ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM
A HISTORY OF CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN AUSTRALIA
Published by the Federal Literature Department of Churches of Christ in Australia
ISBN 0 909116 15 6
SECOND EDITION 1989
ERWIN'S PRINTING PTY. LTD.,
Keysborough, Vic. 798 8878
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I came to know the personal warmth and searching mind of Graeme Chapman when he was associated with me for several years in the ministry of the Church of Christ at Chatswood, N.S.W It was then that I read an early draft of what has become this book. More recently I have read it through twice, with growing appreciation.
Churches of Christ in Australia are fortunate that a man of this calibre has produced a much needed new history of their work. Not that "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" is a fully comprehensive historical record. Personalities and events well worthy of mention are missing from these pages. But Graeme Chapman well knew the limitations a work of this size imposes. He preferred to focus on the developing and changing thought of certain leaders, and the events which their thought so largely influenced. You do not need to agree with all his own thoughtful conclusions to appreciate the skilled care that has gone into this book--and to be set thinking further.
Here is a man who wants his readers not only to know the past, but to see the present against that background, and to work for the future with confident hope.
C. G. TAYLOR
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To my parents
MILTON & OLGA CHAPMAN
who lived for the welfare of their children,
providing them with emotional security
and a high standard of morality and achievement.
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|1. TAKING ROOT||11|
|2. WHO WERE THE CAMPBELLS?||21|
|3. THE BRITISH CHURCHES OF CHRIST||41|
|4. THIS NEW SECT||49|
|5. AMERICAN EVANGELISTS||61|
|6. SPIRITED OPPOSITION||70|
|7. ORGANISATIONAL GROWTH||79|
|8. DOCTRINAL DEVELOPMENT||93|
|9. A NEW OPENNESS||101|
|10. GROWING UP||108|
|11. A. R. MAIN||121|
|12. DIFFICULT YEARS||141|
|13. TOWARDS UNITY||152|
|14. A NEW MATURITY||159|
|15. WHICH DIRECTION?||170|
|EARLY GROTE STREET||8|
|THOMAS MAGAREY, DR JOSEPH KINGSBURY||20|
|EARLY LYGON STREET||44|
|H. G. PICTON, ALEXANDER CAMPBELL||60|
|T. J. GORE, D. A. EWERS||82|
|COLLEGE OF THE BIBLE, RATHDOWN STREET||100|
|A. R. MAIN, E. C. HINRICHSEN||123|
|BAN MAT MAT CHAPEL||140|
|BOMBAY CHRISTIAN CENTRE||182|
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I was not born into Churches of Christ. I am a new boy. My parents, wanting to expose me to Christian teaching, sent me to the nearest Sunday School. This happened to be attached to the Bexley North Church of Christ.
I was near enough to 18 when I was converted and called to ministry. I was 19 when I entered Woolwich. At that stage I had little knowledge of who Churches of Christ were. I had entered College because I wanted to share Jesus and care for people.
I was not left long in doubt about what Churches of Christ believed. And what I was taught I warmed to. The emphasis on New Testament basics and on unity appealed. I was impressed by Arthur W. Stephenson's rare capacity for lucid exegesis and his enthusiastic commitment to Christian unity--the Spirit-given and visible unity for which Jesus had prayed and the Campbells contended. The story of the movement's beginnings fascinated me. I found it exciting--even heroic. It was told to us by the inimitable Allen Elliott, who held us spellbound as he unfolded the tale.
I wanted, I needed more! I read everything I could lay my hands on.
I am only disappointed that in my early years I did not have the opportunity to sit at the feet of E. Lyall Williams. His unique and thorough exposition of the position of Churches of Christ would have completed my education.
Besides those I have named I would also express appreciation to others who helped with the writing of the book. I am indebted to Associate Professors R. B. Walker and D. J. Bollen for their helpful guidance with the M.A. thesis which formed the basis for this work. To those who supplied information and offered helpful criticism, and to those ladies who helped with the typing, Cherie Bird, Ethel Rankine and Pam Steele I am very much indebted. I wish to express particular appreciation to Cliff Taylor who proof-read the manuscript while incapacitated with the flu and a displaced retina! Roger and Mark Bentley, two of my two "boys," did a grand job with their line drawings. Finally, I wish to thank Ken Clinton and the Literature Committee encouraging and organizing the project.
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WHY THIS HISTORY?
Why this history?
First, an up-to-date account of where we have come from, and how, is long overdue.
Second, I am keen to share insights gained from a study of the history and theology of our churches.
Third, a recovery of confidence in the historic mission of Churches of Christ is dependent upon an awareness of our historical and theological roots.
Despite my enthusiastic endorsement of the message of Churches of Christ, this history is not written as a promotional exercise. A "We are the Greatest" approach, which disguises mistakes and wrong attitudes, is little appreciated today when honesty is at a premium. Furthermore, if we are to recover our confidence we will only do this when we are adequately and accurately informed about our past.
In this book you will not find what historians call "denominational" history. That is, it does not set out merely to list names and note when such and such first occurred. The work seeks instead to trace and interpret broad developments.
In essence, the book details the growth of a Movement in numbers, organisation, theology, self-awareness and understanding. It also graphs the development of Churches of Christ from a small inward-looking nucleus convinced that it had a monopoly on the truth to a vigorous and outward-looking communion recognising a oneness with other Christians and aware of its social and political responsibilities. It is a thrilling story. But it is more than this. It is a continuing adventure involving you and me.
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The British became interested in Australia after the American colonies declared their independence. No longer able to shuttle excess prisoners across the Atlantic, they looked to Australia as a substitute dumping ground. For much of its early history, Australia was little more than a vast and isolated penal colony. However, with a gradual increase in the number of free settlers and emancipists, the colonies began to change character. By the late 1840's and early 1850's it was obvious that a new nation was emerging. Colonials began demanding a greater say in the development of the national character and destiny. They stepped up agitation against convict transportation and for a larger degree of self-government.
Religion counted for little in the early phase of Australia's development. Governor Phillip, while not greatly interested in the substance of their preaching, regarded the early Anglican Chaplains as a useful means of pacifying a convict population. The convicts themselves, recognising that the clergy were being used as moral policemen, had little time for them. The fact that they were used as magistrates by early Governors increased this dislike. Additionally, the predominantly masculine character of the settlements and the isolation of many of the early homesteads, where numbers of the convicts were assigned, worked against them. While Australia has been since its foundation a predominantly urban culture, it was the sturdily independent life and customs of the bushman that came to characterise the emerging national identity. Religion was not part of this scene. The parson rarely ventured inland, and was regarded as ineffective. Unlike America, which was founded in the interests of religious freedom, white settlement in early Australia was inhospitable to Christianity.
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The Churches, however, were not deterred by the general religious apathy. Christian communions in the home country were quick to establish colonial bridgeheads to care for those of their members who had emigrated. Among the more evangelical there was a strong desire to reach and win the irreligious. Unfortunately, the sectarian rivalry that marred relations in Britain was also imported, and frequently frustrated effective outreach.
However, among the growing community of Churches contributing to the Christian impact upon the young community was a body concerned with the scandal of division, that went under the name "Disciples of Christ" or "Christian Churches." These Churches of Christ, as they came increasingly to refer to themselves, convinced that God had called them into existence to call the Christian world back to the unity the Church enjoyed in New Testament times, set out to persuade fellow Christians that it was only by concerting their effort that they would effectively influence the nation. Their unique message foreshadowed the concern for unity that was to become characteristic of the Church of the twentieth century.
Australian Churches of Christ were pioneered by laymen who emigrated to the southern continent in the middle third of the nineteenth century. Local initiative led to separate development in S.A., N.S.W. and Victoria.
South Australia, first settled in 1836, was intended by its promoters to be a model colony. There were to be no convicts. The fledgling colony was to be pioneered instead by an industrious yeomanry. Under the inspiration of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, whose theory of colonisation was also tried in New Zealand, the price of land was pegged at a "sufficient price" to ensure concentration of settlement and division of labour. The immigrant worker could purchase his own land but only after working for a reasonable time for someone else. The money from land purchases was then to be used to bring out further immigrants. The experiment did not work out quite as expected. It fostered speculation rather than close settlement and friction among officials soon developed. In time there was little to distinguish South Australia from its eastern neighbours.
In 1846 the population of Adelaide was a little under eight thousand. Most of the main streets had been laid out, and, while there were few churches, hotels abounded.
The man whose name is linked with the development of Churches of Christ in South Australia, Thomas Magarey, arrived in Adelaide in the Spring of 1845. Born in County Louth, Northern Ireland, in February, 1825, Magarey had emigrated to Nelson, N.Z., with his brother James and the latter's family in 1841 While in New Zealand he came into contact with the congregation of Disciples. Following an accident in which he was dragged under a cart wheel, Magarey was baptised and joined the Disciples. Disquieted, along with other
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New Zealand pioneers, by the Maori massacre of a survey party, and hopeful of finding employment in South Australia, he arranged for his passage to Adelaide.
Because there were no Disciple congregations in Adelaide, Magarey associated himself shortly after arrival with a group of Scotch Baptists, who were meeting in a mud cottage in Morphett Street. Originally presided over by David McLaren, manager of the South Australian Company, the congregation had come under the direction of Captain Scott, a shipping agent of Port Adelaide.
Magarey soon discovered that there was keen interest on the part of a number of the congregation in the writings of Alexander Campbell, the American Disciple pioneer. Their interest had resulted in a division of opinion between those who agreed with Scott that individuals should wait around for God to convert them, a point of view developed by John Calvin in the sixteenth century and popular among the Scotch Baptists, and others who followed Campbell in contending that the Scriptures clearly set forth the step by step response required of the individual seeking salvation. Magarey accentuated the division by distributing 30 copies of the British Millennial Harbinger, the journal of British Churches of Christ. Thomas Jackson who influenced Magarey to the Churches of Christ position in New Zealand, arrived in Adelaide in 1847 and lectured against Scott's position. The church split over the issue. The bulk of the congregation, then meeting in a stone building on Franklin Street, removed with Scott to North Adelaide, leaving the building to the handful that remained. These were rejoined some four years later by several who had sided with Scott at the time of the disruption.
Following fast on the heels of Magarey came a group of emigrants from Beith and New Mills in Ayrshire, Scotland, who had constituted the small Church of Christ in that area. Arriving in 1847, they settled in Maclaren Vale. Three brothers, John, Robert and Alexander Lawrie later moved to Alma Plains.
The population of Sydney in 1850 was approximately 54,000. While wealthy squatters held the reins of power in New South Wales, in Sydney itself a healthy and energetic middle class was emerging. According to the 1851 census the city had over 7,000 merchants, bankers, shopkeepers and manufacturers. The city also boasted 2,000 artisans who enjoyed a reasonable independence. Sydney's 200 flour, cloth, soap and sugar factories employed 1,000 more. At the bottom rung of the ladder were bush workers, most of whom were ex-convicts, unskilled labourers and domestic servants.
While the majority of the South Australian pioneers were of Scotch-Baptist origin, the bulk of those making up the early membership in N.S.W. were former Wesleyan Methodists.
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In Sydney, the initiative in gathering together a congregation of Disciples was taken by Albert Griffin. A former Wesleyan, Griffin had been confused by the notion, current among fellow Wesleyans, that individuals wishing to become Christians had to wait around in agony until God was pleased to relieve their distress. While in a state of agitation over the issue, Griffin received a case of books from his brother Eleazer, a member of the Church of Christ in St. Pancras Road, London, which included copies of the Bible Advocate and Harbinger. His mind was soon eased by the realisation, high-lighted by Alexander Campbell, that those wishing to become Christians could do so by following directions clearly set forth by the early apostles, that is, believing in and trusting themselves to Jesus, repenting of their sin, publicly confessing their faith in Christ, and being baptised into him. With his questionings answered and "set on a rock both in philosophy and Scripture," he asked the local Baptist minister to baptise him.
Discovering in an 1852 Harbinger that Henry Mitchell and his wife, a Scottish couple, were resident in Sydney, he invited them to his home at the corner of Pitt and Goulburn Streets to observe the Lord's Supper. The group was increased the following year by the addition of four Wesleyan Methodists, two of them local preachers. Joseph Kingsbury, a young veterinary surgeon born at Marsh Farm near Taunton, Somersetshire, England, was responsible for this influx. Like Griffin he had entertained doubts about certain Wesleyan beliefs. Sent to win Griffin back to the Wesleyan fold, he was himself won over to the Churches of Christ position. The four Wesleyans were baptised in Cook's River by Griffin on September 4, 1853.
While the early meetings were held in the city, the venue soon shifted to Newtown, where most members lived. Shortly after this shift, a second church was formed in the city.
After mounting agitation from residents of the Port Phillip area, Victoria became a separate colony in 1850. By the early 1850's the discovery of gold in the southern colony transformed overnight the appearance of Melbourne and the Victorian population figure.
While the early membership of Churches of Christ in S.A. had been associated with the Scotch Baptists, and in N.S.W. with the Wesleyans, the Victorian nucleus, more a direct transplant, was made up of members of British Churches of Christ, attracted by employment opportunities fostered by the Victorian gold rushes. The initiative in gathering together a congregation of immigrants was taken by H. G. Picton. The records indicate that the church was officially constituted in August, 1855, at Prahran, in the canvas tent that served John Ingram and his wife as a home. The following year a second church was formed in Melbourne. Several members attending Prahran, which then numbered 25, lived in the city and were happy to forego the round journey every Sunday over rough roads. The business depression
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that resulted from measures adopted by Governor Sir Charles Hotham to arrest a financial panic scattered the membership of the Prahran and Melbourne churches, and led to the establishing of congregations at Warrnambool, Geelong, Ballarat and Maryborough. Other churches formed before 1864 were Brighton, South Brighton--Moorabbin, East Brighton, Beaumaris, Doncaster, Footscray, Maidstone, Wedderburn, Sandhurst, Beechworth, Chiltern-Ovens and Wahgunyah.
Accurate statistics on the growth of the Movement up to 1864 are unavailable. However, the sketchy evidence shows slow but steady growth in South Australia and Victoria. In New South Wales growth was retarded by internal bickering, bitter conflict with other Christian communions, and a public preference for "the State-assisted Episcopal and Roman Catholic systems."
in South Australia in 1855 the Movement had three churches, with a total membership of 84. Adelaide numbered 56, Hindmarsh 13, Maclaren Vale or Willunga 15. In 1856 the Franklin Street membership was 60 and Hindmarsh between 20 and 30. In 1860 it was reported that Milang had 20 members. In 1863, Alma recorded a membership of 30 and Hindmarsh 52. There was no final tally.
In Victoria the final total figure in 1861 was 12 churches, with a combined membership of 230.
In New South Wales in 1865 it was reported that 124 has been received into the Newtown church, of which 78 remained. In 1861 there were 9 members at Bethany, now Fairfield, and earlier, in 1858, 16 at Sydney.
The life of the young congregations centred around the morning service where the Lord's Supper, or "breaking of bread," was regarded as central. Following this service of remembrance and communion, and the fellowship, that is, the offering, "an opportunity" was "afforded the brethren to teach and exhort one another."
Evangelistic services were conducted in the evenings. These were supplemented by open-air preaching, particularly in the two Eastern colonies. In N.S.W. the latter was a distinctive feature of the life-style of the churches. Several factors accounting for its popularity in Sydney were the Wesleyan background of the leadership, and the fact that the antipathy the Movement evoked cut advocates off from other less combative approaches.
Several churches established Sunday Schools. These were conducted Sunday mornings and afternoons. Mid-week meetings, usually on Wednesday evenings, were sometimes given over to edifying members, and
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sometimes to evangelising the heathen. While Sunday morning services were not interfered with, the purpose and time-tabling of other meetings varied. An interesting feature of the church at Kooringa, in S.A., which scheduled a Monday evening prayer meeting, was that Friday evenings were spent "practising psalmody."
The first officers appointed in the churches were secretaries. As congregations became better established, deacons, and sometimes elders, were elected to give guidance and leadership. Of interest was the fact that at Brighton one of the three deacons appointed in 1863 was a woman.
Association between the churches was assiduously cultivated. In both Melbourne and Adelaide, tea meetings, to which neighbouring Disciple congregations were invited, were frequent occurrences. These festive occasions, offering leaders the opportunity of stressing the basic tenets of the Restoration Movement, were held on week nights, anniversaries and when new buildings were opened. Additional opportunities for getting together were pulpit exchanges in Melbourne, and, in Adelaide, co-operation in the construction of chapels.
In 1854 two South Australians, Thomas Magarey and Philip Santo, who had entered into partnership to sell flour in Victoria, and were in Melbourne to organise outlets, made contact with Victorian churches. Close links established then were maintained. The Sydney churches, however, despite correspondence with the two southern colonies and an occasional visitor, remained relatively isolated.
Churches jealously guarded their local autonomy, disallowing any control beyond the local congregation. Consequently, authority within each colony came to reside in those individuals whose initiative and forthright presentation of the Restoration message put them in positions of influence in larger congregations. That "good, old, and zealous servant of the Cross," Robert Service, father of James Service, Victorian Premier from 1883-1885, gave leadership in Victoria. In Sydney, where the Newtown congregation propped up the weak Sydney church and concerned itself with churches formed by members who had moved into and beyond the suburbs, Joseph Kingsbury, its chief elder and open-air preacher, exercised a strong if benevolent authority. Magarey, who confessed himself no speaker and saw his role as distributor of Restoration literature, occupied a similar position in Adelaide on account of his wealth, position and generosity.
Because of the smallness of most congregations and the numerical insignificance of the membership in each of the three colonies, Australian Churches of Christ felt a strong sense of brotherhood. This also meant, on the negative side, that the beliefs and lives of members were closely scrutinised. If discovered to be in serious error, they were publicly withdrawn from.
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Any account of the development of the Australian Churches of Christ would be incomplete without an acknowledgement of the role of the British Millennial Harbinger.
it is evident from the early letters of the pioneers that James Wallis, editor of the Harbinger, was genuinely interested in their affairs. They wrote to him of the harshness of the Australian summers, when everything was "burned up" and "hot winds" sent the dust "flying in every direction." Descriptions of the illnesses to which colonials were prone because of the extremes of heat and cold were also included, as well as news of personal tragedy. Their primary concern in writing, however, was to inform him of developments within the churches. Knowledge of colonial activities allowed Wallis to select appropriate articles from Campbell and other Disciple writers for inclusion in the Harbinger. W. T. Moore, in his Comprehensive History of the Disciples of Christ, commented that the Disciples do not have "bishops; they have editors" It is certain that during the era of the British immigrants James Wallis acted as general overseer and counsellor to the lay ministry of the colonies.
Besides offering pastoral help the Harbinger assisted in organising the young churches, and in bringing isolated churches together. Magarey, in 1852, wrote of "a sister and her four Christian daughters" who were brought to his notice through the periodical. They had been living within a mile of the Hindmarsh church. An instance of the latter was the drawing together of the South Australian and Victorian churches in 1854.
The young churches also found the Harbinger a useful evangelistic tool. Its effectiveness in this role was pointed up by the fact that in 1864, a congregation of Disciples came into existence in Wedderburn, when a group of Baptists, after reading copies of the Harbinger, decided "to walk after the New Testament order."
The membership of the young churches was drawn from the artisan classes. There were, however, differences between the colonies.
New South Wales members confessed to being "poor in the things of the world." This verdict, endorsed by Eliza Davies who visited the congregation that same year, was supported by the fact that no buildings were erected or purchased before 1864. Two exceptions were Joseph Kingsbury, and William Bardsley, who went into business as a merchant.
The opening up of Victorian gold fields increased the demand for "Masons, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Blacksmiths, Sawyers, Painters, Tinmen, Wheelwrights, Furniture makers and Engineers." It is not surprising,
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therefore, that the bulk of the Victorian membership were skilled tradesmen. Other occupations listed in the literature included the proprietor of a brick yard, a correspondent for the Age, two solicitor's clerks, a prominent Melbourne business man, a school teacher, a scholar who was giving private Greek lessons, a man in Naval Service and several farmers.
In South Australia, where opportunities of advancement were open to an industrious yeomanry, several members achieved wealth and prominence. William Henville Burford founded a Candle and Soap business that throve with the opening of the Burra Copper and Victorian Gold Mines. The building partnership of J. C. Verco, a Cornwall stone mason, and Philip Santo, a carpenter, erected several large Adelaide business premises. Santo later went into business as a merchant. The most outstanding success was Thomas Magarey. Shortly after arriving in Adelaide he found employment as an engineer at John Ridley's Hindmarsh Flour mill, which, with the help of his brother James, he purchased in 1850. The first year's profits were £1,800 and in the second year they cleared £2,000. In 1857 Thomas shifted to Enfield, where, on a 60-acre property, he erected a three-storied home. Described as "a man of wealth and influence," he was a promoter, and later a director, of the Bank of Adelaide. He became the largest shareholder in the S.A. Insurance Company and purchased an 83-square-mile property at Naracoorte, which carried 22,400 sheep, besides cattle and horses. Additional properties included 41-square-miles at Lake Hawden East and 37 at Woakwind.
The early Disciples regarded the world as "enemy territory." Its temptations were to be avoided and its prizes disdained. There were, however, differences between the colonies related to the social standing of members.
In N.S.W. members were scarcely conscious of any relationship, apart from their commission to preach the gospel, between the Church and secular society. They were opposed to State Aid but did not concertedly campaign against it. One issue championed by the Victorian and S.A. Disciples, but on which the churches in N.S.W. were silent, was temperance advocacy. The reason is not hard to find. Reviewing the minutes of the Newtown and Sydney churches in 1897 the author of Primitive Christianity in New South Wales was struck by the number of members who had fallen through drink. The issue was not cleared up until S. H. Coles took it in hand when he arrived from Victoria in 1870.
The Victorian membership was only marginally involved in society, and this took the form of negative protest.
It was during this period that they gave a vigorous lead in temperance advocacy, a movement then sweeping the English-speaking world. Service,
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who was equally set against State aid to religion, was the force behind the crusade. Like his son, he believed the Chartist premise that society could be reformed through moral suasion.
Of the three colonies, South Australia was most involved in the life of the community. A number in S.A., higher on the social scale, entered the political arena. William Burford, who became a member of the Common Council of Adelaide in 1841, was a member of the House of Assembly for two sessions from 1857. The Honourable Philip Santo, a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1860 to 1870, and of the Council from 1871 to 1890, was Commissioner of Public Works during six successive ministries. When in 1846 Governor Robe announced his intention of introducing State Aid, Magarey vigorously campaigned against the move. Liberal political views led to his becoming part-owner of the Adelaide Register and Observer. He first entered Parliament to help prevent the Bible being excluded from schools.
After his first term in the Assembly from 1860 to 1862, he confessed that parliamentary life almost destroyed his spirituality. Despite this, he entered the Legislative Council four years later to protect his pastoral leases!
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Who Were the Campbells?
Churches of Christ in Australia are a product of the British Churches of Christ and the American Disciples. Associated through a common indebtedness to Alexander Campbell, both movements considered themselves commissioned to restore to the Church her lost unity.
The basis of Alexander's approach was inherited from his father, Thomas Campbell, the prophet and visionary of the movement.
Thomas Campbell was born in County Down in the North of Ireland in February, 1763. After completing a three-year course in Classics at Glasgow University, he enrolled in the Divinity Hall of the Anti-Burgher Secessionists. Licensed by the Presbytery of Ireland, he preached in mission churches under the Synod's jurisdiction. In June, 1787, he married Jane Corneigle at Ballymena, County Antrim. It was here, in 1788, that his son Alexander was born. The following year he accepted a settled ministry at Ahorey, and a short time afterwards opened a school some two miles distant, at Rich Hill.
In 1804, Campbell was host to a group of Seceder ministers who were convinced that the Burgher issue, which was irrelevant in Ireland, should not divide Secessionists there. Campbell took their case to the General Associate Synod in Scotland in 1806.
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Exhausted by the constant demands of church and school, his health broke down. His doctor recommended a sea voyage. Offering to take over the school at Rich Hill, Alexander persuaded him to sail for America.
He arrived in Philadelphia on May 13, 1807 and presented his credentials to the Associate Synod of North America. Assigned to the Presbytery of Chartiers in the western part of the State, he began preaching on July 1.
He did not remain long undisturbed. In October, 1807, charges were brought against him in the Presbytery of deviation from orthodoxy, and he was suspended in February of the following year. In May Campbell appealed to the Associate Synod. It voted the Presbytery's proceedings irregular, and revoked the sentence of suspension against him. Three of the seven articles of libel were dropped and he was "rebuked and admonished." Despite the Synod's charitableness, when he returned to Chartiers he was treated coolly. Obviously unwelcome, he was given no preaching appointments. On September 13, 1808, he wrote declining all ministerial connection with the Synod.
Throughout the following year he preached in the homes of sympathetic friends. His theme was Christian unity. Wishing to formalise their proceedings, sympathisers, drawn from different denominations, formed themselves into an Association. Calling themselves the Christian Association of Washington, they were determined to base their approach on "the entire abandonment of everything in religion for which there could not be produced a divine warrant." Crystallising their approach, Campbell said: "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent." It was realised that the acceptance of this rule would demand changes.
To express more clearly the principles of the Association, Campbell prepared a statement of purpose, which included a brief "Declaration" and a longer "Address." Endorsed by the leading members, it was approved by the Association.
Described by Donald Yoder in A History of the Ecumenical Movement as "one of the great milestones on the path of Christian unity in America," Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address was the charter of the new Movement
For Campbell, as for most churchmen of his day, the Bible, which furnished the only accurate analysis of reality, was the major and only inerrant source of truth. The "divine book," the repository of propositional rather than personal revelation, he considered eternally relevant. All were under obligation to be bound by it.
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Thomas considered that the most glaring instance of the denial of this "divine standard" was the divided state of the Church. No one could avoid the fact that Christ had enjoined unity upon his followers and prayed most fervently for its maintenance. To work for the unity of the Church was a duty owed to God, and one from which no Christian could escape without gross culpability.
The vision of a reunited Church dominated Campbell's life. It was the burden of his preaching and the pivot of his theology.
This vision, however, while supported by an appeal to the Bible, was less a result of Scriptural illumination than of Campbell's personal background and experience in the ministry. Introspective and given to careful self-examination, he was temperamentally peace-loving. Moreover, his family background was ecumenical, his father being a Roman Catholic--turned Anglican, and his mother a Huguenot. Thomas, finding the cold formality of the Church of England unappealing, was drawn to the stricter and more devotional Seceder Presbyterians. Finally, the fact that his ministry in Ireland coincided with a period of civil commotion helped germinate the conviction that the need of the hour was the promotion of peace and unity.
This conviction was reinforced by several factors associated with his ministry with the Seceders.
One episode was his failure to convince the Associate Synod of Scotland that the Burgher issue should not be allowed to divide Irish Secessionists.
The Seceders had broken away from the Church of Scotland in 1733 largely because of their opposition to the system of patronage, under which the right to appoint ministers lay, not with the parish, session, or presbytery, but with the lay landlord. The Seceders themselves divided in 1747 over the question of whether oaths requiring burghers of towns to support "the religion presently professed with the realms" sanctioned the abuses against which he had originally protested. Those who regarded the oath as unlawful styled themselves "Anti-Burghers," and those who did not were labelled "Burghers." With the questioning in 1795 of the power of civil magistrates in religion, as asserted in the Westminster Confession, as well as the original National Covenant, the Burghers and Anti-Burghers each divided into "Old Lights" and "New Lights." The Presbyterian Church of Campbell's day was hopelessly divided.
The point made by Campbell was that there were few Anglicans in Ireland, and as Northern Ireland was almost exclusively Presbyterian, the Burgher issue had little relevance and should not divide Irish Secessionists. However, he failed to convince the Associate Synod--though a similar effort fifteen years later succeeded. Thomas returned, sickened by the sectarian spirit he encountered, which he described as "fraught with the aweful consequences of distracting, disturbing and dividing the flock of the Lord's heritage, and of sowing discord among the brethren."
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A second incident influencing the young Secessionist minister was the heightened sectarianism he discovered in the New World. This was the reverse of what he expected.
In the area about Washington where he settled, populated largely by Irish Presbyterians anxious to safeguard their identity, the spirit of exclusiveness was more marked than in Ireland. Proof of this was seen in the fact that the Associate Synod of North America had in 1796 passed an act prohibiting "occasional communion," that is, communion with other Christians including other branches of the Presbyterian Church.
Campbell was not long licensed before he found himself in trouble with the Presbytery of Chartiers. While Richardson, his biographer, gives, as the act occasioning discipline, a communion service at remote Connamaught, where he invited the participation of Presbyterians not of the Anti-Burgher fold, records of the proceedings of the Presbytery show that a broader range of issues was involved. They also reveal that William Wilson, a young minister who accompanied Campbell when he offended against the "occasional communion" rule, and whom Richardson casts in the role of chief witness for the prosecution, was really only a minor participant. The chief antagonist was a Rev. Dr. Anderson, recognised Professor of Divinity in the area and a rigid Calvinist, whose past pupils were conscripted into the fray.
Judged by strict Seceder theology, Campbell was not entirely without blame. Several elements in his approach contradicted Seceder opinion. Regarding faith as an intelligent response of the mind, rather than an infused potentiality, he refused to acknowledge any mystical-emotional uplift associated with it, which was supposed to offer assurance that one was saved. Thomas' argument, "that the Church has no divine warrant for holding confessions of faith as terms of communion," was sharply at variance with the rigid confessionalism of the Seceders. Finally, he claimed that, in the absence of a minister, ruling elders were to pray and teach, and urged congregations without ministers to sit under the ministry of other gospel preachers who might be in the vicinity.
Though gracious and peaceable, Campbell would not compromise principle. Nor would his antagonists, who dominated the Presbytery, consider yielding. The consequent gruelling he received, together with the highly suspect and unchristian behaviour of the Presbytery following the reversal of its verdict by the Synod, forced him from the Seceder ministry and made him more determined than ever to crusade for unity.
Campbell's gentle, peace-loving temper abhorred the "horrid evil" of division. In one of the more emotive passages in the Address he described schism as "sheathing its sword in the very bowels of his Church, rending and mangling its mystical body to pieces." It is little wonder that he occasionally equated unity with "rest" and "peace."
The unity he envisaged was that which the Church had enjoyed in the beginning. While he recognised that the churches of the New Testament were not perfect, the style and quality of their life was "pure" in the sense of representing the original mould. In associating unity with the concept of a pristine New Testament Christianity, Campbell was influenced by his association with a congregation of "Independents" at Rich Hill. Imbued with the teachings of John Glas, his son-in-law Robert Sandeman, and the brothers James and Robert Haldane, all of whom sought to return to what they conceived as the simple Christianity of the apostolic era, the Rich Hill congregation encouraged participation in their services and acceptance of their position by Christians of all communions, hoping that, *in associating together and emphasising the New Testament basics, they would encourage interest in unity and point the way forward.
The unity that was part of the New Testament pattern was, in Campbell's view, a visible and constitutional unity, permanent and universal in scope, that is, its re-establishment would involve "an entire union of all the churches."
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Campbell recognised that the Church of Christ upon earth must necessarily exist in particular and distinct societies, locally separate one from another. However, despite geographic distance, cultural and adaptation differences, there ought to be a unanimity in thought, judgment, and utterance.
Those eligible for membership in this united Church were "all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity." More specifically, it consisted "of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures, and that manifest the same by their tempers and conduct."
The unity of the New Testament churches was pre-eminently a unity centring in Christ. He was its head and centre, his Word its rule, and his name the insignia of its banners. Those making up its membership were to be distinguished by the Christ-like love they demonstrated.
Campbell argued that the original unity could only be recovered through reformation. This reformation would involve Christians of all denominations voluntarily conforming "to the pattern laid down in the New Testament," that is, to the faith, life, and forms of the "apostolic Church." In this the original unity had consisted. Consequently, this restoration was not merely a possible solution but "the divine and only adequate basis of union."
To achieve this restoration of "simple, evangelical Christianity," associations of Christians drawn from "all the parties" should be formed to consult together in an atmosphere of mutual acceptance. It would be important in these consultations that denominational bias be set aside to enable all to come freshly to the Word. Campbell did not see the original unity restored through top-level denominational negotiation, but through individual Christians
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associating to discover in the Scriptures the pattern of apostolic belief and practice, that both comprised and included its unity. This was why he generally spoke of it as "Christian unity," rather than "union," for the latter implied the merging of existing denominations.
Campbell admitted that the task appeared impossible. But it had to be made, and, after all, as God was in it, it would succeed.
Details of the "simple, original form of Christianity" were to be found in the New Testament.
In emphasising the theological priority of the New over the Old Testament, Campbell was influenced by the covenant theology of Cocceius, who viewed God's association with man as a covenant relationship which altered with a change of dispensation.
Campbell recognised that all denominations justified their beliefs and practices by appeal to Scripture. However, he contended that their real basis was not unalloyed revelation but an amalgam of Scripture and human interpretation or tradition. This foreign element was responsible for the divided state of the Church.
For this reason he was utterly opposed to creeds. He argued that "nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the Church, or made a term of communion amongst Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament." Where the Scriptures are silent no human authority has "power to impose new commands or ordinances upon the Church."
The strength of Campbell's opposition to creeds can be traced to two sources. The first was his association with the "Scotch Independents" at Rich Hill. John Glas, who had deeply influenced them, had left the ministry of the Presbyterian Church because he felt that that Church was wrong to establish Synods to fix standards of doctrine with reference to which members could be disciplined. Thomas' opposition to creeds was also a result of the way he had been treated by the Seceders.
He was also opposed to normative theology. Because they contained "inferential truths," theological explanations should not be made terms of communion.
In rejecting creeds Campbell was not advocating a creedless "anything-goes" approach, but a universal recognition of what was clearly revealed in the New Testament. Nor was he dismissing theology as a useless discipline. "Doctrinal exhibitions of the great system of divine truths and defensive testimonies in opposition to prevailing errors" had their place. But such formulations should not be made terms of communion. Anticipating the charge that his Declaration and Address, particularly the thirteen propositions, was itself a creed, he argued that it was "merely designed for
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opening up the way, that we may come fairly and firmly to original ground upon clear and certain premises, and take up things just as the apostles left them."
Campbell recognised that it was difficult to avoid interpretative bias. He therefore advocated keeping as close as possible to the actual words of Scripture. He also argued that Christians should seek unity on the basis of the facts of the gospel, and regard interpretation of those facts as a purely private matter. No man had the right to judge his brother on the basis of opinion.
While distinguishing between truths basic to the faith and less important questions, Thomas stressed that there was no such distinction between "essentials and non-essentials in matters of revealed truth and duty." There were articles of faith, canons of behaviour, and elements of church government clearly set forth, that were for that reason mandatory. Consultation among Christians would result in clearer definition of such issues. Campbell did not claim that he, or the Association for which he was speaking, had "arrived." They were as willing as any to learn. Speaking for the Association, he argued that "there is nothing we have hitherto received as a matter of faith or practice which is not expressly taught and enjoined in the Word of God, either in express terms, or approved precedent, that we would not heartily relinquish, so that we might return to the original constitutional unity of the Christian Church, and, in this happy unity, enjoy full communion with all our brethren, in peace and charity."
In advocating a non-sectarian Christianity which centred unity on a few essentials and advocated tolerance on matters of opinion, Campbell was deeply influenced by John Locke. The extent of this influence is evident from the fact that passages in Campbell's Declaration and Address can be mistaken for excerpts from Locke's Letter on Toleration.
Because he was convinced that he was feeling his way towards the Scriptural position, Campbell wrote with conviction, which he justified by disclaiming any intellectual superiority and pointing out that his "confidence is entirely founded upon the express Scripture and matter of fact evidence of the things referred to." However, he did admit that he considered his work preliminary, an enunciation of first principles. He was also willing to be corrected.
The tone of his Address was warm and accepting. He wrote frequently of "our brethren of all denominations." If he was at times dogmatic, his spirit and intention more than compensated for this. However, despite this fault, and the fact that Campbell's Old World attitudes and verbose style had little appeal for the American frontiersman, he enunciated a plan of Christian union, which, in its simplicity, had the potential for embracing the whole of the Christian Church.
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Shortly after the publication of the Declaration and Address Thomas' eldest son, Alexander, assumed leadership of the Movement.
To allow his father to journey to America, Alexander had accepted responsibility for the family and the school at Rich Hill. A year later Thomas wrote urging the family to join him. They set out on October 1, 1808, but were wrecked off the coast of Scotland. It was not until August 4, 1809, that the family arrived in New York. They set out for Washington, Pennsylvania, and were met en route by Thomas. Alexander, who had been deeply affected by recent experiences, told his father that he endorsed the principles set out in the Declaration and Address, and planned to devote his life to implementing them.
Hopeful that his rift with the Presbyterian Church would be temporary, Thomas applied to the Presbytery of Pittsburgh in October, 1810, for reinstatement. This was rejected.
On March 12, 1811, Alexander married Margaret Brown, daughter of a liberal-minded Presbyterian friend of his father. On May 4, the Association, feeling that it had no other option, formed itself into an independent local church. Four deacons were chosen, Thomas was appointed elder, and Alexander licensed to preach.
On June 16, three persons presented themselves for baptism. Thomas, who was later charged with inconsistency because he himself had never been immersed, agreed that immersion was the primitive usage and consented to baptise them. The issue of baptism, however, did not come to a head until the birth of Alexander's first child. Convinced that infant baptism was unauthorised by Scripture, Alexander arranged for a local Baptist minister to baptise him. On the day scheduled for his baptism he was joined by his mother, father and sister, Dorothea.
Acceptance of immersion as the appropriate method of baptism linked the young congregation, now meeting at Brush Run, with the Redstone Baptist Association. This relationship, however, was unsettled from the beginning. Tensions came to a head when the Redstone Association took umbrage at a sermon preached by Alexander in which the young preacher stressed that the Christian was not bound by the Mosaic code, but by the New Testament, and that there was no need to preach the Law to compel men to accept the gospel. Planned disciplinary action by the Redstone body was thwarted by Alexander. Before it had instigated proceedings against him he had transferred his membership to a congregation at Wellsburg that he had helped establish, and which was affiliated with a local Mahoning Association.
Attention was drawn to the Campbells by the debates of Alexander with the Presbyterians John Walker, W. L. McCalla and N. L. Rice, over the question of baptism, with the Catholic Bishop Purcell, and with Robert Owen,
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humanitarian, social reformer, philanthropist and militant secularist. His views which met with strong reaction, were also widely publicised through distribution of the Christian Baptist which Campbell began publishing in July 1823, and the Millennial Harbinger which succeeded it in 1830.
Alexander was no less convinced than his father that the Church needed to regain her divinely willed but lost unity. However, inheriting rather than originating the concept, he was forced into defending the embryonic theology of the Movement. While more successful than Thomas in firming up and filling out the distinctive approach of the Movement, Alexander lacked the peace-loving intensity of his father. In retrospect, it can be seen that while he frequently dealt with the question of unity, most of what he wrote was concerned with those doctrines and practices which would need to be universally restored to achieve it.
Alexander would not accept the idea that unity could be founded on "a system of orthodox opinions." Such approaches inevitably resulted in fresh divisions. Arguing that what the New Testament described as heresies resulted, not from erroneous doctrine, but from attachment to particular leaders, he contended that the resulting factions or sects could only be done away with, and the invisible Church present within Christian bodies achieve both relative visibility and visible unity, through Christians of all persuasions focussing central attention on Christ. He regarded "faith in Jesus as the true Messiah, and obedience to him as our Lawgiver and King," as "the only test of Christian character, and the only bond of Christian union, communion, and co-operation." For Campbell, the Christian Millennium, which in his thinking was compounded of a belief in progress, the Puritan concept of the Holy Commonwealth, confidence in the national mission, and the expectation of Christ's Kingdom, could not be realised without the recovery by the Church of this unity, and the evangelistic successes this unity would help achieve.
Like his father, Alexander believed that the divinely given means of achieving an ecumenical unity was through a revival of the faith, life, devotion, and zeal of the New Testament Church, that is, a restoration of "original Christianity."
To clear the way, normative denominational creeds must go. Alexander, though not uninfluenced by his father, had come independently to this position during his stay in Glasgow. Alexander had applied for a metallic token to enable him to participate in the semi-annual communion. When it was discovered that his membership was with the church in Ireland it was pointed out that to receive the token he would need to undergo examination before the session of the Glasgow Seceder Church. Though he passed the test and threw the token into the plate, when the emblems came around he did not partake, as he could not agree that Scriptural injunction or precedent required such examination.
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It was Alexander's contention that New Testament Christianity was based upon facts rather than opinions. He distinguished between facts and truth, arguing that while all facts are truths not all truths are facts. For him, facts were equivalent to deeds, or things done. He therefore equated salvation history with the mighty acts of God, and argued that the "facts" upon which Christianity was based were the recorded "sayings and doings of Jesus Christ from his birth to his coronation in the heavens." It was the acceptance of the facts of the Biblical record, by Christians of all persuasions, that would return the Church to her original unity.
Believing "that the fiercest disputes about religion are about what the Bible does not say, rather that about what it does say--about words and phrases coined in the mint of speculative theology," Campbell argued that for the sake of union Christians should use "pure speech," that is, "speak of Bible things in Bible words." He pointed out that he was always suspicious that if the word was not in the Bible "the idea which it represents is not there: and always confident that the things taught by God are better taught in the words and under the names which the Holy Spirit has chosen and appropriated than in the words which man's wisdom teaches."
He did recognise, however, that the divine record needed to be interpreted. Arguing that "when God spoke to man in his own language, he spoke as one person converses with another--in the fair, stipulated, and well established meaning of the terms," he pointed out that the same rules of interpretation that applied to other ancient writings were to be applied to the Bible. The "historical circumstances of the book, that is, order, title, author, date, place, and occasion" were to be taken into account. The age or dispensation, that is, patriarchal, Jewish, Christian, to which the reference applied, needed to be considered. Philological principles were also important and it ought to be decided whether the literal or figurative sense was intended. In the latter case it was essential that the type be identified. He also stated that it was necessary to "ascertain the point to be illustrated: for comparison is never to be extended beyond that point--to all attributes, qualities or circumstances of the symbol, type, allegory, or parable."
Finally, he argued that to correctly interpret any passage it was necessary to "come within the understanding distance, that is, to humbly seek the guidance of God."
Alexander was convinced that the Spirit-given unity of the New Testament Church was based on a common acceptance of clearly revealed instructions concerning the way in which salvation was to be appropriated, on a universal endorsement of the pattern of church government established in apostolic times, and on the shared weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Campbell divided the process of salvation into four stages. The first involved a change of views or enlightenment. This led on to a change of affections of reconciliation. The third phase involved a change of state, a quickening, or rebirth. The final element was a change of life or conversion.
