Irven Lee, Part 2: The “Friendly Letter”

This an interesting 2012 blog from Chris Cotten, which bears repeating in a time of renewed discussion among Christians who deplore the antagonism and alienation of the past. A first installment, also re-blogged here, provides some context.

Anastasis

This is the second of two posts dealing with Irven Lee and his “A Friendly Letter on Benevolence” (1958). The first post provided a sketch of Lee’s life; this post will make some observations about the “Friendly Letter.”
Open division was a reality in Churches of Christ across the country in 1958. The controversy over institutions that had erupted in the years during and after WWII mushroomed by the middle of the 1950s into a heated and often very personal dispute. This is not the place for a complete timeline of the controversy, but it might be worth pointing out a few of the things that contributed to the atmosphere in which Lee wrote in 1958.

In December 1954, B. C. Goodpasture published with approval a letter written by an anonymous elder calling for a “quarantine of the ‘antis.'” This opened the door to, and gave sanction to, the kind of…

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Irven Lee (1914-1991), Part I: Biography

This an interesting 2012 blog from Chris Cotten, which bears repeating in a time of renewed discussion among Christians who deplore the antagonism and alienation of the past. A second installment follows.

Anastasis

At the conclusion of this semester’s classes, I’ll be turning my attention more fully to the Lewis research that you’ve been seeing in fragmentary form here. One of the things that fascinates me about Lewis is the degree to which one can understand him as a continuator/tradent of the Lipscomb-Harding theological synthesis among NI churches in the 1950s/60s.

But Lewis was not alone. Several other figures from a younger generation (relative to Lewis), to a greater or lesser degree, also fit this description. Interestingly, several of them can also (like Lewis) be found in North Alabama. Over the next couple of posts, I’ll be looking at one of these figures, Irven Lee (1914-1991). At the request of John Mark Hicks, I’ll offer here a few thoughts, historical and theological, on Lee and his “Friendly Letter on Benevolence” (1958).

I’ll do this in two parts: this post will…

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Footnote 36 – Daniel Sommer Obituary by Frederick D. Kershner

Footnote 36 – Daniel Sommer Obituary by Frederick D. Kershner. Christian-Evangelist, LXXVIII:11 (March 14, 1940), p. 290 (from James Stephen Wolfgang, “A Life of Humble Fear: The Biography of Daniel Sommer” [MA Thesis, Butler University, 1975], pp. 165-167).

Daniel Sommer was the last of the great pioneers of the Restoration Movement. Born in 1850, only twenty years after the dissolution of the Mahoning Association, his life stretched back to the days of the Campbells and spanned almost the entire circle of the growth and development of the movement. As the successor of Benjamin Franklin in the editorship of The American Christian Review, he became a dominant protagonist of the right wing among the Disciples and was usually regarded as the very tip of the wing. Sommer was opposed to all “humanisms,” as he styled them, and believed that the only way to preserve the purity of the church was by forbidding even the slightest compromise with erroneous tendencies. Hence he opposed missionary societies, Sunday schools, Christian Endeavor societies and above all, instrumental music in the worship.
He was roundly denounced by various groups of conservatives who permitted the camel to put his nose under the tent, in one respect or another, but he always held his ground. He was opposed to Bible colleges or special training schools for the ministry because he believed that they undermined the faith of their students and taught them everything except the Bible. In one way or another, he isolated himself from the overwhelming majority of the brotherhood, a fact which caused him much sorrow, but which never shook his own convictions as to the rightness of his course.

Notwithstanding his rather extreme theological views, Daniel Sommer was one of the most tolerant and fair-minded men we have ever known. He had the Christian attitude toward the search for truth and the Christian spirit in his method of dealing with people with whom he disagreed. He had no trace of that ecclesiastical bigotry which refuses to sit on the same platform or speak at the same meeting with another individual suspected of heretical views. Instead of this widely prevalent Pharisaism, the editor of The Apostolic Review would go anywhere he was invited to speak, no matter how much he disagreed with the people who were managing the program or the general point of view prevalent at the meeting. He rightly reasoned that unfavorable circumstances of this kind made it all the more incumbent upon him to deliver his message whenever he had a chance to do it.

