Wednesday, November 26, 2008

THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT AND ITS DEMISE

The Restoration Movement is unique to the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ/Disciples of Christ as we had our American beginnings in such a movement. It is a thrilling story; one which hooked me as I studied to become more committed as a Christian. Names as Jacob Creath Jr., Racoon John Smith, Moses Lard and of course Stone and Campbell riddle pages of Restoration history with riveting accounts of men moving deeper into the Bible church. Plain people with common thirst for God’s truth volleyed and adjusted their religious bent continually hoping to more align with the Word of God in belief as well as practice.

However, the movement shifted from restoration to preservation. Teachings began to crystallize. Pliability took on a strange form of rigidity. Learning was replaced by defending. Humility was booted out for a conquering sort of pride which moved from tender-hearted disciples to legalizing Pharisaism. Effort to get back to the Bible was t-boned by getting back to the Restoration Movement; something Stone and Campbell would never have accepted.

From the Restoration Plea there was a high note of “go by the Bible”. However such a thrust did not come from the movement itself. It came from the Bible. The idea of a movement leading anyone back to the original thoughts of God’s revelation is always a respectable course. However, when such attempts shift to preserving what little has been recovered, momentum and direction suffer injury. Discovery and mystery are replaced by defense and form; de-formed is the result.

A significant hiccup may be found in evolving plans to restore the church to the New Testament pattern. Scripture would indicate what is called for is to restore people to the New Testament Christ; he will not restore his church but will continue to build it. His church isn't something mankind gets back to. It is something man is added to. Have we not been in a long state of reversing the work by trying to add the church to man?

I love the early days of the Restoration Movement. To operate trying to restore the restoration movement, however, is something added to the will of God. Such a course is radical and the cost is a mistake. The latter day saints’ minds atrophy as the Bible doesn’t have a chance. It has been replaced in its own camp by names of notoriety other than Jesus. If we don’t continually move back to the glorious name of Jesus, God will most likely find someone who will.

7 comments:

Stoogelover said...

You hit this one dead center! When I've tried to say the same thing to some elderships in the past, I ran into stone cold silence or, worse, censorship.

westcoastwitness.com said...

"...the movement shifted from restoration to preservation."

"If we don’t continually move back to the glorious name of Jesus, God will most likely find someone who will."

I agree and believe you're right.

Growth is stunted in many congregations. I only say that because I've observed it myself.

There's a bad attitude that has permeated the hearts and minds of many - close mindedness and legalism.

But there's also another side to this equation. Many young leaders don't hold the same legalistic views that have been so prevelant in the past.

I don't believe the RM will meet its demise anytime soon. I'm more optimistic, and I believe we will find ourselves in the midst of revival in the future.

I believe the RM plea still resonates with many serious about serving God, and I believe God will bless the faithful while showing patience to those who still have a little ways to go.

I truly do believe our best days are still ahead of us, and am very excited to see what God is going to do!

Anonymous said...

What we fail to appreciate is that the early restoration leaders were not as keen on trying to fix and paint fences around the orchard so it would look like a first-century picture. They knew (and we forget) the need to plant the first century SEED (gospel). They were more future focused than we think. if we're not careful, restoring history can sure sound like "plowing while looking back instead of looking forward."

Anonymous said...

I've long been skeptical of the "let's restore the church of the 1st century" mantra. Appreciate the motivation, but we frankly don't look anything like the 1st century church, and would have a very long way to go to genuinely do so. Instead, we need to be the church of the 21st century, lifting up the Christ of EVERY century.

Thanks for a bold post.

Anonymous said...

Spot on!
Larry Wishard
Denver

Jarod Stokes said...

Terry,

I don't know if you remember me but, I'm Bobby Stokes son... and now work for NMY with Jimmy Young. I've been reading for a while and really enjoyed this post. Your name has come up a lot at NMY. I'm use to hearing your name at events or church stuff but to hear people talk about you in a business setting is funny. But what is great is that the same compliments are given and people see Jesus in you at both places.

I think movements are people searching. As soon as we stop seeking we loose the only attractive thing about Christianity, the endless indescribable, uncompromisable love of a RISEN SAVIOR.

Sid Williams said...

Why are none of your sermon titles about biblical subjects?

sidwms@peaknet.net