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The central element was the change of state. The first two led up to it and the fourth was its consequence. He argued that up until rebirth God approached the prospective convert solely through the Word, so the Spirit did not operate directly upon the individual until that time. The moment of rebirth was crucial. This had two consequences, which were the presuppositions from which Campbell started. First, the initial approach to God was something the individual was capable of without prior supernatural assistance. Second, baptism, which culminated the human response, was the point at which the sinner, in a change of state, became part of the family of God, and received his Spirit.
Alexander's view of faith was inherited from his father who equated it with the rational acceptance of testimony. In this he was influenced by Thomas Reid, Locke, and Sandeman. Reid had contended that the human mind was capable of apprehending divine truth without the assistance of an enabling grace. Locke viewed faith as an intellectual act, that is, belief in testimony given by revelation. Sandeman, like Locke, argued that the faith that saved was a natural act of the mind whereby an individual believed testimony concerning Jesus Christ, and went on to add that it differed from the ordinary act of belief only in so far as the testimony believed in concerned a saving act.
Campbell argued that to appropriate salvation the individual must exercise faith. Faith was equivalent to belief in testimony. The New Testament was primarily a record of what God had done, the remembrance, significance, and accurate recording of which was the bequest of the Spirit. This apostolic testimony was confirmed and made credible by "demonstrations of the Holy Spirit," that is, "the extraordinary and miraculous powers" possessed by the apostles and their converts.
While Campbell frequently argued that faith was equivalent to belief in testimony, he was careful to distinguish between faith and belief. Faith, based on belief, involved personal trust. Belief that did not result in trust was a dead faith. However, while separable in theory, they were, for the Christian, indistinguishable, for, with reference to Christ, "to believe what he says, and to believe or trust in him, are in effect, one and the same thing."
Campbell did not regard faith as a supernatural endowment. The "saving efficacy of faith" was not "in the nature of our faith, or in the manner of believing the truth," but in the truth believed. The power of faith is "the Power or moral meaning of the testimony, or of the facts which the testimony represents." The more potent the facts, the greater the impact and potential for transformation.
Campbell argued that genuine faith led inevitably to repentance or a change of mind. This involved, in order, sorrow for sins committed, restitution, and reformation of life. Two qualifications were made to this definition. First,
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genuine sorrow for sins did not always lead to reformation, as in the case of Judas. Second, while true repentance included the idea of reformation it was not equivalent to it. The former was seen to be completed when it led to the latter.
Faith, finding its initial expression in repentance, culminated in the baptism of the repentant believer. Candidates, either responsible children or adults, were immersed, as this was considered the New Testament mode. This human response, regarded as a figurative yet real identification with Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, was coincident with God's taking the individual through the final and crucial phases of rebirth. As Campbell regarded rebirth as a change of state, this meant that he saw baptism as the means of entry into the Kingdom of God and of adoption into his family.
Forgiveness, according to Alexander's exegesis of Acts 2:38, in which he argued that baptism was "for the forgiveness of sins," accompanied this change of state. However, while Campbell suggested that submission to this one institution was required for admission into the Church, he was quick to point out that faith was the "principle" essential to the personal application of salvation, and the ordinance only the means of its enjoyment. The expression of an obedient faith, baptism was the response required by direct command of the Saviour and apostolic precedent.
While the most serious implication of this position was the de-Christianising of the non-immersed, Campbell would not state that baptism was essential to salvation. It was a command to be obeyed and the universal experience of the apostolic Church. At a personal, rather than theoretical level, he tacitly accepted unimmersed believers as Christians. This was particularly evident in his later years. In 1837, in reply to a query, he stated that should he "find a paedobaptist more intelligent in the Christian Scriptures, more spiritually minded, and more devoted to the Lord than a Baptist, or one immersed on a profession of the Ancient Faith," he "would not hesitate a moment in giving the preference of 'his' heart to him that loveth most."
Candidates were baptised on confession of their faith in Jesus as "the Messiah, the Son of the Living God." A continuing confession of Jesus' Messiahship and Sonship was required of the baptised.
Campbell further contended that salvation could be forfeited through neglect or apostacy. It was therefore necessary for Christians to work at maintaining their faith and position within the Kingdom.
While Campbell rejected the Calvinistic doctrines of predestination, irresistible grace, and the idea that salvation could not be lost, he reinterpreted rather than did away with the Biblical concepts underlying Calvin's thesis.
He attributed salvation to the grace of God, which he argued furnished both the motive and power for personal transformation. This grace was exercised
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towards potential converts in the sending of his Son to die for their sins and in furnishing them with an accurate record of the event and its interpretation. But this was no mere record. The spoken or written testimony had the power, when understood, to "delineate the image of God upon the human soul." Those choosing to respond by faith to the grace of God elected themselves into the company of the chosen through a response culminating in the obedience of baptism. Once among the saved they needed to work at making their election sure. God had pre-determined that those making up the new community of his people would live "holy and without blame before him in love," and he expected that their continuance in faith and holiness would be a result, not of compulsion, but of personal initiative.
Concentrating on the need for individual decision in appropriating salvation, Campbell overlooked the role of education in preparing the children of church parents for decision. This was jointly the product of his stress on the importance of New Testament precedent and the fact that he was himself pioneering a new Movement. Both instances were mainly, though not exclusively, concerned first generation adherents, that is, individuals, mostly adults, who had made responsible decisions.
This did not mean, however, that he thought of salvation in wholly individualist terms. He developed a healthy doctrine of the Church that emphasised the role of the congregation in the nurture of new Christians and in their continuing growth.
While he referred to the Church as the mystical Body of Christ, in contradistinction to Jesus' personal physical existence, he preferred to refer to it as the "congregation of Christ/congregation of the Lord/congregation of God," or else as the "Kingdom of God." Because of his preoccupation with its legislative and constitutional aspects, the latter predominated.
While Christ was King, he chose to legislate for his Kingdom, or Church, not directly, but through the apostles. They set it in order, and, while dead, retain, through their writings, "the sole right of legislating, ordering, and disposing of all things." The constitution of the Church was, and is, governed by a written document. Its precepts must be obeyed and its precedents followed in every generation. The only initiative allowed succeeding generations of Christians was within the "circumstantials of Christianity," that is, the ability to decide "what is expedient, orderly, decent, and of public and practical utility."
Sandemanian and Haldane influence was evident in Alexander's conception of what constituted apostolic precedent. Common elements included congregational independence, the rejection of clerical privilege, lay participation in the edification of the Church, rulership by a plurality of elders, and the weekly observance of the Lord's Supper.
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Campbell argued that the apostles established a system of Church government valid for all time. Drawing a distinction between the extraordinary but temporary ministries of the apostles and prophets which required extraordinary gifts for launching and setting up the Church, and her ordinary and continuing ministry, he contended that the basic outline of the latter was unchangeable.
According to Alexander, ultimate authority within local communities of Christians, lay, under God, with the whole Congregation. The congregation, however, contracted to invest an eldership, selected by the local Church, with responsibility for governance and leadership. Ordained by the laying on of hands of the congregation, through representatives (usually those already elders), the elders remained accountable to the congregation, by whom they could be dismissed. He emphasised that each congregation would have a plurality of elders or bishops (he regarded the terms as interchangeable) whose responsibility it was "to preside over, to instruct, and to edify the community . . . and to watch for their souls as those that must give account to the Lord at his appearing." They were to be assisted by deacons, or servants of the Church who acted as "treasurers, almoners, stewards, door-keepers, or messengers."
Early in his career, Alexander rejected the notion of a full-time paid ministry. Evident in his tirades against the clergy, his attitude reflected an anger at the way his father had been treated, frustration over the fact that they held up the progress of the Movement it was hoped they would champion, and hurt over their rejection of his ordination. He attacked their "sovereign dominion over the Bible, the consciences, and the religious sentiments of all nations professing Christianity," their avarice as hirelings, and their concern for preferment.
In his early years Campbell seemed little aware of the evangelistic mission of the Church, either at home or abroad. However, the appointment of Walter Scott in 1827 as the evangelist of the Mahoning Association marked the beginning, not only of considerable evangelistic concern, but also of a change in attitude towards the full-time ministry.
With the growth of the Movement, Campbell became aware of the need for an educated ministry, well informed on the position of the Disciples. By the late 1830's, Campbell, after an obvious silence on the issue, came out championing the need for a full-time paid ministry. Though previously opposed to theological colleges, he had, by 1841, established on his own property a liberal arts college, part of the role of which was to train these workers.
To justify their existence, and as a means of describing their function, Campbell referred to these full-time workers as evangelists. Their role, as discovered from the New Testament, was to preach the Word, make
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converts, and plant churches. While it may sometimes be the privilege of the ordinary member of the congregation to preach, baptise, and teach, certain individuals were set aside for full-time application to the task. The evangelist's work, especially in the early days, was largely itinerant. After gathering a congregation together, during which time he would act as pro-tem elder, and setting it in order by appointing elders, his eldership ceased, and he moved on to establish other causes.
The development of an evangelistic ministry was also responsible for changing Campbell's view of the appropriateness of co-operative structures. His early opposition to organisation beyond the local church resulted from hurt over the way his father had been treated by the Presbytery of Chartiers and his own experience with the Redstone Baptist Association, which had attempted to discipline him. It was also obvious, despite his father's optimism, that such bodies, composed largely of clergy anxious to preserve their privileged status and position, were the chief obstacle in the way of the new reformation. The need to train, accredit, and support those volunteering for service, which was beyond the competence of local congregations, in the late 1830's and early 1840's forced a change of practice, and hence theological stance.
In support of ultracongregational structures, Campbell argued that "cooperation, such as the intercommunion of Christians, is part of the Christian institution." The nature of co-operative structures, however, was not governed by specific direction, but left flexible, so that it could be suited to local particularities.
However, while allowing for cultural differences, Campbell did emphasise what he regarded as one universally applicable factor, that is, that this cooperation should be organised within districts.
The nature of the organisation he envisaged was far from clear. On one occasion he suggested that local congregations, while united in co-operation, retained a high degree of autonomy. On another, his enthusiasm envisaged a more tightly-knit organisational unity evident in his projection of "One hundred churches, well disciplined, acting in concert, with Christian zeal, piety, humanity--frequently meeting together in committees of ways and means for building up Zion."
Campbell's ideal was an incomplete merging of the organic and organisational models. An illustration of the former was his comment that "the congregation of God" is "a great community of communities, not a community representative of communities, but a community composed of many particular communities, each of which is built upon the same foundation, walks according to the same rules, enjoys the same charter, and is under the jurisdiction of no other community of Christians, but is to all other communities as an individual disciple in any one particular community meeting
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in any given place." His fascination with the organisational pattern was evident in the statement that the Church, as one community, was "composed of many small communities," each of which was "an organised member of this great national organisation."
Campbell argued that "the only positive statutes of the Kingdom" were "the weekly celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the weekly meeting of the disciples of Christ for this purpose." It was the divine intention that this shared experience would constitute the most important single factor drawing geographically separated congregations together.
Campbell avoided speaking of Sunday as "the Sabbath." There were two reasons for this. First, Christians were not under the Law, and, therefore, not under obligation to keep the Sabbath. Second, the day celebrated was the "Lord's Day," that is, the day on which he rose. It was also the day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out, and on which the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection from the dead were first proclaimed". The rejection of Sabbatarianism, however, did not leave him without justification for regarding Sunday as special. Sunday observance was based on the opportunity for rest and worship afforded by one day's rest in seven, which, under both Jewish and Christian dispensations, was enjoined by a beneficent Creator.
The principal reason for which the early Christians came together was to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Instituted to remind Christians, by both word and symbol; of Christ's death, it was, according to Campbell, celebrated every Lord's Day. Preferring to speak of the Supper as "breaking the loaf," Campbell pointed out that the unbroken loaf symbolised the unbroken physical body of Jesus and the ideal oneness of his spiritual body, the Church.
He went on to point out that to partake of the loaf the individual had to be part of the worshipping community. This involved his public welcome, following baptism, and the maintenance of his position through right living. Failure meant reproof, even public exclusion. Such discipline, which necessitated the keeping of a roll, was exercised in the case of both private and public wrongs. The latter, which included such faults as drunkenness, reflecting on the Church with which the individual was associated, were regarded as the more blame-worthy. Those with something against a brother were advised first to seek him out privately. In the event of his failing to listen, the issue was next brought to the elders, who dealt with it themselves, or, after substantiating the facts and enquiring as to the "law" if it was sufficiently serious, brought it before the congregation. Unless the individual publicly repented, he was excluded, withdrawn from, and had his name struck off the roll. In the case of repentance the transgressor was to be restored with an admonition as public as the sin, and welcomed by an encouraging congregation aware that no one was beyond the possibility of moral error.
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While the growth of the Movement owed much to the personality of Alexander and the successes of its evangelists, these were by no means the only factors. The physical and intellectual atmosphere of the American frontier provided an attentive audience for the propositions Alexander was setting forth.
The younger Campbell was instantly at home in the frontier environment. Its spirit coincided with his approach to truth and freedom.
The frontier democracy of the mid-west emphasised the worth and potential of the ordinary man and regarded his earthly happiness as important as his eternal salvation. Campbell's emphasis on the present benefits of salvation accorded well with this spirit.
The rugged individualism of the frontier bred a heightened faith in human reason, which clashed with the Calvinistic view of man's impotence and worthwhileness. Frontiersmen were thus ready to accept a God of mercy who asked to be worshipped simply and intelligently by an act of private judgment.
Campbell's emphasis on Biblical authority and on the acceptance of the plain sense of Scripture also appealed. On the frontier, ultimate political and religious authority was unquestioned. The Constitution was not right or wrong--it was right! For the religious, the Bible was equally authoritative.
Campbell's success can also be attributed in part to the coincidence between his religious philosophy and the political programme of Andrew Jackson, both of which attracted the frontiersmen. Both appealed to self-reliant small farmers, shopkeepers and workers. Jackson attacked the confusions of the Common Law and urged codification to reduce the authority of the judges. In a parallel action, Campbell attacked creeds and theologies that encrusted the simple New Testament message, and which he felt increased the power and prestige of the clergy. Jackson attacked the lawyers and Campbell the professional ministry.
No less propitious was the similarity between Campbell's views and the style of democracy being successfully advocated by Thomas Jefferson at the University of Virginia. This pioneer educationalist and political scientist argued that men's minds should be freed from vulgar prejudices to concentrate on nature, society and the Bible. Believing that man had the capacity for progressive development, Jefferson argued that these were best developed through education and involvement in political processes. While the secularising tendencies of the Jeffersonian vision were not absent from Campbell's approach, his rational approach to religion, in accord with the same spirit, appealed to the agnostic, and frequently won him over.
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The accord between the frontier ethic and the religious reformation pioneered by Alexander Campbell was again evident in the appeal of his vision of "the end time." This harmonised with the strident optimism of the frontier. While Utopian it appeared believable.
Finally the personal appeal of Campbell to the frontiersmen has to be taken into account. He was not only a frontiersman in his mentality, and thus able to speak the language of the pioneers, but his appeal was greatly enhanced by his obvious scholarship and commanding physical appearance.
Once under way, the progress of the new Christian community pioneered by the Campbells was remarkable. The tragedy, however, was that while successful in winning a widespread acceptance of their position, the Disciples did not succeed in uniting the Church. While the combative spirit of Alexander's early years and the expected opposition of established communions must be taken into account, it was not so much these as the Movement's doctrine of baptism that thwarted realisation of the vision of unity. First, it obviously and effectively alienated those Churches that christened infants, that is, the greater majority.
Second, what could not have been so easily anticipated, it also alienated the Baptists. The problem was that while the two groups agreed as to the method, they disagreed about the significance of baptism. For Campbell, baptism was integral to, and culminated the process of, conversion. For Baptists it was an act of obedience following regeneration.
Cut off from the mainline Protestant denominations, the Disciples were in no position to promote union. As E. Lyall Williams pointed out at the 1952 World Convention of Churches of Christ, it is impossible for any one church to restore "primitive" Christianity in isolation from other Churches.
The Association of Washington, which had denied any intention of becoming a church, or of proselytising, had developed into a Movement, and then into the type of body against which it had earlier protested.
Roland Bainton commented that "Alexander Campbell has the singular distinction of being the only Christian reformer whose achievement was the denial of his intention." Setting out to unite the Church, he ended up fathering another denomination. The Campbells, however, were not wholly to blame. Movements that aim at radical reformation are usually expelled from the bodies they seek to reform, and there was no reason why a group preaching unity should be an exception. Furthermore, it has to be admitted, as Bainton pointed out, that Campbell founded a Christian communion that has contributed significantly to the strength of the contemporary Ecumenical Movement.
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Although their influence predominated, the Campbells represented only one of six groups contributing to the Disciple Movement. And they were not the largest. This honour belonged to the followers of Barton Warren Stone. A fifth generation American, born near Fort Tobacco on December 4, 1772, Stone was educated at the David Caldwell Academy near Greensboro, Carolina. He was awakened under the preaching of James McGready, a strict Calvinist, but found no peace until William Hodge pointed him to the love of Christ. Appointed supply minister at Cane Ridge and Concorde, near Lexington, he applied to the Presbytery of Pennsylvania for ordination. When asked if he accepted the Westminster Confession, he replied, "So far as I see it consistent with the Word of God." Though the answer was ambiguous, he was accepted.
He was soon caught up on a revival in Kentucky that was ignited by the preaching of McGready. In August, 1801, revival broke out at Cane Ridge. Sharing with Methodist, Baptist and other Presbyterian ministers in this revival convinced him that the Holy Spirit could enlighten and guide Christians into an understanding of the Scriptures without the help of creeds. He also became aware of the sinfulness of division and grew restive under ecclesiastical authority. With other Presbyterian ministers, who had participated in the revival, he was censured by the Kentucky Synod. Five of these withdrew from the Synod's jurisdiction and were officially suspended. Committed to accepting the Bible as full, final and complete authority, they formed an independent Springfield Presbytery. Representative of an Anti-Calvinist Movement. in the Presbyterian church, the Presbytery, whose principals were soon caught up in doctrinal controversy, did not long survive. On June 28 the group drew up a document dissolving the Association. The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery, which many considered the work of Stone, expressed rejection of ecclesiastical control over dogma and ministry, advocated faith in the sufficiency of the Scriptures and advertised the wish of that body to "die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the body of Christ at large."
Stone eventually assumed leadership of the group by default. Apart from one other the rest were unstable, and drawn away by other groups. Popular as an evangelist, Stone attracted great numbers to his Movement. He was later joined by other independent groups. These included followers of James O'Kelly, who had opposed Ashbury's attempt to impose his superintendency over Wesleyans, and Free-Will Baptists of New England organised by Elias Smith and Abner Jones.
Stone shared with Campbell a number of insights. He was anxious to promote unity, rejected creeds and theologies as tests of fellowship, encouraged liberty on matters of opinion, and argued that, since Christ died for all, all
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could be saved. He saw faith as the rational acceptance of truth which fallen man was capable of without the special assistance of the Holy Spirit. Baptism was by immersion and for the forgiveness of sin. Finally, he rejected sectarian names as divisive. In The Last Will, the signatories agreed simply to call themselves "Christians."
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The British Churches of Christ
It is difficult to trace the origins of British Churches of Christ. This is because the early membership was made up of many independent congregations that had little or no contact with each other prior to their association with Campbell. They included a congregation formed on the Haldane principles at Auchtermuchty, Fife, in 1807; a group of Independents at Dungannon, Ireland, that originated in 1804; a church at Cox Lane, Allington, Denbighshire, that met for the first time as an immersionist congregation in 1809, and a church at Kirkby, Furness, whose history could be traced back to the period following the restoration of Charles II. Practices shared by these groups were weekly communion, believer's baptism, and congregational government.
While several of these groups independently contacted Campbell, it was through the initiative of the Scotch Baptists that British Churches of Christ came into existence.
The Scotch Baptists were an offshoot of the Glasites. They were originated by Robert Carmichael and Archibald McLean, who, leaving that body over a case of discipline, had come to accept believer's baptism. The visit in 1833 of a young Virginian artist to the Scotch Baptist church in London, resulted in William Jones, M.A., a bookseller, historian and church elder, publishing Campbell's articles in a new journal, The Millennial Harbinger & Voluntary Church Advocate. While Jones later ceased publication of the magazine because of disagreement with Campbell on the question of the Spirit's work in conversion, the publication drew together independent groups who had been "pleading for a restoration of the ancient order." It also divided the Scotch Baptists.
To give leadership to the scattered congregations and individuals wishing to follow Campbell, James Wallis, who had been in membership with the Scotch Baptists in Nottingham, in 1837 began publication of a monthly paper, The
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Christian Messenger and Reformer. The first annual meeting of the British churches was organised in 1842.
Like the American Disciples, the British Churches of Christ regarded themselves as a reform movement. However, this similarity, and the fact that they were both indebted to Campbell, could not disguise differences, the most obvious of which was the fact that the British Churches were more exclusive and "hard-line" than the Americans.
There were a number of reasons for this, the most important of which was their predominant Glasite-Scotch Baptist origins. Additional factors were the prior existence of Anglican and established denominational communions, and the fact that to justify their right to separate existence they needed to shout their message loud and point out where other churches were in error. This drew opposition and further stiffened their stance. Finally, in the initial phase of their development they lacked leaders of the calibre of the Campbells.
The more rigid approach of the British churches was obvious in a number of areas. The first was their extreme literalism. This was most evident in the attempt to model their worship after the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:42. Some even argued that the order--apostles' doctrine, fellowship (interpreted as the offering), breaking of bread, and prayers--should not be departed from. It was also reflected in the stress they placed on the instrumental value of the ordinances. Secondly, they were strongly legalistic. They regarded the majesty of the Christian System or Kingdom of Heaven with its "King, Lawgivers, Laws, Territory, and Subjects" as its most appealing aspect. The Britishers were also more backward-looking than the Disciples. The "Ancient Christianity" of the apostolic era, from which the churches had departed, was the ideal, and a return to the "Old Paths" their principal goal.
The dominance of the Movement by laymen was another factor, obvious in two areas.
The first was in the practice of mutual edification. Inherited from the Scotch Baptists, this procedure offered qualified males the opportunity of exhorting the membership. While justified on the ground that it represented the "apostles' doctrine" of Acts 2:42, it was productive of much strife. Debate raged over the question of who was qualified to edify. Some felt that the opportunity should be open to all males, while others sought to restrict it to those with obvious ability. While the latter view predominated, the issue was by no means closed but plagued by the further question of who judged a man's qualification, himself or the local congregation. Both claimed divine
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guidance! the worst abuses, however, related to the competitiveness and contentiousness the practice fostered. One perceptive member commented that the system, if the abuses were not corrected, would result in congregations preferring the "one-man" or "oratorical" system, which the Movement so sternly reprobated.
The second area in which lay dominance was evident was in the authority of the eldership. While the diaconate was regarded as an office, the role was minor, largely subordinate. The eldership, filled by older men, was the centre of authority. While it was not impossible for ordinary believers to partake of the Supper in the absence of elders, in a properly constituted congregation where the latter had been appointed and were present, it was their responsibility to oversee, even lead, the service. They were also responsible for giving direction to the congregation and for ruling, that is, attending to cases of discipline. Furthermore, intervention in strife-ridden situations by the eldership of surrounding churches was encouraged.
The dominance of a lay eldership was also evident in the emergence and growing authority of Annual Conferences. The first Conference arose from the need for congregations of various independent groups drawn into the Movement to meet, offer mutual support, and develop joint policies. It was not difficult to find Scriptural precedent to justify such co-operation. Unlike the Americans, who were influenced by the experience of the Campbells and a frontier tradition of strident individualism, the British were not wholly opposed to Conferences of the churches legislating on matters of mutual concern. They even went so far as to disregard their proscription of creedal formulation in arguing that one of the functions of the co-operation of the churches was to "preserve their purity," and in laying down correct interpretations on points at issue between the British and American Movements. The issue causing greatest concern to the eldership-dominated British Annual Conference was the development in America of the "one-man" system. They were horrified at what they considered Disciple apostacy and afraid the contagion would spread to Britain.
Elders were not backward in asserting their authority. They argued that while Scripture gave general direction on the regulation of conduct, specific advice was to be handed down by the eldership. Since wisdom resided in the few, the Church, as plenary authority, committed to appointed elders the power of execution. They were "answerable to Christ and to the church in their due discharge of their duty," but were "not accountable to any individual, whereas every individual is accountable to them." Their authority, however, was not to be arbitrary and in "setting before anyone the will of God as derivable from the general principles" they were to endeavour to convince and enlighten him, so that he may then act with understanding." Entrenched in authority, it was natural that they would assert their authority over the developing class of evangelists.
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Only grudgingly accepted, evangelists, whose sphere was the world rather than the Church, were offered little to compensate them financially for the time and effort invested in proclaiming the gospel. The debate over whether they should be paid was compounded by two areas of confusion. They were sometimes lumped in with the elders, who it was felt did not need to be paid. Second, it was argued by some that if outstanding exhorters were financially rewarded for their efforts, congregations would soon develop a taste for the "one-man" system, and mutual edification, with the opportunity it offered the qualified to have their say, and the eldership to retain their dominance, would tall into disuse. Sensing this danger, the British eldership threw down the gauntlet. As one spokesman put it, "Evangelists are so far from having authority over bishops, deacons, and old churches, that they are under them, sent out by them, and amenable to them."
Cordial at first, relations between the British and American Movements soon cooled.
During the 1840's Campbell was besieged with requests to visit the British churches, and told that they needed American evangelists. However, conservative elements took fright when they read in copies of the Campbell-Rice debate that he "viewed with great satisfaction" the fact that a group of Presbyterians had communed with a Disciple congregation. They were even more alarmed when they learned that it was the official practice of the Disciples to "neither invite nor debar" the unimmersed from the Table.
However, despite what they considered Campbell's change of view, an appeal for funds to help with the expenses of his 1847 visit raised £170 from 27 congregations in a couple of weeks. During his stay in Britain, Campbell was imprisoned at the instigation of the Rev. James Robertson, Secretary of the Edinburgh Anti-slavery Society, and won the sympathy of the British churches. He presided over their second annual Meeting, held that year, and was asked to select an American evangelist to work with them.
The visit to Britain of Dr John Thomas, an ex-Disciple and founder of the Christadelphians, did not help relationships. Despite this, the British in 1863 accepted into their ministry H. S. Earl, an Englishman trained at Bethany, a college Campbell set up on his own property.
A more critical attitude was evident in the 1859 General Meeting, after which correspondence developed between G. Y. Tickle and Campbell on the communion question. The British attitude hardened when David King, who had taken over editor ship of the Harbinger, gave publicity to the issue.
In 1864, James Challen challenged fellow-Disciples to meet the British request for preachers. However, while he was thanked by the British Annual
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Meeting of that year, by 1866 the British churches had turned against the idea.
Henry Exley, an English evangelist who had spent some time in America repairing his health, was invited by the Annual Meeting of 1872 to return. However, when they learned that he had adopted American attitudes, the matter was dropped. The offer of two American evangelists to work for six months with the British churches was refused.
At the first meeting of the American Foreign Missionary Society, which was set up in 1875, H. S. Earl, who had spent three years in Britain and another ten in Australia, offered to return to Britain, if necessary at his own expense, to work under the Society's direction in areas unoccupied by the British.
Timothy Coop, a wealthy Wigan clothier, who had been treasurer of the Evangelistic Committee since 1861, was disappointed with the decision of the British churches to reject American help. He had entertained Campbell on his British visit in 1847 and had visited the American churches in 1869. Impressed with Earl's methods at Southhampton, he visited America in 1878, when he offered to finance American assistance to Britain. Unaware that Coop did not represent the general opinion, T. W. Moore, who had helped organise the American Foreign Missionary Society, resigned his Cincinnati pastorate and sailed for England. Tension soon developed between Moore and King, and relationships between the two Movements were broken.
No one was wholly to blame. Arriving in England, Moore set about establishing a church at Southhampton where there was already a small Church of Christ congregation, which was incensed when he publicly advertised that for the first time in the history of the town the Restoration message was being preached. King, who must have felt his authority challenged by the equally strong-minded and competent Moore, publicly attacked the latter's opinions in criticisms that were copied into the local press. Bad feeling over financial negotiations with the two properties, both of which owed money to Coop, did not help.
While personal factors played their part, however, the breaking off of relationships was largely a result of theological differences.
The first, which was relatively minor, concerned the financing of the churches. Unlike the Americans who were more liberal in their attitude, the British refused or returned offerings from the unimmersed.
The second was concerned with the question of who were qualified to partake. The British were adamant that only the immersed should partake. The American practice was to leave the matter to the conscience of the individual. It was their custom to "neither invite nor debar."
The third area of conflict was concerned with the role of the evangelist. The Scotch Baptist practice of mutual ministry was jealously guarded as
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Scripturally essential by the British churches. While Campbell had castigated "the clergy" in his Christian Baptist days, his opinion on the necessity of a full-time, educated, and paid ministry moderated with the growth of the American Movement. The growing dependence of American congregations on their ministers alarmed the British churches. Mesmerised by the spectre of the "one-man" ministry, which they felt the Americans were cultivating, they charged Campbell with a volte face. They argued that their reaction was not due to anti-American feeling, but that they were opposed to the development on the grounds that a one-man monopoly of the platform would curtail their practice of mutual ministry and would give governing authority, and that even over the elders, to one "pastor." Furthermore, they felt that graduates of American colleges, if not fully fledged "Reverends," were encouraged through their training and situations, to "carefully avail" themselves "of every opportunity to gain that honourable and holy designation." The formation of "Preachers' Associations" filled them with horror.
The British reaction was not wholly due to theological divergency. Personal factors were also evident. The British eldership shied away from the prospect of being led by youthful graduates, and the jealousy of the self-taught for the college-educated was very evident in sour remarks. There was also criticism of the liberal arts orientation of the American colleges. David King contended that "the young men come out thoroughly drilled in the elements of science and literature, with a high literary ambition, but with extremely little knowledge of the Word of God." King, who led the British charge, at times descended to tricks of oratory: "I groaned in spirit for the coming of the Master and remembered with satisfaction the whip and cords," and sarcasm--"One-man ministry churches in this country . . . have plenty of hearers and few converts." What really riled him was the insinuation that the Disciples had sired the British Movement!
Replying to these British charges, Challen argued that there was scarcely a church in America that was not planted by evangelists, and that "such persons are sustained, and must be sustained, or the churches will die out . . . as many of the Scotch Baptist churches have done in Scotland and nearly all in America." He contended that criticism of "College-bred" men reflected against the Campbells and other American Restoration leaders. Finally, he hit out at the inconsistency of the British, who, in their Annual Conferences called "brethren who participated in the meetings, Mr and Messrs."
Argument over the question of ministry revealed the essential difference between the sister Movements. Dominated by lay leadership, the British was theologically static. The American, pioneered by emancipated "evangelists" was theologically pragmatic.
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Any assessment of the British position has to take into account the fact that, unlike the American Disciples, they were serviced in the early years by one major periodical. Recollection of the past is thus overdependent on the attitude of the editorship. This is balanced, however, by the fact that the two editors exercised a formative, pseudo-episcopal, influence over the churches.
The first, James Wallis, disliked controversy. A humble man, he emphasised love and forbearance. He had not a little of the spirit of Thomas Campbell, and was deeply concerned for the unity of the Christian Church. Sympathetic with the position of Alexander Campbell, he did not discourage the presence of other Christians at the Lord's Table and argued that a church was not justified in rejecting the free-will offerings of any who wished to give. He also contended that churches which were large enough should employ and remunerate an evangelist.
David King, who took over from Wallis, was of a different stamp. His stolidly logical mind tended to literalism, and early experience made him combative. Though he was thoughtful and generous in individual associations, he cut down opponents mercilessly on the platform, and with his pen. And he was not easily resisted. He debated successfully with Bradlaugh, and was not afraid to charge Campbell with inconsistency.
King was little interested in unity. This is in part explained by the fact that he did not regard the unimmersed as Christians. His prime concern was to return to the "old Paths." In his early years he vigorously opposed the payment of church functionaries which, at that time, meant elders. His opinion later moderated, with the advent of evangelists, when he was willing to concede that they should be offered assistance from those monies remaining over after the poor had been taken care of. Partially responsible for this change was his own appointment as evangelist. Successful himself, he argued that evangelists should be paid providing they delivered the goods. He rejected the idea that offerings from other than immersed believers in good standing should be accepted. The Church was to be supported by the free-will offerings of the regenerate. Finally, it was King, an evangelist, who was responsible for perpetuating the dominance of a lay eldership against the opposition of the more liberal attitude of elders like Timothy Coop, who wished to introduce American assistance to Britain. While not explained wholly on the basis of King's reaction to the threat American evangelists posed to his pre-eminence, this factor does have to be taken seriously into account. What is certain is that he must bear a large share of the responsibility for the perpetuation of the strongly sectarian patterns that for a considerable period inhibited the development of the British churches.
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This New Sect
The Catholic Church in Australia appealed to apostolic continuity, and to the Irish it offered a defence against Protestant authority. Anglicans bargained on the appeal of a prestige deriving from the fact that they had been for centuries in Britain the Established Church. The Presbyterian Church was no less conscious of its position in Scotland and prided itself on the calibre of a well-educated clergy. Congregationalists were confident of the appeal of their social position and the prominence of a number of their learned clergy. While justly proud of the growth of their Movement, Methodists still retained something of their original vigour and, among the working and farming population, trusted their success to the energy of a warmly emotional evangelistic appeal. By contrast, the appeal of Churches of Christ, following Alexander Campbell's lead, was to reason, or, more accurately, informed common sense.
It was an appeal directed, not at the University-educated, but at the self-taught tradesman who appreciated its simplicity. He was attracted by the Movement's emphasis on the fact that salvation, while God's gift, could be secured by following simple apostolic direction. The Disciple emphasis on free-will appealed to his sturdy independence. He was also attracted by the simple structure of church government which Restorationists pointed out was the early New Testament pattern. While it theoretically offered the ordinary working man the opportunity of exercising authority in the local church, its emphasis on the autonomy of each congregation accorded with his distrust of higher authority and guaranteed local office bearers against arbitrary removal by outside authority.
This appeal to reason highlighted the almost exclusively intellectual challenge of Churches of Christ. This judgment is supported by the fact that in presenting their plea Churches of Christ made extensive use of literature.
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Many early members were won through reading Restoration publications. Most popular were the Christian Messenger and British Millennial Harbinger, together with Campbell's Christian System, translation of the New Testament, and his debates with McCalla on Baptism and Owen on Christianity.
Recognising this intellectual emphasis, a number of the pioneers considered that one of the most appealing features of the Movement was that it was built on firm philosophic foundations. However, while rational, the Disciple approach was not strictly philosophical.
There were several reasons for this emphasis on philosophy. First, reason, that is the appeal to common sense, was mistaken by the Disciples, who lacked higher education and thus technical acquaintance with philosophy as a formal discipline, for the latter. Second, regarded by opponents as uneducated laymen, they were at pains to point out that their position was founded on a secure intellectual basis. Third, taking the Bible alone as their guide, they felt the need, when asserting their position against others, particularly Calvinists, to emphasise that their opinion did not lack philosophic under-girding. In fact, they claimed they were more securely based in the philosophy of the Bible than were their opponents, who relied on the human, and thus fallible, opinions of the Genevan Reformer.
The Disciple approach was more logical than philosophical, and at times legalistic. This was evident in the fact that they felt they had to justify every initiative by an appeal to Scripture, and in the comment that "Jesus is our King, the Apostles our Legislators, and the New Testament our Law Book."
This legalistic approach went hand in hand with the conviction that they alone were right which arose in part from the need to justify their existence, and hardened in response to the opposition of other communions.
Threatened by the disdain of larger communions, Churches of Christ found their security in the conviction that the New Testament was the Christian's complete and ultimate authority. While other bodies continued to regard tradition, explicitly or implicitly, as a second authority, it was their opinion that the Reformation was only half-completed. They felt that they had been raised up to climax the Movement by returning the Church to a view of the Bible as "wholly and solely, really and truly . . . sufficiently alone, and alone admissible, as a rule of faith and bond of union."
To support their position Churches of Christ argued that they grasped the Biblical revelation free of human interpretation. They contended that the Catholic Church, in interpreting the Word by its tradition, and Protestants, in laying down the rule that "every man has the right to interpret the Bible for himself," were both subverting Scriptural authority. In their view "God's Book contains all the interpretation of his mind necessary for faith and practice." Following their own advice, they used the language of the Authorised Version to set forth their position and answer critics. This position, however, was
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logically indefensible, as it is impossible to approach the Scriptures without bias, which they themselves were displaying in their selection and arrangement of verses in addresses and published articles.
The appeal of the Movement to the naked Word was not entirely free from difficulty, and created internal tensions. In Adelaide, the freedom of each individual to determine what he felt to be the literal sense of the Word sapped evangelistic vigour. Writing in March, 1852, Thomas Magarey commented, "one great cause of our lethargy here is that many of our brethren are looking for the restoration of miracles: also, shortly, for the personal appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to convert the nations and gather together his people Israel: and they imagine little can be done until all these things be fulfilled."
The influence of British Restorationism predominated in Australian Churches of Christ in the period up to 1864. There were several reasons for this. First, the membership was largely made up of British immigrants, the majority of whom had been associated with the Movement in the Home Country and who were kept in touch with developments in Britain through the Harbinger. Visits to Britain by those who could afford it increased loyalty to original traditions. Second, the influence of James Wallis, who acted as pastor pastorum to the lay ministry of the colonies, and of David King, who, acting in loco parentis, set himself up as mentor to the new Movement, has also to be taken into account.
There was obvious sympathy with the British position in questions at issue between the British and American Movements.
Australian Restorationists agreed with the opinion of the British churches that the unimmersed should be excluded from the communion. Reflecting the Australian viewpoint, Thomas Lyle, of South Australia, argued that the American position was inconsistent. While on the one hand they were "contending so strongly for immersion, and withdrawing their support for the Bible Union on account of the non-translation of one word," on the other they were "totally indifferent as to whether those they fellowshipped with are immersed or not."
Introduced early, mutual edification became the pattern; though some, like John Lawrie, of South Australia, argued that it was better for one person to do all the teaching it he was the only one qualified, than for there to be no teaching at all. At this point the Australian Movement differed slightly from the British in that, because of the dearth of qualified speakers, the central focus for Australians in the morning worship was, not mutual edification, but the Supper.
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While the churches were late in appointing elders, it was theoretically recognised that authority within the Church resided with them. The churches did, however, lament the fact that few congregations had elders, and that in those that did, the role of the eldership, instead of involving at its centre the rulership of the congregation, was reduced to the chairmanship of public meetings. There was even debate at this point, particularly in Newtown where some members could not agree with the Scotch Baptist belief that they should preside at every meeting of the church. The debate over their payment was also shipped out. Even more so than in Britain, the evangelist was relegated to an itinerant evangelistic ministry, though there were some, like Lawrie, who argued that the clericalism of the American Disciples was preferable to the lack of effective eldership.
Australian Churches of Christ were no less keen to co-operate than were the congregations of the parent Movement in Britain, though no general Conferences were called in the period up to 1864.
While the pattern of early Australian Restorationism was unmistakably British, the American influence was by no means absent. Campbell's initial impact on the British churches has to be taken into account, as does Wallis' admiration for him, accord with his ideas, and publication of his articles in the Harbinger, together with the quantity of American literature distributed in Australia. Finally, there were in the colonial churches, particularly in South Australia, a number who had had personal contact with Campbell and the American Movement.
The American influence was evident in the concern of Australian Churches of Christ for the unity of the Church. While they cared little for some features of Alexander's rich millennial vision, this aspect of his millennialism they did endorse.
However, while concerned for unity, the British-born pioneers were unhappy with the way the "denominations" were approaching the issue. They felt that divisive issues were not being faced, and could see no point in organising special prayer for union when the Scriptures already contained instruction on how it was to be achieved. Reiterating the position first outlined by Thomas Campbell, they argued that the "denominations" should repudiate their creedal theologies and return to the simplicity of the Word. Realising that differences of opinion in minor questions could divide, they argued that in the interests of unity a distinction should be drawn between essential facts and inessential theory. They went on to point out that there was nothing wrong with theory provided it was not written into terms of communion. All that should be required of Christians was the profession of Peter that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Finally, to facilitate union by avoiding
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interpretative bias, they insisted on the use of "pure speech"--or Bible words to describe Bible things.
Unfortunately, Australian Disciples were unaware that they were themselves doing what they criticised in others. This was most obvious in their insisting on others accepting as Scriptural their view of the method by which salvation was to be appropriated and their concept of the New Testament church order. They could not see, or would not recognise, how impossible they made it for others to unite with them. When these would not endorse their plea they charged them with having a limited knowledge of unity, or else, desiring unity without being willing to surrender any of their peculiarities. Others saw this as the pot calling the kettle black!
The major stumbling block, however, was their doctrine of baptism. While there were those in the Movement who wearied of concentration on this subject, others, regarding it as essential to salvation, argued that the unity of the New Testament was based on the correct understanding and practice of the ordinances.
While this position was clear and obviously Scriptural, Churches of Christ were caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, they were anxious to insist against the charge that they were baptismal regenerationists, that baptism itself did not save. They argued that "justification by faith ever was, is now, and ever will be, the only assurance of salvation to the sinner." On the other hand, they were equally keen to stress "where obedience (that is, of baptism) is wanting there can be no faith." As critics observed, the balance swung in favour of fusing baptism and salvation. The reason for this was that this was necessary to justify an exclusion of the unimmersed from communion. This attitude, however, left them in an uncomfortably ambiguous position. While they were not prepared to say that the unimmersed were not saved, they admitted to seeing "immersion into the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, after repentance and a public, sincere, and intelligent confession of faith in Jesus, as necessary to admission into the Kingdom of the Messiah, and as a solemn pledge of the actual remission of all past sins and of adoption into the family of God."
Attitudes towards other Christian bodies were not uniform, but varied between colonies. Because both were related to the social standing of members, it is not surprising that relationships with others followed the pattern of community involvement.
In South Australia, where members "did not consider it the best way to win souls to Christ to be continually abusing the sects," attitudes were generally more liberal and courteous. While this greater openness was partially due to a marked spirit of co-operation and harmony in the "Paradise of Dissent," Magarey's influence cannot be overlooked. Concerned that others be
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correctly informed regarding Churches of Christ, he sought to steer the Movement around divisive issues and involved himself in the South Australian Auxiliary of the Bible Translating Society.
Magarey pointed out to fellow-Disciples that, while it was acknowledged that they differed from the Scotch Baptists in placing the remission of sins after rather than before baptism, they should not allow this difference to frustrate union. Finally, when King took him to task in the Harbinger for referring to members of other communions as Christians, he called his bluff. Pointing out that there were two kinds of Christianity, ancient and modern, he argued that while Restorationists were making "a considerable approximation towards the ancient model," there were modern Christians belonging to a modern Christianity and that it was "idle to deny that associations of these Christians, meeting statedly for worship, constituted Christian Churches."