Hence he preached the gospel everywhere, to all sorts of people and under the most bizarre and unusual circumstances. Money was no consideration whatever with him and he never received more than a bare living for his untiring labors in behalf of the church. He delighted in real missionary work and only a few days before his death he insisted upon going forth again to take up the task of evangelism. He had a tonic influence upon all who came in contact with him and his obvious sincerity and disinterestedness gave weight to his words far beyond the tricks of the professional orator or elocutionist.

Even in his advanced age, Daniel Sommer was a forceful speaker and his thinking was logical and clear. He was one of the great preachers of the Restoration and his memory will be affectionately cherished by multitudes who possessed only slight personal acquaintance with him. Old as he was when he left this world, his more intimate friends will be conscious of a keen sense of loss in his departure, a feeling which will only partially disappear with the passing of time. He was a great soul, perhaps one should say more correctly, he is a great soul, and many of us feel that we shall not look upon his like again.

— Frederick D. Kershner Christian-Evangelist, LXXVIII:11 (March 14, 1940), p. 290.

My List of 20 Authors and Significant Books – What’s Yours?

SW Lib S-CGiving in to a fad which I strongly resisted for awhile, here’s a list of 20 books which have shaped my personal intellectual development. It was frustrating but enlightening to do the introspection necessary to accumulate and then pare down to 20. All such stand-alone lists are probably sterile, unless (as they were with me) they are integrated into broader reading in conversation with an extensive web of other classical and “Great Books” authors. But these were “first introductions” to a protracted corpus of similar works, or provided multiple significant “aha moments” in their own right. Many of the specific titles are representative of a “train” of comparable works by the same author and/or others who interacted with them in an intellectual engagement. In more or less chronological order as I encountered them, this list omits MUCH (and, yes, it has notes at the end!)

1 – Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past
2 – Earl West, Search for the Ancient Order (multi-volume)
3 – E.L. Jorgenson, Great Songs of the Church
4 – Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird
5 – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
6 – The Diary of Anne Frank
7 – William F. Buckley, God and Man at Yale, Blackford Oakes novels
8 – Homer Hailey, The Minor Prophets, John, Isaiah and other commentaries
9 – Ed Harrell, Social History of the Disciples of Christ, 2 volumes
10 – Bernard Ramm, The Pattern of Authority
11 – John RW Stott, Christ the Controversialist
12 – John Warwick Montgomery, Where is History Going? and The Suicide of Christian Theology
13 – Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
14 – G.A. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution
15 – Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II
16 – Kenneth A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament
17 – Bernard Bailyn, Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, and Voyagers to the West
18 – C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, and so much more
19 – Gordon Fee & Stuart, How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth
20 – Ronald Numbers, The Creationists

Other “honorable mention” influences would certainly include G.K. Chesterton, Richard Hofstadter, N.B. Hardeman, James McPherson, George Marsden, Everett Ferguson, Stephen Ambrose, D.A. Carson, Mark Noll, George Will, N.T Wright, Fred Craddock, Rick Atkinson, and Fleming Rutledge, among others. This list of 20 could easily become 50 or even 100, especially if older classics were included. Three other works are significant, though in somewhat different ways.

A – The Geneva Bible – I omitted the most continuously-formative work (”the Bible”) but I’ll single out the Geneva, a 1599 copy of which (as well as several more recent replicas) has been in my family for generations. Purchased from a Chicago bookdealer by my great-uncle, who lived here following his discharge from the US Navy in WWI, it then passed to my grandfather, James Otto Wolfgang, and upon his death in 1975 to my father, James Harold Wolfgang, and thence to James Stephen Wolfgang. Not only the text, but the marginal notations, the typography, the woodcut illustrations, and even the paper contain lessons in their own right.

B&C – Two works for which I served as a “knowledge contributor” rather than simply a “knowledge consumer” are the Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Eerdmans, 2004), and the new hymnal Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (Sumphonia Productions, 2012). Working on the “other side of the page” provided new insights, and these works continue to teach me afresh.

NOTES:

1 – A part of my early teenage intellectual awakening, Finegan’s LFAP was on my grandfather’s bookshelves, and I spent many fascinating Sunday afternoons trying to wrap my developing brain around its contents. In this text, and several to follow, Finegan introduced me to the worlds of Biblical archaeology and chronology, and the world of Ancient Near Eastern texts and Biblical manuscripts.

