L. Todd: At the End of the Trail

The book, Christians on the Oregon Trail, describes the lives and labors of those who were part of the Restoration Movement during the time when settlers were first trekking across the continent to the Oregon Territory. These early pioneers faced many challenges in the Pacific Northwest. As these settlements grew, efforts were made to spread the gospel among those who were arriving in the area.

One of the men who endeavored to preach in Oregon during this time was A. L. Todd (1820-1886). In the book mentioned above, the author presented a picture of this man’s labor.

“A. L. Todd traveled far and wide in pursuit of souls for Christ, and often his audiences were very small. On one preaching tour through Coos County he sent word ahead that he would be preaching at Burton Prairie school house. It was a rainy afternoon in the wintertime, and only four persons came out to hear him preach. All four of his hearers were men, and none of them had thought to bring any matches for the candles. There was not enough time for any of the men to return home, so Todd began preaching in the fading light of a winter evening. The school house was cold, damp and dark, and as he preached the darkness deepened.” (Christians on the Oregon Trail, p. 319)

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