In Victoria, relationships were mediocre. Buildings were lent by other Churches and on occasion frank discussion of similarities and differences was encouraged.
Antipathy towards the Disciples was strongest in N.S.W This was in part a carry-over of internal contentiousness into relationships with others.
Because Churches of Christ demanded doctrinal uniformity in only two areas, that is, baptism and ministry, they were easily infiltrated by alien doctrine. In the early days, Christadelphian and Swedenborgian influences were strong. The prime cause of contention, however, was the question as to whether elders should preside at every worship service. Kingsbury, who was supported by Wallis, sought to encourage a broader participation of the qualified, but others favoured the Scotch Baptist restriction of the presiding in the morning service to elders.
The Newtown brethren, who made up the bulk of the N.S.W membership, considered their open-air preaching at Hyde Park, (then a racecourse) of great importance. It was there that they did battle with the sects. A specimen of their subject matter can be gleaned from the observation of a critic. "Instead of holding forth the leading truths of the gospel to their hearers, they increasingly descant on the traditions that had become mixed up with other creeds and the failings of Christians." He spoke of one of Kingsbury's addresses as "full of satire and acrimonious bickering." Their regular assertions at Hyde Park did little to endear Churches of Christ to those they wished to reach. Eliza Davies, who had been a guest of the Campbells at Bethany, and who saw no recognisable kinship between Newtown members and the American Disciples, pointed out that "they were one in abusing the sects and calling down upon themselves the contumely of the whole community." This verdict was endorsed by the leadership itself, which, admitting to the antipathy the Movement evoked, confessed that "from the Deist to the High Calvinist all seemed to regard us as the common enemy."
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Churches of Christ had little contact with Anglicans, apart from an occasional convert. They felt themselves to be separated socially from the professional, college-educated Anglican clergy whose dignity was easily hurt by being placed "on a level with common folks." The Disciples reacted strongly to the Anglican insinuation that the unlearned layman was not qualified to edify. They abominated the taint of Rome evident in ungodly church choirs whose efforts were "for the sole gratification of the audience, as duets and quartets at popular concerts" and "a veritable abomination to him who hates hypocrisy, pride and formality." Furthermore, they argued that each congregation should have a plurality of Bishops and that the practice of having one Bishop per colony was completely unscriptural. The nearest Churches of Christ came to personal contact was at Ballarat, where, after a union church at Mt. Clear, unable to maintain a ministry, was given over to the use of the Disciples, the local Anglicans, belatedly arranged for its possession to be signed over to them. Finally, an interesting example of the enterprise of Disciples was the liberty taken by Henry Hussey in writing to the Bishop of Adelaide in 1855 offering advice on the constitution for the Anglican communion in South Australia which their leaders had been formulating. Hussey, whose mother, formerly an Anglican, had been won to the Churches of Christ position by reading the Campbell and Rice debates, outlined the approach of Churches of Christ which he urged upon the Bishop. He assured him that he was pleading for "a return to the original gospel, the ancient faith, the apostolic simplicity as the only safe ground for a useful, happy, and permanent union of christians." The Bishop sent a considered reply to which Hussey responded, but nothing further was heard from the Anglican leader.
Contact with Presbyterians and Congregationalists was minimal. Hussey was invited to occupy the pulpit of the United Presbyterian Church in Adelaide after its minister left to join the free Church, while Prahran Congregationalists invited S. H. Coles to address a discussion class.
The Restoration message had a particular fascination for Bible Christians and Wesleyan Methodist local preachers, a number of whom were listed as converts. A successful evangelistic campaign at Moorabbin stirred Wesleyans in the area to organise revival meetings, and there was even talk of a baptistry being constructed in the chapel to keep their members. Appealing to the same social strata, and with a similar message, Methodism was particularly vulnerable. In Sydney ill feeling ran high. The majority of early converts were Wesleyans, whose new enthusiasm was attractive to former associates. Furthermore, Kingsbury's spirited tirades against the denomination would hardly have cooled tempers. His attitude reflected reaction against a former allegiance, and the need to justify his membership
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with Churches of Christ, together with a uniquely personal factor. One of fourteen local preachers in the Sydney First Circuit in 1841, he was last present at the Local Preachers' meeting of the Circuit on January 14, 1842. When he re-applied in 1848, after a seven-year absence from local preachers' meetings, and presumably from lay preaching, he was refused. His name was put forward but not seconded. The grounds of the objection were not mentioned, though the tone of the record leaves one in no doubt that relationships were by no means cordial, even before he came into contact with the Disciples.
Relations between Churches of Christ members and Baptists were generally good. Contact in South Australia was with the Scotch Baptists, whose influence within Disciple churches Magarey considered detrimental. Attitudes had been imprinted which were difficult to eradicate, and predestinarian notions continued to cause trouble. While Service conferred with a number of Scotch Baptists in Melbourne as early as 1854, it was the Prahran Baptists who were the most helpful and open, and there were hopes of occasional use of Baptist buildings. However, while they were happy for George Warren to preach for them from time to time, they would not allow him to proceed with one course of lectures he had planned. They objected to one entitled, "What is faith, and how obtained?", and Warren was not prepared to break the series. Warm personal relationships existed between Baptists and Disciples in N.S.W. Kingsbury claimed that he knew Baptists who clearly taught the truth, but suggested that many were afraid to investigate the question "least they should be put out of the synagogue." disciples were happy when an attempt to impose a code of rules on the colony's Baptists was aborted.
The basic difference between the two groups, apart from the higher concepts of ministry entertained by the Baptists, was that Baptists taught that rebirth preceded baptism. Furthermore, many of their churches were happy to accept the unbaptised as members, provided they were living up to the light they had received. Causing less concern was the opposition between the Calvinistic emphasis of the Baptists and the Arminian bias of the Disciples.
While few charges of "sheep stealing" were made, Baptists would not have been happy with the transfer to the Restoration camp of a Baptist cell at Wedderburn. However, they savoured victory at Kiama. Here a group of Baptists, impressed by Campbell's writings, had been on the point of forming themselves into a Church of Christ, when they were strengthened by the influx of "particular Baptists" from Sydney, and returned to their former allegiance.
What most concerned Baptists was that they were often mistaken for Disciples. They therefore went out of their way to point out that they were not to be identified with the tract-distributing "monomaniacs" who claimed that only the immersed were members of the Church.
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Along with other Protestants, Disciples were in open conflict with Roman Catholics. Robert Service, who in Glasgow had been in danger of personal violence because of a "vigorous attack on Popery," joined battle with Australian Catholics. He was several times beaten up. On one occasion the guilty party was fined 20 shillings. Fear and antipathy were particularly strong in Sydney, where Irish Catholics made merry with open-air preachers in Hyde Park. Goaded on, one zealous brother could not withstand the temptation, and knocked out an interjector. Though later disciplined by the church, the pugilist became a folk hero. A gauge of the general feeling between the two groups was Thomas Goodwin's remark that the Catholics of Sydney considered it God's service to destroy the Disciples.
No assessment of the position and influence of Australian Churches of Christ would be complete without some comment on the way they were regarded by others.
One fact that stands out is that they were considered an unusual sect. There were a number of reasons for this. They were new and their origins obscure. Their lay leadership, which functioned as a self-appointed clergy, denied legitimacy to the professional clergy of other bodies, whose supposed pretensions they were constantly lampooning. They opposed State Aid and bazaars, a principal means by which many churches financed chapel construction. Their contention that the Holy Spirit operated in the individual prior to conversion, solely through the Word, led to the charge that they denied his personality and work. Because of the rejection of the Calvinistic doctrine of the Spirit's irresistible impingement, they deprecated revivals, particularly alienating Wesleyans and Baptists with whom they were competing for the petty-bourgeois constituency. More importantly, their baptismal theology disfranchised all except the immersed.
What most infuriated opponents was the loudly voiced conviction that they alone were right. Thus, their plea for unity was presented in a spirit of antagonism, and in the form of an invitation to individual members of other communions to forsake their denominationalism and join them. Charged with proselytising, they brushed the accusation aside, stating categorically that this was their duty. Their mission was as much to the denominations as to the world. Individual victories, hardly won, re-enforced this ego-centrism which expressed itself in such provocatively caustic remarks as William Brooker's comment regarding two former Methodist lay preachers that "they will now be as zealous in the cause of Christ, as they have been in that of John Wesley."
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In their reaction to the more affluent of the denominations there was not a little of the jealousy of the social disadvantaged. Obviously looked down on by others with educated, professional ministries, Australian Restorationists spoke disparagingly of richly furnished chapels with their cushioned seats, and the alliance of these churches with the world.
Their psychological defence against the charge that they were sectarian was to transfer the indictment to their opponents. Arguing that others were "sects" because they were a section of the whole, they contended that they alone upheld the pristine New Testament tradition, and that the Scriptural basis of unity they advocated alone promised a genuinely ecumenical issue. Ironically, while alienating the denominations, they were careful, in a rear-guard action against Christadelphians and Mormons, to point out that they shared the theological orthodoxy of the mainline denominations.
Towards the end of the pioneering era there were indications that more liberal and flexible attitudes were developing.
First, there was a growing desire for acceptance by other Christian bodies. Second, by the early 1860's Disciples were becoming conscious, even proud, of their separate existence. They were talking of "Our Principles," a practice they had previously repudiated. Third, they realised that to grow they needed qualified evangelists. Fourth, there were indications that some members were not as fascinated by heaven and detached from the world as others would have wished. This was particularly evident at the time of the gold rushes, when the urge to get rich clashed with church and family responsibilities. When the Victorian gold fever emptied Adelaide, Magarey, lamenting the fact that many of the most zealous brethren had taken off for the diggings, commented, "When men are excited about the things of this life, all their thoughts are engaged; they forget for a time that they are accountable beings, and will listen to no message from heaven." The diggers, however--particularly the successful--had, in justification, smoothed over the tension between their love of God and quest for gold. James Stephenson, who struck it rich near Geelong, mentioned to Wallis that he and his sons would "go to the diggings again tomorrow, if God permit--for we must look to him in all, as the gold and silver are his, and the cattle on a thousand hills." Ironically, Magarey, who, though obviously sincere, nevertheless stood to lose through the exodus as the market for his flour was reduced, later made a fortune through the Victorian gold rushes by selling his produce in Melbourne.
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Heirs to the approach of Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Australian Disciples, a convinced and vigorous nucleus, threw themselves into the business of sharing their faith in Christ and their unique spiritual insights. While in their enthusiasm they frequently gave others the impression that they felt that they alone were right, they were genuinely concerned to foster a simpler Biblical faith among Christians as a necessary preparation for the union of God's people.
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The discovery of gold in the three eastern colonies from 1851 issued in an economic boom that lasted from 1860 to 1890. After 1890 the tapering off of alluvial mining was compensated for by the development of larger-scale mining ventures, building construction, and other public works. A consequence of the mining era, the levelling of social classes on the fields, was reflected in the 1860's and 1870's in the cry of the rising middle classes to "unlock the lands," that is, the vast territories leased by the squatters as grazing land.
The years 1864-1875 were also boom years for Churches of Christ. Numbers increased rapidly in Victoria and South Australia. This resulted from the activity of imported American evangelists. But numerical growth was only half the story. As with the economic boom, new elements introduced into a stable society resulted in internal tension and debate.
While the British pioneers were happy to point to the successes achieved by the Americans as endorsing their position, these very achievements reflected upon their previous lack of success. Furthermore, the success of the Americans was felt to endorse the correctness of their opinion on questions at issue between the two Movements.
These tensions, however, were healthy and necessary to the development of uniquely Australian Restoration traditions in the invigorating atmosphere of this newly settled continent.
By the early 1860's the lay leadership of the Australian Movement was convinced that substantial progress would be made if full-time evangelists were engaged. Competent lay speakers were scarce and had insufficient time to prepare addresses or visit.
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As early as 1857 Magarey intimated to James Wallis that Henry Hussey had "given up business as a printer," and had "resolved to devote himself entirely to the work of the Lord." The first officially appointed evangelist of the Victorian church was I. Mermelstein, a converted Polish Jew, who was sent in 1861 to the goldfields of Chiltern-Ovens. Evangelists later appointed in Victoria were J. W. Webb, S. H. Coles, George Exley and J. Hamill. In New South Wales an Evangelistic Committee, comprising the Sydney, Newtown, South Creek and Fairfield churches, in 1864 called Edward Lewis "to do the work of an evangelist." A man of strong conviction and winsome gentleness, Lewis, lacking self-confidence, resigned in a short time. His place was taken by George Day, who had been sent in 1865 by the Newtown church as evangelist to the Manning River District.
While the work of these untrained colonials proved valuable, it was hopelessly inadequate. More and better trained men were needed. Between 1850 and 1860 Wallis published requests for evangelistic help from all three colonies. The visit to Australia of Thomas Hughes Milner in 1862 increased the colonials' sense of frustration. Held in high esteem by the British churches, Milner's gifted and persuasive presentation of the Restoration message drew the crowds. When it was obvious that nothing would come of public appeals through the Harbinger, a personal approach was made to Henry S. Earl.
Born in Northhampton, England in 1831, Earl, when 17, had migrated with his parents to America. Converted in 1853, he later trained for the ministry at Bethany. Graduating in 1858, he spent three years with the Waverley City Christian Church in Missouri. While he was on leave of absence in Britain, his preaching was so well appreciated that he remained there for three years. It was while there that he received invitations from Adelaide and Melbourne. Accepting the latter, he arrived in Melbourne in July, 1864.
His preaching attracted immediate attention. Crowds of between 1,000 and 2,000 turned out to hear him, the Press giving the services good coverage. Compared with the uphill work of the previous decade, Earl's success was phenomenal. When he arrived the Victorian membership was 400. He added a further 200 in his first year with the Lygon Street church, Melbourne.
Earl's success convinced the Australian churches that if they could obtain more men of this calibre the Movement would mushroom. As they felt that Britishers would better suit the Australian context, they appealed firstly to the churches of the Home country. However, when it became obvious that the British churches could not spare their talent, approaches were made to the American Movement. While they had to wait until February 19, 1867, for the arrival of the first American evangelists, the result of the ministries of the two men they welcomed on that day more than justified their patience.
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G. L. Surber, a graduate of the College of the Bible, Lexington, Kentucky, was placed with the Lygon Street church, where he remained five years. He sustained an early success, with crowded audiences enthralled by preaching characterised by "clearness, fire and vigour." Surber later returned to Kentucky and earned the reputation of being the most effective preacher in that State.
The second of the evangelists, son of a progressive farmer, was T. J. Gore, born in Bloomfield, Kentucky in 1839. During the period spent at Kentucky University, from which he graduated M.A. in 1863, Gore was taken under the wing of Robert Milligan, President of Kentucky University. Milligan had been similarly cared for by Alexander Campbell. Gore was thus heir to a rich tradition in which strength of conviction was married to a breadth of spirit and openness. Engaged by the Grote Street church, Adelaide, Gore exercised a decisive influence in South Australia, where he ministered for over 50 years.
Gore and Surber were followed, in the years up to 1875 by O. A. Carr, W. H. Martin, H. H. Geeslin and J. J. Haley.
The success of the Americans in the two southern colonies is evident from membership figures. The Victorian figure of 400 in 1864 had risen to 1,531 by 1875. While in 1868 the South Australian statistic of 127 is defective because some churches did not forward their returns, the roll tally of 1,204 in 1876 shows a significant increase. By contrast, the combined strength of the N.S.W, churches, even by 1885, was only 555.
Varied factors were responsible for the success of the Americans. First, they were college-educated. Second, they were careful, though adventuresome, strategists, hiring, in cities or country towns, the largest buildings available. Third, their presentation of the message differed from that of the pioneers. Their addresses were well-structured. They confined themselves to a few points, cultivated an expansive oratorical approach, and injected the Restoration logic with an emotional warmth. Fourth, they made it easier for individuals to respond by substituting, for the usual examination by elders, the making of an "open confession," that is, walking to the front of the building to indicate repentance for sin and confession of Christ. Fifth, to draw attention to their message and presence, and to concentrate their appeal, they held "protracted meetings." These intensive missions, running over one, two or more weeks, were supported by well-attended prayer meetings. Finally, speaking frequently of "Our Position," they were less afraid to acknowledge a distinctive identity. If more successful, they appeared less underhand in their evangelism.
R. C. Fairlam, a member at Chesterville, Victoria, on moving to North Down in Tasmania, set up the Lord's Table in his own home in April, 1865. Despite this early beginning, it was not until the arrival of Oliver Anderson Carr in 1872 that the Movement began to grow in Tasmania. Though invited to
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Tasmania by George Smith to recover from exhaustion, Carr, by the end of the year, had established a church in Hobart with a membership of 108. He was succeeded by G. B. Moysey, who had joined the Beaumaris church, Vic. during one of Earl's visits to the area, and received training under Carr, Surber, Earl and Gore. Through a newspaper debate with an Anglican clergyman in a congregational paper, Day Star, Moysey attracted the attention of Stephen Cheek, a school teacher and superintendent of the Congregational Sunday School at Rosevale. Influenced to an immersionist position on baptism, Cheek was baptised and associated himself with the Brethren, under whose auspices he itinerated as an effective evangelist. Won eventually to the Churches of Christ position, Cheek brought with him into the Movement a large following in both Tasmania and Victoria.
Though only a handful, the American evangelists working with the Australian Churches of Christ during the period 1864-1875 exercised an influence out of proportion to their numbers. There were several reasons for this.
Stalemated under the limitations of part-time, untrained, lay leadership, the Australian Movement was psychologically conditioned by a combination of anticipation and frustration to accept the American lead. Furthermore, the colonial membership, numbering only 650 in 1864, was small enough to be influenced by the few with outstanding ability and drive. This became inevitable when the Americans were placed, on arrival, with the largest churches in Melbourne and Adelaide. It was further abetted by the conception of the evangelist's role which encouraged itineracy, leading to frequent visits to suburban and country churches for anniversary services and extended missions. Finally, their success, which highlighted anticipation, popularised their approach and led to more frequent invitations.
The American influence was exercised less directly, but with greater long-term effectiveness, through the Adelphian Societies which the evangelists established to tutor colonial talent. While most attending did so to increase their usefulness as laymen, a handful were in training as evangelists. The fact that a good percentage of these went to America to complete their theological education was indicative of the strength of American influence at this time. Of equal importance in the spread of American influence was the publication of the Australian Christian Pioneer, the first edition of which appeared in 1868. Underwritten by Thomas Magarey it was edited by T. J. Gore, of Adelaide, who enlisted Earl and Surber as sub-editors. Though the American editorship genuinely wished to avoid wholly endorsing the American line, bias was unavoidable. American patterns were obvious and in areas of conflict between British and American viewpoints the latter were favoured.
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While the influence of the American evangelists was considerable, British patterns continued to predominate. Firmly established during the previous decade, British traditions were reinforced during the period 1864-1868 by the Harbinger, which monopolised the attention of Disciples. With the publication of the Pioneer in 1868, the Harbinger, known after 1870 as the Ecclesiastical Observer, maintained itself as a supplement to the Australian periodical. It offered, as an enticement to subscription, news of churches in the Home country. Evidence of the strength of British opinion was the continued rejection by colonials of the more liberal American attitude to the presence of the non-immersed at communion.
Several Britishers, who had given leadership during the pioneering phase, were unhappy with the publicity and adulation the Americans received. Overlooked, they contended that they were discriminated against because they were Australians rather than Americans. A number were unhappy with what they considered was a watering-down of the Restoration message. Jealous of the success of the Americans, they criticised the "sensationalism" associated with their approach. They argued that because evangelists were being assessed by the number of their baptisms, it forced on them an undue concern for their reputations.
Through the years 1864-1875 relationships between the British and American Movements remained strained. However, it was during this period that King, the British "heavyweight," met his match in the formidable, but gracious, J. H. Garrison. Arguing that in their zeal for "minor matters" the British brethren had "drifted very far from some of the most cardinal features" of the Movement, Garrison pointed to the humiliation faced by even the most highly regarded American evangelists who volunteered to work in Britain. They were put through the third degree before admittance by "the Archbishop" of the Movement. Though not mentioning him by name, Garrison insinuated that by imposing his will and restricting the opportunity for expressing difference of opinion on certain doctrines, King had developed the sort of sectarian tyranny the Movement had felt itself called into existence to oppose. With a keen eye for inconsistency, he mercilessly attacked the British Conference's criticism of ministerial associations, which were seen as evidence of the growth of clericalism. He pointed out that this criticism was formulated "by a committee, formally and solemnly elected by an Annual Meeting, and duly authorised to expostulate with the American churches as to certain departures from apostolic faith and practice," that is, the greatest of all abominations, a legislative synod.
While the debate between the British and American churches continued, in Australia the two streams converged. This resulted from the urgent need felt by colonials for evangelists and the inability of the British to supply
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them. Furthermore, the outstanding success of the Americans appealed to the nonconformist South Australian spirit, which felt that achievement indicated divine endorsement. It proved equally attractive in Victoria to a frontier, get-rich mentality which had eroded the sharper edges of traditional theologies and customs. Finally, the scrupulous care taken by the Americans, even as late as the 1880's, to avoid unnecessary tension, was a key factor.
The merging of the two traditions did not occur without incident. During the period 1864-1875 there were clashes in the areas of local ministry, finance, and inter-congregational co-operation.
While early evangelists itinerated, establishing and setting in order young congregations, leaving the care of the larger churches to the ministry of the eldership, the relationship of the authority of the elders to that of the evangelist had not needed to be worked out. The American evangelists, in being located for extended periods in the larger churches, forced the issue into prominence. With colonial elders of British extraction resenting any lessening of their authority faced with American evangelists equipped by training and experience for leadership, a clash was inevitable. What aggravated the issue was that multitudes of new converts, who were personally attached to the evangelists as fathers in the faith, referred to them rather than to the established eldership. Finally, many were aware that churches would not prosper in population centres without the assistance of "moderately well educated and able evangelists." Realising that it was difficult for elders and evangelists to work harmoniously together, they firmly opposed the appointment of the former. The Grote Street church, Adelaide, was an early casualty. In 1869, two years after Gore took up the ministry, the church split over the issue, disbanding for a period. While the direct evidence bearing on the incidents is scarce, it appears that three specific issues were involved--whether the final authority resided with the elders or the evangelist, whether the evangelist, though financed by a particular church, was free to determine his sphere of activity, or whether evangelists chose or merely appointed the eldership.
A second difference in the area of ministry concerned the minister's role in the morning service. While the Scotch Baptist practice of mutual edification gave the elders responsibility, in the American experience the morning service, an evangelistic opportunity, was the preserve of the evangelist.
Aware of the tenacity with which Australians held to the practice of mutual ministry the American evangelists studiously avoided confrontation. It was an Australian, tutored under Surber, with further training in America, who precipitated debate. Thomas Porter, after an initial engagement with Collingwood, was invited to accept a second term with the church. Though he made acceptance conditional upon his being given "uncontrolled disposition of the platform upon Lord's Day mornings" the congregation
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agreed. A furore ensued and, at a special meeting of the Melbourne churches at the Lygon Street chapel, both minister and church were soundly reprimanded. It was obvious that Porter's action was completely out of sympathy with the thought of the churches, who in the 1 870's continued to guard jealously their "open platform" system of mutual ministry. Thomas Porter later found the Baptist ministry more congenial.
The second area of conflict concerned the financing of the evangelistic and social work of the churches. The British did not accept contributions from any but immersed believers in good standing. Offerings from others were refused or returned. The Americans, on the other hand, had no such scruples. They felt that offerings from the unimmersed benefited the churches by increasing their capacity for doing good, and cultivated the grace of giving in those who had the opportunity of expressing their thanks for the blessings of Christian civilisation. It was also felt that it would be wrong to repress generous emotion or hinder "any act looking in the direction of honouring Christ" and that "if ungodly men wished to give of their substance to the cause of religion, this, by so much, subtracted from the power of Satan to do harm." Conflict over the issue developed in many churches, one of the earlier fatalities being the Melbourne City church, which, when joined by the Carlton congregation when a move to Lygon Street was proposed, lost a section of its membership who were unhappy with its freer American attitude. These formed the nucleus of the Swanston Street congregation.
The third area of conflict resulted, not from American innovation, but from a British development, the Annual Meeting. The British argued that cooperative meetings were not inconsistent with their plea. They were non-legislative bodies and no church was bound to accept their recommendations. Conference was not to force its judgment upon the churches, and they were free to accept or reject its opinion. However, local congregations needed to recognise that there was wisdom with the many, and Conference to be aware that it was to seek to influence the churches by the persuasion of wisdom and love.
The matter of an Annual Conference on the British model was first raised in Australia in 1865. Because many favoured the development, the first Conference was held the following year. It was concerned with receiving schedules from churches and reporting on evangelistic activity and needs. The second Annual Meeting "of the churches in Victoria and other colonies" at which business was conducted by delegates, raised the additional issue of a book depot for Restoration literature, and a hymn book. The third Annual Meeting of Victorian churches "and adjoining colonies," however, stalemated over the question of "how far the resolutions and recommendations passed at the Annual Meeting affected representatives and churches." Unable to resolve the issue, the Conference adjourned sine die. Pitted against each other were "some of the older brethren" wishing to follow British precedent,
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and others, under American influence, "very wary of even the appearance of establishing a body of brethren--call it what you may--vested with power to control the activities of the churches or to legislate for them in matters of expedience, believing such to be wrong in principle and injurious and evil in its effects." The relationship of Churches of Christ to the State remained substantially as it had been in the years 1845-64, with Victoria to the fore in temperance advocacy, and with both South Australia and Victoria agitating for the use of the Bible as a text book in the schools. It was contended that it was "the duty of the State to educate its subjects to appreciate the Laws which govern it." As the laws regarded man as morally responsible, it was incumbent upon the State to teach morality. This could best be done from the Bible.
While there were changes in the attitude of Churches of Christ to other communions during the period 1864-1875, these did not reflect the potential for more significant shifts in emphasis and practice, which passed largely unrecognised.
During the period the socio-economic level of the Movement showed a slight upward shift. This was evident in sermons warning women against becoming fashion-conscious, and pointing out the dangers of prosperity. It was also to be seen in the better quality buildings erected, where seating capacity and cost were underlined. Except in New South Wales, the "little flock" mentality was disappearing, and individuals took pride in the size of congregations to which they belonged.
Tension both within the Movement between British and American traditions and between Disciples and their critics, resulted in a loosening of the earlier theological tautness. In the latter case, the desire for acceptance forced them to attend seriously to criticisms levelled against them. Furthermore, these added from "the denominations" had not been completely reprogrammed, and brought many of their former beliefs with them into the Movement.
Theological changes were also being forced upon the Movement by altered practice. Nowhere was this more evident than in the doctrine of the ministry. In a way that would have horrified the pioneers, Earl could speak of "my people." Furthermore, while Disciples continued to tilt at ecclesiastical titles such as "Reverend" and "The Lord Bishop of Melbourne," they were developing a class of professional evangelists of their own, of whom they were requiring increasingly higher cultural standards. Most illuminating was the comment of YZ in the Pioneer of 1872-73, which read: If I were to choose between two evils--pastors not after God's pattern, but self-willed, conceited and incompetent men, having few traits of fathers in the church,
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and the clergyman--I would prefer him." Besides the doctrine of ministry, the view Disciples had of the way salvation was to be appropriated was also undergoing modification. The importance of baptism was lessened through the emphasis placed on the need for public confession of Christ, and growing pride was taken in the fact that an increasing proportion of the converts had been nurtured in the Sunday Schools.
There was within the Movement during this period a growing awareness of identity. If not accepted, the distinctive presence of the Disciples was acknowledged.
Finally, in independently adopting methods similar to those in use among other Christian bodies emphasising conversion, they were developing what, at this stage, were affinities with them. The way was being prepared for acceptance of what they had previously rejected. The British pioneers had sternly denounced revivalism, but the Americans, though continuing to disassociate themselves from popular revivalists, adopted similar methods. They used emotional appeal, called for public confession, organised prayer support at protracted meetings, and called those who came forward at their meetings "enquirers" or those who had "decided for Christ." Most revealing was the description by the editor of Quiz, an Adelaide magazine, of a service he attended at Grote Street where Gore spoke and was supported by a competent choir, as "a Moody and Sankey affair."
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Though aware of a new mood of Church co-operation during the period 1864-1875, Churches of Christ were not wildly enthusiastic. They were not of the opinion that plans for shared worship experiences would shortly result in unity. It was their conviction that unity would result, not through an evolutionary process involving a succession of compromises, but by a return to that "heaven-born system of Christianity as taught by Christ and his apostles." The Word of God, not theological accommodation, was "the true basis of Christian co-operation." In short, what God required was "not a union of sects but the destruction of sectarianism and a full return to primitive, apostolic, Christianity."
Churches of Christ continued to argue that basic Christian doctrine, the acceptance of which by Christians was essential to recovery of the Church's lost unity, was easily understood by the ordinary man. They also contended that "the pure religion of Christ must be always one and the same thing to all minds and in all times." To ensure this unity of understanding they urged the use of Scriptural phrases when describing Bible things. However, as in the previous era, this verse-quoting approach did not appeal to the scholarly clergy of other communions, particularly those acquainted with textual and higher criticism.
While the Disciples' approach continued to be "pre-eminently rational," the literalistic and legalistic emphasis of the early era was modified by the warmly emotional approach of the American evangelists. During this period God was praised more for his "grace" than "legislation."
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Though not as persistent as in the previous era, Disciples, during the years 1864-1875, were no less convinced of the correctness of their position. This was evident in comparisons they drew between themselves and others where their views, outlined in a column of Scripture verses, were set against the "human opinions" of competitors. It was also obvious in the righteous tone that often crept into their utterances, and in such comments as the retort made to the editor of the South Australian Wesleyan Magazine by a Disciple, that what made him so sore was "that he had an intuitive sense that we have truth on our side."
While the American evangelists were initially less antagonistic towards the "denominations," their success, which drew criticism, re-enforced confidence in their stance and made them more aggressive. They were convinced that God was "driving the sects" towards an eventual public acceptance of their position. They did not doubt that their stance would finally be validated, as "sectarianism cannot long hold sway over the consciences of the people who hear the pure and simple truth as it is in Jesus."
Convinced that they possessed the "truth," Disciples had no qualms about sharing their insights with the "sects" and encouraging defections. In fact, as they understood it, their mandate obliged them to preach to the "sectarian denominations" as well as the "world."
Their effectiveness drew vigorous opposition, particularly among the clergy and denominational leadership of other communions, many of whom attended the public meetings of the Disciples to discover why they were so successful. They were also unhappy with the publicity the Movement received, which gave credence to its claim to represent pure Christianity. This encouraged their parishioners to investigate Disciple beliefs more closely. Furthermore, elated Reformers, in their enthusiasm, did not always act in a way that dampened tempers. The retort from a Disciple back-bencher that "we have resolved to dig, and cut away, until we have grubbed up the denominational tree by the roots" could not have failed to increase tensions.
Far from avoiding controversy, Disciples thrived on it. They did not regard the process as evil, but, citing the apostle Paul as an example, argued that it was "a powerful agency to advance the cause of truth." Two debates that found their way into print were the replies of Matthew Wood Green and O. A. Carr, to Presbyterian clergymen who had publicly defended their denomination's baptismal theology to prevent further defections to the Disciples. Green, who had been converted under David King in England and inherited his penchant for public debate, in 1878 took on Thomas Walker, a Spiritualist medium.
Replying in kind, "sectarian denominations" hit back at the exclusive, "Pharisaical" and "Romanist" claim of Churches of Christ to represent "apostolic Christianity," arguing that it insinuated that all who had hitherto regarded themselves as Christian, including the heroes of the Reformation,
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were deluded. They objected to the "spirit" of Churches of Christ as being "one of uncompromising hostility to all other religious bodies." They accused the Reformers of "Jesuitic casuistry," dissimulation, and "transgression of the spirit of truthfulness." Furthermore, it was frequently pointed out that "if they wished to teach and reform churches around they must not omit from their plan of "primitive Christianity" one of its most vital characteristics, one which is seldom seen in their attitude towards other denominations," that is, love.
It was not to be wondered at that other Churches adopted measures to protect their flocks. Their usual defence was to counter Disciple teaching, particularly on baptism, with lectures and sermons buttressing the infant baptism position. There were, however, other obstacles "thrown in the way." When the wheat store used by the Disciples in Strathalbyn, S.A. changed hands in 1872, the new owner, not so generous and well-disposed towards the cause of primitive Christianity, bumped up the rent to an unacceptable figure. Earlier, in 1866, at Home Bush, near Maryborough, Victoria, opponents of the Movement petitioned the Board of Education to remove George Gowdy from his teaching situation. Gowdy, who was using his schoolroom for church meetings on Sundays, was making an impression on local residents.
While the Disciples generally responded to opposition by a spirited, if coolly analytical, treatment of criticisms levelled against them, there were occasions when they were goaded into sarcasm and into substituting debating points for honest analysis.
One of the severest criticisms levelled against them was that they were more sectarian than those they criticised. They replied that a sect was, by definition, a section, or part, of some whole. They argued that because they were not trammelled by an oral or written creed, they were able to appreciate simple Scriptural teaching. By accepting the message of the Bible and obeying the command of Christ to be baptised, they became, not members of a sect, or section of the Church, but simply Christians. Admitting that the sects held "to a large portion of revealed truth," they went on to point out that it was "things extraneous" that made one "a sectarian, a factionalist, and an abettor of strife and division." Apologists for their position argued that "the man who holds the truth as it is revealed in the Bible is innocent of all the guilt and all the schisms and divisions now existing: but those who adopt other doctrines in religious usage not taught by Christ and his apostles are necessarily sectarian and are convicted as transgressors."
Disciples were also criticised for calling themselves "Christians," and their churches "Churches of Christ." The basis of this criticism was that they were using a catholic term as a party tag and insinuating that all others were not Christian. To this they replied that they did not regard themselves as the only
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Christians, but as Christians only. They went on to point out that denominational labels were the sectarian titles, for "when a man takes the name Methodist, does he not exclude the idea of his being a Baptist or Presbyterian?"
Forced into closer association with others, and into debate over their principles, Churches of Christ began to show a slight breakdown in doctrinal rigidity and non-acceptance of others.
As in the previous era, they continued to regard division as an evil because it was contrary to God's will and frustrated his redemptive purpose. However, during the period 1864-1875, in a rare pragmatic mood, they threw in the additional reason that the existence of several competing churches in an area where they should be no more than one, was confusing to potential converts and a wastage of resources.
Admitting that they had sometimes erred in insisting on correct Scriptural usage while showing a lack of love, the "real bond of union among Christians," they were willing to shift their emphasis to a point between truth and love, but with emphasis on the former. Their point, appropriately couched in Scriptural language, was that Christians should "love one another for the truth's sake."
The terms used in describing those converted from the denominations are also revealing. No longer regarded as wholly strangers to the truth they were dubbed "God-fearing and truth-loving persons" who had "learned the way of the Lord more perfectly."
Furthermore, those regarded as non-Christians no longer included adherents of the mainline Protestant Churches, despite frequent skirmishes. Those excluded were Materialists, Rationalists, Positivists and Secularists.
While they continued to regard creedal theologies as the prime cause of division, Disciples admitted that it was legitimate for individuals to theorise, and even to teach their views. Finally, while the pioneers had less a position to maintain than to establish, the Disciples' spokesmen of the American era were placed in the position of needing to uphold an established position then under attack. It was evident that before long they would be forced to admit that their approach was based on specific human interpretations, and to defend these, less with appeal of divine sanction and more on the basis of their logical consistency and their accord with experience.
This new openness was largely due to the American evangelists whose sympathy outdistanced that of the earlier British Restorationists. The latter were not altogether happy with the new approach. When Earl wrote to American friends that Victorian Baptists "were far in advance in Scriptural knowledge and practice of the Baptists in England" and offered Disciples an opportunity of presenting "the claims of Christian union," he was taken to task by a concerned colonial who pointed out that the minister specifically
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mentioned by Earl was an open communionist whose chapel was built on "ground which was a gift of the Crown."
Despite this slight shift of emphasis, however, Australian Disciples generally lacked self-insight. First, they could not see that their treatment of the opinions of others often infuriated those it was intended to win over, by a cleverness that bordered on insult. In a sermon in Hobart in 1873 on the subject of Ritualism, O. A. Carr included all who were governed by guidelines additional to the Word of God, that is, by creeds, laying heavy emphasis on the ritual of infant sprinkling! Second, they could not see that they were themselves suffering from the maladies they diagnosed in others. Critics, however, were not slow in exposing contradictions. A correspondent in the Victorian Baptist Magazine of 1869 pointed out that "they insist most vehemently on our receiving in its entire simplicity all that we find in the Book and will not patiently listen to any comments or explanation, yet insist on our receiving without hesitation their interpretation." He went on to remark that they stoutly objected "to any man calling his views Scriptural truth or making them "doctrinal basis" for Christian co-operation or a bond of union," and yet could not see that this was what they were doing! Finally, they were oblivious of the fact that their argument "that if each party would cast away distinguishing peculiarities, and be as they were in apostolic times, union would be possible," applied equally to themselves.
Apart from this lack of self-insight there were several additional factors that prevented the Disciples from establishing closer relationships with other communions. First, they were hindered by tensions deriving from the infiltration of alien ideas--Dawson Street, Ballarat, was at one stage excluded from the Victorian Conference because of Christadelphian views held by C. H. Martin, its pastor--and because the clash of British and American viewpoints unsettled the membership. Second, the main obstacle in the way of closer association, as in the previous era, was the Movement's baptismal theology, which could not be sidestepped by intending suitors. Furthermore, there was the associated problem of the unimmersed being debarred from communion. A sociological barrier was also evident. The Movement, world-denying, exclusive, upper working class, and still largely lay, remained suspicious of the more accommodating and respectable lower-middle and middle-class, clergy-dominated denominations.
Interchange was most spirited in Victoria and South Australia where American success aroused determined opposition.
In Victoria, Presbyterians preferred to remain aloof, but loss of members drew them into pamphlet and newspaper debate with the Disciples.
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Even Anglicans were stirred to action, supplementing Methodist lectures on baptism with their own and threatening Disciples with the Bishop of Melbourne! In no way intimidated by "the Lord Bishop," Restorationists replied in kind, expressing their pleasure at the fact that in the colony, despite receipts from the general revenue shared with the other sects, "there are no tithes or church rates filched from the honest man to support in sinful luxury lords over Christ's heritage."
In the beginning relations with the Baptists were cordial. Despite their acceptance of State aid, and the fact that some congregations practised open membership, Earl stated that he did not see any good reason why the two should not be one people. The Victorian Baptist Magazine in February, 1869, praised Carr's reply to James Ballantine's tract on baptism. The reviewer wrote of his "bold and clear elucidation of the Word of God," and argued that "God had employed Mr Carr as an instrument to give" the Presbyterians "a good whipping."
However, it was not long before Victorian Baptists, losing members to the Disciples, sprang to the alert. The Victorian Baptist Magazine later in 1869 published an article attacking the overweening pride of the Disciples, who it was felt were by name and teaching claiming a monopoly of the truth. Described as "a recent importation--an outward form of a Church, having its origin in another land, and now rapidly making converts and proselytes in our own Victoria," they were charged with refusing to admit that they were themselves interpreting the Scriptures. The reaction of Churches of Christ to this blast was moderate. They pointed to an inconsistency in the Baptist position on baptism they regarded "the whole Christian world" beside themselves, "so far as the ordinance of water baptism was concerned" as "unbaptised," yet they encouraged the unbaptised into membership. Despite such exchanges, relations settled into a mutual acceptance, which bore fruit in a union of Baptist and Churches of Christ congregations at Beechworth, Vic in 1871.
There was little conflict between Anglicans and Disciples in South Australia, though this did not prevent Gore from commenting adversely on an Anglican service designed to admit choristers to their office, conducted by the Dean of Adelaide, in St. Paul's church. He objected to the white surplices and the cost involved, and argued that there was no such office in the apostolic Church, where the hymns were sung by the whole congregation. Furthermore, he asserted that the introduction of such rituals was Romanising the Anglican Church.
Suffering attrition at the hands of Disciples, Wesleyan Methodists in South Australia lashed out in anger, charging them with "sheep-stealing." An article in the January, 1870, number of the South Australian Wesleyan Magazine indicated these "zealous Campbellite Baptists" with spreading corrupt
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doctrines," "waging an unchristian warfare with existing Churches," and with "robbery" and "spoliation." Wesleyans considered that the reason they were the prime target of their "uncompromising hostility" was the fact that their "numerous and scattered societies most frequently obstructed" the path of their "proselytising endeavours." They claimed that the stated policy of this new sect was "to pull down and destroy the already constituted Protestant Churches of our land." While they were concerned with losing members, and alarmed by the inflammatory remarks of a correspondent in the Pioneer who argued that the Disciples had been commissioned to uproot sectarianism, several other factors lay behind their extreme reaction. First, Disciples denied such cherished doctrines as justification by faith alone and the distinctly Methodist belief in the conscious assurance of the divine favour, that is, the witness of the Spirit. Second, Wesleyans were reacting to the Disciple attempt to secure membership in the South Australian Evangelical Alliance (formed in 1868), in which they were the prime movers.
Relations with Baptists in South Australia altered over time and were tangled up with the changing relationship between T. J. Gore and the Rev. Silas Mead, pastor of the Flinders Street Baptist church and founder and editor of Truth and Progress.
In welcoming Earl and Gore to Adelaide in 1867, Mead rejoiced "in their accession to the number of faithful ministers of the gospel in this colony". In 1868, Gore and Mead were working amicably together on the South Australian Auxiliary of the Bible Translation and Revision Society. However, from the time the Pioneer was first published in mid-1868, Baptists who were losing members to the Disciples, felt that they were the constant targets in it of self-righteous Restorationists. Their frustration was evident in tacit criticism by Mead, in laying the foundation stone of the Norwood Baptist church, of the use by the Disciples of the term "Christian" as a denominational title. His remarks were taken up and criticised in the Pioneer by Gore, who went on to question the Scriptural legitimacy of foundation stones! The debate, degenerating into a grudge match, continued in the pages of the Pioneer and Truth and Progress, finally narrowing into a discussion of the design of baptism. While it has to be admitted that it was the Disciples who would not leave the bone alone, and who were goading a reluctant Baptist editorship into print, the Baptists were not wholly without ulterior motivation. Studiously cultivating the reputation of being orthodox defenders of the faith, and anxious not to jeopardise their friendly relations with Congregationalists, and their membership in the Evangelical Alliance, they were at pains to point out that they were not associated with the more bigoted Churches of Christ, with whom they were often confused.