2 – Earl West was a multi-generational family friend (performed my parents’ wedding ceremony), whose multi-volume history of the “Restoration Movement” (also on my grandparents’ and parents’ bookshelves) taught me at an early age the basic plotline and biographical storyline of the movement and its controversies – and ignited a passion to learn more.

3 – Jorgenson was one of several hymnals I sang from as a child, including L.O. Sanderson’s Christian Hymns #2, which often contained simple melodies and harmonies which sounded good when everyone sang their part. But Jorgenson took things to a new level. I was singing from his hymnal during the same time I was playing in high school and regional music groups under a very good conductor (a graduate of the world-class School of Music at Indiana University – as were several of the song leaders at church, who in turn instructed other song leaders, including my father, in the basics of leading a congregation in the worship of God in song, skillfully and with insight). Great Songs helped integrate what I was learning at school in music and English composition, including poetry, with what was happening “in church.”

4 – Began to help me confront the reality of evil, both as an act and as a power – as well as the power of story.

5 – C. S. Lewis’ classic (and others, read later) opened up new and different ways of “explaining” Christianity, as well as modeling excellent writing as the Brits do it.

6 – Ditto # 4 – Began to help me confront the reality of evil, both as an act and as a power – in other contexts outside the USA.

7 – Buckley introduced me to the world of the “public intellectual,” the confusing maze of academic discourse and pretensions, the wonders of arcane vocabulary, the importance of intellectual rigor in political discourse, and the power of fiction to expound truth with an impact sometimes lacking in non-fiction. I have read most of his books.

8 – As with other authors on this list, Homer Hailey’s influence on my life was not limited to his books, or even as a preacher, professor, and counselor, but also as mediated through other influential figures in my intellectual development, including but not limited to Ferrell Jenkins, Melvin Curry, and Phil Roberts. As with Buckley and Harrell and Montgomery below, I have consumed nearly everything he wrote.

9 – Probably the closest thing to a formal “intellectual mentor” in my life (I once called him “the surrogate older brother I never had”), Ed introduced me to the stubborn fact that theological issues are not merely theological. There are “layers of the onion” which must be peeled back to reveal how social forces, including class, race (and gender), and many other factors influence theological ideology and religious behavior, and the necessity to integrate the study of religion into the broader descriptions of political, economic, social, intellectual, military, and other aspects of the human endeavor. Ed once said that I was perhaps the only person who had read everything he’d ever written (adding, “but Steve even reads cereal boxes and the phone directories” – too true!)

10 – Ramm, whose book on authority came to me by way of Harry Pickup, Jr., (another profound influence in my life as a young preacher), was one of the bright stars in the early evangelical constellation; this foundational work led me to a string of others.

11 – John RW Stott, first encountered through his book on Christ as a controversialist, was introduced to me by John Clark, a self-educated intellectual and formative influence on my early spiritual development. In many ways, it replicates themes in Stott’s other works, expounding “Basic Christianity,” the gigantic paradox of the cross of Christ and the scandal of worshiping a crucified man, murdered by state sanction as a common criminal or worse.

12 – Montgomery, like Stott, served as both an introduction and a bridge into the worldview of evangelicalism, at once alike (not least in its rejection of both modernist and post-modernist ideologies) and different from the “restorationism” I have written about myself. As with many other works on this list, what I found most attractive was JWM’s broad, interdisciplinary background in classics, philosophy, library science, Biblical studies, history, and modern theology.

13 – Kuhn is often at the head of “Most Influential Books,” especially of the 20th century – and deservedly so as one of very few works which has had widespread cross-disciplinary impact. Read with fascination as I began a doctoral program in the History of Science at Emory University (along with his Copernican Revolution), Kuhn was, as for many, one of the most formative influences on my thinking, surpassing even many on this list and opening up a long list of related works.

14 – Kerkut’s compact but tightly argued monograph taught me not only important distinctions between “general” and “special” evolution (“macro-“ and “micro-“) but also to challenge prevailing assumptions and “received wisdom” – and that doing so is not always received well by others. To actually meet and interview him (and be “served tea”) in his laboratory at the University of Southampton while I was working on my own dissertation, was a special treat, putting a human face to a respected scientific name.