Relationships changed abruptly when Mead, in an 1874 editorial challenged the remarks of the Wesleyan Conference Chairman, the Rev. W. L. Binks, on infant baptism and infant membership. He was criticised for acting out of a
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jealous and unchristian spirit, and charged with proselytising. This softened Mead's attitude towards the Disciples, and with the death of Gore's 27-year old wife the following year, a new warmth crept into the relationship between the two men. In 1878, Mead invited Gore to address the South Australian Baptist Association. Obviously suiting his approach to his audience, and having been forced to consider criticism of the Disciples' position, Gore's address on believer's baptism, a protest against baptismal regeneration, came as near as he could conscientiously allow to the Baptist position. He stated that "when the believer in Christ comes to baptism he comes in mind, heart and will all changed through faith in Christ, and repentance towards God."
Speaking of the Disciple position he said: "We have no conception of any change in character wrought in the act of baptism, but this change must precede baptism, or else that baptism is of no value whatever." To the criticism that Disciples were baptismal regenerationists he replied that in baptism "the believer experiences a change of state but no change of character, and consequently the transitional character of baptism, in no sense being an inner change, is entirely separate from what is known as baptismal regeneration." Hence he who "comes to the waters of baptism, does not come there to seek a change of mind, heart, or will, but he comes to testify by his burial that this has taken place." Gore's presentation was ingenious.
Relations with other bodies in Tasmania were strained from the beginning when Carr's preaching, which was objected to by a Calvinistic minority, wrecked the strife-ridden Harrington Street Baptist church in Hobart. When the Disciples shifted to new premises in 1872, invited clergy were conspicuous by their absence. Shortly afterwards Carr was summoned to appear before a meeting of Quaker, Wesleyan, Independent, Baptist and Primitive Methodist leaders. Needless to say, he declined the invitation!
Little is known of the relations between Disciples and other Christian bodies in New South Wales. Relationships with individual Baptists were cordial. One individual gave £50 towards Newton's Building and Land Fund. Good relationships could well have resulted from the fact that few Baptists were won to the ranks of the Disciples, the only other information available on Disciple relationships was M. W. Green's comment in 1869 that "we are not without a little opposition, as a would-be Pope of the Presbyterian church only the other day prohibited, on pain of his displeasure, one of his members from going to hear the preacher in the Christian chapel."
The scant evidence results from lack of success, and hence conflict and publicity. Evangelistic failure was largely due to contention within Newtown and between Newtown and Sydney congregations. The attitude of the Sydney congregation during this period was ambivalent.
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Weakened by Christadelphian infiltration, it found itself dependent upon Newtown, against whom it wanted to assert its equal and independent status. Indicative of the tension was the fact that, at the time of Green's arrival in 1867, both churches, who had co-operated to bring him to Australia, were at loggerheads over who had power to dismiss him. A further factor inhibiting progress was the continuation and deepening of narrowly conservative British traditions under Green, a protégé of King, and S. H. Coles, whose authority in Victoria had been usurped by American evangelists. Despite occasional visits to New South Wales by Earl and Carr, Sydney churches were denied the assistance of American evangelists until the arrival of J. J. Haley in 1874. And he left less than two years later.
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As the colonies developed towards nationhood, Australians sought securer economic roots. Some were attracted to the great mining camps. On the land, and particularly in well watered areas, selectors gained at the expense of pastoralists. Irrigation opened up new areas for settlement and cattlemen moved into Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Also noticeable was a change in the social composition of the outback. Male predominance was lessened by an increase in women and children. However, despite an increase in the population of the inland areas, by 1891 three-quarters of the population lived in cities and towns. The years leading up to the late 1880's were boom years when land speculation was rife, particularly among Victorian parliamentarians. Melbourne mushroomed, decking herself in the newest and often gaudiest architecture. Partly due to economic over-extension, and partly to external factors, the bubble burst in the early 1890's. Speculators, pastoralists and selectors, who, to outwit each other, had borrowed heavily, and the banks who had unwisely financed them, were caught out. Unemployment, always high in winter, was widespread. While the depression frustrated the development of an emerging unionism, it did assist the growth of the Labor Party, which, early in the first decade of the new century, emerged as the first of a number of new cohesive political parties, laying a pattern for others to follow.
It was during the period 1875-1910 that Australia began developing its own defence potential. The period was also notable for its social legislation, the introduction of taxation on land and incomes, and Government intervention in the settlement of industrial disputes.
Finally, it was during these years, that Australians wrestled with the tension between allegiance with Britain and the desire for a separate identity. The latter found expression in the Bulletin. While it took many years to mute State loyalties, sufficient to build an Australian consciousness, the determination of the young nation to take its destiny into its own hands was evident in the federation of the colonies in 1901. During these same years Churches of Christ developed both organisationally and numerically.
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The first attempts of the Victorian churches to organise colonial Conferences were aborted in 1868 by the failure of the British and American elements to reach a compromise. Conferences were not resumed until April, 1873, when it was agreed that effective evangelism required periodic consultation and continuing co-operation. It was not, however, until November of that year that the basic question of the mutual relationship of the churches was settled. At a special meeting held on the 9th to discuss the issue it was "specifically declared that no decisions of Conference are, or shall be, regarded as binding upon the associated or individual churches to whom they may be referred, apart from the concurrence of the said churches therein." Agreeing on the need for co-operation, the Victorian churches continued to guard their autonomy. This was evident in their opposition to two suggested developments. To meet the problem of individuals who had been disciplined by one congregation being accepted into another without investigation, the Executive of the Victorian Conference recommended to the Easter Conference of 1882 "on Scriptural grounds, that all the congregations in a city or centre of population be consolidated into one organisation under united eldership or independent episcopacy." Because of an almost total lack of enthusiasm, the matter dragged on until the 1884 Conference when it was dropped. The attempt to form a building committee at the 1896 Conference encountered similar opposition. Voicing the general opinion, D. A. Ewers, Editor of the Christian Pioneer, emphasised the dangers of a Conference trusteeship. He argued that "trustees of church property are apt to assume, with the best of motives it may be, a kind of ecclesiastical lordship and dictatorship which may partly, if not wholly, destroy the church's liberty."
The interests of co-operative evangelisms were also responsible for developing an embryonic Conference structure involving twelve South Australian churches in 1875. However, the attempt to inaugurate a broader based Evangelistic Union in 1883 almost miscarried through the failure of a liberal element among the already co-operating churches and those taking the lead in the new venture to agree on the terms of entry drawn up by the latter. These excluded from the union any church or evangelist knowingly communing with the unimmersed. A settlement was reached after protracted negotiation. In deference to the more liberal element, the two Articles of Association were removed. In retrospect, it was recognised that the issue was not one of "open" as against "closed" communion, but whether or not a matter of opinion was to be raised to an essentiality.
In setting up their Conference organisation in 1885 the New South Wales churches hoped not only to "extend the interests" and "consolidate the influence" of the Movement, but also to "secure and preserve its purity." There were two reasons for the inclusion of this additional aim, which can be seen in
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retrospect to have contradicted their opposition to official creeds, theologies, and to ultra-congregational associations claiming the right to legislate for member churches. First, they were influenced by the British experience. Second, racked from the beginning by internal dissension, local congregations in New South Wales lay open to the assault of unorthodox dogma to a greater degree than sister congregations in Victoria and South Australia. However, while designed to pilot the churches to calm waters, the action of the New South Wales churches had the opposite effect of fostering contention by encouraging a minority to pressure Conference to legislate on matters of opinion.
Conferences were organised in Queensland in 1883, Tasmania 1894 and Western Australia 1898.
Since New Testament times, women, though often in the background, have solidly supported the ministry of the churches. It is significant that the first recorded united women's meeting held in Victoria in 1863, at the instigation of Mrs J. A. Davies, was for prayer. The first Women's Conference, also in Victoria, was held at Buninyong near Ballarat in 1884, in conjunction with the Ballarat and District Evangelistic Union. Annual Women's Conferences, organised to rally the support of the women for general Conference projects, and held in conjunction with Colonial and State Conferences, were inaugurated in Victoria in 1886, in New South Wales in 1894 and in South and Western Australia in 1906.
The Victorian Conferences of 1866, 1867, and 1868 had invited the participation of churches in the other colonies. With the aborting of this early experiment, the question of inter-colonial co-operation was left in abeyance. However, in 1889, under the influence of federalist sentiment, the South Australian Conference raised the matter with the other colonies. The first Inter-colonial Conference, held in October of that year, was attended by 17 delegates from five colonies. A second Conference was organised in 1891. While these two earlier Conferences did little more than offer opportunity for Disciples from the various colonies to get together, the first Federal Conference in 1906 was concerned with establishing a Federal Bible College.
The importance Conferences were assuming in the missionary thrust of the churches in the early 1880's was pointed up by the fact that at the 1882 Victorian Conference, Frederick W. Troy, a Baptist won to the Churches of Christ position, requested Conference assistance in establishing the cause in Queensland. Although Victoria, because of its own lack, was unable to offer official help, Stephen Cheek, a Tasmanian school teacher recently united with the Disciples, privately volunteered his services. A brief but meteoric career, which saw four churches with an average membership of twenty established in seven months, was cut short when Cheek, caught in a
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downpour between Killarney and Warwick, died of typhoid fever in 1883. His place was taken at the invitation of the Queensland nucleus and the urgent request of the Victorian Conference by David Ewers.
Ewers was born at Enfield, S.A. in 1855, and baptised when 14 by H. S. Earl. For many years he successfully combined the business of wheelwright with a vigorous evangelistic ministry in South Australia and Victoria. He wrote a series of articles for the Australian Christian Witness under the title "Chips from a Wheelwright's Forge" and another for Cheek's Christian Pioneer, "Sparks from the Forge." When J. H. Johnston heard of Cheek's death he wired to Troy, "Send for Sparks."
While the Queensland nucleus were assisted by the Victorian Conference, local men took the lead. By contrast, the development of the Movement in Western Australia resulted from Conference initiative. The matter, discussed at the South Australian Conference of 1888, was referred to the Intercolonial Conference the following year, when the project was approved and a committee formed to raise funds and secure an evangelist. T. H. Bates, an Australian who had trained in America and who was at the time ministering in South Australia, was appointed to pioneer the work. Arriving in Perth on October 21, 1890, Bates was met by Henry Wright, one of a number of Disciples who, migrating from the Eastern States following the discovery of gold in the Kimberleys in 1885, were to form the nucleus of the Perth church. The progress of the Western Australian mission was retarded by discord within the City church resulting from debate on the question of whether the unimmersed should be admitted to communion and whether money offered by them for the church's ministry should be accepted. The church split into two, but re-united in September, 1894.
Churches were established in Fremantle in 1892, in Coolgardie in 1894, Kalgoorlie in 1898 and Subiaco the same year. At the time of the 1899 Conference in Western Australia the membership of the churches was 481.
Conference structures were set up to enable the churches to do together what they could not do separately. In the years up to 1910 this confidence was seen to be justified as they saw the establishment of a Federal Overseas Missions work, publishing house, periodical, and Bible College. At the State level work amongst youth and in the area of social welfare was also promoted.
There were within Churches of Christ in the last decades of the nineteenth century a number strongly opposed to the development of foreign mission work. The reasons offered were that the unsaved at home were the first priority, that it would cripple home mission work which showed higher
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dividends, and that Australia could ill spare devoted workers. This, however, was a minority opinion. When G. L. Wharton, pioneer missionary with the American Disciples, visited Victoria in 1889, the Inter-colonial Conference of that year expressed its "full sympathy with foreign missions" and noted "with pleasure the liberal response of the colonies" to Wharton's pleas for financial assistance. At the same time it endorsed his appeal for a male worker to function under the American Board at Harda.
When this challenge went unheeded, an appeal through the May 1 issue of the Pioneer for a woman volunteer resulted in the appointment of Miss Mary Thompson. Born in Shepparton in Victoria in 1860 and brought up in the Congregational church, Miss Thompson was baptised in 1884 by M. Wood Green. Leaving for India in 1891, Mary remained there until 1834, dearly loved by the Indians among whom she worked. She was joined in 1898 by a Queensland couple, Mr and Mrs F. E. Stubbins. The first distinctly Australian foreign mission station was established at Baramati, a town of some 5,000 inhabitants in the Poona area, in 1906. It was pioneered by Mr and Mrs H. Strutton, former members at Hindmarsh, S.A. who had been working with the Poona and Indian Village Missions since 1895. The first converts were baptised in October, 1906. The Struttons were joined before 1910 by Stephen Ludbrook and Nurse E. Terrell.
Once awakened, missionary enthusiasm developed considerable momentum. In 1901 the Australian churches undertook support of P. A. Davey, a Victorian educated in America, who had been sent by the American Society to Tokyo in 1889. In 1901 a South Australian, Miss Rosa Tonkin, went to China to work with the American Society which had commenced a mission at Shanghai in 1890. Interest in South Africa was generated by John Sherriff, a New Zealander who had migrated to Victoria and come into membership with the church at North Fitzroy. While the Australian churches helped finance Sherriff, a stone mason, the work he pioneered at Bulawayo from 1897 was eventually taken over by the New Zealand churches. Finally, mission work in the New Hebrides was initiated largely through the efforts of Kanakas returning home from the sugar plantations in northern Queensland, where they had been won to Christ. Led by Tabymancon, who was fired with a burning passion to share Christ with fellow Pentecost islanders, the New Hebridean Christians, unable to cope wholly on their own, erected a school-house and asked John Thompson, who had worked with them in Queensland, to lend assistance. He arrived in 1903, but malaria forced him home after several months. However, during this short stay 58 people were baptised and 500 enrolled at schools in Ranwadi, Naroowa and Lalbeck. Undaunted, the New Hebrideans under Tabymancon took up the slack. Confident of the arrival of missionaries, they built a residence and chapel, in which they installed a baptistry. Their faith, tested by delay, was finally rewarded with the arrival of Frank Filmer in March, 1908.
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Within a few months 116 had been baptised and a church of 300 established. The number of scholars in the schools rose a further 200.
One of the most respected names in Churches of Christ history is that of Aaron Burr Maston. Born in 1853 in Coshocton County, Ohio, U.S.A. he was recruited in 1880 by O. A. Carr for a New Zealand ministry. After spending some time in Wellington, Maston moved to Hobart, and thence to Hotham or North Melbourne as it is now known. Before leaving America, Carr had advised him to "use the Press." Maston, however, needed little encouragement to pursue an early interest in publishing and journalism. His first venture was the production and publication of Restoration tracts. The two major projects, into which he threw himself with characteristic vision and enthusiasm, were the establishing of a brotherhood publishing house and the production of a federal journal. Maston's achievement was all the more remarkable in view of the painful eye cancer from which he suffered and finally died in 1907.
By February, 1891, Maston had drummed up sufficient enthusiasm to call a preliminary meeting of interested individuals. At a second meeting in May a decision was taken to float the Austral Printing and Publishing Company. Following discussion on the matter at the second Inter-colonial Conference in Sydney in October, a start was made the following month with a subscribed stock of 941 £1 shares.
The Federal periodical, which he developed, was the crowning achievement of a vigorous journalistic tradition among Churches of Christ. The Australian Christian Pioneer, edited by Gore, had been followed by a series of individual ventures. These were the Australian Christian Advocate, Australian Christian Witness edited by Fred Illingworth, and J. J. Haley's Australian Christian Watchman, which, when merged with the Witness was renamed in 1884 the Australian Christian Standard. Also included were Truth in Love and the Christian Pioneer, two papers edited by Stephen Cheek. By the mid 1830's the field was left largely to two periodicals, the Australian Christian Standard, a Victorian journal edited by F. G. Dunn, and the Christian Pioneer, re-issued after Cheek's death by D. A. Ewers and representing the South Australian viewpoint. Maston persuaded both men to join him in a new federal journal, first published in 1898 and named the Australian Christian.
Despite Earl's failure to raise sufficient funds for the establishment of a South Australian Bible College during his 1870 tour of America, enthusiasm for the scheme persisted. In the hope of soliciting the support of Victorian churches, the latter were appraised at their 1885 Annual Conference of the Australia-wide scope of the project. While some were opposed to the venture, which they saw as "a parson manufactory," the majority were enthusiastic. However, when the question of location was discussed, the South Australians were unwilling to forfeit their choice of Adelaide in return, for
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greater inter-colonial support. In 1887, Matthew Wood Green left Australia for Britain and America to solicit further gifts. From America the sum of £3,700 was raised, together with a promise by the Foreign Christian Missionary Society of £700 for five years after the College was opened. £93 was raised from Great Britain. However, while lectures commenced in 1888 under T. J. Gore, classes were suspended after 2½ years because of the "disinclination of the other colonies to co-operate by raising funds."
In Victoria, the earlier efforts of Surber and Carr were followed up when the Swanston Street church, to provide training for their young men, organised classes under J. K. Henshelwood as Principal early in 1888. Known later as the Victorian Bible Institute, the classes came under the successive direction of the Missionary and Education Committees. In 1896, however, Henshelwood lost the "confidence and support of the churches," and the venture collapsed.
At the turn of the century two training classes were being conducted in Victoria, one under J. Pittman at Prahran and the other organised by W. C. Morro, B.A. at Lygon Street. Morro was succeeded by James Johnston, M.A. Johnston, who had worked for a time in the Phoenix Foundry at Ballarat, had trained for the ministry in America. Under his Principalship the Australian College of the Bible, an evening school, was established. In 1903 the College affiliated with the Texas Christian University.
This College, while an improvement on previous ventures, was not equipped to furnish the Restoration Movement with a well-trained ministry. The establishment of a substantial institution became imperative. What stirred the churches to organise such a College was the fact that the majority of Australians who made their way to America for training in ministry did not return.
It was at the Federal Conference of 1906 that definite plans were worked out. The inaugural session of the College was held in February, 1907. While Johnston, who was enrolled at Ormond College for further study, wished to lead the venture, he did not have the confidence of the Conference, who let it be known that they did not recognise his American degrees. The choice fell instead on the "grand old man" of South Australia, T. J. Gore, M.A. When Gore declined because of age, Johnston and H. G. Harward, a respected and polished evangelist, were appointed associate teachers. Half-way through the year Harward was appointed Principal.
The year commenced with 15 day and 18 evening students. Lectures were held initially in the Lygon Street chapel. After a shift in 1907 to a house in Rathdown Street, Carlton, where the College remained for almost two years, classes returned in 1909 to Lygon Street. A site at Glen Iris was purchased that year and staff and students moved into the new premises at the beginning of 1910.
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During the period 1870-1910, Sunday School and Christian Endeavour Unions were formed to co-ordinate the youth activity of local churches. These Unions furnished the groundwork on which State Youth Departments were later built.
In Victoria concern for the wayward led to the establishment of a Rescue Home for girls, opened in 1890. This was a private venture by Joseph Pittman. Pittman, born in London in 1842 and converted at 18, had worked for a number of years with the London City Mission. Baptised after nine years as a City Missioner, Pittman was engaged by the Home Mission committee of the British Churches of Christ in London before being invited to Prahran. In opening the Armadale Rescue Home he was confident of the support of fellow-Disciples and was not disappointed. Another social institution founded before the close of the century was the Burwood Boys' Home, the brain-child of R. Campbell Edwards. A business man, Campbell Edwards was keen to follow the lead of Dr. Barnardo in London.
However, while both institutions were evidence of an emerging social consciousness among Churches of Christ, the State Social Service Committees that later developed traced their origins not so much to these expressions of benevolence, as to the Temperance Committees that developed late in the nineteenth century. As in the case of Sunday School and Christian Endeavour Unions, Victoria pioneered the way, with the first Committee being elected at the 1895 Conference.
The Depression of the 1890's retarded evangelistic effort during the remainder of the century. However, while the Movement continued to languish in Queensland and Tasmania, the first decade of the twentieth century showed rapid growth in other States. The New South Wales figure in 1897 was 1,214. By 1907 it was 3,293. The South Australian statistic rose from 2,664 to 4,486, the Victorian from 5,173 to 7,441. From a membership of 60 in 1894 the Western Australian figure lifted to 1,282 by 1904. The 1911 Commonwealth Census listed Churches of Christ as having 38,748 adherents.
The growth of the churches early in the twentieth century was due to the work of outstanding preachers like G. T. Walden at Enmore, itinerant evangelists of the calibre of H. J. Banks in Western Australia, the establishment of State Home Mission Committees and the appointment of special evangelists, such as Thomas Hagger in Western Australia.
A significant feature of the evangelism of the period, and one which many would claim to be the principal reason for the growth of the Movement was the development of the tent mission. This was pioneered by the evangelist H. G. Harward, with E. W. Pittman as singing evangelist.
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Harward was born in 1868 in Bendigo, Vic. where his father was a prominent sharebroker. After working for a time for a local newspaper and as a telephone operator, he was won to Christ following a brief association with the Church of Christ in Collingwood. Harward went to America to train for the ministry. There he won numerous prizes for his preaching ability. A highly polished preacher, he set a fine example for others.
Conference organisation, the establishment of federal agencies, and, in the first decade of the twentieth century, the rapid growth of the Movement, developed, within Churches of Christ, an awareness of themselves as a separate and not inconsiderable body. Pride in their early beginnings began to be evident in the early 1880's, when the first of a number of histories was written. In 1881 they made much of the fact that the then President of the United States, James A. Garfield, was an American Disciple. Maston in the Victorian Conference essay of 1886 pointed to the fact that the Disciples had grown to be a "great people." Looking back in April, 1890, T. J. Gore addressed the youth of the churches, reminding them of the Movement's glorious past. In 1899, Fred Illingworth, disguising his own pride behind a mild rebuke, chided fellow Disciples with boasting of their figures and comparing themselves with others. The Victorian Conference of 1901 ventured into the Melbourne Town Hall for its Demonstration Rally and, flushed with success, proudly announced, "Now we can do it." Pride in the Movement reached a new high in 1903 with the publication of Maston's Jubilee History of Churches of Christ in Australasia. A sumptuous volume containing an abundance of photographs, it ran to 424 pages, measuring 24 inches x 12 inches.
By the turn of the century it was obvious that the membership of Churches of Christ was altering in several ways.
First, there was an erosion of older attitudes and practices. This resulted from the fact that a sizeable and increasing percentage of those associated with the Movement were either second-generation Disciples or else converts from other Christian bodies. To counter this influence, weathered veterans like Gore emphasised the need to familiarise the youth with the Movement's past, while Ferdinand Pittman, at the Victorian Conference of 1895, urged the continued stressing of first principles.
The presence in the Movement of many from different backgrounds increased anonymity and led to the lowering of standards and the disuse of disciplinary procedures. The Victorian Conference of 1881 appointed a Committee to look into this. It was largely ineffective. At the 1896 Victorian
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Conference, the chairman of the Temperance committee lamented the fact that a member fined £25 for selling wine without a licence was not disciplined by his church.
Absenteeism was an additional problem, particularly after the turn of the century, when growth became rapid. In 1907, D. A. Ewers suggested that prospective converts should be more carefully scrutinised. The problem was considered serious enough for the Victorian Conference to set up a Church Losses Committee, which reported to the 1908 Conference.
Second, the social level of members was gradually rising. At the turn of the century the bulk of the membership, skilled tradesmen, shopkeepers, small farmers and clerks, was upper working to lower middle-class. Though they distinguished themselves from the masses and hoped that the influence of the gospel would effect a reconciliation between management and labour, their sympathy was with the workers, a factor deriving as much from class association as their Christian compassion. This sympathy was most evident in their attitude to socialism. Though there were stray voices raised hesitantly pointing out that London's socialists could well represent the shadow of the Lawless One, most were content to draw a distinction between atheistic and Christian socialism. They cheered labour victories, particularly when they were won without the bitterness of suffering or extended strikes. As the new century wore on, however, the distinction was more sharply drawn between the two varieties of socialism.
Tom Mann's materialistic gospel, with its anti-patriotic parodying of Christian doctrine and organisation, came under strong attack. It was pointed out that, while social reform was important, society could only be effectively reformed through the regeneration of individuals. However, this emphasis on personal transformation did not mean a drying up of sympathy for the disadvantaged. In a surprisingly well informed article in the July 17, 1909 Christian, Chas. Watt, outlining the history of socialism from St. Simon, Fourier and Owen to contemporary theorists, argued that the churches had the best and highest interest of the masses at heart. He insisted that every Christian should be a socialist. Rejecting the "iniquitous millionaire-making system," he must, like the Master, demand equitable dealing. While faith in Christ is absolutely essential to the moral progress of mankind, the world has benefited from socialist agitation. Its central weakness, however, was that it did not take into account the depravity of the human heart.
While most members remained upper working/lower middle-class, a small but increasing number were comfortably off, and some even wealthy. This group furnished the Movement with competent lay leadership.
The upward social mobility of the Movement was also evident in other developments. Ashamed of their shabby back street buildings and arguing that what was needed was a little sanctified common sense, they began
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building structures on prominent sites. They took similar pride in members in public life. State and Federal parliamentarians, especially those in ministerial office, were written up. Much was made of individuals like Dr. Joseph Verco, a prominent Adelaide surgeon and naturalist. Even New South Wales had its "Bishop, Joseph Kingsbury, M. D." When David Lloyd George became Chancellor of the British Exchequer in 1909 they were quick to point out that he had been nurtured in the Cricceith Church of Christ in Wales. Such figures helped to give the Movement prestige. A slight socio-economic shift was also evident in Dunn's comment that what Churches of Christ needed was "a revival of simplistic puritanism." The fact that card games began to be questioned, indicating that some shared in them, was further proof that a social ascent was in progress. Finally, pointing up a changed situation as well as a rise in social status, the older attitude which refused money from the world, weakened. The change was blamed on the Sunday Schools.
Additional evidence of the rise in status of the membership was the growing recognition of the need for involvement in social and political issues. As early as 1890 it was argued that the principles of Christianity "must be brought to bear upon the social questions requiring adjustment." In 1906 it was pointed out that when a moral issue was involved the Church should involve itself in politics. Evasion of responsibility encouraged vice.
The severe depression of the 1890's that threw many members out of work and left few churches able to pay their ministers, drew forth numerous analyses and suggestions. A correspondent in the 1895 Christian Standard argued that, while jobs and money were both available, unemployment resulted from a lack of faith on the part of capitalists who considered that there were few remunerative projects. Ewers, editing the Pioneer, suggested that unalienated lands should be made available to the "deserving poor," who could be assisted by Government subsidy and the contribution of the wealthy. Sobered by the depression, Dunn in 1901 argued that the Church, by giving more attention to preaching and practising the Sermon on the Mount, should give the needed impetus to economic reform. Ferdinand Pittman, writing three years later, contended that the causes of unemployment must be removed. As agriculture, which could absorb the excess labour, was the foundation of the economy, legislation should ensure that in the future it was not concentrated in the hands of those who did little to improve it. It would also be necessary to remove the spirit of self-interest in both the capitalist and labour camps and replace it by Christian love. Practically, the depression resulted in the formation in 1893 of the Victorian Unemployed Relief Committee, with headquarters in the Swanston Street church. From here deserving cases in the city of Melbourne received assistance. In the South Australian Parliament, E. L. Bachelor, a United Labor Party representative and a member at Grote Street, called for a State Unemployment Bureau.
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With the world no longer regarded as completely enemy territory, recognition that the Church was called to alleviate hardship, dispel prejudice, and remove inequality, led the Movement, towards the turn of the century, to set up Chinese Missions in capital cities and to develop a work amongst Queensland Kanakas.
The discovery of gold in the 1850's resulted in an influx of Chinese. By 1859 there were 40,000 in Victoria and by 1861, 10,000 in New South Wales. The Chinese developed integrated communities and their camps, comprising stores, joss houses, fan tan rooms and brothels, were familiar sights. The Chinese worked low-yield areas, relinquished claims, and later as coolies in Central Australia. But their presence, particularly in the 1850's and 1860's led to frequent riots. Tempers later cooled, though there were 15,000 Chinese in 1879 in the Territory, where they outnumbered Europeans seven to one. By then relationships had improved. However, with employment opportunities reduced by the Depression of the 1890's, white Australian workers vigorously resisted pressure to import further cheap Asian labour. The White Australia Policy was the result.
By the 1890's many Chinese had drifted to the cities. By this time Churches of Christ awoke to the practical, mental and spiritual needs of these people. Chinese Missions were opened in Melbourne in 1893, in Sydney 1899, Adelaide 1900, and Perth 1906. While there was an element of self-interest in their motivation--they pointed out that "the missionaries in China would find that their lives and property were more secure and their work more fruitful because of the work done in the upper room in Lygon Street,"--there existed a genuine evangelistic and social concern for these "intelligent and appreciative people." They little realised, however, that in raising the Chinese to literacy they were furnishing them with the means of eloquent protest against the white Christians' tacit endorsement of the White Australia Policy--labelled the product of the "selfish jingoism, of the Trades Hall." Samuel Wong, writing in the 1904 Christian, asked how religious bodies could remain silent about a law that was opposed to the teaching of the Master, and how Christian legislators could preach Christ's love to all races from the pulpit and in Parliament proclaim "the whites superiority, condemning the blacks and provoking the yellow race, and terming them an inferior people."
The Queensland outback was pioneered by large land owners and squatters during the 1860's and 1870's. Short of labour they turned to the Government for help. However, when it was realised that the latter's attempt to introduce coolies from India was achieving little, they turned their attention to Robert Towns, who had begun a brisk trade in South Sea Islanders, to be used on sugar plantations. Two thousand Islanders were indentured in the next few years. Regarded as racially inferior, they were treated with
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callousness, even brutality. Under pressure from working men and Chinese, an Act was passed in 1868 to regulate conditions on ships, to ensure minimal payment of £6 a year, and to make certain that those who fulfilled contracts were returned to their Island homes. After several attempts to outlaw the trade, Federal Parliament ruled that no more Kanakas would be imported after 1904, and that all Pacific Islanders would be sent home from Australia by 1906.
Miss Young commenced mission work among the Kanakas in 1886, working for their mental, physical and spiritual uplift. This mission was later taken over by John Thompson. Thompson, formerly a Roman Catholic, forsook this faith at the age of 13, and later joined the Church of Christ, Sydney, then meeting in the Christian Chapel in Elizabeth Street. His father died when he was 15, and he left for Queensland. He eventually settled in the sugar cane country about the Burnett River. He was working at a saw bench in Bundaberg when he met a Mr Johnston who was in association with Miss Young. In the first year he spent with the Kanakas, 40 were won to Christ, despite suspicion resulting from the way they were brutally treated by other whites. Between 1886 and 1895 nearly 1,000 Kanakas had become Christians. In the early 1890's his work came to the attention of Colonial Conferences and he was given financial assistance. In 1893, with the encouragement of the Federal Missionary Committee, he commenced a further centre.
The history of the relationship between whites and Aborigines from the earliest times makes embarrassing reading. However, by the 1890's, although there was a stirring of conscience and concern, little was attempted to improve their lot. While nothing was organised at an official level by Churches of Christ, sympathy was growing. This was evident in A. T. Magarey's indictment in 1902 of Australians for their treatment of the indigene, whom he considered would soon be extinct.
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The upward social mobility of its membership, and the fact that the movement was anxious to relate to and be accepted by the wider community, fostered theological debate through the period 1875-1910. The conflict between forces of conservatism and those pressing for acceptance of more liberal attitudes, favoured the latter.
A significant factor in the development towards a greater openness was the strength of the Victorian and South Australian churches as against the more conservative New South Wales membership. Had the Cause been flourishing in the mother colony the opposing forces would have been more evenly matched. As it was, the New South Wales churches continued to be weakened by factiousness and by an unhealthy predominance of the Newtown congregation, which, even as late as 1913, contributed one fifth of the State's membership.
In the interests of unity Thomas Campbell had urged Disciples to speak where the Scriptures spoke and to be silent where they were silent. However, the practical result of adherence to this was an animated and often acrimonious debate within the Movement. The reason was that it could not be known for certain whether Campbell had intended to rule out every doctrine and practice that was not explicitly laid down in the Bible. The pioneers interpreted the rule negatively. However, during the last decades of the nineteenth century, debate revealed the presence of a growing body of opinion keen to endorse a more positive interpretation.
There was continuous debate over the use of the organ in worship. The older members were against this unscriptural innovation, which some regarded as an element of sectarian apostacy. The younger members wanted to use the instrument, as they were anxious to raise the quality of the singing. Their parents had inadvertently raised the issue by buying pianos for enjoyment and culture in the home. Debated at Conference level in the last quarter of the
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century, it was agreed that the matter was beyond Conference's jurisdiction. The issue was left for individual churches to decide. Afraid of losing the youth, older members reluctantly tolerated the instrument which they later came to enjoy.
The introduction of Christian Endeavour Societies was also resisted. It was argued that the Society's organisation was not in line with New Testament precedent. The threat posed to the Church's authority structures by the multiplication of societies raised in the minds of some the spectre of ecclesiastical power. The Pledge was regarded as a creed, and it was pointed out that the requirements for membership, particularly associate membership, differed from those laid down for church membership, the lines of the latter being blurred. Despite this reaction, Christian Endeavour was, by the end of the first decade of the new century, firmly entrenched within Churches of Christ. Apologists pointed out that the Society was not a church, but merely a committee of it. Harnessing the enthusiasm of the youth who had previously been conspicuous by their absence, it was under the watchful eyes of the officers. Furthermore, the Pledge demanded no more than was generally expected of Christians. Reversal was complete by 1916 when the Society was being spoken of as "the greatest factor we have for the practical development of the spiritual life and service of our young people."
The Sunday School also came under fire. The cradle roll was criticised because a number felt that it compromised the Movement's stand on baptism. The finicky disliked the name "Sunday School," which it was felt could equally refer to a Free Thought school conducted on Sundays. Others were unhappy about accepting money from the children of non-members. However, Sunday Schools were well entrenched, even as early as the pioneering stage, and church parents, who wanted their own children to receive Christian tuition and saw the opportunity it offered for evangelism, were little moved by contrary arguments.
In their opposition to both Christian Endeavour Societies and Sunday Schools it was obvious that the forces of conservatism were drawing themselves up for a last ditch stand against the more liberal spirit that was becoming increasingly evident.
During the period 1875-1910 the traditional position of Churches of Christ on two major issues was undercut by the demands of the growing Movement. These related to their earlier opposition to creeds and a professional ministry.
The churches still argued that the Bible was its own interpreter and that the profession of Peter marked the limit of what could be demanded of prospective baptismal candidates by way of confession. But its theoretical
opposition to creeds was weakened by several factors.
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While the setting up of Conference structures was justified on the basis of their being non-legislative bodies, regulations governing affiliation constituted creedal statements. In debate with Unitarians, who argued that all truth evolved out of man's inner consciousness, Disciples were forced to acknowledge the need for creedal definition of Christian orthodoxy. In arguing against Free Thinkers, and in opposing the theology of the Reverend Charles Strong, of the Scots Church in Melbourne, they were goaded into outlining what they felt to be an acceptable theory of Biblical inspiration. The need to tutor second and third generation members and a growing "denominational" influx in the traditional Restoration position, led to the publication of several positive doctrinal statements. Gore was asked by the editor of the Pioneer to prepare studies on basic Biblical doctrine, which were published in 1893, and in 1900 the Austral published a similar series on First Principles under Maston's editorship. The 1887 draft of the proposed South Australian College stated that "no humanly devised theological system, nor any denominational creed or system may be taught." However, it included an interesting rider that read--"except as far as it may be necessary to refer to such creeds or systems to avoid them." This pointed the way to a greater familiarisation on the part of future leaders with denominational creeds, an awarenesss of the historic circumstances that brought them to birth, and an enlightened sensitivity that could no longer claim that Churches of Christ were in no way in bondage to a human creed. This sort of insight was beginning to emerge 16 years before the inauguration of the Federal College. Writing on "unwritten traditions" in the 1891 Pioneer, Ewers suggested to those who argued that Disciples did not revere the teaching of the pioneers that they try to change the format of the morning worship service. Even more revealing was the inclusion, along with the Petrine confession, of Ephesians 4:3-6 as a second Biblical statement regarded as essential to the presentation of the position of Churches of Christ. It was this latter, with the emphasis on "one baptism" (which Churches of Christ took to represent the immersion of repentant believers), which others saw as their central and distinguishing belief. Finally, the setting up of a College to train Restoration ministers, whom it was anticipated would thoroughly endorse Disciple attitudes and doctrines, institutionalised the denied but obvious--to others creedal position. This effectively robbed the Movement's anti-creedal rhetoric of what remained of its credibility.
If there was no general and frank admission of the Movement's creedal basis, there was at least an admission of the legitimacy and importance of doctrinal statement. Even as late as the American era theology was a dirty word. In a series of articles in the Australian Christian Pioneer of 1868-1869, O. A. Carr drew a distinction between Christianity and Theology. Christianity comprised divinely-given facts. Theology consisted of a "combination of theories or doctrines presenting the thought of uninspired men about what
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God has taught by his Spirit." Anticipating the retort that Christ taught doctrine, he went on, "We do not claim that the words of Christ and his apostles when taken together do not form a theory: but we do claim that their words and the words of the various forms of theology widely differ." The dangers of theology were that it was "one step removed from that which is stated in the Bible" and "beyond the reach of the masses and inexplicable even to the Doctors of Divinity themselves." Men do not need theology to be saved; in fact in confusing them it could damn them. Finally, theology divided rather than united Christians, "for no-one can conform to the teachings of the various parties round us without materially differing from every other party."
A significant shift of importance was evident in an article written by F. G. Dunn in 1905 in which he argued that while he held no brief "for the defence of a theology found in creeds and confessions of faith, the New Testament does give us a theology that cannot be ignored or neglected."
The second theological shift was in the area of ministry. There was open admission of the need for a full-time separated ministry, and considerable sympathy for those called to it. As early as 1886 Dunn argued that "the man who gives himself entirely to the work of the lord commands, and has, our respect and sympathy. But he must be a man among men." However, while admitting to his legitimacy, they were confused over his role. The churches were no longer happy to regard him purely as an itinerant, and yet were not ready to accept him as a full elder on a par with those elders giving leadership in the stronger churches. His ambiguous midway position was well epitomised in M. Wood Green's statement in the 1900 Christian that though the evangelist was the pro tem elder of churches he had brought into existence, until they were set in order, he was, in the case of established causes, neither the minister nor wholly an itinerant.
This change of attitude towards the evangelist was evident in a number of developments. While the pioneers avoided referring to him as the minister--others participating in mutual edification also ministered--by 1900 this reluctance had broken down. In the early days evangelists were expected to support themselves, with minimal assistance. By the turn of the century, awareness of the value of long and settled ministries forced the churches to practical recognition of the fact that the workman was worthy of his hire. Although there were loud, if stray, voices raised in New South Wales objecting to the payment of preachers, the majority of the larger churches offered at least sufficient remuneration to enable the evangelist to eke out a meagre existence. In the early years the system of calling men to the ministry was haphazard. In the last decade of the nineteenth century D. A. Ewers took upon himself responsibility for organising changes through the Pioneer by Publishing notices from churches advertising vacancies and making mention of men who were relinquishing responsibilities and would shortly be available. In the 1896 Pioneer he published a list of "full-time" evangelists,
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which, heartily welcomed, further indicated an emerging "clergy." In 1893 a newly-established Melbourne Preachers' Meeting was diagnosed as a thin edge of ecclesiasticism. The possession of a marriage licence was a further badge of an evangelist's growing status.
The clearest evidence of the enhancement of the preacher's role, however, was the noise made by those opposed to the development. One of the loudest was A. B. Maston, who, though an American, had been won over to the British position. The strength of an opposition prepared to fight to the end was also evident in the debate in Perth between the more liberal American educated T. H. Bates, the pioneer evangelist, and Fred Illingworth, an enterprising layman of the old school, and politician, who later became Colonial Secretary and Treasurer. The strength of Illingworth's position, which split the Perth church, can be gauged in his comment that "elders are not servants, they are rulers." That he, like the pioneers, expected obedience, confusing his own will with the divine, is obvious from such statements as, "The Church is not a democracy, it is a theocracy. Woe betide the man or church who attempts to interfere with divine prerogatives." The heavyweight bout, however, was between J. J. Haley, who had returned to America and was offering comment about Australia, and F. G. Dunn. In this skirmish the Pioneer's sympathy with Haley drew upon Ewers the merchant-editor's fire.
Haley, mentioning that he found Melbourne little better than Sydney, was provocatively outspoken. He said that the British practice of mutual edification fostered individuality and self-assertion to an enormous extent. He went on to argue that it resulted in the setting up of a "reign of ignorance" and was a "crucifixion of culture." It was boring and butchering, it developed conceit, petty ambition and paltry jealousies, and was a brake on evangelistic effort. Outsiders despised and intellectual members endured it.
Numerous factors were responsible for this new attitude towards the evangelist. The churches in the early 1860's desperately needed evangelists. The advent and success of the Americans introduced changes that congregations, in their enthusiasm, did not take time to appraise seriously. Perhaps the subtleties of the situation could only be discerned in retrospect. In any case, in the freer environment of the Australian continent, where men readily adapted to new circumstances and made do with expedients, colonials were more pragmatic than their relations in the home country. This was evident in the comment by Ewers, at the turn of the century, that there was value in long ministries. Though contemporaries were unaware of what was happening, the locating of men for extended periods in larger churches forced upon them a pastoral function. Furthermore, as churches were free to call their own ministers, the office was open to charlatans. To remedy the situation Ewers suggested that churches consult
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the missionary committee of their colony, which could check out the prospective incumbent. This was a further stage on the way to the establishment of an officially accredited specialised ministry. The attitudes of converts from other churches has also to be taken into account. A further point, underlined by Maston was that Australian students returning from American Restoration seminaries were carriers of the "one-man" disease. This was undoubtedly one reason for his strong advocacy of an Australian College. Finally, while it was argued that the Australian institution would not be a "parson manufactory," as "students would be taught to regard with disfavour anything like ecclesiastical assumptions," the existence of the College brought into the open the latent clergy-laity distinction.
However, while these developments were important, the determinative factor in the evolution of the new style of ministry was the failure of the old system. The eldership, which was supposed to be the authority base within local congregations, had in most instances not materialised. In the hope of retrieving the situation, opponents of the "one-man" system at the turn of the century were trying desperately to drum the eldership into existence. Furthermore, untrained laymen, functioning as evangelists, found their position untenable. They had insufficient time to prepare sermons or visit. They were pressured by the growing conviction that the capable should devote their whole time to the ministry. They were criticised for their poor presentation and "mixed metaphors" by a membership increasing in cultural literacy. Finally, by the turn of the century, the practice of mutual ministry was breaking down. As early as 1880 it was admitted that there were few places where it was successful. Two years later it was pointed out that it was hastening the development of the "one-man" system. The fact that G. B. Moysey, in reviewing the Australian Movement in 1909, needed to explain the practice, was evidence that, in its original form it was failing into disuse. It was eventually replaced by the "plan system"--the rostering of morning speakers.
While dissident opinion, particularly under Dunn's editorship, was kept under control, the fearlessness of a number of writers in expressing convictions they knew to be at variance with accepted opinion revealed that the movement was growing in self-insight. One of the earliest and most perceptive comments was a remark made by Haley in 1876 that the Movement was advocating union in the spirit of disunion, that it fancied itself the champion of primitive Christianity while it had, in effect, restored primitive Pharisaism, and that it was in danger of formulating a creed, with a sectarianism that would not allow for variance of opinion.
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During the 1890's several others made perceptive comments. Milner Black pointed out that the Movement had not always handled the Scriptures intelligently. Isaac Selby warned Disciples that an unwritten creed was just as destructive as a written one. Finally, Ewers pointed out that while Churches of Christ were technically correct, they lacked the essential New Testament spirit.
During the first decade of the twentieth century, when numbers grew significantly, further self-criticism found its way into print. Ewers spoke of the Movement having a limited view of the truth, and of the practice of magnifying Disciple enterprise and neglecting the work of others. H. G. Harward suggested that it was about time Disciples practised the unity they preached.
W. C. Morro, of Lygon Street, agreed with him, and pointed out that because others had not welcomed Disciples, they had retreated behind a Chinese wall, built around themselves. In 1904 Wren J. Grinstead outlined the reason why others did not look to the Disciples to lead them into unity. He pointed out that they were regarded as one of the narrowest of sects, lacked a well trained scholarly ministry, and were averse to instrumental music. Their chapels were plain and their pews hard. They avoided the usual style of evangelism.
The movement was not prepared for this style of outspokenness, and those venturing into print were frequently taken to task. Disciples were not yet prepared for sustained self-evaluation.
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A New Openness
During the period 1875-1910 Churches of Christ became more accepting of other Christian communions. There were two sets of factors responsible for this. The first, already mentioned, were such internal changes as the development of Conference organisations, denominational structures, and upward social mobility, theological debate, and modification of traditional attitudes and practices. The second were a series of external factors.
First, Churches of Christ were influenced by other Christian bodies. Contact through debate brought knowledge and respect. Keen for acceptance, and anxious to prove their orthodoxy, they made every effort to dovetail their doctrines into accepted theologies, or at least to set them up with an equal sophistication alongside those sanctioned as orthodox. Even more important was the fact that they began working alongside others in the British and Foreign Bible Society and in Christian Endeavour. The joint use of International Sunday School Lessons also played its part They were impressed with the new spirit of union evident in Anglican and Presbyterian initiatives, and took special notice of the internal unifying of the Presbyterian and Methodist communions and their later federation. While they argued that major differences were glossed over rather than honestly faced, and that their immediate contact with others could result in their conforming to the sectarian denominational pattern, they were willing to admit that the long-term results of the new ecumenical spirit might well result in the Churches regaining their original unity.
Second, Churches of Christ found themselves drawn to the theologically conservative of other churches by being locked with them in battle against atheistic evolutionalists, higher critics, and popularisers of the New Theology.
In reacting to the changed academic climate of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, the mainline churches each fared differently. The isolation of Roman Catholics from liberal and Protestant influences, particularly in the early phases of the Darwinian revolution, the Biblical conservatism of the Baptists.
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and the fact that the appeal of Methodism was more to the heart than the head, kept these three Churches from the centre of the conflict. Anglicans were fortunate to have James Moorehouse as their Melbourne Archbishop. His sympathetic and competent handling of the issues reassured them that they had little to fear from the new developments. Congregationalists did not fare nearly so well. Their attempted restructure of Christian belief on the basis of the new insights, made possible because of their creedal flexibility, did not appeal and they even forfeited the confidence of some of their own members. In Melbourne, the Presbyterians' tenacious hold on an outdated creed and cumbersome ecclesiastical machinery invited a major scandal. Furthermore, the fact that they required a high educational standard of their ministry made stray defections likely. Nevertheless, they did not see this at the time and were shaken by the trial and expulsion of their most celebrated minister, Charles Strong, of the Scots Church.
Because they appealed for a rational acceptance of an intellectual position based on an unquestioning acceptance of Biblical authority, Churches of Christ could not avoid facing the challenge of the new developments.
J. J. Haley argued in 1879 that, as few were qualified to enter the arena of controversy, it was better for Christians to trust simply to the Bible as their guide, and leave the debate to the experts. Dunn, who took over from him as editor of The Watchman, thought otherwise. An untrained layman of considerable intellectual ability, Dunn eagerly took up the gauntlet. While his common sense approach lacked theological sophistication, his native insight cut through to the essential issues and he carried the churches with him until his death in 1914. He argued that there was no essential contradiction between science and the Bible, as both were concerned with different areas of truth. He maintained that it was not evolution per se, but atheistic evolution that was incompatible with Biblical revelation. The method of the Higher Critics he regarded as a scissors-and-paste technique, and pointed to a succession of archaeological finds as the critics' nemesis. The result of the Movement's trusting to Dunn's leadership was that confidence in the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures remained unimpaired. But Dunn had not carried the day wholly on his own.
In New South Wales a Christian Evidence and Defence Association was commenced by the churches through the initiative of F J. Floyd. A sister organisation in Melbourne was mooted. More significant, however, was Dunn's reliance on the reputations and writings of such conservative authorities as James Orr, A. H. Sayce, J. W. Dawson, and W. M. Ramsay, who were associated with other Christian groups. Furthermore, despite disagreement with Moorehouse over the latter's theory of the atonement, he warmly endorsed and relied heavily upon the Archbishop's apologetic. Also, the Movement felt an obvious sympathy with Presbyterians over the trial of Strong, and were drawn increasingly to those in all communions who were fighting to preserve Biblical authority.
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In the May 1, 1891 Standard, Dunn pointed out that one factor drawing the Churches together was their inability to make much headway against the prevailing scepticism. Controversialists by nature and experience, Churches of Christ took on leading Free Thinkers in public debate. They won a significant victory when, after debating with Green, Isaac Selby came out for the divinity of Christ and took up the cudgels against former associates. It was also with great satisfaction that Disciples monitored the decline of the Unitarian cause and the gradual depletion of Strong's Australian Church. Even more important in drawing them into sympathy with others was their cooperation with them, in a Canute-like desperation, to prevent the desecration of Sunday. This sense of comradeship was deepened when, serving in the trenches with other Christians, they were peppered by secularist ammunition fired from the barrel of the Melbourne Age. Finally, they were further drawn to others in a shared membership leakage.
The temperance cause which, with alcoholism rife among working men, was in its hey-day in the 1880's and 1890's, also drew churches together. Churches of Christ supported the movement to the hilt. They publicised it in their journals, featured it in Conference meetings from the late 1880's, and organised Conference Temperance Committees from the early 1890's. They were affiliated with, represented on, and participated in the Melbourne Total Abstinence Society, the Victorian Alliance, and the New South Wales Temperance Alliance. While South Australia, and particularly Victoria, threw themselves into the cause, it was in New South Wales that enthusiasm was strongest. Enthusiasm reached a peak in 1904 when the temperance cause, in alliance with J. H. Carruthers, Methodist layman and liberal leader, came within a hairs-breadth of victory at the New South Wales elections. In 1908, leading New South Wales preachers visited the churches urging a "no licence" vote in the local option campaign.
Disturbing social issues also drew the churches together. Along with other communions, Churches of Christ were concerned with smoking, prize fighting, the football mania, card playing, gambling, the theatre, dancing, sexual impurity and divorce.
Other issues drawing the churches into active association were the alliance of Protestants on the National Scripture Education League and the Scripture Instruction Campaign Council. The churches also worked together to defuse the war spirit and foster peace. Along with others, Churches of Christ were aware that disunity on the mission field retarded evangelistic effort. In 1891 Ewers warmly commended the work of the interdenominational China Inland Mission, while Dunn anticipated and commended the World Missionary Conference held in Edinburgh in 1910. It was obvious that if resurgent Asian religions were to be combatted, the Christian message of love could not afford to appear to be contradicted by the existence on the field of competing denominations.
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A major influence in drawing Protestant churches together in the period 1875-1910 was their opposition to Roman Catholicism. While the work of Father Damien was commended, and while Catholic initiatives aimed at reducing sexual licence and resisting liberalisation of divorce laws were cheered, antipathy ran high. Protestants did not take kindly to the opposition of Catholics to their Scripture Education in schools, temperance, and anti-gambling campaigns, and they felt that they were partially responsible for the bad treatment missionaries were receiving in China through the misuse of their influence with imperial authorities. Fear, due in part to an assertive Irish component, was a basic factor in the anti-Catholic reaction. Catholics were accused of political wire-pulling both abroad and in Australia. It was argued that the hierarchy were trying to recoup European losses by building Catholic schools in America and Australia. The Pope's aspirations to universal sovereignty drew frequent comments. Furthermore, it was pointed out that although Catholic authority submitted to Australia's political leadership, their ambitions were in no way diminished. Along with other Protestants, Churches of Christ abominated Mariolatry, the practice of confession, and the mass, with its attendant doctrine of transubstantiation. Personalities also played a part. Archbishop Redwood's attack on Protestantism did not go down well among Protestants in Sydney, and Moran's provocative comments and battle over ecclesiastical precedence did little to endear him to the Protestant Defence Association. Epitomising the importance of Catholic agitation in drawing Protestants including Churches of Christ into closer association was Ewers' quip that Moran had done a real service to Protestants.
Under the influence of internal developments and external pressures, the central focus within Churches of Christ shifted away from an almost exclusive concentration on restoration in the direction of unity.
While they continued to regard the restoration of New Testament Christianity as the only effective basis for Christian union, they spent more time in the period 1875-1910 spelling out its particulars. On the basis of John 17 they regarded spiritual unity, which they could not agree existed between warring regiments, as an inadequate substitute for the Scriptural aim of organic, visible unity. Though their sympathies were with those denominations tentatively searching out a federated union, and hoped that it would prepare the way for a Biblical solution, they were convinced that the truly divisive issues were being glossed over and that federation was a blind alley.
During the period the role of Christ and of allegiance to him, in unifying the Church, was brought more to the fore. There were evident breakdowns of traditional attitudes. Churches of Christ admitted that they were a denomination by virtue of being denominated but denied that they were a
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denomination in the sectarian party sense. The Inter-colonial Conference of 1889 urged members to list their affiliation as Church of Christ and themselves as Christians in the census. They admitted to a greater diversity within the Movement in the area of church order, and, by implication, less of a fixity in the New Testament pattern. When criticised in 1892 for opposing Conferences, Bands of Hope, and Christian Endeavour Societies, Ewers denied that this had been so, and argued that they had never required chapter and verse for such. They were criticised in The Age for claiming that they were creedless while making baptism a term of communion, and under fire from the editor of the Queensland Baptist for their undiscriminating literalness on that subject. Some tried to avoid the conflict by arguing that they had never made the statement that a person cannot be saved apart from baptism. Others, maintaining the older position, excused the apparent severity of their position on the ground that they were driven to it by the logic of the situation. Their contention was that if a person could be saved without baptism it would not be needed. The ambivalence within this area was evidence of the transition through which the Movement was passing. Indicative of new directions was the daring suggestion of several that there was no grave error in communing with the unimmersed.
There was a new spirit within the Movement. Sympathies were more liberal, and the backward-looking mentality was balanced by the beginnings of the forward-looking attitude. Recognising that they had been for many years in the wilderness, they woke up to the fact that they should involve themselves practically in union initiatives. As a people pleading for union they should lead the way, and be willing in the end to phase themselves out of existence if the unity for which they were pleading became a reality. This spirit was accompanied by the toning down of their view of themselves as a lone light. This was evident in the half-apologetic reason for involving themselves in union moves--that is, they had "something worth listening to." This change was due, in part, to the recognition that, as in the case of the eldership, they had failed themselves to live up to the standards they were setting for others, and the fact that they had omitted from their programme of restoration the cultivation of the sort of love the early Christians had had for each other.
During the period, Churches of Christ were more accepting of others, despite sporadic broad-sides. An instance of this was the remark of T. H. Scambler in 1905 that Disciples were one with all Christians on fundamentals. This did not mean, however, that they were willing to compromise principle. As the young A. R. Main stressed, "Surely loyalty to the Word is more essential even than that we should be in the van of a catholic movement toward unity."
During this period differences in editorial attitudes were obvious and contributed to the general theological fluidity. Of those editing Australian Churches of Christ journals, the American J. J. Haley, while a persuasive
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debater, was the most liberal and generous. Next in line was G. T. Walden. Born at Newtown Sydney in 1861, Walden was orphaned at seven. He studied in America and later became minister of the West London Tabernacle. While more traditional in his approach than Haley, he was gentle in debate. D. A. Ewers was slightly more rigid in his theology, though rarely harsh. Still more traditional and determined, the American A. B. Maston became more conservative in his theology the longer he remained in Australia. A bookseller and tea merchant whose services were given gratis, F. G. Dunn would brook no contradiction of his opinion, which was staunchly restorationist. He was no respecter of persons. He took on Selby, Floyd and Haley, three of the Movement's best debaters. He also took up the cudgels against the gentle and scholarly Scot, J. E. Laing, M. A., Inspector of Schools and founder of Prahran College. Heretics within, the sceptics without, were all assured of a vigorous contest.
While they were occasionally charged with proselytising, Churches of Christ worked in a little more freely with other Churches during the period, participating in a Victorian Council of Churches set up early in the new century to cope with emerging social evils, and in the Chapman-Alexander mission in 1912. And they were enthusiastic over two projected developments--a congress on union in Victoria and a world conference on union.
Contacts with Anglicans were few, though Disciples received appreciative comment in the Western Australian Church News, and Bishop Stretch, of Roma, Old. referred to them as some of the holiest men he had known. What most disqualified Anglicans in the eyes of Churches of Christ was their increasing ritualism, which placed them in the no man's land between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
As both stressed the intellectual component in faith, Presbyterians and Churches of Christ first encountered each other in debate. Despite the tension of this strained courtship, Disciples warmly commended Presbyterian pleas for union.
While Congregationalists, like Churches of Christ, had no written creed, affinity here was submerged by a strong opposition on the question of baptism. Disciples had little contact with Congregationalists during the period, though they did not hesitate to attribute their slow growth to an over-consideration of "social and humanitarian subjects and questions of politics and higher criticism."
On the occasion of his bi-centenary in 1903, Wesley was praised as the great reformer, though it was pointed out that his sermons and his brother's hymns were no more authoritative than Campbell's writings. Though they did not regard it as New Testament practice, Churches of Christ sympathised
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with older Methodists when attendance at the class meeting was no longer regarded as essential to active membership. However, despite the new warmth that had crept into the relationship between the two bodies, public debate on the question of baptism continued. Disciples were not altogether happy with the accusation that they were proselytisers and with being listed by Methodists among the "fancy sects" between Dowieites and Spiritualists!
During the period Brethren were sympathetically treated. However, while similarities were acknowledged by most, it was pointed out that they did not allow for divergence of opinion and considered that the design of baptism was not the forgiveness of sins but a symbolic reminder to the saints of Christ's sacrificial death. The Salvation Army was similarly appraised. While the Movement highly commended their social work, it was unhappy that Salvationists had thrown out the sacraments. It was pointed out that if the Salvation Army ceased its benevolent work, it would have no reason for existence as a separate body.
Similar issues divided Baptists and Churches of Christ in this, as in previous eras. The latter were criticised for their literalistic interpretation of verses bearing on the subject of baptism, for an under-developed doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and for "sheep-stealing." On the other hand, the Baptist position remained unacceptable to Churches of Christ because of the creedal basis of several trust deeds, denominational pride, the authority they vested in their ministers, the Baptist name, and the open membership practices of some of their churches. Anxious to find acceptance with Congregationalists, with whom union negotiations were proceeding in Britain, Baptists were embarrassed by the fact that Churches of Christ were classified under "Baptists" in the New Chambers Encyclopaedia. However, despite hesitations on both sides, advances were made. Ministers' Fraternals came together to discuss points of difference and greetings were exchanged at Conferences, which were sometimes addressed by speakers from the other group. On Baptist initiative, committees were set up by both groups in New South Wales and Western Australia to explore the possibility of union. After initial consultation, Baptists broke off discussions because they felt they were getting nowhere. However, in South Australia a comity agreement was reached whereby if one group was established in an area the other would not set up a rival congregation. The Presidents of both bodies negotiated this arrangement. An interesting feature of Baptist/Churches of Christ relationships during this period was the career of Thomas Porter who shuttled between the two groups, eventually settling in with the Baptists in New South Wales, where he became one of their most celebrated ministers.
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Involved in the Great War, growing industrial tension, and the precarious gaiety of the twenties, Australia, in these difficult years developed administrative and parliamentary organisation, a greater national unity, and an awareness of its location in the wider world. During these same years, 1910-1930, Churches of Christ, in response to the challenge of the hour, developed a new maturity. This was evident in the growth of Conference organisation, numerical increase, an increased involvement in society, and a greater acceptance of other Christians.
Organisational development occurred at both State and Federal level and included, additionally, the linking of Churches of Christ with a newly established World Convention.
The earlier reluctance to establish building funds was overcome early in the twentieth century, when churches, keen to erect more attractive chapels, recognised that the needed finance would be better borrowed at low interest from State Committees. These were formed between 1905 and 1913.
To protect churches from unworthy preachers, State Conferences set up Advisory Boards to check their credentials. Acting on a recommendation of the 1907 Federal Conference, Victoria led the way.
Social Service committees were also formed during this period. Developing from the older Temperance Committees, they acted in the 20's as employment bureaus for returned soldiers. They were also involved in a migration scheme. In conjunction with the Y.M.C.A. they made the path easier for members of Churches of Christ in Britain who wished to emigrate. The South Australian committee had a special interest in prison reform and joined other communions in forming the Morialta Protestant Children's Homes. In Western Australia a hospital was planned but the project was thwarted by lack of funds.
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The most enterprising of the committees was in Victoria, where interest in social welfare had been evident in the previous era. In 1904 the Burnley church, out of concern for those who, lacking large-scale Government involvement in social welfare, were without food and clothes, threw themselves into furnishing necessities for the impoverished. This work eventually gained recognition from the Victorian Conference. In 1924, a department of Social Service, incorporating the work of the Temperance and Social Questions Committee and the Burnley welfare work, then under the supervision of Conference Executive, came into being. C. R. Burdeu, who was appointed Secretary in 1922, was responsible for this initiative. Born at Ballarat in 1899, Burdeu, a senior clerk in the Pensions Department, was a man of great vision and force of character. His creativity was evident in the development of a group migration scheme that was accepted by the National Y.M.C.A. and favourably commented on by the Melbourne Herald. Moving later to New South Wales and then Queensland, he gave a fillip to Social Service enterprise in those States. It is little wonder that the Federal Government appointed him Queensland Director of Social Services, Commonwealth Government, and later Australian Assistant Director of Social Services (Rehabilitation).
Further State Conference developments were the appointment of Home Mission and Youth Department organisers, the setting up of central offices in Perth, Adelaide and Sydney, and the launching of State periodicals. Budget financing was introduced in Victoria and Western Australia, and in Sydney and Perth training classes for young men were commenced. In South Australia a primary school for girls was opened in 1921. Re-named the following year the Ellerslie Girls' College, it was expanded to cater for all ages up to the Leaving Certificate.
Federal Conference developments included the extension and greater coordination of the work of established committees, the setting up of new ones, and the provision of Sunday School lesson material prepared specifically for and by Australian Churches of Christ.
Despite the pessimistic forecasts of those who opposed its establishment on the ground that there would be insufficient students to keep it going, the Federal College of the Bible, established in 1907, developed during the period into a recognised training institution of high repute. This development was largely due to the scholarly A. R. Main, who took over from H. G. Harward in 1910 when the latter resigned to return to evangelistic work, which was his first love and for which he was eminently suited. While the new Principal was the Board's choice, he was no less a favourite with the students, who let this be known. Among those appointed to the faculty during the period was R. T. Pittman. In the first batch of graduates, Pittman, after graduating from Glen Iris, gained his B.A. with honours and a Diploma of Education from Melbourne University. "Pitty," a son of the much honoured
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Joseph Pittman, described by Alf. White as "a scholar, teacher, author, organist, and hymn writer," deeply influenced and was loved by generations of students at the College, where he lectured for 49 years.
The years 1910-1930 also saw the extension of Foreign Mission work. At Baramati in India, schools were established, weaving encouraged, and orphans cared for. A second station was opened in 1914 at Shrigonda, which had then a population of 7,000. This was pioneered by Mr and Mrs H. Watson, who were later joined by Miss F. Cameron. It is for her work at Shrigonda that Miss Edna Vawser, who was for many years treasurer of the work in India, is specially honoured. A further field was opened at Diksal in 1921. The most notable achievement in this area resulted from bazaar preaching at Bori, when the head man of the area became a Christian. His son, Hariba Waghmode, is a well known leader of Indian Churches of Christ. Hariba was elected first Indian chairman of the Committee of Management in 1955, represented Churches of Christ as an official observer at the World Council of Churches Assembly in Delhi in 1961, and was appointed Principal of the Conference High School in 1962. He is presently secretary of the Indian Conference. Dhond, a further station, was opened in 1927, and is today the centre of the medical work of the Indian mission. Mission work in India has concentrated on education, children's Homes, medical care, child welfare, and famine relief, besides direct evangelism. One special feature was the care of the untouchables, professional thieves, in the Wadgaon area. They were assigned by the Government to Churches of Christ in 1920 because of their prior association with them at Baramati.
In China, the American Society, because of demands elsewhere, decided to withdraw from Shanghai in 1915. The Australian churches, deciding not to send Australians to Shanghai, centred their Chinese mission work in Hueili, Southern Szechuan, where the Baptist Foreign Mission society had an outpost. The first missionaries, Mr and Mrs A. Anderson and Mr and Mrs A. C. Garnett, arrived at Yunnanfu in December 1920, and Will Waterman early in 1922. They were later joined by Miss Grace Metzentine, Dr. Killmier, Nurse Gladys Mudford, and Nurse Adelaide Masters. Mr and Mrs H. A. G. Clark joined the team, 1926-1928. Despite language difficulty, headway was made. Allowing for deaths and removals, there were 100 members in the Chinese and Tribes churches by 1934. Anti-foreign activity, which began in 1926, led to the withdrawal of all missionaries by 1928. This left the Chinese church to its own devices. When Albert Anderson returned in 1930 he found the church in good heart under Chinese leadership. A national, Dr. W. S. Hsueh, was secured for the medical work, and a successful mission to local tribesmen pioneered by volunteer Chinese evangelists.
While mission work on Pentecost Island in the New Hebrides continued, a further station came under the direction of Churches of Christ at Aoba in
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1910. This was pioneered by Fred Purdy, who, like John Thompson, had worked with the Queensland Kanakas. Purdy had been sent out in 1907 by the Aoba-Pentecost-Maewo mission. By 1910, when the work was taken over by Churches of Christ, 50 schools, engaging 60 teachers, were operating and the membership of the church on the island was around 500. Maewo was also evangelised during the period. Established by Alf Chappell, the work was sustained by 20 years by a New Hebridean from Aoba--Tarlee Tow, father of Abel Barney, for many years a senior elder of the New Hebridean Church.
During its early history the Federal Foreign Missions Committee consisted of the State Committees of Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, and Western Australia. Questions were discussed by the four Committees after which the Victorian Committee, acting as an executive, gave effect to the joint decision. In 1915 it was decided to locate the executive in Adelaide, and two years later the Victorian Conference suggested to the Federal Foreign Missions Committee that they appoint Ira Paternoster as full-time secretary.
During the period there were several new Federal Committees established. To insure preachers against illness and to provide for their retirement, the Federal Conference, at the urging of several New South Wales business men, established an Old and Infirm Evangelists Trust. A Federal Social Service Committee to keep the State Committees in touch and to formulate joint recommendations, was brought into being by simply asking the Victorian Committee to act in a Federal capacity. Finally a committee was elected in 1915 to secure a suitable site for a church at the new Federal capital.
In 1918 the Victorian Bible School committee, concerned at the inadequacy of overseas Sunday School lessons, entered into an agreement with the Austral Company to publish Australian materials. Reg. Enniss, Glen Iris secretary, and R. T. Pittman were commissioned to prepare these. When they appeared the Austral Lessons were well received.
During this period a World Convention of Churches of Christ was organised to allow the family of the world brotherhood "to become better acquainted with one another." The Federal Conference of 1928 sent greetings to the first Convention in Washington in 1930, when 35 Australian delegates were among the 10,000 present.
Between 1907 and 1930, when the Australian population rose by 49%, the membership of Churches of Christ in all States almost doubled. In New South Wales it jumped from 3,293 to 5,201, in South Australia from 4,486 to 8,201, in Victoria from 7,441 to 13,122, and in Western Australia from 1,341 to 2,962. In Queensland and Tasmania where no figures were available for 1907, the 1930 totals were 2,696 and 913. New South Wales,
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where the population figure rose 954,113 or 58%--the largest numerical and highest percentage increase of any State--and where of the larger States, the lowest roll increase was registered, was the only State to drop in membership over the war years. It was noted in 1913 that one fifth of the New South Wales membership was located at Enmore (Newtown), and that much of the State, particularly country areas, was unoccupied by Churches of Christ. Contemporaries considered that the slower growth rate in New South Wales was due to the spirit of exclusiveness and division that continued to plague the churches.
The phenomenal growth of Churches of Christ over the period can be attributed to the existence of the College, the greater number of preachers in the field, and the uncertainty of the times. Two additional factors were the number of evangelistic missions organised and the direction and coordination of outreach by newly-appointed Home Mission secretaries.
The early twentieth century witnessed intense evangelistic activity. With E. W. Pittman as his singing evangelist, H. G. Harward toured the States as Federal Evangelist. In four years the Harward/Pittman party conducted 38 missions with 1,248 being added to the churches. Harward's lead was followed by others. A tent mission at Launceston in 1913 with S. H. Griffiths as evangelist, and arranged jointly by the Launceston church and the Federal Executive, was notably successful, with 271 responding.
A further feature of the period was the visit to Australia of American evangelistic teams J. T. Brown in 1906, C. R. Scoville in 1912, and Dr. Jesse Kellems in 1923. These caused great excitement and resulted in significant increases.
The 1920's were a period of intense evangelistic activity. Prominent amongst special evangelists was E. G. Hinrichsen, who has been described as the "most spectacular and consistently successful evangelist in Australian Churches of Christ over a longer period than anyone else." Hinrichsen, who was born of Danish stock in the West Morton area of Queensland, was deeply committed to the position of Churches of Christ. In evangelistic power he had few equals, especially in Australia. In the course of a 35-year ministry which took him around Australia, to the United States, Britain and New Zealand, 30,000 responded to his preaching. A novel feature of many Hinrichsen missions was the locating of the mission in an area where a handful of members met in a private home. During the period of the mission, up to 100 and sometimes 200 decisions for Christ were made, a building erected, and a full-time minister placed in charge of a church large enough to be self-supporting.
The contribution of Home Mission secretaries is best illustrated by the work of Thomas Bagley. Bagley was the last of five children born to Thomas, snr., an Englishman who emigrated to the Victorian goldfields. Deeply influenced by Stephen Cheek, who was then preaching in the Taradale area,
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Thomas, jnr. later gave his life to Christ at the church at North Fitzroy. Feeling called to the ministry, he left for America. Graduating from the College of the Bible, Lexington, Bagley returned to Australia. His first ministry at Paddington in Sydney proved highly successful. From 30 members in 1898, the congregation had risen to 277 by early 1904. For the next few years he was engaged as New South Wales Missioner. He was then called by the historic Lygon Street church where his characteristic vigour was again evident. It was in 1909 that Bagley was appointed Victorian Home Missions secretary. His ability as an organiser was soon apparent. Less than 18 months after being commissioned he recorded eight missions with 134 additions and the establishment of four circuits on a self-supporting basis. He returned to Sydney in 1912 to the City Temple church, before being involved in 1914 in the establishment of a church at Chatswood, near where he lived. From Chatswood Bagley returned in 1918 to Victoria to combine the position of secretary/organiser of the Home Mission Department with that of Conference secretary. By this time the role of the secretary/organiser had changed and he found his task more directly administrative. Ever the visionary, Bagley, despite ill health, worked at the new role with great enthusiasm.
During the period 1910-1930, Churches of Christ, drawn to greater involvement in political and social issues, discovered greater kinship with Christians of other communions.
In previous eras, within Churches of Christ political comment was incidental. During the period 1910-1930 political issues were the subject of frequent Conference resolutions and editorial comment. The reasons for this were two-fold. First, the seriousness of the problems faced--the Great War and the industrial strife that followed--drew them out of their relative political isolation. Second, it was A. R. Main's conviction that the Church, while avoiding party politics, had a duty to speak out on political issues--an opinion stated in his opening editorial.
As early as 1904, at the time of the Russo-Japanese war, Ferdinand Pittman, in a series of articles devoted to examining the relationship of Churches of Christ to social problems, highlighted a developing militarism. Arguing that while some would call in question the idea that nations needed to make "adequate provision, in the military drilling of their citizens, for defence against possible invasion," he went on to add that "all who name the name of him who is the 'Prince of Peace' will not only believe in but earnestly strive for a settlement of international disputes in other ways than by recourse to war, with all its attendant horrors." In 1907 Dunn went further, contending that it was "the mission of the Church through all its agencies to deprecate the cultivation of an aggressive war spirit, and to promote the idea of arbitration as the only legitimate way in which the quarrels of nations can be settled."
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In August, 1914, nine days after war was declared, the Labour Call announced that "the people of the continent are about to have the biggest blood drink since the days of Napoleon." Early in September, Dunn, who similarly felt that the war would be "one of the bloodiest conflicts in all history," struck a more optimistic note. He was hopeful that arbitration would bring the conflict to a speedy conclusion.
This hope had faded when Main, in mid-September, took over editorship of the Christian. To prepare the churches for whatever lay ahead he sought to confirm readers in the conviction that God was in control. Disclaiming the easy optimism of Browning's "God's in his heaven--all's right with the world," he stressed that though God's desire was not being done, his will and purpose would not fail. In May of the following year, commenting on the little effect the war was having at home, he pleaded for "practical sympathy and interest in the men prepared to make the supreme sacrifice."
The first resolution of loyalty from an Australian Churches of Christ Conference was passed in September, 1915, when the South Australian churches expressed their "loyalty to King and Empire in sympathy with the cause of the allies." New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australian Conferences passed similar resolutions in 1916 and 1917. In September 1916 the Federal Conference, held in Adelaide, in a strongly-worded motion voiced its "profound conviction in the justice of the cause of the allies." Few dissented from the majority decision that participation in the war was a necessary duty. Furthermore, some who had been conscientious objectors prior to the war found their attitude changing under the pressure of imperial sentiment, which was heightened by what was written up as German barbarity.
In 1916, Prime Minister W. M. Hughes announced his intention of holding a conscription referendum. The Anglican Synod of Melbourne, convinced that the forces of the allies were "being used to vindicate the rights of the weak and to maintain the moral order of the world," strongly favoured the measure. In October, the Baptist churches of Victoria pledged themselves "to vote yes in order that every possible contribution may be made by Australia to the pressing necessities of the Empire."
On the other hand, the controversial Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Melbourne, Dr. Mannix, considering that the aim of the combatants was "the economic domination of the world" urged Catholics to vote "no." Explaining himself in December, 1917, he argued that while England was justified in protecting Belgium and France and in defending herself, and Australia in lending her support, Australians should not give a blank cheque for the war to continue indefinitely for purely economic advantage.
As editor and President of the Victorian Conference of Churches of Christ, A. R. Main was asked to make a statement. He replied that while Churches of Christ in loyalty to King and Empire lagged behind none, "our Conference
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Executives and Presidents cannot follow the example set by those of some other bodies, and give instructions as to how to vote." This approach was in line, with a recent Victorian Methodist resolution. Offering a personal view, Main expressed confidence in Hughes, feeling that he had more information than he was able to release, and suggested that it was only fair that the burden of defence be shared more equitably. Admitting that there were, in the churches, some who would conscientiously cast a contrary vote, he felt that the nation would "favour the granting of the power asked for." One of the determining factors would be that conscientious objectors would not be forced to take up arms.
When a general war weariness surfaced in 1917, Main was charged by pacifist and conscientious objectors with being a "lover of war." He replied that as a "follower of the Prince of Peace" he could be no other than a lover of peace, as were "hundreds of thousands of Christian young men at the front." While admitting that some glorified war to the point of arguing that a soldier's death was a "sure passport to paradise," he "emphasised that all Christians should loathe and abhor it." The growing tension between pacifists and supporters of the war effort was in greater evidence at the time of the 1917 referendum. Aware that congregations were divided on the issue, Main urged the two factions to avoid saying anything that would reflect on the loyalty or patriotism of the other.
During 1917 and 1918 many schemes for reconstructing society were advanced. Main addressed himself to the problem as President of the 1917 Victorian Conference. In his remarks he argued that, while the war had destroyed art and architecture, the spirit and intelligence of man, responsible for them, remained unconquered. The acceptance of the authority of the Scriptures by surviving Christians was essential to international recovery. Furthermore, the needed reconstruction within the Church offered Churches of Christ a great opportunity. He wrote, "The Christian world believes now in union, prays for union, works for union. The only thing it seems to lack is the knowledge that there is a divinely-given basis of union."
War gave way to industrial unrest. Tension between workers and employers, early highlighted by the great coal strike of 1916-1917 and the 1917 rail strike in New South Wales, increased when the war ended. During 1919, 6.3 million man-days were lost in industrial disputes, costing employers £4 million. The Federal Conference of 1920 under Main's presidency expressed concern at "the general unrest and discontent . . . particularly the strife and bitterness which have entered into our political, religious and industrial life." Considering these conditions to be "the result of the failure to apply the principles of Jesus Christ to the common problems of life," they took the opportunity of re-stating their belief "in the great social principles of Jesus as the basis of all right human relationships, and as the ultimate guide for national and international policies."
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The Australian Churches of Christ, while aroused by the war to a new awareness of the Church's role in political affairs, were unwilling in 1916 and 1917, at the time of the referenda, to allow their Presidents to voice the view of the Movement on political issues. However, by 1921 the earlier reluctance was overcome. The Western Australian Conference of that year protested "most emphatically against the introduction of a compulsory seventy days' continuous training for our citizen forces as being inimical to the best interests of the homes and morals of the community."
As early as 1905, Dunn, discussing the Christian attitude to socialism, admitted that "a large proportion of the working classes are not in sympathy with the churches, and stand aloof from them as either indifferent or hostile to their welfare." Two years later he argued that the widening breach between the Church and organised labor was due to the fact that the more prominent elements in the Labor movement were atheistic. Between 1910 and 1920, churches came to realise that they were in part to blame for the alienation. This acknowledgement was forced upon them by working men who, outspoken in their criticism of the Church, pointed out that while Christians were vocal on lesser sins they were "suspiciously silent concerning the root sin of the age . . . the exploitation of the weak by the strong, of the poor by the rich." On becoming editor of the Christian, Main pleaded for a Christianising of industrial relationships. He further suggested that to reach the masses the Church needed to take the gospel to where men were, instead of inviting them to "churchy" buildings, to involve more laymen in the Church's evangelistic ministry, and to explain to society that the refusal of preachers to take sides in political disputes did not mean that they were uninterested in the relation between capital and labor.
In Australia, after 1900, bourgeois standards of dress and behaviour inherited from the nineteenth century gave way to new values and life styles. Churches of Christ, along with other Christians, denounced the theatre. They were supported in their criticisms by editorials in the Age and Argus. From 1917 the "picture show" supplanted the theatre as the focus of attention, and broad condemnation yielded to the urging of a more scrupulous censorship and the strict supervision of children.
The evils of dancing were also eloquently expounded. Some of the reasons marshalled against the entertainment sound ridiculous today. One such was that "no one sends for a dancing master to pray for or comfort him." In the 1920's a changed attitude was evident, and it was admitted that many members danced. The Victorian Conference of 1926 encouraged young people "in view of the questionable nature of many forms of modern dancing . . . when requiring recreation to seek only such exercises and pastimes as are unquestionable." It was obvious from this resolution that a division of opinion had developed between old and young. Main's comment on the issue was remarkably sane. He agreed that some dances were "ugly,
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vulgar, objectionable, suggestive and even licentious," but he was utterly opposed to those who wanted publicly to admonish others who danced, as "disorderly walkers," before allowing them to partake of the Lord's Supper.
While divided on the issue of dancing, the membership was, from the beginning, resolutely opposed to gambling. Along with Christians of other communions, they objected to the legalisation of the totalisator, the disposal of war bonds by lottery, and the introduction of State lotteries after 1922.
Other issues on which they expressed concern were prize-fighting, the spread of syphilis during the war years, and the publication of "pernicious literature," which Main felt could only be countered by the creation of a healthy public sentiment.
While New South Wales had been tardy in taking up the temperance cause, by 1900 the Australian Movement was wholly opposed to the liquor interests. They felt that the only solution was the total abolition of all intoxicating liquors. Accordingly, the Victorian Temperance and Social Questions Committee changed its name to the Churches of Christ Anti-liquor and Social Questions Committee.
From the beginning of the century State Conferences were closely associated with Alliances and other temperance organisations. They applauded the formation in 1914 of the first Australasian Temperance Conference, of which James Manning, a member at Mile End, South Australia, was elected president, and J. G. Barrett, of Moreland, Victoria, vice-president. In 1917 the Western Australian Conference pledged itself to support the recently established Commonwealth Prohibition League. When the Strength of Empire Movement for Wartime Prohibition and National Purity was launched in May, 1918, J. E. Thomas, a well respected Disciple preacher, representing the Melbourne Council of Churches, gave one of the addresses. So closely associated were Disciples with Temperance Societies that Temperance Conference meetings were addressed by Alliance officers. So involved were Alliance men in the temperance thrust of Churches of Christ that at the 1918 Victorian Conference, Main suggested that the programme presented at the Conference demonstration should be "representative of our own brethren." The following year he was asked to speak. The situation was reversed in 1922 when Churches of Christ contributed four of the League's salaried workers. The President of the Victorian Conference of Churches of Christ for that year, C. M. Gordon, M.A., who was also Chairman of the Conference Anti-liquor Committee, was the Society's State Director.
During the period the Churches co-operated in army chaplaincy and in the crusade against venereal disease among the Forces. They united their opposition to gambling and impure literature through State Councils of Churches, which were organised to concert the efforts of the churches against social evils. They participated jointly in the Chapman-Alexander
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mission of 1912, and were at one in recognising that they had been insufficiently concerned to relate the Christian ethic to the crying social issues of their day. In 1927, Churches of Christ in Victoria responded to the new mood by encouraging preachers to focus on Christian unity during August.
During the period 1910-1930, doctrines and practices associated with the earlier phase of the Movement's development underwent further modification.
Throughout the nineteenth century it was argued that the New Testament, the Christian's authority in matters of doctrine and practice; furnished the only valid pattern of church government. In the mind of God before the formation of the world, it stood as a model for all time. Renewal and unity would accompany its recovery. While some continued to speak of an "apostolic pattern," the period 1910-1930 witnessed a shift of emphasis to a position mid-way between definitive "pattern" and regulative "principle." This was evident in the Churches of Christ statement in the Victorian Congress on Union in 1913, which stipulated that although Disciples must "follow as nearly as possible, the Divine model . . . a degree of liberty was allowed provided that it did not violate any New Testament principle."
The habit of speaking of Bible things in Bible words was similarly disappearing. Writing in 1926, Main mentioned that few young people were aware of the practice. While he felt there was value in preserving the tradition, he was not convinced that the practice "would do as much as some writers would appear to believe."
The practice of mutual edification, which had distinguished the Movement in its pioneering phase, and which had come under increasing criticism in the years 1875-1910, had, by the second decade of the twentieth century, fallen into disuse. The Victorian Conference of 1918, "believing that mutual edification is a Scriptural principle," strongly recommended "churches to preserve this characteristic of primitive Christianity." The practice had broken down because of "atrocities" perpetuated under the old system, and the willingness of business men to leave edification of the church to the preacher, who tended to monopolise the pulpit, and the desire of many "to be like other people."
The pioneers had refused money from the unimmersed. Challenged by the American evangelists' more liberal attitudes, this practice had begun breaking down in the years 1875-1910, as seen in general Sunday School offerings. The period 1910-1930 witnessed the complete about-turn. By 1918 it was possible to look back nostalgically to the earlier attitude, and soon it was being argued that, although not in line with the Church's lofty purpose, the
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practice of accepting, even soliciting, support from those outside the Church was "not morally wrong." By 1929, church-organised fairs and bazaars were sufficiently common to rouse the South Australian Conference of that year to register its disapproval.
Finally, while continuing to stress the importance of baptism in the appropriation of salvation, Disciples modified what others felt to be an almost exclusive emphasis on the ordinance. With an enlarged stress on the grace of God, and its expression in the life and death of Jesus, they could no longer be charged with preaching salvation by baptism!
This era of social change and political crisis had helped to stimulate within Churches of Christ, acceptance of other Christians, with consequent involvement in several union discussions. An additional factor encouraging closer association was the change of mood within Churches of Christ, springing from the development of a securer identity, increasing organisational strength, and significant numerical growth.
The major union negotiations in which Churches of Christ were involved during the period were in Victoria and South Australia.
In Victoria, a congress on union, originated by a well known business man and involving Anglicans, Baptists, Brethren, Churches of Christ, Congregationalists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and the Society of Friends, was held in Melbourne from August 31 to September 4, 1913. At this conference A. R. Main was appointed one of five vice-presidents. The statement of Churches of Christ representatives, obviously drawn up by Main, pointed out that they would not be prepared to sacrifice truth for the sake of unity. It went on to emphasise that while Churches of Christ were in broad doctrinal agreement with most other communions, they would not join any united body that did not insist on the baptism (immersion) of repentant believers, that set down as a term of fellowship any creed other than the profession of Peter, or that was governed by an episcopacy. In retrospect, the gain to Churches of Christ of involvement in the congress was that they were able to put their view. The only adverse effect was that their relationship with the Baptists suffered through what Restorationists regarded as a willingness on the part of the Baptists to compromise for the sake of playing to paedobaptists for greater acceptance. An identical position was taken by Churches of Christ representatives in Adelaide in 1921 at a church union conference involving Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, and Churches of Christ, which was called to discuss proposals arising from the recent Lambeth and Faith and Order conferences.
Apart from these two exceptions, the union negotiations with which Churches of Christ were involved during the period were with Baptists. The discussions, initiated first by State Baptist Unions in 1904-5, continued
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fitfully throughout the period. While the New South Wales meeting appeared hopeful, it was in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, that the most significant results were achieved. These included exchange of conference delegates, interchange of speakers at foreign mission appeals, the conferring of Social Service and Bible School departments, a joint public questions demonstration, and the recommendation that each confer with the other before entering a new field. Attempts at uniting Baptists and Churches of Christ congregations at Port Pirie, South Australia, in 1910, at Bendigo, Victoria, in 1915, and at Northam and West Guildford in Western Australia in 1920 came to nothing.