15 – Braudel demonstrated with staggering breadth how much of the human enterprise can and should fall under the historian’s gaze and pen, describing it in a single (and yes, again, multi-volume) work. Despite its title, this work surveys everything from demography to warfare to numismatics to zoology and nearly everything in between, from the Bronze Age to modernity, as well as confronting concepts of stasis and change over time with which every historian must grapple.

16 – From AO&OT to his “magnum opus” On the Reliability of the Old Testament, the breadth of Kitchen’s output is stunning, ranging from the scholarly translation of ancient texts to academic works on Egyptology and “popular” books on Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical history. I first encountered his work (in the library but not on the reading lists) at the seminary where I earned my MDiv. There, his “conservatism” was ridiculed and snickered at by small-minded faculty and grad students – none of whom could carry water for Kitchen, intellectually. Legends in their own minds, they seemed intent on demonstrating their own snobbish “superiority” – which attracted me to his work, first out of curiosity and then with respect.

17 – Bailyn is one of the the most influential American historians of the 20th century, not only for his own Pulitzer- and other prize-winning works, but also as the advisor of a long train of Harvard PhDs who became influential (on me and many others) in their own right, including other Pulitzer Prize winners like Gordon S. Wood (my favorite and, yeah, the guy Matt Damon cites in Good Will Hunting), Mary Beth Norton, Richard Bushman, Jack N. Rakove, Pauline Maier, Philip Greven, Michael Kammen, and MANY others.

18 – Woodward, the dean of a whole corps of Southern historians, introduced me to the thicket of questions of how race, slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the civil rights movement, and a host of other related issues have played out in American history – at a time when this Midwesterner, recently married to a lovely Southern lass, engaged in graduate studies at Emory University in Atlanta, was preaching for a church in a racially “transitioning” neighborhood in the midst of racial tensions only three years following the King assassination. An intriguing and challenging read, it was not only formative in its own right, but lead down numerous other worthwhile rabbit trails.

19 – It is difficult to single out one book in a whole cluster of important works on crucially important questions of hermeneutics and interpretation of texts, but this one stands out and has become a classic.

20 – A path-breaking, even-handed, award-winning monograph on an important subject previously ignored by historians and other segments of academia (and an area I’ve worked in, and published a bit myself), this is a model of following the evidence where it leads. If there is “a book I wish I’d written,” this might be it.

Revised Alexander Campbell New Testament Now Available

Revised Alexander Campbell New Testament Now Available

Loving religious spoof — especially when it’s sort of “in-group.” I’m close enough to these folks to catch some of the allusive (and maybe some elusive) humor!

J. M. Barnes on singing and unity

J. M. Barnes on singing and unity

Anastasis

Justus McDuffie Barnes (1836–1913) Justus McDuffie Barnes (1836–1913)

In July 1896, J. M. Barnes embarked on a month-long preaching tour through the State of Texas, documenting his travels in a series of articles in the Firm Foundation. Barnes was, without question, the leading conservative in Alabama during the years between the close of the Civil War and his own death in the spring of 1913. But he also travelled extensively, and was a regular writer for, among others, the Gospel Advocate and Benjamin Franklin’s American Christian Review.

This is an illuminating series for, among other things, its insights into congregational life in the 1890s. Beginning on the first Sunday in August, Barnes recounts that he preached a ten-days’ meeting at the Pearl and Bryan Streets church in Dallas, “in some respects the most remarkable body in my whole knowledge.”