The question of baptism still divided them. Baptists did not regard baptism as necessary for church membership. The frustrating ambiguity of the Churches of Christ position was evident in the statement of William Higlett to the Baptist Union at New South Wales in which he pointed out that "Churches of Christ . . . did not appear to regard baptism as essential to salvation, but declined to allow it to be recorded that they did not."
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A. R. Main
The early pioneers were untroubled by hesitations about what was to be believed. They may have been narrow in beliefs, but they were certainly convinced. The numerical and organisational growth of the Movement throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, leading to closer association with other communions, resulted in a modification of original beliefs and practices. By 1910, many were aware of the need to take stock of the situation. Traditional attitudes needed to be re-assessed. What was of permanent value needed to be preserved, related to contemporary issues and presented in appealing common sense terms to the membership. Churches of Christ were fortunate that A. R. Main was in a position to take this task in hand.
Main, whose brilliance guaranteed the academic reputation of the newly-established College of the Bible, gathered up the traditional emphases and reinterpreted them to give them greater logical consistency. His balanced presentation of cherished dogma reassured Disciples that their approach was correct, and encouraged in others the belief that Churches of Christ were becoming more positive in their approach.
Alexander Russell Main was born in Dumbartonshire, Scotland, on February 9, 1876. His father owned a small dairy in Cumbernauld, where the lad attended public school. A scholarship enabled him to study at night school in Glasgow, while he remained at the Cumbernauld public school as pupil-teacher. The Mains attended the Free Church, one of three Presbyterian churches in the village.
Migrating to Australia in 1892, Alexander settled with his family in Drummond, Victoria. However, as he disliked farming, he began making plans to return to Scotland, where he hoped to resume a teaching career. This ambition was
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cut short when Main dedicated his life to Christ during a visit by A. B. Maston to the area. Recognising his potential, Maston persuaded him to go to Melbourne. Boarding him in his own home, the evangelist offered the lad employment as a compositor in the Austral Company.
During 1895, Alexander began preaching and was soon in great demand. The first issue of the Australian Christian in 1898 included comment by Main on the Sunday School lesson. He later became responsible for the Christian Endeavour column. When he married in 1900, he listed his profession as "evangelist."
Main was appointed evangelist of the Ann Street church in Brisbane in 1900. Elected President of the Queensland Conference in 1903, he undertook responsibility for the Queensland section of the Jubilee history.
Returning to Melbourne he entered into an engagement with the church at Footscray, commenced lecturing in English, Philosophy and Bible, at the Australian College of the Bible, a venture commenced by the Swanston Street church and later brought under the aegis of the Victorian Conference. He also enrolled at Melbourne University. When the College of the Bible was established in 1907, Main was invited to join the staff and resume the university course he had been forced to relinquish through illness. In the first year at University he gained honours in Logic and Philosophy, gaining first class honours and the Hastie Exhibition. At the subsequent final honours examination he secured first place and the Hastie Scholarship.
In 1910, Main was appointed to succeed H. G. Harward as Principal of the Federal College. He remained in this position until his retirement in 1938.
When the then editor of the Australian Christian, F. G. Dunn died in 1914, Main was invited to become editor, a position he held for 27 years.
Main was President of the Federal Conference between 1920 and 1922. A resolution of the 1933 Conference arranged for a testimonial to send the Mains to the second World Convention in Leicester, England, in 1935. Main was an the resolutions and nominating committee, and delivered two Convention addresses, one on "The place and power of Christian journalism" and the other "In loving memory of William Morrow."
Returning via the United States, he was feted at churches, colleges, and universities. At Butler University he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. Though appreciative of the honour, Main argued that he had not earned the degree and insisted on being addressed as "Mr."
At the urging of the New South Wales College Committee he came out of retirement in 1942 to inaugurate the Sydney College at Woolwich. In 1944, shortly after losing his wife, he retired from the Principalship. Suffering a heart attack on Wednesday, October 10, 1945, while on his way from Victoria to the half-yearly conference in Queensland, Main died three days later in Roseville hospital.
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During the years 1910-1930 the Australian Churches of Christ were deeply influenced by Alexander Russell Main. In an age when doctrinal issues were the focus of attention, this brilliant Scot exercised an authority in matters theological such as had never been contemplated before, and which was never possible afterwards.
In 1910 the American Movement, numbered 1,500,000, scattered throughout the rural mid-west. It boasted 27 educational institutions and an extensive body of periodical literature. It was impossible at that stage for any one individual to exercise a predominant theological influence. In Australia, by contrast, where the Movement, then numbering 18,655, was largely confined to capital cities, there was one College and one periodical. Controlling both throughout this period, Main was uniquely situated to exercise a dominant influence.
Main was 34 when he was appointed Principal in 1910. He soon won the confidence of the Australian churches, who saw him as the "one man in Australia, fitted by scholarship, character, and disposition" for the position. From an unendowed and struggling institution, he built the College into a "recognised training College of high repute." While other lecturers may have made more of a personal influence upon the students than the shy and diffident Principal, it was his teaching that moulded the thinking of generations of preachers, who shared with the churches the deep respect they had for his character and opinions.
When F. G. Dunn died in 1914, Main was offered the editorship of the Christian, which he retained until 1941 when he was invited to New South Wales. From the beginning, as editor, he enjoyed widespread respect and confidence. Announcing his appointment in 1914, the Directors of the Austral Company spoke of him as "a man of fine scholarship and high intellectual attainments, a brilliant writer, and above all a sound Scriptural teacher." While he did not escape criticism, "he maintained to a high degree the confidence of his readers." Looking back in 1934 over 20 years of Main's editorship, it was pointed out that "there has been no spirit of criticism and contention manifest, but always the sane and constructive spirit that characterised the articles of a Christian scholar and gentleman."
During the period 1910-1930, influence within Conference structures was exercised by full-time organisers, Conference committees, and respected and persuasive speakers at Annual Conferences. At neither State nor Federal Conference level was there any full-time official, committee, or Conference speaker powerful enough consistently to over-ride Main's influence, particularly on theological issues.
The esteem in which Main was held, and the authority he exercised, were evident in Conference debate. "To the Conference he was the final authority.
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More than once it would seem that a question would be decided in the affirmative. Then Mr Main would rise, quote the Word, use a few unanswered arguments, and the whole attitude would change." Main was early "looked upon as an authority on constitutional matters and his timely and characteristic contributions in the discussions of Conference . . . frequently helped in the most difficult circumstances. His natural accent, terseness, and dignity of approach commanded attention whenever he addressed an audience."
As Principal, editor, Conference committee man, speaker and authority, Main deeply influenced the life and doctrine of Australian Churches of Christ during the period 1910-1930. A. C. Garnett, M.A., Litt.D., originally of South Australia, a graduate of the College of the Bible and Melbourne University, missionary to China, Professor of Philosophy at Wisconsin for 28 years, writing in the American Christian Evangelist of February, 1942, spoke of his having "exerted his brilliant talents in the way that has moulded the thought of the Australian brotherhood into a singularly uniform pattern."
When Main died he left few lecture notes behind, and none of any substance. His theology has therefore to be extracted from his four books, First Principles, Messages from the Word, Studies in Ambiguous Texts, and Baptism: Our Lord's Command, and from numerous printed addresses and 27 years of editorial comment in the Australian Christian. While the absence of extant lecture material is disappointing, its loss is not as serious as might first be imagined. Past students have offered the opinion that First Principles is an adequate summary of their content. Furthermore, his Christian editorials are a more important source than may be recognised. The extreme diffidence that led him to adopt a straight lecturing approach, that would not allow questioning, did not impose the same constraints on his pen.
Liberated from his shyness, and freed of the responsibility of carefully tutoring students in Restoration basics, he addressed himself to the theological, social, and political questions of the hour. He spent a great deal of time researching and thinking out his answers, which were expressed with simplicity, terseness, and dignity.
Main was not a philosopher. He was a masterful logician who was constantly tumbling Restoration tenets in his mind to smooth them over so that he could re-present them in a new setting relevant to the hour. Though they sometimes discounted his conclusions because they were based on different philosophic bases, opponents winced as their arguments began to show signs of coming unstuck under his logical scrutiny. Conversant with the full gamut of logical skill, Main could be devastating with either misinformed
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friends or professed opponents. Most of the time, however, his approach was deliberately constructive, with a balance and proportion in theology and practical affairs which appealed to the Movement's lower-middle and middle-class constituency as good common sense.
The touchstone of all Main's thinking was the Word of God. The Scriptures had an authority that was not shared with tradition. Similarly, other areas of knowledge, such as psychology, that jauntily offered to stand in judgment on theology, must themselves be brought under the judgment of Scripture. This did not mean that truth was only to be found in the Scriptural revelation. Secular philosophies and other religions had "a certain measure of truth in them" which "must be held to have come from God."
Truth, for Main, that is, the truth of the Biblical revelation, had a static, changeless quality about it. The furthest he was prepared to go in acknowledging any development, was to endorse the traditional Restoration distinction between the old and new covenants. However, while stressing the givenness and the unalterability of revealed truth, Main did point out that no one was personally acquainted with the whole. Though "the storehouse is not new . . . there are doubtless truths in it which we are either ignorant of or neglect." He was also aware that "the old truth" needed to be presented in "new dress" to each generation. Finally, there were times when it had to be defended. However, Christians should not be apprehensive about the outcome, as the truth would out.
Main's acceptance of the Scriptures as the Word of God was based on the attitude of Christ and the apostles to the Old Testament. Recognising that the New Testament stood in need of Divine attestation, he argued that this was based on Christ's words regarding the Spirit's work in assisting their recollection of what he had said and leading them into new truth, the contrast between the New Testament canon and extra-Biblical literature of the second century, and the popularity and extensive circulation of the New Testament Scriptures. However, while Main justified his confidence on these grounds, his attitude to the Bible was undoubtedly influenced by his Free Church background, by his respect for and mastery of the Scriptures required under the Scottish school system, and the influence of A. B. Maston.
Reluctant to theorise, and concerned more to state given facts, Main was chary of outlining his view of inspiration in case it should be construed as the authoritative view of the Movement, and a term of fellowship. He was, however, goaded into treatment of the subject by A. C. Garnett, who argued that in contending "for the historic canon as Divinely authoritative the
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Movement was denying its claim to be pleading for the elimination of human authority!" Garnett was wanting to push the point that Christ's words alone were authoritative. Main, in reply, was careful to point out that those in the Movement who did not regard the canon as inspired or authoritative, he accepted as brothers. He did, however, disagree with Garnett's low view of apostolic inspiration. While he avoided, in his reply to Garnett, outlining his own view of the method of Divine inspiration, he had earlier given editorial endorsement to an article advocating a concursive theory. This suggested that "the inspiring work of the Holy Spirit was united with the intelligent acting of the human heart, working through it and leading it, the result . . . that the language expressed with unfailing accuracy the thought which God intended it to convey."
Main had a profound regard, almost superstitious respect, for the Scriptures. He spoke out strongly against misquotation, parodying of the Scriptures--even Alexander Campbell's Third Epistle of Peter came in for criticism--and the slandering of Bible characters. This right-of-centre attitude illustrated the conflict that occasionally arose between the two aspects of his logical approach, a meticulousness in detail and his sense of balance and proportion. In this instance, because it was wedded to a crucial belief, the former won out.
In his reaction to higher criticism, Main was less "trigger happy" than Dunn. He was more sure of himself and largely confined his rebuttals to attacks made by others upon the New Testament. His major line of defence, following Professor David Smith, was to accept the Bible's view of itself. While this must have appeared to many a question-begging approach, it was tacitly based on the general consistency of the Scriptural record, which was guaranteed by its unsurpassed eye-witness account of Christ. It needs also to be remembered that, since the 1970's when it first became aware of the new trends, the Movement, with its lower-middle class and largely lay leadership, had remained relatively isolated from the challenge of the new theories. Main, aware of this, did not wish to unsettle a relatively untroubled membership. Furthermore, he recognised that Churches of Christ, with their simple Biblical faith, "were among those who could least afford to daily with" the new theories. He, therefore, continued to impress upon members that "a re-appraisal of the gospel record of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus is the best corrective of modern rationalism and destructive criticism."
Early in 1917 it began to be noised abroad that a section of the American Movement, said to be more concerned with culture than with the gospel, had gone over to the liberal camp. Assuring his readers that "the great heart of the brotherhood is sound," Main expressed the hope that the charges were unfounded. When the suspicions were proved correct, Main contented himself with pointing out that he knew of no Australian church or preacher avowing liberal views.
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In 1917 Main was criticised for quoting from the works of "denominational" preachers and scholars by those alarmed about the American rumours. He replied that he did "not need to endorse the evils of a clerical system to see good in the words" he quoted. In 1924 he made it more than clear where he stood. Mentioning that he was not particularly interested in theological labels, he went on to point out that "he had no objection to being known as a very strict believer in the Word of God and an acceptor of those doctrines of the faith which the modernist is most fond of denying." He was not slow to clear the College of the criticism that it was infected with the liberal disease. When information on the American Colleges first came to hand he stressed that "every teacher in our College is a firm believer in the Word of God. Destructive criticism is wholly absent." The suspicion of contagion, however, persisted, and drew from him a further rebuttal in 1920. In an editorial he argued that "so far as our Australian College of the Bible at Glen Iris is concerned, we wish once again most definitely and categorically to declare of the members of its Board of Management, its teaching staff, and its student body, that they are all believers in the inspiration and authority of the Word of God. No rationalistic view or interpretation of our Lord's miracles . . . would for one moment be tolerated at Glen Iris."
Main's approach to understanding the Scriptures was scientific. In the tradition of Alexander Campbell, he argued avoidance of spiritualising and allegorical interpretation, and contended that verses were to be understood in the linguistic and cultural context. Furthermore, in "rightly dividing the Word," preachers were to ensure that they did not empty Bible words of their correct meaning. His approach was best expressed in the statement of purpose he wrote for the College of the Bible handbook, where he argued that "the chief purpose of the College of the Bible is to provide Biblical instruction on liberal and scientific principles for students" and "to encourage an impartial and unbiased investigation of the sacred Scriptures, and in the spirit of devout faith in the Divine Word, freely to lay under tribute every source of light and truth available to modern scholarship." While it could be argued that the "devout faith in the Divine Word" pre-empted "an impartial and unbiased investigation of the sacred Scriptures," the aim was excellent.
Main was unhappy with those who took a wanton delight in manufacturing contradictions. He argued that difficulties were to be expected because no one could plumb the mind of God. Because of differing mental capacities, what were difficulties to some might not be to others. Supposed difficulties stimulating investigation, should be regarded as opportunities for growth. Main argued that rejection of the Scriptures because of difficulties, placed one in a less secure position than acceptance of Scripture authority in the face of opposed contradictions. Furthermore, for the person accepting the authority of Scripture, vital issues were set forth. Main himself did not baulk at difficulties, and was fair and accurate in his analyses. This logical exercise he
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obviously enjoyed, and confessed to finding in the Bible a perennial freshness. Also, contending that the Christian has a right to grow and change his view, he argued that the "man who never changed his mind is not in an enviable position."
Main's approach was not free from inconsistency, though this was more a product of subtle contradictions within the Movement's guidelines or of conflict between these and his natural inclination. Several examples will point this out. First, while he argued that "the wisest theologian, greatest scientist, and the most learned philosopher are on the same level as the most humble Christian" in their capacity for understanding the Scriptures, on another occasion, influenced by the need to underline the value of an educated ministry, he left his readers in no doubt of the advantage of scholarship.
Second, while acknowledging his indebtedness to scholars of all persuasions, he could nevertheless on occasions claim to be free of any interpretative bias whatever. As late as 1936, in reply to a correspondent, after outlining his answer to a question on the nature of the Kingdom of God, he wrote, "We have simply sought to give a Scriptural review, and, particularly to show, without any theorising whatever . . . " A third contradiction was evident in the fact that, while he professedly avoided advertising his preference for a particular theory, preferring to state the fact, he was frequently trapped into it. This was the case with his treatment of the atonement, where as Principal of the College he was under the close scrutiny of theological sleuths. He was nudged into revealing his views through comments he made on extreme positions he considered should be avoided.
However, despite these inconsistencies, Main's approach was solidly constructive. Most of the time his presentations, while rich in insight, were concerned with presenting what Churches of Christ regarded as basic Biblical fact, rather than theoretical explanations of these facts. He focused on what humble believers and Biblically conservative scholars were agreed were centralities. He studiously avoided raising doubts through his teaching and preaching, and sought to encourage similar behaviour in others. His basic emphasis was on living out the Word, and what did not promote this was of secondary importance, With what he had to say grounded in the authority of the Bible, Main was himself conscious of, and left others with the impression that he was speaking from a position of authority. He argued that there was no need for Christians "to assume an attitude of cringing humility and apology" when proclaiming their "faith in the abiding Word which came by revelation of the Spirit."
Anticipating that a sceptic would accuse believers of question-begging, he suggested that in such an event the Christian should reply by questioning the bigotry of the sceptic's broad-mindedness and demand of him answers to which his scepticism gave no easy answers. By 1930, however, he recognised that proclaiming the New Testament message, despite its inherent authority, would be uphill work.
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A. R. Main shared the distinctive beliefs of the Movement, though not blindly. His presentation of Disciple tenets reflected a capacity for acute analysis and brilliant synthesis.
He endorsed the Movement's plea for a recovery of the simplicity of the New Testament Church, whose doctrine was free of human interpretation, whose organisation conformed to the New Testament model, and whose ordinances were those instituted by the Saviour. He urged avoidance of the use of party names and argued that the phraseology of the New Testament, the language of revelation, should be used to describe spiritual realities. Finally, he felt that "regular attenders at our services should be in no doubt as to our disclaimer of a denominational position."
Main felt that the Movement's strength lay in its "definite and distinctive message" which was based on an impregnable Biblical position. As early as 1914, when he took over editorship following Dunn's death, he gave notice that the negative and defensive phase of the Movement's development was over, and that he intended adopting a more positive approach.
The fact that he wholeheartedly endorsed the plea of Churches of Christ did not mean that he was unaware of the Movement's shortcomings. These he occasionally pointed out. He admitted that such essentials as baptism were frequently over stressed. Inessential items had at times been treated as essential, such as when opinions become convictions, methods were regarded as principles, and interpretations became normative. Finally, he pointed out that the more subtle temptation to which Churches of Christ were prone was to imagining that all doctrine could be made simple.
Main considered that the greatest danger facing the Movement was the temptation to rest on the logic of the plea. While he could see that the fact that the message of Churches of Christ appealed to the common sense of the ordinary individual was "one of the greatest attractions" of the Disciple position, he was also aware that it could issue solely in mental assent to an intellectual position, and stop short of a saving yieldedness to the Saviour. To avoid such a "heresy of the heart," preachers should "stress the implications of the plea in the way of holy living, spirituality, consecrated service."
While he was regarded as wholly orthodox, when Main's presentation of the Churches of Christ position is clearly studied it can be recognised that his redefinition resulted in modification of certain basic theological positions. For example, in an article on "the intolerance of Christianity" he drew out the creedal implications of Peter's confession of Jesus' Messiahship, a necessary exercise which nevertheless contravened the Movement's stricture against creeds. One wonders whether Main recognised what he was doing when he began, "No one is a Christian who does not believe . . . " He also qualified basic guidelines. In an editorial on the Supper he endorsed
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the traditional view that Bible things should be spoken of in Bible words, and went on to point out that there were non-Biblical words, like sacramentum, which helped one towards a correct understanding of the rite. Furthermore, he advised that there were some traditional catch-phrases that he could only accept with great reservation. He disliked the term "primitive Christianity," because the word "primitive" was redundant, there being only one form of Christianity, which was "primitive" or it was not at all. Arguing that the word was ambiguous, he pointed out that "in pleading for Christianity as it was at the beginning, we are not guilty of the folly of advocating the observance of mere customs of bygone ages, but rather seeking to get men to accept a religion which is pure and undefiled, as it was revealed by the Holy and unchanged Son of God, and which in its essentials is permanent and unchanged." He further pointed out that the spirit of "primitive Christianity, a spirit of love, sharing, buoyancy and cheer, confidence and serenity, and abiding peace, has been inadequately practised by Restorationists." Main kept the promise made in his opening editorial, to present the truth in a new dress.
Against those who contended that distinctive preaching retarded progress, Main argued that the opposite was the case, particularly as "a sweeter spirit" now prevailed and made for "a happy conjunction of faithfulness and graciousness." He therefore urged preachers to nourish their confidence in the Restoration ministry to which God had called the Movement, and suggested that they acquaint themselves with the lives of the pioneers.
For Main, as for those who had preceded him, the golden age was in the past, and its reproduction sought in the present. "The Church of the twentieth century must be the Church of the first century."
Main's commitment to the Restoration position was clearly evident in his wholehearted endorsement of the Movement's view of salvation, or, as it was often referred to, conversion, and in his acceptance of the traditional concept of church government.
From the beginning, Churches of Christ were criticised for preaching salvation by baptism. This they repudiated by emphasising that salvation was God's act. Main was no less insistent on the Divine initiative. He pointed out that while a human response was required to appropriate salvation, the "foundation principle of our Christian religion" was "that we are saved by grace." He was aware, however, that with the attention Disciples gave to the human response in the conversion experience, they were in danger of slipping into a mechanical concept of salvation.
Taking a serious view of sin, Main saw the death of Christ releasing responsive sinners from its guilt, punishment, power, and presence. It was,
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however, the atonement as a fact, rather than theories about it, that he felt should be preached.
Salvation, secured through the atonement, was appropriated by faith. But it was a faith that needed to be expressed in action. The action called for involved repentance, that is, the forsaking of sin and determination to live a new and reformed life. It also included the public acceptance and acknowledgment of Christ as Saviour. The initial obedience of faith culminated in the act of baptism. Repentant believers were its subjects and immersion its method. Finally, believers needed to "continue steadfastly" in the faith. Salvation could be lost. Challenging those who argued that once an individual was saved there was no chance of his failing away and that apparent reprobates had never really been Christians, he wrote, "We think it is an unwarrantable inference, and the most unchristian declaration to make, of a man once an earnest Christian worker and now, alas a backslider, that he never had any Christian standing."
Main saw baptism as culminating the initial response of obedience necessary for appropriating salvation. It was at this climatic point in the human response that forgiveness was received and the individual regenerated. The symbolic re-birth in water occurred at the same time as spiritual re-birth. It was impossible, Main contended, "to give Scriptural warrant for the separation between the physical and spiritual act." Baptism was also, therefore, "the means, on the human side, of initiation into the Body of Christ." The corollary of this was that children of Christians, by merely being educated in the Christian understandings, did not automatically become Christians. Sunday School tuition should be regarded, not as a means of entry into the Kingdom, but as a preparation for the later deliberate choice of the scholar to seek public identification with Christ in baptism.
Because of their baptismal theology, Churches of Christ were charged with two errors--baptismal regeneration and regarding baptism as essential to salvation. To the accusation that Churches of Christ, like Roman Catholics, taught salvation by works, Main answered that they had never taught that baptism operated mechanically. In linking baptism, forgiveness, and entry into the Body of Christ, they were merely using Scriptural language. Furthermore, he pointed out that there was little warrant for the charge of baptismal regeneration as they were claiming no more than the delegates at Lausanne in 1927 who had stated "that in baptism administered with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are baptised by one Spirit into one body."
To the accusation that Churches of Christ regarded baptism as essential to salvation, Main replied that "there have been throughout the Christian centuries hosts of pious people who have never heard of the true Bible teaching regarding baptism, yet who sincerely loved the Lord--it is both ridiculous and libellous to say that Churches of Christ affirm the non-salvation of such through the doctrine of the essential nature of baptism."
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Those, however, who were better acquainted with the significance of baptism, and refused obedience, were in a different situation. Main's attitude to the unbaptised was best expressed in a passage in First Principles, where he wrote, "The Lord has been gracious enough to promise certain blessings to the obedient believer. It is our privilege to thankfully accept these, and to pass on the promises to others by faithful proclamation of the Saviour's Word. It is not ours to either promise blessings where he has not promised them, or to judge men who are ignorant of the New Testament teaching, yet live up to the light they have."
Reflecting, in his personal view of salvation, the shift to a more accepting attitude that became pronounced at the turn of the century, Main was caught inevitably between the traditional baptismal theology and his desire to accept as Christians the saints of other communions. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that, despite his attempted synthesis, a logical exercise worthy of an intellectual Houdini, contradictions remained!
A similar dilemma was evident in his theology of the ministry.
On the one hand, Main rejected the distinction between clergy and laity. He attacked the distinction drawn by Roman Catholics between the secular and religious life. He insisted, "The Scriptural view of a happy domestic life, the ordinary life of the labourer, the artisan, or the professional man, as acceptable to God as is the best which any recluse or cenobite ever offered." He also opposed the concept of episcopacy. He argued that in the New Testament each congregation had a plurality of elders or bishops. He was particularly incensed with those claiming apostolic succession, a doctrine "at war with both Scripture and common sense." He contended that there was "not a scrap of evidence supporting it." "The apostles as such had no successors." He was no more happy with other bodies that denied sacerdotalism and yet had "a clerical caste with special privileges"--who enjoyed the advantage, over the home missionaries, of being able to "administer the sacraments."
Among the latter he included the Baptists, who distinguished between clergy and laity and called their ordained men "Reverend". His sensitivity at this point, deriving from a personal loathing of pretentiousness, and criticism of the Movement as a body lacking lettered and ordained men, was evident in a comment in 1916 that "there are ordained men with pride and exclusiveness enough to sink a dreadnought . . . who, judged by the test of ability, education, consecration, or spiritual results, are not worthy to tie the shoe lace of some of the men of God whose ministry they deny." Aware that the Movement could slip into acceptance of a professional clergy, he warned, "in our judgment, one of the greatest calamities which could befall the Restoration Movement would be that it should have attached to it a clerical, professional, or any pharisaical class of men, who, misnamed 'ministers!' would seek to be magisters." To ensure that the Movement would avoid such an eventuality, he discouraged
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the use even of "Doctor"--advice which he followed in his own case. He was even unhappy using the term "full-time."
At the same time as he was strengthening the Movement's opposition to clerical distinction, Main was laying the foundation for the enhancement of the role of the evangelist. When the Victorian Conference of 1918 debated the concept of mutual ministry, resolving to "preserve this characteristic of primitive Christianity" he emphasised that this should not be taken as a decision to "return to the atrocities of 25 years ago." He pointed out that the Body of Christ was not all mouth, and that it was not Scriptural that every man had an inalienable right to teach and exhort. Aspiring evangelists needed a good natural ability and, in the light of this, it was obvious that some good men were never meant to be preachers. A "good head" was also necessary. While he frequently pointed out that spiritual development was more important than intellectual attainment, he was equally insistent on the fact that this did not mean that there was any premium on ignorance. Education and culture were as important as natural endowment. He argued that "it would be a terrible thing for Christianity if the impression were to get abroad that the only way to save faith was to neglect culture." He further argued that "to divorce education and faith is fortunately impossible; to make the attempt would be to adopt a policy of suicidal tendency. The religious world greatly needs an increased number of consecrated preachers and leaders who in education and culture are not one whit behind the best which the universities are now producing." In his position as Principal, Main recognised the need for a strong and informed leadership. He wrote in 1935 that "the clamant need of Churches of Christ in Australia is a greater number of consecrated preachers possessing gifts sufficient for the task of being leaders of thought in the great centres of population and of making an adequate impact upon the life of the community." If reaction to the clergy of other communions caused Main to stress the traditional aversion to a clergy-laity distinction, his recognition, as Principal of the College and brotherhood leader, of the need for gifted and educated preachers, and the effort he put into training them at the College, fostered a professionalism scarcely distinguishable from the official ministries of other churches.
By the turn of the century, Churches of Christ in Australia had awoken to the fact that unity was an important part of their plea. Influenced by factors that, late in the nineteenth century, helped generate this enthusiasm, Main, even if unwilling to compromise what he considered essential Biblical truth, deliberately set out to cultivate within the Movement an awareness and acceptance of other Christians.
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Main argued that Christians should be concerned about unity because it was the will of God. Other reasons were secondary. If the plea was furnished by the New Testament, so too was the programme. In line with traditional theology, Main argued that the unity willed by God was both spiritual and visible. Spiritual unity on its own was insufficient because it did not take account of Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17, envisaging a unity of which the world would be aware. Commenting on the nature of this visible unity, he suggested that the word "organic" should be avoided because it was not Biblical, though he did admit that the Church, as the Body of Christ, was an organism. In discouraging the use of the word "organic" he was also anxious to scotch the notion that the Church should have a single human headquarters. Even co-operation and federation were unacceptable and could not be regarded as a satisfactory substitute for the New Testament position. The ideal was the reproduction of what the Movement saw as the New Testament pattern. This involved the unity within and between local autonomous congregations, that is, "one visible organism on earth, one Church composed of members wearing the same name, making the same creedal confession and entering the Church by the same initiatory ordinance, friendly and loving in their attitude." The distinguishing characteristic of Main's Christian unity emphasis was its focus on Christ. Speaking in 1940 at the 75th anniversary of the Lygon Street church, he stated that the essence of the plea which Churches of Christ have made "was the putting of the pre-eminent Christ in his rightful place, and for the profession and practice, now as in the early days, of a religion which expresses itself in terms of Christ--so that in name, message, creed, ordinance, life, and hope, he, our Blessed Lord, may be exalted, and given central place in our lives." He went on to say that "the appeal, rightly made, and understood, has not been that people come to us, but rather that we all come to Christ, hear him, and obey him as our Lord and Master, making a common faith in loyalty to him the bond of union and a test of Christian fellowship."
Since the Lambeth Conference of 1888, Anglicans had been talking unity. In commenting on their overtures to other Churches, Main commended them for their willingness to face up honestly to divisive issues. However, while praising the spirit of brotherliness that marked their utterances, he pointed out that there were several factors in their approach which Churches of Christ could not accept--the requirement of a creedal basis, episcopacy and the doctrine of apostolic succession, the implication that others would need to join them, and the growing interest among Anglicans in union with Rome.
Negotiations between Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists, which began in earnest in the second decade of this century, also drew favourable comment from Main. While he felt that this union, if consummated, would fall short of the New Testament ideal, he did say that "we may, however, express our pleasure that three bodies so influential and with so
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much in common, should give themselves thus seriously to the removal of the reproach of division. We cannot but thank God for the sign of progress, and sincerely trust that not only may this proposed union be consummated, but that it will be but the beginning of a wider movement which Will be for God's glory and the good of mankind". Because of the fact that he considered Churches of Christ had not merely a contribution to make, but that they had a responsibility to share with others their discovery of the Divine blueprint for union, Main was unhappy when they were overlooked in discussions on union or erroneously listed among those opposed to union.
When a World Conference on Faith and Order was first mooted, Main commented, "Our sympathies must be with those who labour for the union of believers in the Lord. Their purpose is a noble one, and their motives are pure and disinterested." Several months later he argued that, while there was little hope of Christian unity till the teachings and practices of the Word of God were substituted for human tradition, "still the aim and motive of those responsible for the overtures are so admirable and Christlike that we must sincerely wish them blessing in their efforts." Commenting on the proposed agenda and the call to unity of the 1927 Lausanne Conference, Main remarked, "We cannot but rejoice at such a statement. It is most cheering to think of an international conference representing so many different communions coming to agreement regarding the need of unity and the message of the gospel." Main was happy with the Lausanne statement that acknowledged sin as being the major cause of division, emphasised the need to return to the Scriptures for a basis for unity, and came up with the baptismal creed that he felt accorded with the Restoration position. He followed the Oxford and Edinburgh Conferences with interest. When the Victorian Regional Committee of the World Conference of Faith and Order was set up, he argued that Churches of Christ should be involved and "in a loving spirit of co-operation bring our contribution to the union conferences." In 1937 considering that members should be adequately informed of what was proposed, he published a prospectus of the projected World Council of Churches. To allay the suspicion of those who hesitated at involvement, even if only at this stage of the level of sympathy, he later pointed out that this new body was not a federation of Churches, but a Council where Churches of Christ should be represented to place before other churches their plea for a New Testament based unity.
To further the cause of unity Main sought to promote within Churches of Christ an understanding and acceptance of other communions. He pointed out that Churches of Christ shared with other Protestants belief in the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures, the sole mediatorship of Jesus Christ and the sufficiency of his sacrifice, the priesthood of all believers, and the doctrine of justification by faith. Furthermore, he was quick to underline the contribution other Churches had made to the elucidation of Christian understandings.
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His charity, however, baulked at Roman Catholicism. He warned of the political aspirations of the Roman pontiff, whose wealth contrasted with the poverty of Christ, and whose interference in Australian society was evident in decrees relating to mixed marriages and agitation for State grants to Catholic schools. Among that Church's deadly errors he listed the notion that there was no salvation outside Rome, the placing of tradition on a level with Scripture, Mariolatry and the idolatrous mediatorship of the saints, the professed right to modify the ordinances of God's appointment, a hierarchy on the Jewish and pagan model, the decreed infallibility of the Pope, the un-Scriptural doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which included the catapulting into limbo of unbaptised infants, the blasphemous doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, oracular confession, and the sale of indulgences. Despite his abhorrence of what he considered erroneous doctrine, and the inflammatory and seemingly unpatriotic statements of Dr. Mannix, Main did point out that his celebration of the Protestant Reformation should not be construed as primarily anti-Catholic agitation. He stressed that he had "no special bias against Roman Catholics." Great numbers lived excellent lives, among them some of the world's true saints. He even admitted that certain Popes had been excellent men. In 1938 he commended Archbishop Duhig, of Brisbane, for his outspoken and honest confession of where he stood. Part of the reason for the softening of Main's attitude in the thirties was that he came increasingly to regard Catholics as allies against critics denying the authority of the Scriptures.
In the interests of unity, he drew attention to the fact that Churches of Christ had originated through Thomas Campbell's concern for unity. Praising the beautiful spirit of love pervading the Declaration and Address, Main pointed out to fellow Disciples that their advocacy of New Testament union was in danger of being under-cut if accompanied by an unchristian spirit which failed "to recognise the standing of other Christians, the devotion of their lives to Christ and their efforts (which at times may shame us) to advance the Kingdom of God." He pointed out that they "should be on guard against accepting the very position which they condemned in others." He wrote, "Let us remember that we may disallow sectarianism and be sectarian at heart. It is possible to use a New Testament name in a denominational sense . . . It is possible for us to put our people in the forefront, that we seek to become great and strong rather than that we wish to advance the Kingdom of God." In line with this he went on to remark that the saints were not confined to one communion, that no one Body had all the truth, and therefore Disciples had much to learn from others.
In his gracious attitude towards other Christians, Main showed the way. Apart from a rare lapse into sarcasm, he was generous in his praise of others. This was evident in his description of Dr. Fitchett, Methodist editor of the Southern Cross, as "an ornament to Australian literature and a much esteemed
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religious leader." He pointed out, from experience, that it is possible to love those with whom one disagrees, and suggested that "when we all act as we profess to believe, doubtless divisions will vanish."
However, despite his advocacy of a greater spirit of brotherliness, and his urging the Movement to involve itself in ecumenical encounter, the effectiveness of Main's approach was under-cut by several factors. Considering that they were responsible for sharing their insights with others, which involved inviting members of other communions to forsake their denominationalism, Churches of Christ continued to be charged with "sheepstealing." To this Main replied that they were not asking others to deny their form of faith, "to give up their views and to adopt ours," and hence, to "join us and take our position." However, his justification of the Disciples approach, that is, that "it is Christ's word, the Lord's requirement, the will of God, as revealed in the New Testament, which we ask you to accept and obey," seeming still to suggest a monopoly of insight, did nothing to allay suspicion. It continued rather than dispelled this distrust. The dilemma in which Main was caught, between Restoration convictions and his acceptance of others as Christians, was evident in a reply he made in 1929 to the accusation that the Movement was deliberately proselytising. He wrote, "They who take a purely unsecular position, and who preach Christ, urging their hearers to accept the Lord Jesus as Saviour and comply with the initial requirements of the gospel as well as honour the Lord in a life of service, are not asking folk to unite with them; though, of course, to the extent that preachers and hearers both comply with the advice, they will be united. All the Lord's people are members of his body, the Church and all the redeemed of the earth are of the one family. We never ask men to join our church, but let them know what God has done for their redemption, and what he requires them to do in order to accept his salvation." He closed by emphasising that the prospective convert is won, not to a position, but to Christ.
Baptism was the major stumbling block. Though he stated that "the acceptance of Jesus as Son of God and Saviour, the submission to him and obedience to his Word, are all that is necessary for union," and stressed that the matter of union was not a matter of accordance of beliefs about Christ but a shared experience of being "in Christ," he was unwilling to compromise on baptism. He realised that not all Australian Disciples were as insistent as he. He took T. H. Scambler, who was to succeed him as Principal, to task in 1916 for stating that the Movement's plea for union involved "the recognition as Christian of all who sincerely love and serve the Lord Jesus, whether they coincide with us in doctrines and ordinances or not." Main's argument was that "no one could begin to prove from the Scriptures that any unbaptised person was admitted as a member of the Church. As the Lord has not revealed any change in his plan, we would be without warrant, if we were to take it upon ourselves to admit such today." Though he argued that "such a
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position may well be held together with a true charity and with a refusal to judge those who may have a defective knowledge rather than of love" his position was a tacit denial of their complete authenticity, and isolated Churches of Christ from non-immersionist bodies.
To appreciate his stance it has to be understood that Main's primary loyalty was to the Scriptures. While he stressed that Churches of Christ were "willing to unite with any people at any time on the Scriptures," he would not compromise what he believed to be the truth. For him, therefore, Christian union was secondary, and not to be pursued if it meant "the toleration of the denial of the fundamental truths of our faith." He pointed out that, while the Saviour had prayed for union, he had also prayed that the disciples be sanctified by the truth. He stressed to fellow Disciples that "we cannot seek a peace or union at war with truth. It is but half of our plea to say that we plead for union. We seek for union on the basis revealed in the Word of God." Succinctly put, his opinion was that "the Restoration plea is at once a more fundamental and a broader one than a plea for union as such. Not even for a union of the scattered hosts of Christendom would we give up our Biblical heritage, The person who stands for that which has New Testament authority is not responsible for any resultant separation from people who will not so stand."
A further factor reducing the effectiveness of Main's advocacy of Christian unity was that he was himself, especially after 1913 and apart from discussions with Baptists, personally uninvolved in unity initiatives. His intense shyness, heavy workload, and perhaps even an unwillingness to be placed in a situation where he would have to defend certain of his statements that were open to the charge of inconsistency, could well have been responsible for his shying away from active involvement, certainly after the early twenties.
In later years Main came to make his contribution to Christian unity through his pen. Finally, he was never in doubt of the fulfilment of Christ's prayer for unity, nor of the relevance of the Restoration message as the means of its consummation. Addressing himself to the subject of reconstruction in 1917, he wrote, "Our work of building, of construction and reconstruction, will never be complete till the New Testament faith and life are found in all the earth, until the scattered hosts of the people of God constitute one body, united in one God and Lord and Spirit, holding one faith, one baptism and one hope; till the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ shine on every man for whom the Lord Jesus died."
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During the period 1930-1950 the Christian Church was challenged and deeply influenced by the depression of the thirties and the holocaust that Hitler unleashed in 1939.
One result in Churches of Christ was the development of a greater professionalism within its full-time ministry.
Heavily dependent upon the export of primary products, Australia was early and severely affected by the world-wide depression of the thirties. By 1933, nearly 30% of bread-winners were unemployed.
In all States local churches offered what relief they could to the families of members out of work. Where it was possible, needy cases outside the membership were attended to, help being given on a district basis. In Victoria, where the largest membership was located, the situation was most critical. One church near Melbourne had not one male member working.
The newly-established Victorian Social Service Committee, though desperately short of money, made every effort to assist the churches. A workshop was established in the basement of Bradshaw's building in Melbourne, where the women's Social Service Auxiliary made and distributed clothing. In 1931, the Department reported having helped 2,800 individuals, representing 1,200 different cases. This assistance, running the gamut of human need, included the arranging of legal assistance and the purchase of spectacles and dentures.
A significant development during these years was the launching of the Christian Fellowship Association in the Melbourne Town Hall in September, 1935. The scheme was based on the principle that the strong should help the weak. Within its first ten years of operation the Christian Fellowship
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Association which also established itself in other States, made loans without interest and gifts in excess of £2,000.
The man responsible for this bold initiative was Will H. Clay. Born in Birmingham, England on March 4, 1875, Will was brought to Australia by his parents two years later. They settled temporarily in Sydney, where they eked out a meagre existence, using packing cases for furniture. They then moved to Lithgow, where Will's father built a log cabin on the side of a mountain. At fourteen Will, after the family had moved back to Granville, secured work at Hudson Brothers' Foundry. His ten shillings a week supplemented the family income. Sent to a Baptist Sunday School, Will was later baptised at the Auburn Baptist church. Refusing to become a burden on his parents during the depression of the 1890's, Will, at 21, signed on as a trimmer in the S. S. Woolloomooloo. Back in Australia, after a period in England, he entered into partnership with his brother in a general store. Leaving the Baptist church when one of the members was withdrawn from without adequate explanation from the officers, Clay began preaching in Churches of Christ chapels in New South Wales. His forte, however, was song-leading. His ministry as song evangelist with Thomas Haggar and Gilbert Chandler is still fresh in the memory of surviving contemporaries. After successful evangelistic ministries at South Melbourne and Subiaco, Western Australia, Clay was appointed secretary/superintendent of the Churches of Christ Department of Social Service in Victoria in June, 1926, and appointed director in 1950. Not a man to abide hypocrisy, Clay was not afraid to speak out against injustice. He had a sense of humour, and in meeting human need didn't hesitate to put himself or his Department at risk. It was mainly through his initiative that the Christian Guest Home, Oakleigh, Emmaus Rest Home, and the Will H. Clay Nursing Home (now Churches of Christ Hospital) at Murrumbeena came into existence. But this in no way exhausted his effort. He was director of the Social Questions and Services Board of the Federal Conference of Churches of Christ in Australia, and represented Churches of Christ on such organisations as the Good Neighbour Council of Victoria, Travellers' Aid Society, Federal Interchurch Migration Committee, Save the Children Fund, and the Australian Association for the United Nations. Furthermore, he initiated the United Social Questions Secretariat, which was made up of one representative from each of the Protestant churches. In addition, he was for many years a chaplain at Pentridge Prison and Chairman of the Lord Mayor's Hospital Sunday Committee. It was largely at his instigation that the Victorian Government appointed a committee of five, which included Will, to enquire into conditions in mental hospitals. He also served on a committee that was invited to advise on the developing of a Diploma of Social Studies course at Melbourne University. Appointed a J.P. in 1931, Clay was elected President of the Victorian Conference for the year 1935-6. Finally, it was he who organised the Food for British Appeal at the time of the 1939-45 war. It is
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little wonder that he was awarded the M.B.E. in 1956. It was men of this calibre who, in the years 1930-50, gauged the social implications of the gospel and pioneered a new phase in the development of State Conference Departments of Social Service.
Besides offering relief, churches endeavoured to secure and create jobs for the unemployed. The New South Wales Social Service Department, under the leadership of C. R. Burdeu, who had transferred to Sydney in 1929 as senior examiner of the Pensions Department, arranged odd jobs for unemployed members. Some went from house to house as gold buyers, while others painted churches with paints supplied by local congregations. Payment was met from Sunday evening services. When he later shifted to Queensland as chief clerk of the Brisbane Pensions Office, Burdeu inspired the Queensland Social Service Department to launch an experimental training scheme for the unemployed. The experiment, however, was aborted when it ran into union trouble. In the early 1930's the South Australian Prohibition and Social Service Department leased 400 acres on the Finnis River near Mt. Compass, on which to settle unemployed families. This was later taken over by the Unemployed Relief Council. In Victoria, the Department was able to find work for women and girls as domestics and arranged for the billeting of young children with country members. It was, however, almost impossible to find work for the hundreds of unemployed men associated with the churches. To help alleviate the situation a League of Fellowship was organised to collect waste material. Eight thousand calico bags were obtained, three motor vans purchased, and a property for sorting, storing, and packing rented. Members were offered jobs soliciting and collecting material. However, as the War Salvage Commission made prior claim to salvage, and as the difficulties of collecting and marketing the material increased, the Department was compelled to terminate the project.
Attempting to deal with what was felt to be at the root of the problem, the South Australian Conference of 1935 urged the Commonwealth Government to "provide the full basic wage for all men unemployed," arguing that "so long as our society upholds an economic and legal system which shuts off many thousands of those who should be bread-winners from access to the means of production, it should be prepared to do justice to those just deprived by granting them out of the abundance of goods which the system produces the means of a full life."
Because of the number of members unemployed, many congregations were forced to discharge their preachers. Those remaining were on reduced salaries. The seriousness of the situation was recognised as early as 1933. By 1934 preachers were being forced into competition with each other for the available churches on the basis of qualification and the minimum salary they were prepared to accept. That year Main reprimanded congregations for fostering competitiveness through their inviting enquiry from several men at
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the same time. In 1935 Victorian preachers publicly requested the churches to "forsake the present practice" and to "adopt the method of calling a preacher by way of a definite invitation."
The experience of the depression years convinced many that State Advisory Boards should be more frequently consulted and given greater authority. It was also felt that a method should be devised for accepting men into the ministry which involved the united action of the churches, who would then be morally responsible for finding employment for them. It was further suggested that the College should be more selective in accepting young men for ministry-training. These suggestions were acted upon. Advisory and Preacher Placement boards found their services in greater demand and the Victorian Conference suggested to churches that they only accept men endorsed by the Advisory Board. College entrance standards were lifted, and the question of ordination came under serious consideration. From the latter, two practices developed. Many churches, on the recommendation of the 1933 Federal Conference, inducted new preachers with services "of recognition in keeping with the dignity of their work," and the College, in 1941, began ordaining graduating students at a public function at the close of the College year.
During the war years Churches of Christ preachers, serving alongside ministers of other communions as chaplains, were treated on a par with the clergy of other churches. At the conclusion of the war, twenty-one ex-servicemen applied for entry to Glen Iris. Assisted by the post-war reconstruction scheme that recognised Glen Iris as a university-type institution, they swelled the depleted ranks of the College community, which was coming increasingly to view the ministry as a professional calling.
With many churches unable to support preachers, there was little money available to finance Conference Committees and offices. By 1931 State Committees were finding it difficult to maintain their work. It was not until 1940 that there was a significant increase in giving. To keep functioning, Committees reduced the scope of their work and arranged for guarantors. In Western Australia, Albany Bell, President of the 1936-37 Conference, approached members who were farmers and asked them to sow five acres of wheat for Home Missions The 1936 season realised £127/5/6 from 12 families.
Of Federal Conference committees, the hardest hit were the two with the largest budgets--the College and Foreign Mission Department. As early as 1931, the College, which was unendowed and relied almost exclusively on bequests and "the regular freewill offerings of sympathetic Christians," faced a crisis. Lecturers' salaries, low to begin with, were reduced 40%. They were receiving less than the minimum wage of 21-year-old graduating apprentices. The effect upon foreign Mission work was not felt until the
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1934-1935 budget when there was a 10% cut on all Departmental work and a 5% reduction in missionary salaries. Before the end of the year the budget was again reduced, and Indian missionaries were asked to accept their salaries at the ruling rate of the rupee. In both instances, while the situation did not worsen, recovery was slow.
Churches of Christ heartily supported the 1932 Geneva Disarmament Conference, hoping that "limitation of armaments" would be "a step towards the abolition of war." However, when they learnt that Germany intended re-arming, this premature optimism disappeared. Main commented that "we have again the old menace of a race in armaments and preparations for war."
While Conferences continued passing resolutions urging the Government to encourage internal disarmament, it was clear that war was inevitable. The build-up of anxiety and change of mood was evident in Conference resolutions. In Western Australia, the Conference of 1937 urged support of movements "for the non-recognition of the gains of aggressive nations" and of the "collective action of persuasion." More strongly worded was the resolution of the 1939 New South Wales Conference which expressed "approval of the present firm stand of the British Government against aggressive powers."
When war came there were not the loud protestations of loyalty to King and Empire, or resolutions declaring the righteousness of the allied cause, such as had accompanied the outbreak of hostilities in the first world war. The mood was one of resignation and busy preparation. Three days after war was declared Main wrote, "War has come again. For the second time men of middle age and over have to face the horrors of widespread war."
When it was proposed to re-introduce compulsory military training in 1936, Federal Conference, at the instigation of the Victorian Executive, offered "wholehearted support" to "any of its members who as conscientious objectors refused to prepare for or take part in any war as a combatant." While the churches were happy with the Government's treatment of pacifists, State and Federal Conferences continued to agitate for the British practice of trial before civil tribunals.
The suffering and courage of the British in the Battle of Britain during July to September, 1940, evoked an immediate admiration and sympathy from the churches. Church homes were open to children evacuated by overseas authorities, and an appeal was made to churches to assist British brethren who had suffered in the bombing. In all 10,000 parcels were forwarded through the Federal Social Service Department.
Concern for the spiritual and moral welfare of those serving in the Forces led many preachers to volunteer their services as chaplains. By 1944, twenty to thirty men were working under Allen Brooke, a Churches of Christ minister recently appointed O. P. D. Chaplain General.
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When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in December, 1941, Australians took fright. In 1942, after the bombing of Darwin, the Western Australian Conference set up a Field Direction Committee to assist members in case of evacuation. In Queensland the newly-elected Federal Executive asked the previous (Adelaide) Executive to "retain their office for a period of 12 months."
From the point of view of the churches, the second world war differed significantly from the first in two ways. First, they were unhappy because the Government did not during 1939-45 restrict the distribution and consumption of liquor. Second, because they were not as convinced of the righteousness of the Allies' cause, they could not bring themselves to accept that God was wholly on their side. A. G. Elliott, a Churches of Christ minister working as an intelligent officer with the Air Force, argued that there was no such thing as a truly Christian nation and that there was "much within the Empire . . . not in harmony with God's will."
When the war came to an end, no special committees were appointed to rehabilitate ex-service men. The matter was left with individual churches. In contrast to the dislocation that followed the first world war, the transfer from military to civilian life occurred swiftly and smoothly. Many returned to old jobs and others were trained for new ones.
Over the period 1930-1952, the roll membership of Australian Churches of Christ decreased from 31,105 to 29,258. Three States increased and three decreased in membership. The New South Wales figure rose from 5,006 to 5,977, Tasmania from 823 to 918, and Western Australia from 2,788 to 2,919. The greatest loss was suffered by South Australia which dropped from 8,158 to 5,291. Victoria followed with a fall from 13,335 to 11,196. Queensland's decrease was minimal--from 2,968 to 2,957. By way of comparison, it is interesting, comparing the Commonwealth Census returns of 1933 and 1947 that Baptists made their largest gain in New South Wales
A combination of factors was responsible for the membership decline between 1930 and 1950. At the beginning of the period the depression shifted attention from evangelism to social service. Furthermore, many churches, lacking adequate finance, were forced to discharge their preachers. In Victoria, the churches were further handicapped by building debts incurred during the previous era which had witnessed unprecedented building activity, and the financial demands of newly-formed and expanding Conference Departments. The churches had not fully recovered from the effect of the depression when war broke out Congregations were again
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thinned and many preachers signed up as chaplains. The Japanese offensive of 1942 further distracted attention from evangelism. After the war a continuing shortage of preachers, the urgent need for new housing which was given greater priority, and in Victoria the depressed state of country churches continued to retard progress. Finally, the secular tendencies of the new age must also be taken into account.
Much of the increase in New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia came from Hinrichsen missions. During the Conference year 1941-42, E. C. Hinrichsen, as New South Wales director of evangelism, held missions throughout that State, with 600 baptisms. Later, in 1948, at missions at South Perth, Northam, and Subiaco, Western Australia, 237 decisions were registered. Recognising that the only chance of a "forward move" lay in Hinrichsen's impassioned evangelism, State Home Mission Committees vied with each other for his services.
The decline in membership in the period 1930-1950 was offset by significant Conference developments. At both State and Federal levels, established Committees expanded their areas of ministry, new Departments were formed, and the attempt was made to achieve a greater degree of cooperation and centralisation.
The most significant development within State Conference structures was the entry of Social Service Committees into the area of institutional development. This was evident in the report of the Social Questions and Services Board to the 1952 Federal Conference, which listed projects already completed. These included a Home for the Aged and Nursing Home in Victoria, a Home for women and boys' Home in New South Wales, an Aged Christians' Home in Queensland, a Christian Rest Home in South Australia, a boys' Hostel in Tasmania, and a Hospital in Western Australia.
During this period the Federal Home Mission Committee concerned itself with establishing a church at Canberra, catering for members of the forces posted to Darwin, and with planning a work at Townsville, Queensland.
In Perth the Western Australian committee of the College of the Bible and the College Training Committee amalgamated to form the Western Bible College Committee. Courses set by Glen Iris and supervised by A. G. Elliott, M.A., B. Sc., Dip. Ed. counted towards the Glen Iris diploma.
During the period Churches of Christ mission work in China was brought to an end. Missionaries had been working in Hueili, Southern Szechwan, in Western China and at Shanghai. There were four missionaries--the Andersons and Watermans--at Hueili in 1932. However, the death of Will Waterman and illness of Mrs Anderson forced the return of the remaining three. The mission
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was brought under the supervision of the Chinese Home Missions Society, an undenominational organisation. In 1935, Chinese Communist troops on their long march raided and burned the mission premises. Following the Japanese bombing of Shanghai in November, 1937, when the second mission complex was destroyed, the Christians associated with the mission linked up with other bodies.
The nineteenth century witnessed isolated and mostly short-lived attempts at improving the lot of the Aborigine, most coming under the paternal though generally half-hearted oversight of the churches. A few enjoyed government recognition. It was not until the twentieth century that the problem was seriously faced. However, even then, especially before the 1930's a basic lack of interest in the dark man, wedded to fear, prejudice and cruelty, severely handicapped the few who were fired with evangelistic and benevolent zeal.
Early in the twentieth century, individual members of Churches of Christ were working with the Australian Inland and the United Aborigines Missions. Apart from these, the individual within the Movement who did most to help the Aborigine during this period was Arthur P. A. Burdeu, elder brother of C. R. Burdeu. Born at Ballarat, Burdeu was employed as a clerk by the Victorian Railways. He rose to a senior position, becoming President of the Federation of Salaried Officers of Railway Commissioners. His enthusiasm for the cause of the Australian Aborigine led to ceaseless campaigning for their betterment and equality at both State and Federal Government levels. He persuaded the Victorian Railways Commissioners in 1929 to allow free carriage of relief clothing to aboriginal settlements in country towns and reserves. Largely through his efforts, the Commonwealth Department of Social Service in 1942 granted Aborigines, on a much wider scale than previously, aged and invalid pensions. In the late 1930's he organised the Aborigines Uplift Society to secure employment for native women and girls, to collect clothing, and arrange hospital treatment for those needing it. The esteem in which Burdeu was held can be judged by the fact that the Australian Aborigines League, a movement initiated in 1935 by Aborigines, made him their president.
The 1930's saw an upsurge of interest in the Aborigine. Reports of gross cruelty were publicised and anthropologists were debunking the folk theory of the Aborigines' lesser intelligence. With a threatened extinction of the full-blood, thoughtful white Australians were beginning to have guilt twinges.
It was in 1938 that Churches of Christ set up a Federal Aborigines Mission Board. In 1936 a mission station was commenced at Norseman, Western Australia, under the auspices of the Australian Inland Mission, by Miss Eadie, a member of the New Zealand Churches of Christ, and Miss Ethel Bentley. In 1942 Miss Bentley retired and Miss Eadie had to return to New Zealand to
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look after her mother. Before leaving she invited the F.A.B.M. to take over the station. A second mission was opened at Carnarvon in 1945 at the suggestion of the Western Australian Government. Despite strong opposition from local pastoralists and townspeople, the Carnarvon work, under the pioneering leadership of D. G. Hammer, made substantial progress. In 1948, Hammer became Federal Organising Secretary of the Department.
Aborigine mission work among Churches of Christ since the 1940's has been largely located in Western Australia, where a training home for girls was opened at Esperance in 1964 and where a northern outreach programme into the Kimberley Ranges, under the inspiration of Bob Williams, a full-blood tribal leader was organised in the late 60's. Additional centres have been developed at Roelands, Fairhaven, Bainburra, Kalgoorlie, and Looma. The work among children and adults at mission homes at Christian Centres in the West were supplemented by initiatives at Cummeragunja and Mooroopna, Victoria, at Balladoran and Cubawee in New South Wales, and at Eidsvold in Queensland.
One of the most significant developments over recent years has been recognition of the plight of urban Aborigines. The early work at Fitzroy in Victoria has been supplemented in the last few years by urban outreach in Perth, Adelaide, and Tamworth. This resulted largely from the initiative of native pastors. Aborigines taking the lead in Churches of Christ aboriginal mission work are Sonny Graham, Peter Jamieson, Jim Bienndurry, and Bob Brown.
The most widely known aboriginal member of the Churches of Christ is pastor Doug Nicholls. Born at Cummeragunja on the Murray on December 9, 1906, Nicholls gained renown as an athlete and footballer. He was baptised in 1932 in the Northcote Church of Christ by W. W. Saunders. He preached his first sermon at the Mooroopna Church. For his work at the Gore Street, Fitzroy church, a venture brought under the aegis of Churches of Christ Aborigines Committee of Victoria in 1944, and his pioneering the advance of his people at every level, that he came to be well known. He was awarded the M. B. E. in 1957, and voted Father of the Year (Victoria) in 1962. He became the subject of a biography in 1965, was knighted in 1972, and appointed Governor of South Australia in 1976, a post from which ill health soon forced him to retire-
The desire of State Conferences to co-ordinate more effectively the work of churches and Committees was evident in a number of developments during the period 1930-1950. These included the incorporation of the New South Wales, Queensland, and Victorian State brotherhoods to allow for more efficient property management, and the desire of the Western Australian and Queensland Conferences for brotherhood centres. Additional instances were the separation in Queensland and South Australia of Executive and
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Home Mission committees, and the extension of the mandate of Preachers' Advisory Boards in Queensland and Victoria. In New South Wales, Conference Committees met to co-ordinate financial appeals, and in Victoria a committee was formed in 1948 to systematise "the work of Conference Departments in order to secure a well balanced programme of all brotherhood work." Concern was felt that Conference Committees, by monopolising the time allowed at Annual Conferences for the discussion of their work, were usurping the function of Conference as the ultimate authority and policy-making body.
At the same time as State Conferences sought greater executive control over Committees, Federal Conference attempted to co-ordinate, at Federal level, the function of State Committees. Work was carried out on the co-ordination of State Social Service, Christian Education, and Christian Union committees. The role of Federal Conference was also enhanced by the setting up at the 1946 Federal Conference of a permanent Federal Executive.
At the 1936 Federal Conference, the Social Questions and Services Board was set up to co-ordinate the work of State Committees. The Victorian Committee was authorised to act as the Federal body. However, differences in State laws and the reluctance of State Committees to be inhibited by Federal directives, restrained the role of the Federal Board to collating institutional statistics and introducing social and political resolutions to Federal Conference.
At the 1944 Federal Conference it was announced that the Victorian Young People's Department, which for five successive periods had served as Federal Bible School and Young People's Department, had enjoyed a measure of success in its attempt to "co-ordinate youth activities and promote patterns of club activities common to all stages." The need for a Federal Department, separate from the Victorian committee, was endorsed by the 1946 Conference, and in May, 1947, the Federal Board of Christian Education came into existence. With V. C. Stafford full-time Director and Editor of publications, the Federal Committee was responsible for the Austral Graded Lessons and the promotion of "Federal youth interests in Bible Schools, Christian Endeavour Societies, Youth Fellowships, Clubs, Camps and Conferences." Over the years the various State Youth Departments have secured some excellent properties, widely used for camps and conferences. At the 1944 Federal Conference in Sydney the Victorian Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union, recommending the setting up of a co-ordinating Federal Committee, was asked to act in this capacity for the time.
Since their inception early in the twentieth century, Federal Conferences, held every two years, were hosted by a different capital city on each occasion. As a consequence, an entirely new Executive was elected into office every two years. At the 1946 Conference in Adelaide a Federal
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Commission was appointed to provide for a permanent Federal Executive and interstate representatives on existing Federal Boards. The motion submitted to the 1948 Conference in Perth stipulated that the officers of Conference should include "(1) the President nominated from members resident in the State where the next Federal Conference will be held. (2) Vice-Presidents, one from members resident in each of the respective States affiliated with Federal Conference. (3) Secretary. (4) Assistant Secretary. (5) Treasurer; and two other members. These five officers to be nominated from members resident within the State where Executive officers were located." From its inception the new Executive was located in Melbourne.
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Working from the basis of the greater acceptance of and by other Christian groups, Churches of Christ, during the period 1910-30, ventured into even closer association and sought to involve themselves in serious ecumenical encounter. Three factors were largely responsible for this movement towards unity. The first was the influence of earlier developments, the second the pressure of the times, and the third the initiative of T. H. Scambler.
During the period 1910-1930, A. R. Main encouraged Churches of Christ to accept as Christians members of other communions, and to participate in union forms to place before others their plea for unity on the basis of the Restoration of New Testament Christianity. His logic was reinforced by social and political events that drew Churches of Christ into alliance with other Churches in State Councils of Churches. Coming into contact with other bodies, they came to admire the Christian character of their representatives and to appraise their traditions more sympathetically. The long-term effect of this association, however, was not evident until the 30's, when it was seen that the Movement had completely reversed attitudes earlier adopted towards certain doctrines, personalities, and organisations.
In the early years Churches of Christ had spoken out against revivalism, being unhappy with the Calvinistic doctrine of the Spirit's irresistible influence. They felt that a resurgence of religion would result from the faithful propagation of the original gospel, rather than through the intense prayer of men who were unwilling to publish the whole evangel. They argued that Pentecost could never be repeated. A complete change of attitude was evident in the 1930's, when a spate of articles in the Christian urged prayer for a "Pentecostal revival."
While Moody had been censured in the late 1890's for failing to preach baptism, on the occasion of his centenary in 1937, he was warmly eulogised in the Christian. A similar reversal of attitude to Spurgeon was also evident. While there were those, early in the twentieth century, who were unwilling to recognise him as a Christian brother, by 1934 it was being pointed out that
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he had independently held many Restoration positions. In line with this new attitude, the 1926 Gypsy Smith Melbourne mission enjoyed good Christian coverage.
In its first year of issue the Christian, in treating the Keswick movement, had disagreed with its doctrine of the second blessing and the proposition that it was possible for the Christian not to sin. A new attitude was evident in 1930 when J. E. Thomas, attending the annual Keswick Convention, wrote glowingly of its spirit and the programme of addresses. A similar appraisal of the 1935 Convention was offered by Main.
More frequent contact with other Christians did not merely affect the attitude of Churches of Christ to other bodies. It brought to others a new understanding of the genius of Churches of Christ. Writing of the Movement in the Melbourne Herald in September, 1938, C. Irving Benson, minister of the Wesley Church, describing Disciples as "the Church which began to unite all Churches," paid high tribute to the Campbells. He pointed out that "many of the ideals for which these pioneers fought, and in which they were vigorously opposed, are now happily accepted in nearly all Churches." He listed as distinctive contributions their stress on the sinfulness of division, their opposition to creedal inflexibility, the priority they gave to personal loyalty to Jesus Christ over against assent to doctrine, and their belief in the need for an historical study of the Bible.
The Church, through the period 1910-1930, was caught in a love-hate relationship with society, reacting to new entertainments and increased secularisation and yet increasingly involved in industrial and political comment. The period 1930-1950 witnessed increased community involvement. The Depression and second World War demonstrated to church leaders and ordinary members that Church and society were inexplicably bound together and that the Church was more responsible than previously realised for alleviating hardship and opposing injustice.
It was during the late 30's and early 40's that the Churches became more aware than they had ever been before, of the need for at least a fraternal inter-dependence. To survive in an increasingly secular world, in which nominally Christian nations were tearing each other apart, it would be necessary to work more closely with others to reconstruct a new and more viable Christian civilisation. The urgency of the situation was brought home even more forcibly when their security was threatened by belligerent nationalism, aggressive Communism, and resurgent paganism.
The fact that Churches of Christ became better known and more accepted during this period was largely due to the lead given within Churches of Christ by the gracious and irenic T. H. Scambler. Fired by the same influences forming Main's ecumenical outlook, this beloved preacher and College lecturer took seriously Main's call for involvement in ecumenical dialogue.
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Thomas Henry Scambler was born in 1879 near Newstead, Victoria, where he joined the church. Feeling that God was calling him to the ministry, he shifted to Melbourne to improve his education. After a period as student preacher at Ascot Vale, he was invited by the Victorian Home Missions Committee to the Echuca circuit. In 1903 he left for Perth and a ministry among the Western Australian churches. Recognising the need for further training, he set sail for America. After graduating B.A. from Drake University he returned to the West to work with the church at Maylands. His next and most successful ministry was at Hawthorn, Victoria, where he remained for fourteen years. It was during this period that he secured a Diploma of Education from Melbourne University.
In 1921 Scambler was invited to lecture at the College of the Bible. In 1929 he left Hawthorn for Box Hill, where he spent four years. This was followed by a five-year term at Swanston Street, Melbourne. During Main's tour abroad in 1935, Scambler served as acting Principal, and upon Main's retirement in 1938 was appointed Principal. Scambler served on various Committees and during the Conference year 1918-1919 was President of the Victorian Conference. Finally, he was well known as a writer--a novel, short stories, hymns, and a book on the art of sermon construction were among his achievements.
Scambler, who underlined the need for Disciples "to cultivate a fraternal spirit towards all the children of God," himself felt an instinctive affinity with all Christians. He encouraged fellow Disciples to be honest about past failures--the disposition to judge others harshly and the refusal to credit them with honesty. He also pointed out that no individual or group "is capable of holding all there is of good," and that imagining that one has a monopoly of the truth, which had been earlier characteristic of Churches of Christ, showed the sort of "narrowness of vision and littleness of spirit" that was responsible for the persistence of division. He also maintained that new truth was always breaking forth from the Word, and challenged the notion that had for years excused Disciples from serious ecumenical encounter. This was the idea that if they waited around long enough and continued to broadcast their message, the Christian world would unite on the basis of the churches of Christ understanding of New Testament doctrine and practice. His most daring challenge, in an article printed in the 1916 Christian, was that the Disciple "plea for Christian Union is a recognition as Christian of all who sincerely love and serve the Lord Jesus, whether they coincide with us in doctrine and ordinance or not."
This was the man, greatly admired and loved, who during the 30's and early 40's gave a lead to those within Churches of Christ who took seriously the Movement's plea for Christian unity.
At the 1926 biennial Conference, the Federal Executive advised that they had been in communication with the World Conference on Faith and Order.
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The Victorian Conference of 1936 discussed the setting up of a committee to determine the brotherhood attitude to the unity question, and to encourage the publication of articles, pamphlets, and books on the subject. The following year the Conference established a Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union, which, in 1944, was asked to act as the Federal Committee. In 1938 the Federal Conference was invited to accept membership within the World Council of Churches, then in process of formation. The report of the Victorian Conference in 1941 reveals that the Christian Union Committee was represented on the Regional Committee of the World Conference of Faith and Order and Life and Work. When a provisional council, representing all Protestant Churches, met in Sydney in July, 1945, to consider the setting up of an Australian National Council, Churches of Christ were represented. The 1946 Federal Conference, on the recommendation of the Christian Union and Executive Committees, decided to affiliate with the newly-formed Australian Council for the World Council of Churches.
While many were happy to follow the lead given by T. H. Scambler, others were thoroughly alarmed. Division of opinion on the questions surfaced in differences of opinion between Main and Scambler, criticism of the College at Glen Iris, and the determination of the New South Wales churches to set up their own College.
Main and Scambler worked harmoniously together at the College from 1921 to 1938. However, by 1938, Main, who had suffered a breakdown in the mid-thirties decided to retire at the early age of 62. His health could not tolerate the tensions within the College between student factions favouring his and Scambler's differing approaches. In view of the differences between the two men and the dynamics of the situation in the late 1930's, it is little wonder that tensions between their differing outlooks should have become public.
In temperament they were diametrically opposed. While Scambler was warm and outgoing, Main was intensely shy--a legacy of his Scotch heritage, which was compounded by the early loss of his mother and the death in infancy of two of his children. Dissimilarity was also evident in academic background. Main, who had the greater intellect, was a logician. Scambler's mind and sympathy ranged more widely. He was interested in the insights of the New Psychology and the philosophic defence of the faith. He was a member of the Left Book Club and publicly debated with Mr Langley, a leading Rationalist. The two men also differed in teaching technique. Main laid down a positive, if conservative statement of the issue and disallowed questions. Scambler encouraged discussion.
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The issue on which they most differed was the question of unity. For Main, the theological priority, within the Restoration plea, of truth over unity, was unquestioned. In reply to Scambler's comment in 1916 that others should be recognised as Christians though their views did not coincide with those of the Movement on the question of ordinances, Main took the younger man to task, correcting his error. While in subsequent statements in the Christian, Scambler stressed the priority of truth over unity, there were indications that after 1916 he avoided tension over the issue in articles he wrote for the national journal by underplaying the broader sympathy he felt for other Christians.
The two leaders also differed in their attitude to ecumenical encounter. While Main, particularly in his later years, commented from a distance, Scambler argued that Churches of Christ should involve themselves in serious dialogue. They needed personal encounter with others in situations where participants were forced to take sympathetic measure of other views. As Chairman of the Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union, Scambler led by example.
Finally, the situation within the College and wider brotherhood helped aggravate tensions. At the College, Main's authority was challenged by a core of students demanding that current theological trends be more extensively and sympathetically treated. Checkmated by an unapproachable Principal, who would not allow questions, the students sought out the personable Scambler, who was willing to hear them out. A similar dissatisfaction with Main's disallowing the expression, through the Christian, of opinions differing in important particulars from his own, drove many of the best and most original minds into the company of the sympathetic Scambler.
That there were others, besides Main, unhappy with Scambler's emphasis, was evident from accusations made at the 1938 Federal Conference by R. O. Sutton, that the college was producing students with "decidedly modernistic conceptions of Biblical interpretation." He urged the Conference to recommend to the College Board of Management that "they take every reasonable step to assure themselves that all regular lecturers in Biblical and doctrinal subjects at the College . . . shall be fundamentalist rather than modernistic in their view of Biblical interpretation." Though not mentioned by name, Scambler was the obvious target.
It was to be expected that opposition would be strongest in New South Wales, where British Restoration traditions predominated. By 1940 many in the mother State were alarmed at the zeal with which union advocates promoted this hitherto secondary emphasis. Because they felt that those communions seriously discussing union were seeking a negotiated basis, they considered that those within the Movement seeking to arouse enthusiasm must be willing to compromise Restoration traditions. Voicing the
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opposition of many in New South Wales, E. C. Hinrichsen said in 1941, "Some of us still believe that the Bible alone contains the religion of Protestants." Significantly, that year saw the opening of the N.S.W. Bible College, initiated by the drive and energy of men like Hinrichsen.
The New South Wales College Committee was, however, careful to inform Glen Iris of its planning, and to disavow any intention of setting up in opposition. But the underlying reasons for the establishment of the new College were obvious. They were clearly set out in the 1941 statement of B. G. Corlett, secretary of the College Committee, that the new institution would aim at "adequate study of the Bible as the sole revelation of God's will" and "complete allegiance to the tenets of the Restoration Movement." While not completely in sympathy with those spear-heading the project, Main, hoping to avoid an open break with the Federal College by encouraging a spirit of "brotherly love, co-operation, and goodwill," was coaxed out of retirement to inaugurate the new venture.
The clash of opinion in the Movement resulting from conservative reaction to unity initiatives produced a peace-maker in the person of A. W. Stephenson, who took over editorship of the Christian from Main in October, 1941.
Arthur Stephenson was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, in February, 1900. Graduating from the College of the Bible in 1924, his first charge was at Christchurch, New Zealand, where he remained two years. He then went to Melbourne, where, preaching part-time, he studied for his matriculation. In 1928 he entered the University of Melbourne and accepted the full-time ministry at Parkdale. He graduated Master of Arts in 1933. During the latter part of his stay at Parkdale, and during Main's absence overseas, he lectured at the College in Church History.
After six years at Parkdale, he transferred to Hampton and became joint editor with R. T. Pittman of the Austral Graded Lessons. When he became editor of the Christian in 1941, he shifted back to Parkdale in a part-time capacity to allow time for his editorial work. He relinquished the Parkdale ministry, when, after Scambler's death, he was invited to lecture at the College in Apologetics. With the resignation in 1950 of H. J. Patterson, M.A., who had followed Main as Principal of the Bible College in New South Wales, Stephenson was appointed Principal in 1951. He then resigned as editor of the Christian. When he retired as Principal in 1969, he was given the title, Principal Emeritus.
While his personal endorsement of the Restoration position was rarely questioned, Stephenson believed, with Scambler, that Churches of Christ should involve themselves in union discussions. He understood the
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apprehension of those opposing union initiatives, but felt that their opposition increased the threat of division and strengthened the possibility that the Movement would degenerate into a self-satisfied sect.
Stephenson's approach to the conflict between the two groups who were setting the Movement's twin emphases in opposition was fourfold. First, he established an "Open Forum" in the Christian where those who had had no voice under Main, and those opposing unity initiatives, could express their frustration. Second, recognising that the conflict was largely the result of ignorance of the historic origins of the Movement, he wrote several brief histories. Third, in early editorials he featured the work and influence of Thomas Campbell, the irenic father. Alexander, while not neglected, did not dominate centre stage. The Declaration and Address was highlighted as the fundamental document of the Movement. Fourth, he subjected basic Restoration tenets to critical appraisal, and represented them with greater sophistication and with reference to their contemporary relevance. He argued that using Biblical phraseology would not solve the problem of Christian unity, but would at least help manifest the unity that already existed. He pointed out that the New Testament furnished principles rather than a blueprint for church government. Finally, he argued that the rule that Christians should speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent, did not solve the problem of Christian unity. It left out of account the question of interpretation. On this issue he argued acceptance of a midway position between the Roman Catholic emphasis on interpretation by the Church and the Protestant right of private judgment. He argued that "whatever interpretation of Scripture is supported and approved of by considered, qualified, catholic scholarship" must be acknowledged as authoritative. This opinion was borrowed from the American Disciple leader, F. D. Kershner, who, in Christian Union Overture, argued that the approach was implicit in Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address.
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A New Maturity
The pattern of beliefs and practices of the early membership of the Australian Churches of Christ were closely defined. By 1970, the style of the Movement was characterised by a greater degree of openness and flexibility. While a minority reiterated the traditional claim of Churches of Christ to occupy an "undenominational" position, in inter-church relationships Churches of Christ were claiming denominational status.
The initial membership of Australian Churches of Christ belonged to the lower middle-class, emphasised the ministry of the laity, and allowed only loose organisation. By 1970 Disciples, now slightly higher on the social scale, boasted an educated ministry and firm organisational structures.
In the 1961 census, of the male membership belonging to the work force 7.31 % were listed as employers, 10.31 % as self-employed, 79.42% as employees receiving wages or salary, 0.36% as helpers without salary or wages, and 2.60% as not at work. The percentage listed as employers and self-employed was higher, and as employees lower, than the Baptist percentages (employers 6.36%, self-employed 10.10%, employees on wages and salary 80.35%), and the number of employers higher than the total Christian figure (7.17%). Although the 79.42% employee figure has not been broken down, on the basis of general observation, the churches seem to have comprised few unskilled workers, a large percentage of tradesmen and master builders, and a heavy proportion of men in accounting, senior clerical, teaching, and managerial positions. Although Churches of Christ have fewer University graduates than would be expected from their numbers, their general occupational status is pegged at the lower professional and middle managerial level.
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The conviction of the pioneers that all were equal before God, found expression in the practice of mutual ministry and the denial of any clergy-laity distinction. By 1920, the old system of mutual edification had disappeared. Articles dealing with the lay ministry in the 1940's and 1950's were concerned almost exclusively with training laymen to preside, read, and help at the Lord's Table. The pulpit had become the preserve of the preacher. Furthermore, while preachers during the 1960's were taught to repudiate any moral or ecclesiastical distinctiveness, their function was "clerical." It was accepted as such by most local congregations, other Christian communions, and the wider society. This new status was evident in rising financial and educational standards, and the fact that disciple preachers shared with the professional ministries of other churches the clerical identity crisis of the 1960's.
In the early years when the majority of evangelists were part-time, a token remuneration was offered to supplement the incomes of those unable to support themselves. While the practice of paying the preacher a regular stipend was established by the turn of the century, there were pockets of resistance. At the New South Wales Conference of 1897, when the treasurer suggested raising the salaries of Home Mission evangelists, "brethren Black and Hutcheson" contended "that in some cases they were too highly remunerated, and should be content with one-half." In 1919, two important suggestions were made--first that churches should provide their ministers with manses, and second, that men could be more easily secured and retained if offered greater financial security. Gradually, the example of American sister churches and other Australian communions, and a recognition of the extra expense incurred by ministers in the course of their vocation--library additions, entertainment and handouts--prompted greater consideration. While stipends plummeted during the Depression, they revived with the financial recovery of the country.
The period 1950-1970 saw Home Mission and Executive Committees force a general increase, through requiring a minimum wage, travelling allowance and free manse, of churches receiving Home Mission subsidies. Finally, in 1964, a correspondent in the Christian, commenting on the raising of the salary of Glen Iris College lecturers, went so far as to suggest that ministers should be paid commensurate with time employed, and their professional qualification.
Few among the early leadership of the period 1845-1864 had received formal academic training. By 1970 the churches were staffed by professional clergy trained for four years in Colleges that were seeking academic parity with the educational institutions of other communions. As early as the 1940's Glen Iris began encouraging students to sit for the Melbourne College of Divinity L.Th. During the 1960's the College of the Bible became affiliated with the Melbourne College of Divinity. During the same period two Glen Iris
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lecturers were sent to Yale to qualify for the S.T.M. Woolwich has similarly sought to raise its standards although it has not formally affiliated with the Melbourne College of Divinity. Kenmore Christian College, established in Brisbane in 1965, advertised that it was gearing its courses to the B.A. and B.D. degrees at Queensland University. Foundation Principal Dr. J. H. Jauncey, in an early statement of policy, contended that "Kenmore stands for academic excellence. We feel that our calling as ministers of the Word cannot be satisfied by anything less. For this reason the standards we are demanding are among the highest in the world . . . Our goal is the B.A. and B. D. for every minister." The goal was reached in only a few instances, but it was there.
The professional ministries of all communions weathered an identity crisis in the late 1960's. The effect of a growing secularisation from which there appeared no relief--the spiritual drought did not break until the 1970's with the Jesus Revolution and the "Charismatic Renewal"--led many clergy to question their relevance. While some grumbled at the little notice taken of them even in their own congregations, others turned to a gospel of social and political activism. The fact that the full-time ministry of Churches of Christ was shaken by this crisis was evidence of its professional standing. The ferment coincided with a ministerial over-supply and debate on the Virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ, the latter prompted by the Geering incident. It expressed itself in the confession of some that they felt like giving up, in the transference of a number to specialist ministries--with Conference Departments, ecumenical and undenominational organisations and in industrial, school, and service chaplaincy--and the securing by others of alternate qualifications, such as the Social Studies Diploma.
The British pioneers clung tenaciously to the concept of local autonomy, allowing no greater extra-congregational organisation than combined tea meetings, pulpit exchanges, and co-operation in the financing and construction of chapels. By 1970, while the doctrine of local autonomy continued to be vigorously asserted--in theory, churches were not bound by Conference decisions unless they so wished-- in practice State and Federal Conferences, which were increasing the scope of their activity, were assuming an increased initiative.
During the period 1950-1970 the most important development at State Conference level was the establishment of a theological college in Queensland. Kenmore Christian College was opened in 1965 with Dr. James H. Jauncey, formerly minister of the First Christian Church, El Paso, Texas, as Principal. Three new developments at Federal Conference level were the establishing after the 1954 Conference of a Department of Men's Work to develop Men's Departments at State Conference level, the setting up in 1957 of an Australian Churches of Christ Historical Society, and the commencing of mission work in New Guinea in 1958,
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It was in 1956 that the Federal Conference decided to commence a mission in New Guinea. The area decided on was the Bogia subdivision, of which the Ramu river was the western boundary. The area covered has since extended to incorporate the north coastal area between Madang and Wewak and stretching inland along the Ramu and Keram rivers up to and including the foothills of the Schraeder Ranges. It is mainly a flat swampy area covered with rain forest, that includes large areas of grasslands and sago swamps.
Work among the animistic New Guineans of the area, most of whom suffered from malnutrition, was pioneered in 1958 by Harold Finger and Frank Beale, who felt that Tung on the Ramu would be the best place to locate the first station. It was planned to concentrate initially on schools and medical centres. Jim Dow, a carpenter, volunteered to construct the first buildings. He arrived in December. In February of the following year Harold Finger returned to his family in Australia. His place was taken by Mr and Mrs Rex Chamberlain. Suspicious at first, surrounding villages soon saw the advantage of a missionary presence. Requests for schools began coming in from these villages. In time centres were established at Pir, Chungribu, Asau, Bunapas, and Tsumba. When a new centre was opened at Mai early in 1969, it was pioneered by August and Maeline Ben, New Hebrideans sent out as missionaries by their own people. Since then the New Hebrideans have increased the number of their missionaries in New Guinea.
At the annual meeting of the New Guinea mission in 1972, it was reported that 52 villages were being regularly visited, and 5,000 people reached in these villages. The number attending church services was 2,000. 400 had been baptised and 100 were attending discipleship classes.
A feature of overseas mission strategy in the years 1950-1970 has been planned indigenisation of the church, particularly in the established mission areas of India and the New Hebrides. In the New Hebrides, Nagriamal, a nationalist movement, intruded into that quiet process. It attracted many senior elders who were reacting to the assumption of leadership by young pastors trained at Banmatmat College, a Bible College set up to train an indigenous leadership. John Liu, B. D. a New Hebridean trained at Woolwich and the South Pacific Theological College, is presently Principal of the College and gives wise and inspiring leadership to the young men of the New Hebridean villages training under him.
The greater degree of centralisation in the years 1950-1970 was seen in the expanding of old, and the purchase and construction of new, brotherhood centres. In 1960 the Western Australian churches opened a Christian Centre constructed at a cost of £140,000. It was also evident in the co-ordination of the financing of Conference Committees in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland, and in the uniting of the Victorian and Tasmanian Conferences in 1952 into the Conference of Churches of Christ in Victoria
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and Tasmania. The most significant development, however, was the strengthening of Executive structures. This resulted from two interlocking aims. First, State leadership recognised that while in theory ultimate authority rested in autonomous congregations, in practice, Committees of Conference exercised a formidable authority. As Executives were merely coordinating bodies, Committees, adept at dealing with Conference, were going their own way. Furthermore, they were in competition with each other. Committees were no less autonomous than local congregations. This left State Conference without co-ordinated leadership. Second, it was increasingly recognised that to meet the challenge of the future, Churches of Christ needed unified Executive leadership to pull Committees into line and formulate a total strategy. While Committees have been reluctant to surrender their autonomy, the appointment in the 1960's in Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, and in 1971 in New South Wales, of fulltime organisers/secretaries strengthened the Executives of these States.
During the years 1930-1950 Federal Conference co-ordinated at Federal level the work of Social Service, Christian Education and Christian Unity committees, and strengthened the Federal Executive. During the period 1950-1970 inter-College co-operation was fostered.
Despite the persistence of elements of the older pattern, the middle-class membership of Churches of Christ by 1970 possessed a recognised professional ministry and strong denominational structures.
The British pioneers, accepting the Bible as inspired and authoritative, considered that it required of prospective converts a mature mental and volitional response. Once baptised, the convert kept his place in the saved community by right living and doctrine. Failure here resulted in public exclusion. By 1970, while the core of the Movement remained Biblically conservative, the membership was divided over the precise nature of the response required of prospective converts. Furthermore, a greater accommodation to cultural norms and confusion over what constituted right belief, encouraged acceptance of a wide spectrum of opinion and conduct.
The early leadership accepted the Scriptures as inspired and authoritative. They were not obliged to prove this contention as it was generally accepted. By 1970 the situation had changed. The doctrine of Biblical inspiration and authority stood in need of reasoned support. While approaches varied, the theological leadership of the 1960's, through appeal to authority, experience, and explanation, sought support for a continuing Biblical conservatism.
The pioneers were in no doubt as to the response required of prospective converts. These were commanded to believe the gospel and be baptised. The picture was early confused, however, by the introduction by the Americans of the practice of inviting the aroused to make public confession of
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Christ by walking forward at the conclusion of the sermon. While there was no doubt in the minds of those of the American era that it was at the moment of baptism that regeneration took place, by the mid-twentieth century the issue was clouded. The reason for this was that during the Main era Restorationists, tacitly accepting the unimmersed of other communions as Christians, had undermined their traditional contention that re-birth occurred at the moment of baptism. As a consequence, the Movement was divided on the issue, some stubbornly defending the older position and others arguing that regeneration occurred at the moment of one's trusting acceptance of Christ.