Barnes is blunt over the course of several articles as he describes the state…

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Up To Bethany

Whew!! Today is a “decompression day” after a truly “WOW!!” week with 50+ “Restoration History” or “Stone-Campbell” (choose your own terminology) enthusiasts packed onto a bus with “all the comforts” (WiFi, on-board restroom, wireless PA, video screen and great driver!) on a trip from Nashville, “up to Bethany” and back. Some of the sites packed into 6 days: Lipscomb sites in Nashville; Mt. Olivet Cemetery (gravesites and discussion of DL, Tolbert Fanning, Sewell family, etc.); Bowen-Campbell House at Mansker’s Station (BW Stone’s home after marrying Celia Bowen following Eliza Stone’s death); James A. Harding gravesite at Bowling Green (and continuing discussions); speaking in the Midway church on the site where one of the first musical instruments was introduced — the melodeon now at Midway College (formerly Dr. L.L. Pinkerton’s Kentucky Female Orphan School); BW Stone and Bacon College sites in Georgetown); speaking in the Old Morrison Hall chapel using JW McGarvey’s Chapel Talks, delivered in that very hall by JWM himself, and singing some of the hymns JWM discusses in some of those lectures); hiking through Lexington Cemetery (one of the nation’s most beautiful) to see gravesites and discuss the lives of Henry Clay, McGarvey, John Rogers, Robert Graham [1st president of what’s now the University of Arkansas, 2nd President of Kentucky University], “Raccoon” John Smith, John T. Johnson, L.L. Pinkerton, Robert J. Breckinridge, Robert Milligan, Isaiah Boone Grubbs, Robert B. Crawley, Henry Hampton Halley [of Halley’s Bible Handbook], and Charles C. Moore {BW Stone’s grandson who became, and was jailed for his writings as, a “freethinker” {atheist}, among others; Cane Ridge and museum, May’s Lick (home and grave of Walter Scott and church where he preached); and then “up to Bethany” to the Campbell home and Cemetery and Old Main at Bethany College; through the country roads of West Virginia to Washington, PA, and the site of the printing of Thomas Campbell’s “Declaration and Address” in 1809; and then back to KY to Winchester for JW and JA Harding sites and the location of the Neal-Wallace debate on premillennialism) finally to the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill near Danville, whence two of the signers of the famous “Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery” defected, leaving BW Stone and David Purviance alone of the signers; and many other sites, lectures, and conversations too numerous to mention! What a trip – exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time!

Books As Friends

 

Here’s the fairly well-known account of J.W. McGarvey’s farewell to his “friends” (his books) from the Facebook page, “Friends of the Restoration.” As someone on the page observed, “One who does not have them cannot understand the sentiment involved.”

https://books.google.com/books?id=zITVAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22lands+of+th One who does not have them cannot understand the sentiment involved e+bible%22+mcgarvey&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GAAGVbLpFe_dsAS44IKgAQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22lands%20of%20the%20bible%22%20mcgarvey&f=false

“I had already been upstairs in my library to take a last look there, and as I gazed upon the rows of familiar books I said within myself, ‘goodbye, my dear old friends; and if I never see you again, God bless you for the good you have done me and the happy hours we have spent together.” (Lands of the Bible, p. 387).

Solomon’s Quarries discovered by American Medical Doctor J. T. Barclay

Ferrell's Travel Blog

Dr. James Turner Barclay was sent to Jerusalem by the American Christian Missionary Society in 1851 as a medical and evangelistic missionary. During his first trip he stayed until 1854 and  returned for a second stint from 1858 to 1861. Barclay was active in medical work, treating more than 2,000 cases of malaria during his first year in the city.

Grave stone of James T. Barclay, and his wife Julia, in the Campbell Cemetery at Bethany, WVA. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins. Grave stone of Dr. James T. Barclay, and his wife Julia, in the Campbell Cemetery at Bethany, West Virginia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Barclay wrote a book in 1858 about the city of Jerusalem under the title The City of the Great King; or, Jerusalem As It Was, As It Is, and As It Is To Be. In it he tells about some of his explorations in and around the Old City. In a section dealing with nether Jerusalem he discusses the discovery of what is commonly called Solomon’s Quarry…

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“Hail the blest morn!”: Merry Christmas from Alexander Campbell

eScriptorium

Selina Huntington Campbell remembered in 1882 that

Dear Mr. Campbell was a lover of good music; he had when young received lessons in the art, but, as he said, “was born tuneless;” he understood time and loved to make a “joyful noise.” He could almost sing  “Hail the blest morn! When the great Mediator ” etc., and when riding together, through the vales and over the hills of Bethany, he was sure to commence with ecstacy : “’Tis not the law of ten commands,” but  always turned to the last verse :

“Israel, rejoice, now Joshua (Jesus) leads,

He’ll bring your tribes to rest;

So far the Saviour’s name exceeds,

The ruler and the priest.”

Ahh, the wonders of the internet, where an easy search of YouTube brings us here:

Authored by Reginald Heber (perhaps best known for Holy, Holy, Holy), the tune you hear in the clip is…

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