From the beginning Churches of Christ emphasised that one's place in the saved community could be forfeited through immoral conduct--a notion broadly interpreted. As late as the early twentieth century, dancing and the theatre were forbidden. A reversal of attitude on both issues was evident in the 1960's. Today, though few churches have sponsored dances, a large percentage of the membership dance occasionally. While there remained, in the 1950's, a sprinkling who avoided the cinema and theatre--"A Man Called Peter" could not entice them--the majority, many of whom were later forced into inconsistency with the introduction of television into their homes, preached discrimination rather than abstention.
Reversal of attitude on specific issues was neither the only nor the most important index of change in the area of morals. More significant was the fact that the focus of attention had shifted from a negative emphasis to the positive stress on the need to love one's neighbour. In 1967, R. N. Gilmore, B.A., B.D., minister at Brighton, Victoria, contended that "Christians should be aware of social involvement and responsibilities." Going even further, Alan Matheson, a young theological radical, argued the same year that the gospel was not to be identified with "prayer and Bible study, church-going, personal uprightness, and some good works thrown in for good measure" but with "the pain of seeking to identify oneself with the humanity crying from hunger, depersonalisation, poverty, napalm burns and every kind of man's inhumanity to his brother."
Besides those rejecting the early Restoration community's moral standards, any entertaining erroneous beliefs were also "withdrawn from." At base, the beliefs required of adherents were the rejection of theology and acknowledgment that the New Testament furnished the pattern of belief and practice normative for all time. By 1970 theology was recognised as a necessary discipline, and the idea of the New Testament "pattern" modified.
Theology--men's opinions about what the Bible says--had been absolutely rejected by O. A. Carr in 1868. In 1905, Dunn, while claiming to hold no brief
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for "a theology found in creeds and confessions of faith" did recognise that it was a "most legitimate object of study." Main encouraged the reading of the theology of conservative scholars, and Stephenson in 1940 argued that Christian doctrine needed to be taught in Restoration pulpits. The complete acceptance of theology, however, awaited the 1960's. In April, 1961, J. E. Gough contended that while "many people try to divorce theology and Christian living as if theology were an accretion both unnecessary and undesirable . . . theology is so built into the whole structure of Christian living that you cannot have one without the other."
A cursory treatment of the theologies of John Robinson, Colin Williams, Rudolf Bultmann, and Eric Mascall was offered by Harold Gross, B.A. in the September 10, 1966, Christian. In May 1967, G. H. Gilmour B.Comm., President of the Victorian-Tasmanian Conference of Churches of Christ, in "Read Any Theology Lately?" underlined its value to the layman.
The early emphasis on the New Testament's furnishing a pattern of church government to be reproduced in every age was rejected in 1948 by Stephenson, who contended that Christians are to be guided instead by "the general principles which early Christians followed." A further swing away from the backward to a more thoroughly dynamic and forward-looking approach, was evident in 1968 in the comment of G. R. Stirling, B.A. Vice-Principal at Glen Iris, that "Christians, in humility and self-surrender, and guided by the Holy Spirit" should "discover together in prayerful study of the Scripture, what is the mind and intention of Christ for the Church in our day."
In a statement prepared by a federal consultation on Christian union in 1969, a similar point of view was expounded. It was stated that "the New Testament is authoritative for the Church, in that the Church is able to discover from it for each generation what is the mind of Christ for the Church's faith and practice, ministry and mission, worship and life."
While, in the beginning, members erring in conduct and belief were publicly withdrawn from, by 1900 this style of discipline had lapsed. By 1970 because of a more accommodating attitude to cultural norms, even the more subtle discipline exercised through silent majority disapproval had broken down. Discipline in the case of wrong belief was similarly unworkable by 1970. Indeed, threat of division within the Movement resulting from strongly held opposing opinions encouraged accommodation of a broad doctrinal spectrum. As early as 1951, C. J. Taylor, B.A. (Hons). editor of the Christian, denouncing the use of the labels "fundamentalist'" and "modernist" during controversy over World Council of Churches affiliation, pointed out that such "sterile and futile controversy" thwarted evangelistic effort. While admitting that "conviction has a right to be heard" he went on. "But let us first make sure of our facts, and test how much, if at all, our attitude represents merely a point of view whose defence matters more to us than the Prince of Peace himself. And, above all, leave those mass-produced labels alone! All ye are brethren!"
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While the Movement remained theologically conservative, a vagueness and division of opinion on the question of baptism, a greater acceptance of social mores, and an attempt by the federal leadership to accommodate variant opinions, by 1970 revealed significant differences between the older and newer emphases.
At the beginning the focus within the Movement was inward-looking. Other communions were regarded with suspicion, if not hostility, and there was little involvement with the social and political life of the community. By 1970, confidence in the unique mission of the Churches of Christ had been challenged, the movement was "in conversation with the Uniting Church, and articulate on social and political matters."
The restorational theme of Churches of Christ had first come under severe criticism from within the Movement when J. J. Haley, in 1875 suggested that Churches of Christ were in danger of becoming more sectarian than "the denominations." In the years 1875-1910, Disciple guidelines such as "Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent," underwent serious scrutiny. They were re-interpreted in the 1940's by Stephenson. While Restoration principles were subject to even more penetrating analysis in the period 1950-1970, great significance attaches to the fact that by 1970 the unity emphasis of Churches of Christ had come under critical appraisal. In a provocative series "Blame the Pioneers!", published in the Christian, G. R. Stirling asked whether there remained anything distinctive enough in the Movement's unity plea to justify its separate existence. He implied that neither those concerned with "conversations" Churches of Christ were having with the Uniting Church nor others more taken up with an evangelical unity, were really willing to phase the Movement out of existence as a separate body if the union for which they pleaded became a possibility--which was the stated intention of the pioneers.
The breakdown of the Movement's narrow focus, evident in a growing self-awareness and criticism, also revealed itself in the seeking of closer relationships with other communions.
Interest in union, which developed early in the Main era, resulted in the period 1930-1950 in the federal affiliation of the Movement with the World Council of Churches in Geneva and later with the Australian Council for the World Council of Churches. During the years 1950-1970 Disciples entered into "conversations" with the Uniting Church.
The period 1950-1970 also saw a growing awareness by Australian Churches of Christ of their fellow-Disciples around the world. This was stimulated by two World Conventions of Churches of Christ held in Australia
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--the first in Melbourne in 1952, with Reg. Enniss as President, and the second in Adelaide in 1970, under the Presidency of Sir Philip Messent.
The ego-centrism of the small pioneer congregations had also been evident in minimum involvement in social and political affairs. The extent and nature of the limited activity had varied between States, with social and political protest being most marked in Victoria, and Parliamentary activity in South Australia. During the 1960's social and political criticism abounded. The new enthusiasm expressed itself in comment, through the Christian and other literature, on the American race crisis, Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Biafra, and Rhodesia, where the Todds--originally Churches of Christ missionaries from New Zealand--were under restraints by the Smith Government in the early 1970's. Dr. Desmond Crowley, Director of Adult Education at Sydney University and editor of the Current Affairs Bulletin, was a regular contributor to the Christian. Such social issues as homosexuality, abortion, and women's liberation were also debated.
As in the initial era, political activism was most marked in Victoria. The Victorian Churches of Christ were a member denomination of the Inter-Church Committee on Peace that offered advice in 1967 to those "objecting to military service on the grounds of conscience." That same year a group of young theologically radical ministers were accosted by the vice squad for distributing on Melbourne streets leaflets detailing "American atrocities in Vietnam." The extensive participation of members in political activity during the period 1950-1970 is difficult to assess, running the gamut from union membership to Parliamentary representation. Of recent Federal politicians, with Churches of Christ connections, Sir Charles Adermann, P.C., was in membership at Kingaroy, Queensland, and former ministers Don Chipp and Senator Ivor Greenwood were associated with Victorian congregations.
In the late 1950's there was a sharp increase in membership in all States, excluding Tasmania and Queensland, which coincided with the 1959 Graham Crusade. This gain, climaxing around 1960, was offset in the late 1960's by a sharp fall. From the mid-1960's Victoria and South Australian membership fell noticeably, with Western Australia less so. New South Wales, on a level since 1964, showed slight increase in 1971. Tasmanian membership steadily declined, while the Queensland churches over the period made steady progress. The total active membership of the Australian Churches of Christ in 1970, an increase of 1,627 over the 1950 figure, was 31,738, which was divided up as follows--Victoria, 11,503, South Australia, 6,682, New South Wales, 5,477, Queensland, 3,571, Western Australia, 3,540 and Tasmania, 711.
Besides participation in Graham Crusades, Churches of Christ through the period 1950-1970 pursued numerous approaches to arrest the earlier drift and increase membership. From the 1947 World Convention in Buffalo, U.S.A., came word of a new approach, "visitation evangelism," which was
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introduced to Australian churches during 1948 and 1949. Following the World Convention held in Melbourne in 1952, missions were scheduled with the Americans Dr, Snodgrass and Ralph Pollock. Crusades in Melbourne and Perth resulted in 616 "first decisions" and 155 "reconsecrations." Local follow-up did much to conserve these results. The 1952 Federal Conference directed the Executive to plan a forward movement which resulted in the visit to Australia of Mr and Mrs Mark Rutherford, experts in the field of men and women's work, and the setting up of Federal and State Men's Committees. Finally, the conference of Home Mission representatives, calling on the initiative of the Victorian-Tasmanian Secretary in 1956, organised "Operation Increase," a "programme of restoration, conservation, and conversion." A booklet, Design for Development, outlining the programme was published. Over recent years, planned church extension, especially in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, and the appointment in Victoria and Queensland of Field Officers, has given a fillip to the work.
The most significant development, however, had to await the mid-70's. This was the introduction into Australia of the Church Growth movement, for which Churches of Christ can justly take the credit. This movement was coincident with, and offered a theoretical explanation of, the phenomenal growth of the church in Third World countries. The approach, being pioneered at Fuller Theological College in Pasadena in the U.S. by Dr. Donald McGavran and his associates, has lifted the sights of churches the world over. They have regained faith in the relevance and mission of the Church.
McGavran's insight resulted from frustration with the lack of progress in Disciple mission work in India, where he had superintendence for a period as Secretary-Treasurer. Analysing his own and others' experiences, he came to the conclusion that "a major factor in the slow growth of the Church was the massive build up of rationalisations and defence thinking."
While McGavran was concerned with world mission, others were keen to apply his insights to the American churches. These were at first unreceptive. However, in 1972 a pilot seminar for leaders, conducted by Peter Wagner and McGavran, proved highly successful. One of the students, Win Arn, resigned his position with the Evangelical Covenant Church and founded the Institute for American Church Growth.
When Kevin Crawford, New South Wales Home Mission Director, visited McGavran on his return from the Lausanne Congress on Evangelism to invite him to Australia, McGavran referred him to Arn. Win Arn's seminars on Church Growth, coming at a time when Churches of Christ were desperately looking for answers, changed overnight the outlook of the Australian brotherhood. This is not to say, however, that church growth concepts were entirely unknown in Australia before Arn's coming. Gordon Moyes, whose inventiveness and willingness to venture had led him to read up on the
literature and to experiment in Cheltenham, Melbourne, was already showing
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the way. His book, How to Grow an Australian Church, which transposes church growth ideas into an Australian setting, has proved immensely popular.
The approach underlines the fact that evangelism is the work not only of stray individuals, but of the church acting as the Church. To allow it to function this way those who have evangelistic gifts need to be free from administrative responsibilities to concentrate on outreach. It encourages an analysis of the geographic area in which churches are located and the development of appropriate strategies. It concentrates on making disciples rather than merely calling for decision, and high lights the need for conversion, as distinct from biological or transfer growth. One prominent feature of the new approach is the spirit of optimism it engenders. Already churches, once on the downgrade, are showing signs of recovery. In others the rate of decline has levelled off and enthusiastic congregations, throwing all their effort and ingenuity into an advance for which they are trusting God, are poised for takeoff. In two of the smaller States, Tasmania and Queensland' State membership figures have increased. While some remain doubtful, and others are put off by over-optimistic forecasts, there is a new confidence in the churches. There is an awareness that God is at work and that in Australia, Churches of Christ are leading the way in this area.
This spirit of optimism is also evident in several other recent developments. The first is the expansion of the work of the Federal Literature Committee which began in 1939 and from a few publications, established the Pamphlet Club in 1959, largely as a result of the foresight and energy of J. E. Brooke. The committee is now into the area of paperback publication which Ken Clinton, Senior Lecturer at Glen Iris, has encouraged and overseen. The second is the rekindling of interest in the history of the movement, evident in biographical monographs and tentative historical and sociological analyses, and an increasing thirst for both. Like church growth, both are evidence of a fresh vitality.
At the turn of the century a developing interest in the history of the movement and growth of the Austral Publishing Company were followed by new evangelistic initiatives and a doubling of the membership between 1910 and 1930. While we are living in different times these two indices, an interest in history and literature, could well be the harbingers of great things to come.
From a much maligned and inward-looking nucleus in the early 1950's, Churches of Christ had, by the early 1970's grown into a vigorous communion possessed of firm denominational structures. While still strongly committed to traditional guidelines, they were, in an atmosphere of increasing honesty, freeing themselves from the more restrictive and less important attitudes that had frustrated the realisation of the original vision of the Campbells.
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When T. H. Scambler collapsed and died of a heart attack on the railway station at Gardiner, Victoria in 1944, after a brief six years in office as College Principal, he was succeeded in the Principalship by E. L. Williams, who also took over from him the role of chief advocate of Christian Unity.
A country boy, E. Lyall Williams was born at Sandmere, near Kaniva, Victoria, in 1906. Noted for his physical as well as for his intellectual vigour, he helped support himself through the College by playing for Camberwell in the Victorian Football Association and for Hawthorn in the Victorian Football League. He graduated from the College of the Bible in 1928 and qualified for the M.A. at Melbourne in 1935. Following ministries in Australia and New Zealand, he became a lecturer at Glen Iris in 1939. He was appointed Principal in 1945 and continued in office until his retirement in 1973. Williams was President of the Victorian Conference from 1944-1945 and President of the Federal Conference from 1950-1952. He also served as a member of the Central Study Committee of the World Convention of Churches of Christ.
Several early influences helped develop Williams' ecumenical sympathy. When the wattle daub building used by local Church of Christ farmers at Bunyip was not in use, he, as a youngster, occasionally trekked some eight miles to the Broughton Methodist Church. Later, during a year he spent working at Nhill, he attended the local Methodist Church, becoming its Treasurer. While these contacts were important, by far the greatest influence was that of T. H. Scambler, with whom he felt a kinship in his student days. Later, they became warm personal friends through shared ecumenical involvement.
Scambler believed that dialogue with others was essential to ecumenical progress. Williams thoroughly endorsed this position. "If we are so sure that we have something to give, we ought to give it. Here is our opportunity to make our plea known in the highest places. It is also an area of responsible
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listening. We have to be prepared to listen as well as to contribute." In contributing, Williams led the way. He was Chairman of the Victorian Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union in the Victorian Conference of Churches of Christ from 1945 up to 1972. From 1948 this Committee also served as the Federal Department of Christian Union.
Williams was a member of the Australian Commission for Inter-Church Aid from 1951 as its first Chairman, and Chairman of its Executive from 1962 to 1966. With the transfer of the Commission to Sydney, he continued on in the Victorian Committee for Inter-Church Aid (now World Christian Action) as Deputy chairman until 1976, when the office was terminated. He served for many years as a representative of Churches of Christ in annual meetings of the Australian Council of Churches. During 1971-1972 he was Chairman of the Victorian Council of Churches. He was also one of six Australian churchmen, representing Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches, and Churches of Christ who paid a fraternal visit in 1959 to churches in Russia, Czechoslovakia, and China.
For Williams, as for earlier Churches of Christ leaders, the Scriptures were the final authority. However, to an extent beyond which they had been willing to venture, he subjected the Bible's claim to authority to philosophic analysis. In essence, the conclusion he arrived at was that it was "the written record of the Word that came, or the written record concerning the historical event in which the Word came, or an interpretation of the event in the Word." In his view "the Bible witnesses to the Word of God in such wise that it is for us the Word of God."
Working from this basic premise, he concluded that the essence of Christianity was "loyalty to Christ." All loyalties were valid only as they were expressions of loyalty to him in obedience to the cardinal command to follow him. The crux of this loyalty was devotion, not definition, and its proof was Christ-likeness. Finally, the community of those loyal to Christ, for the expression of its corporate life, required form and structure. However, organisation and institution should be instruments of life, means not ends. The life was the essence. If life was central, then growth and change were necessary to ecumenical advance. Williams was in thorough agreement with the statement of the 1952 Faith and Order Conference at Lund which concluded that "we cannot build one Church by cleverly fitting together our divided inheritances. We can grow together towards fulness and unity in Christ only by being conformed to him who is the head of the body and Lord of his people . . . We cannot manifest our unity and share in his fulness without being changed."
Williams argued that neither the plea for unity nor the idea of restoring New Testament Christianity was peculiar to Churches of Christ. What was unique was that they had argued that it was through restoration that unity was to be achieved.
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Williams believed that it was God's will for the Church to be visibly united in ordinance, worship, life and witness. He argued that the belief that God was calling the Church to acceptance of "a universal authority, a universal creed, a universal priesthood, a universal name, and a universal spirit," was integral to the historic plea of Churches of Christ. This was "a plea for unity by way of catholicity," that is, a plea for unity "upon the foundation of apostolic and New Testament principles." Finally, because "the ideal of unity belongs to New Testament Christianity just as surely as do baptism, the Lord's Supper, preaching the gospel and new life, we cannot rest content with the compromise of division."
One of the most significant features of E. L. Williams' approach was his stress on the fact that Churches of Christ were, by intention, a Movement rather than a static self-satisfied denomination. However, he did warn fellow Disciples that unless this was recognised the Movement was in danger of retreating into a legalistic restorationism.
Williams argued that Churches of Christ were duty-bound to share their convictions, and that ecumenism both provided the opportunity and produced the necessary atmosphere. He put the matter tersely when he wrote, "Our agreements make conference possible, while our disagreements make it necessary." To those chary of involvement in the World Council of Churches he pointed out that the Council was not a Church, but a fellowship of Churches and a "meeting ground for representatives of those Churches which accept the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour." The alternative to encounter was isolation, which bred fear and suspicion, distortion and misunderstanding. Furthermore, he pointed out that if churches urged national and industrial groups to responsibly confer, they must be willing to abide by their own advice.
In conferring, it was necessary to respect the integrity of those whose opinions differed from one's own. This was helped by recognition of the fact that differences in thought and emphasis were related to family tradition and denominational conditioning. The attitude to be adopted was that of seekers after the truth rather than possessors. As the question of variant interpretation frequently thwarts progress, he suggested that what should be worked at was the formulation of a common mind, a consensus judgment of consecrated, qualified scholarship. Williams, who was frequently criticised by those misunderstanding him at this point, stressed that, more than anything else, Churches of Christ needed to encourage a greater scholarship among its leaders and then trust those with the intellectual equipment to represent their opinion adequately in church councils.
Williams contended that on many issues there were no clear-cut rights and wrongs, and on the question of the non-essentials of the faith responsible compromises had to be made. Furthermore, while working for a more
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complete unity, Churches of Christ should whole-heartedly co-operate with other Christians to the degree that conviction would allow, as a means of expressing an already existing spiritual unity, and as a spur to and harbinger of the larger and ultimate union.
A distinctive feature of Williams' concept of unity was the emphasis he placed on evangelism. He argued that Disciples had always conceived of restoration as a means to the end of unity, but that unity was not an end in itself but a means to effective evangelism.
There were those who felt that E. L. Williams would have happily sold the Movement out. This was the opposite of the truth. The study of his A Biblical Approach To Unity (in which he incorporated Glen Iris lecture material and which he used as the basis of lectures he delivered at Bethany and Lynchburgh Colleges, and Phillips, Butler, Texas and Drake Universities in the United States) clearly revealed a deep commitment to, and a thorough understanding of the unique plea of Churches of Christ. In his approach to the ministry and sacraments, areas most investigated by heresy-hunters, he was thoroughly orthodox. What probably confused and alarmed some was the fact that his exposition of the plea was couched in concise and studied language, without some of the traditional phrases.
While Williams outdistanced Main in the Principalship, his influence was not as extensive. He did not control the periodical, and the Movement between 1907 and 1930 had doubled. Furthermore, he entered upon the position when the College was under suspicion and when dissident opinion was gravitating to the second College at Woolwich. Nevertheless, his influence upon the Australian churches was second only to that of the dour Scot. This influence was of great significance in two areas. He awakened Churches of Christ to the social and political implications of the gospel and encouraged serious ecumenical encounter. It was during this period that Churches of Christ entered into "conversation" with the Uniting Church.
The Victorian Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union, acting in a Federal capacity, advised the 1964 Federal Conference in Brisbane that it had "published a statement indicating sympathy with and interest in the proposed basis of union between Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists" and prepared a response which was before the State Conferences for consideration. Acting on a mandate of this Conference, the committee, on behalf of Churches of Christ in Australia, applied for observer status at the sittings of the Joint Commission on Church Union set up by the
Federal Courts of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational Churches. This was granted. The final draft of the Churches of Christ Response to the Report and Proposed Basis of Union was forwarded to the Joint Commission prior to the 1966 Conference in Sydney. This Conference, when it was pointed out that "in conversation" meant "observation and exchange of views, not formal negotiation . . . overwhelmingly agreed that
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Churches of Christ should continue 'in conversation' with the three negotiating Churches." The contact, however, went little beyond the participation of the Federal Board of Christian Education of Churches of Christ in the preparation of Christian Education materials by the Joint Board of the Uniting Church. When the union of the Uniting Churches was consummated in 1977, Neil Gilmore, minister at Ainslie in Canberra, former member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and immediate Past President of the Australian Council of Churches, exclaimed "We have missed the bus!" Responsible for this pause in involvement was the opposition of a considerable section of the Movement to further negotiation.
A year after Williams became Principal, the Glen Iris faculty members were attacked for "departing from many of the doctrinal beliefs which have for so long been accepted as the basis of the New Testament Church." The major charge was that in the examination lists only one student was listed as having passed Christian Doctrine. This was easily explained as the subject was taught every second year, and one student needing it for his diploma sat for it in the alternate year. The real fear, however, was that "liberal" teaching at the College was subverting Restoration ideals and undermining the authority of the Scriptures. Several elements were involved. Unlike A. R. Main, who packaged his teaching in containerised lectures impervious to student questioning, Williams treated both sides of every issue before advertising his preference, inviting the student to think through the matter himself. Furthermore, Lyall Williams was frequently identified with the less cautious statements of his brother, R. L. Williams, B. A., B. D. Dick had trained at Butler University, U.S.A., which many regarded as a liberal institution. It was after his Federal Conference sermon in Sydney in 1944 that he was charged with reducing "the miraculous birth of our Lord, the atonement, and ordinances" to matters of opinion in the interest of unity. A strain of anti-intellectualism that had plagued the Movement from the beginning continued in evidence.
When the Federal Conference voted in 1946 to affiliate with the World Council of Churches, unhappiness with the decision simmered among a group of ultra-conservative in Victoria. It boiled over in 1950. The attack was spear-headed by Keith Macnaughtan, minister of the Swanston Street church, who argued that participation was inconsistent with the plea. He contended that the World Council creed opened the door to all religions and was unhappy with the involvement of the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose priests were being trained with money given for the rehabilitation of Europe. He was unhappy with the unsettled attitude of the Council to Rome, "the mother of harlots" and its control by Modernists.
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In 1953, the Victorian-Tasmanian State Conference voted by a considerable majority to affiliate at State level with the Council. In June of that year, a number, unhappy with this decision, formed an Evangelical Fellowship to propagate the older Restorationism and combat Modernism within Churches of Christ. A camp site was purchased at Belgrave Heights and a weekly Sunday evening radio programme over 3XY arranged. The Fellowship hailed the visit to Australia in 1956 of the International Council of Christian Churches, a rival international organisation headed by Dr. Carl McIntyre, whose aim was to disrupt the work of the World Council. A magazine, Truth and Light, first published in 1961, gave wider publicity to their views. Attempts to tie the Fellowship in with the Victorian Conference failed. However, the furore over World Council involvement subsided. Failing to gain the support of the moderate conservatives, the Evangelical Fellowship has, within the last few years, ceased to exist.
New South Wales, which earlier expressed its opposition to what it believed was being taught at Glen Iris by setting up a State college at Woolwich, acceded to the request from the 1946 Federal Conference to set up a Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union. This did not, however, reflect any change of attitude. In 1950 the New South Wales State Conference withdrew at State level from the World Council. Believing that the basic division within Christendom was not between denominations but between "those whose sole faith was in the Bible, and those who reject whole, or part, or add to it," a motion presented to the State Conference in 1959 to re-affiliate was lost. While the New South Wales Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union was re-established in 1958 at the urging of the Federal Executive, this Committee, which changed its name in 1960 to the Christian Union Committee, has seen its role as that of watch-dog to prevent the Federal Committee from committing the brotherhood to serious union negotiations.
New South Wales was also in the forefront of opposition to the introduction of Christian Education material prepared by the Joint board of Christian Education of the Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational churches.
In 1965, staff of the Federal Board of Christian Education attended the Joint Board as observers. When the question of co-operation with the Joint Board in the production of the 1970 curricula was brought before the State Boards for endorsement, the States divided equally over the issue. Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria favoured the motion, while Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania rejected it. Finally, submitted to the Federal Conference of 1968, it was won following a division.
The majority in New South Wales were opposed to the move from the beginning. They were convinced that co-operation would involve the dominance of the Liberal element. As a result, the New South Wales Department of Christian Education decided in October, 1967, to re-print
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Standard Lesson Material in use among American Independent Churches of Christ, as alternate material to Joint Board publications. While the New South Wales Committee promised that no campaign would be waged against the latter, feeling ran sufficiently high in New South Wales to ensure a ready market for Standard Lessons, which were also solicited by conservative elements in other States.
New South Wales reaction to Victorian-initiated Federal Union moves since the 1940's is difficult to analyse. There have been two basic elements--a deep theological conservatism, anti-intellectual in hue, strongly opposed to the faintest hint of liberalism, and unwillingness to compromise the older Restorationism. By 1970, besides a minority favouring the Victorian and Federal view-point, three basic groups have been discernible--Restorationists emphasising baptism, Evangelicals advocating an affinity with conservative opinion in Baptist and Anglican communions, and a considerable number between these two.
The Queensland churches were inadvertently drawn into the conflict when they set up a State College at Kenmore in 1965. The Glen Iris Board and Faculty were convinced that the establishing of a third College was a waste of limited resources and were not interested in helping promote the venture. The College establishment committee then looked to Woolwich for assistance. This fact, plus the presence on the initial management committee of strong conservative opinion, guaranteed an alignment with New South Wales against Victoria. The powder was ignited in 1966 when the inaugural
Principal, Dr James H. Jauncey, published an article in the Christian Echo, the periodical of the Queensland churches, in which he alleged a "brotherhood decay." He argued that this was evident in "letters to the Australian Christian criticising the Bible, doubting baptism by immersion, ridiculing the Restoration ideals and even sympathising with Communist aggression." He urged prayer to God for a "flood-tide of his Spirit to burn up all this dross." Jauncey came later to see that he had been too quick to appraise the Australian scene in terms of the American, and to admit that "apart from a few off-beat exceptions the theology of the Australian Churches of Christ was conservative." But Queensland was aroused to issues about which, in its remoteness, it had been relatively untroubled.
In 1958, at the instigation of the Federal College at Glen Iris, a conference between the Sydney and Melbourne Colleges was held at Woolwich, at which "the possibility of common action to promote and maintain standards of education and training" and the question of the task and relationship of the Colleges was discussed. Following the establishment of the Queensland College in 1965, the 1966 Federal Conference commissioned the Federal Executive to convene a College consultation, which met at Woolwich in
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January, 1968. The proposition discussed was the setting up of a Consultative Board of Theological Studies responsible to Federal Conference. The idea lapsed because the Queensland and New South Wales Colleges and Conferences would not accept the idea. They were unwilling to surrender their autonomy and were afraid that association with Glen Iris would restrict expression of their theological conservatism.
At a federal consultation on union conducted that same year, the Victorian Federal leaders were driven to admit to a significant theological cleavage within the Movement, which it was felt resulted from "honestly held convictions." Recognising that emphasis on differences was detrimental to the unity of the Church, a second conference in 1969 focused on agreements.
The tensions of the late 60's have since subsided. This was due to the moderating of New South Wales opinion, the development of a more conservative mood in Victoria, the removal of the question of unity from centre stage, and a revival of confidence in the churches' relevance and mission. The debate, however, was kept alive in Western Australia by the conflict of evenly-balanced factions. In 1970 the conservative element momentarily gained the upper hand and the State Conference voted to withdraw at State level from the World Council of Churches.
While there has been, particularly in the last forty years, considerable theological divergence within the Movement, it has not led to division. With the Uniting Churches having consummated their union without the involvement in Australia of Churches of Christ, and with the present focus within Churches of Christ on Church Growth, there is every indication that the divisive issues will become even less relevant.
During their history, Australian Disciples demonstrated that the Movement was able to contain differing and sometimes opposed emphases. This unity, however, during the period 1950-1970, appeared to be contradicted by the presence in Australia of "non-instrumental" Churches of Christ, an American import.
In America the Restoration Movement divided into three main streams. In 1893 J. W. McGarvey, President of the College of the Bible, Lexington, began a "Biblical Criticism" department in the Christian Standard to counter the growth of Disciple Liberalism. In time, a gradual severance resulted in the existence of two distant bodies, McGarvey's heirs, a centrist group, becoming known as the "Independent" Churches of Christ. To their right, there emerged, first listed in the 1906 census, the "non-instrumental" Churches of Christ. These rejected the use of the organ in worship, together with other "innovations", and accepted the extreme restorationism of
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Campbell's Christian Baptist days. Churches of Christ in Australia have remained affiliated with the Disciples, though a number of New South Wales preachers have visited American churches at the invitation of the "Independents," some of whose evangelists visited and worked in New South Wales and Queensland in the 1960's and early 1970's.
In 1937, John Allen Hudson, of the "non-instrumental" churches, visited Australia and the "Conference" churches. Disillusioned and feeling that there was a need "to go back to the original plea," he established in Sydney a work "outside Conference ties." In 1954, there were, in Australia, five struggling "non-instrumental" churches, four in the Sydney-Newcastle area and one in Hobart. Interested in these, the College Church of Christ, Abilene, Texas, sent evangelists and money. A magazine, Truth in Love, was issued, and by 1959 the Australian churches numbered twenty. The 1970's have seen the publication of the new magazine, Restoration Journal. Although the New South Wales Christian Union Committee has had numerous discussions with the "non-instrumental" churches, there seems no possibility of their affiliating with the Conference of Australian Churches of Christ. In their assessment, the latter have departed from the Restoration ideal, and for their part Australian Disciples find the approach of the "non-instrumental" churches strangely legalistic and narrow.
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This history has traced the movement of people and ideas. It is an exciting and very human story. It is honestly told. Those involved were not perfect, but many were of heroic mould and the churches were willing to learn from mistakes and to grow.
We are living in a world of such dramatic change that Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, published in 1970 as a projection of the future, is almost out of date. To meet the challenge of today, churches need flexibility. Disciples through their history have shown that they are capable of adjusting to change without losing their grip on original insights.
I am often asked--what is there about Churches of Christ that justifies their existence as a separate Christian communion? It is admitted that the Movement shares with other groups basic Christian beliefs. This is a point that needs no advertising. However, while they are thus at one with others, they have unique insights worth preserving, sharing with others, and, with the development of a more broadly-based unity, bequeathing to a re-united Church.
Disciples emphasised the importance of returning to the beliefs and practices of the early Church. While they limited their concern to the method of appropriating salvation and to church polity, and interpreted the evidence rather narrowly, their emphasis was excellent. Most Churches have now caught up with them and are today laying stress on the importance of re-examining the Biblical record. The development of group life within congregations and the importance placed on discovering one's spiritual gifts are encouraging this return. If they were there but neglected, what else might have been overlooked! Churches of Christ have been making this point throughout their history.
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In encouraging a return to New Testament patterns and principles, Churches of Christ highlighted the need to reproduce the spirit of the early Church. Though they did not always abide by the principles they were laying down, they did hold love of God and others as the most important characteristic of the Christian community in the New Testament age.
While they regarded the restoration of New Testament Christianity as a primary aim, they did not regard it as an end in itself. It was through restoring the beliefs, practices and spirit of the New Testament Church that it would recover its original unity.
There are two extreme positions to be avoided in the quest for unity. The first is the temptation to see union merely as the amalgamation of organisations. The second is to confuse it with spiritual affinity. Churches of Christ, from the beginning, contended that the New Testament furnished a pattern of unity that Jesus intended should be recognised, maintained, and developed. It was a spirit-initiated organic unity, built from the ground up. It started with the individual, expressed itself within congregations, and developed through ever-widening circles into a truly world-wide oneness in Jesus Christ.
Perhaps Churches of Christ were naive in imagining that other Christian groups, bred in the tense sectarian atmosphere of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, would listen to the plea of an upstart group claiming that they were in error. But they pressed on, despite opposition, urging the Christian world to forsake divisive denominational traditions. To avoid misunderstanding, they suggested the use of Scriptural phrases. They called themselves Christians, and invited others to do the same. Charged with implying, by the use of this title, that all other groups were not Christian, they pointed out that they were not suggesting that they were the only Christians. But they wanted to be known as Christians only.
The unity emphasis of Churches of Christ focused on Jesus. His pre-eminence was the goal of unity and it was shared love for him and joint worship of him that would draw Christians of different communions together. It was through seeking his will that unity, which was a part of that will, would be realised.
Even unity was not an end in itself. The Church was to be united so that the world would believe. Evangelism, at least in this present world, lay beyond unity. Churches of Christ were concerned with evangelism from the beginning. The accusation that they were "sheep-stealing" proves this. This was a charge they could not escape in an age when everyone was at least nominally something. Among other groups there were some who saw the sense of their plea and joined the crusade. Churches of Christ are still leading the way. McGavran is an American Disciple, and, in Australia, his approach, a re-discovery of the New Testament pattern of evangelism, is being pioneered by Churches of Christ.
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From the beginning, Churches of Christ congregations cared for indigent members. This is evident from the early minutes of the Prahran church, Victoria. While participation in the social and political life of the community was limited in the early years, the lack was soon made up. In an age when it is increasingly important for Christians to grasp the social and political implications of the gospel, Churches of Christ are poised to make a significant contribution. They are aware of and eager to grasp the responsibility without being either subservient to community attitudes or totally isolated from them.
In the early years Churches of Christ were dangerously exposed to outside influences like Christadelphianism. They were without a denominational creed and there were few areas where they demanded acceptance of specific beliefs. However, as they grew the Movement became more discriminating. This puts them in a healthy position. The absence of a written creed allows them to be open to new movements of God's Spirit, and, with growing theological maturity, to test them against basic Christian teaching. Balance and proportion have been keynotes over recent years.
Finally, the present leadership, while continuing to research the New Testament, is forward-looking. It is concerned to understand what God is saying to the Church today. I am proud to belong to such a Movement and grateful that I can make my contribution to the upbuilding of the Body of Christ in an atmosphere that both strengthens and liberates me.
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| A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y |
Aborigines 92, 148ff.
Adelphian Societies 64
Adermann, Sir Charles 167
Advisory Committees 98, 108, 144
American Disciples 52
American Evangelists 61, 70, 73
American Foreign Missionary Society 46
American Frontier 37
Anderson, Rev Dr. 24
Anderson, Mr and Mrs A. 110, 147
Anglican Church 55, 75, 106
Ann Street, Brisbane (Church) 122
Annual Meetings (see Conferences)
Apostolic Pattern 118, 158, 180
Arn, Dr. Wm. 168
Associate Synod of North America (Anti-Burgher Seceder) 22
Australia--religious beginnings 11
Australian Christian 85
Australian Christian Advocate 85
Australian Christian Pioneer 64, 76
Australian Christian Standard 85
Australian Christian Watchman 85
Australian Christian Witness 85
Australian College of the Bible 86
Australian Council of Churches 174
Australian Inland Mission 148
Austral Lessons 111
Austral Printing and Publishing Co. 85
Bachelor E. L. 90
Bagley, Thomas 112
Bainton, Rowland 38
Ballantine, James 76
Ballarat (Church) 55, 74, 81
Banks, H. J. 87
Ban Mat Mat College 162
Baptism 28, 32, 53, 69, 74, 75, 105, 118, 120, 131, 132, 138, 163
Baptist Church 38, 56, 73, 75, 76, 107, 119, 146
Barney, Abel 111
Barrett, J. G. 117
Bates, T. H. 83
Battle of Britain 145
Beale, Frank 162
Ben. August and Maeline 162
Bendigo (Church) 120
Benson, Rev C. Irving 153
Bentley, Miss 148
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Bethany (College) 45
Bible 22ff., 30f., 126ff., 139, 163, 165, 171
Bible Christians 55
Biblical Approach to Unity 173
Bieundurry, Jim 149
Binks, Rev. 76
Bishops 34, 55
Black, Milner 99
British Churches of Christ 41, 51, 52, 65
British Millennial Harbinger 17, 51, 54
Brooke, Allen 145
Brooke, J. E. 169
Brooker, William 57
Brown, Bob 149
Brown, J. T. 112
Brush Run (Church) 28
Budget Financing 109,
Building Funds 108
Burdeu, Arthur, P. A. 148
Burdeu, C. R. 109, 143
Burford, W. H. 18, 19
Burnley (Church) 109
Burwood Boy's Home 87
Calvinism 32, 37, 50, 56, 77, 152
Cameron, Miss F. 110
Campbell, Alexander 21, 28ff., 45f., 52, 127, 128, 158, 178
Campbell, Thomas 21ff., 52, 158
Campbell Edwards, R. 87
Card games 90
Carlton (Church) 67
Carmichael, Robert 41
Carr, O. A. 63, 71, 75, 77, 78, 86, 95, 164
Carruthers, J. H. 103
Challen, James 45, 47
Chamberlain, Mr and Mrs Rex 162
Chandler, Gilbert 142
Chapman-Alexander Mission 117
Chappell, Alf. 111
Charismatic Renewal 161
Cheek, Stephen 64, 81, 112
Cheltenham (Church) 168ff.
China 84, 110, 147
China Inland Mission 103
Chinese Home Missions Society 148
Chinese Missions 91
Chipp, Don 167
Christadelphians 45, 54, 58, 74, 78, 181
Christian Association of Washington 22, 38
Christian Baptist 29
Christian Connection 40
Christian Echo 176
Christian Endeavour 87, 94
Christian Evangelist 125
Christian Fellowship Association 141f.
Christian Messenger 50
Christian Pioneer 85
Christian Union Overture 158
Christian Unity 22, 25ff., 29ff., 40, 50, 52, 70, 104, 118, 119ff., 134ff., 150, 152ff., 155, 166ff., 170ff., 180
Church, The (Doctrine of) 33
Church Extension 168
Church government 34f., 118
Church growth 168, 180
Churches of Christ--beginnings in N.S.W. 13ff.
--beginnings in Qld 81
--beginnings in South Australia 12
--beginnings in Tasmania 63
--beginnings in Victoria 14ff.
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"Churches of Christ" 72
Churches of Christ (Independent) 177
Churches of Christ (Non-instrumental) 177ff.,
Coles, S. H. 55, 62, 78
College Consultation 176
College of the Bible (Glen Iris) 86, 95, 109, 122, 128, 144, 147, 156, 160, 174
College of the Bible, Lexington, Kentucky 63, 177
Collingwood (Church) 66
Committee for the Promotion of Christian Union 155
Conferences 67, 80, 108, 124
Conference organization 149ff., 162ff.
Confession (Open) 63, 69, 163
Conflict between American Disciple and British Churches of Christ 45, 65
Congregational Church 40, 55, 76,
Congress on Union 118, 119
Conscientious Objectors 145, 167
Conscription Referendum 114
Continental Sunday 103
Coop, Timothy 46
Co-operation 16, 35, 161
Corlett, B. G. 157
Crawford, Kevin 168
Creeds 26, 29, 52, 94, 130
Crowley, Dr. Des. 167
Cummeragunja Mission 149
Dancing 116, 164
Darwinian Revolution 101
Davey, P. A. 84
Davies, Eliza 17, 54
Davies, Mrs J. A 81
Day, George 62
Day Star 64
Deacons 16, 34
Declaration and Address 22, 137, 158
Denominational pride 58, 63
Depression (1890's) 87, 90
Depression (1830's) 141ff., 153
Design for Development 168
Discipline (see also Excommunication) 36, 88, 163, 164, 165
Dow, Jim 162
Duhig, Archbishop 137
Dunn, F. G. 85, 90, 96, 97, 98, 102, 103, 106, 113, 114, 116, 122, 124, 127, 130, 164
Eadie, Miss 148
Earl, H, S. 45, 46, 62, 64, 73, 78, 83
Ecumenical Movement 38, 172
Ego-centrism (see Rectitude)
Elders 34, 43, 51, 66, 80, 98
Ellerslie Girls' College 109
Elliott, Dr. A. G. 146, 147
Enmore, (see also Newtown) 112
Enniss, Reg. 111, 167
Essentials and Non-essentials 27, 80, 130, 172
Evangelical Alliance, (S.A.) 76
Evangelical Fellowship 175
Evangelism 15, 17, 35, 55, 87, 112, 134, 146, 167, 168, 173, 180
Evangelists 43f., 58, 61, 64, 66, 90, (see also Ministry)
Ewers, D. A. 80, 83, 85, 89, 90, 96, 97, 99, 106
Excommunication 16, 32, 36, 163, 164
Executive Committees 163
Exley, George 62
Exley, Henry 46
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Fairfield (Church) 62
Fairlam, R. C. 63
Faith 31, 132
Faith and Order Conferences 136, 154, 171
Federal Aborigines Mission Board 148f.
Federal Board of Christian Education 150, 175
Federal Conference 81, 150, 163
Federal Home Missions 147
Federal Literature Committee 169
Field Officers 168
Filmer, Frank 84
Finger, Harold 162
First Principles (Maston) 95
First Principles (Main) 133
First World War 133ff.
Fitchett, Dr. 137
Floyd, F. J. 102
Foreign Christian Missionary Society 86
Foreign Missions (see Overseas Missions)
Franklyn Street (Church) 13
Free Thinkers 95, 103
Future Shock 179
Garfield, James A. 88
Garnett, Mr (Dr.) and Mrs A. C. 110, 125, 126f.,
Garrison, J. W 65
Geeslin, H. H. 63
Gilmore, G. H. 165
Gilmore, R. N. 164, 174
Glas, John 26, 42
Goodwin, Thomas 57
Gordon, C. M. 117
Gore, T. J. 63, 64, 66, 69, 76, 86, 88, 95
Gough, J. E. 165
Gowdy, George 72
Grace 32, 70, 118
Graham, Billy 167
Graham, Sonny 149
Green, Matthew Wood 71, 77, 78, 84, 96, 103
Greenwood, Ivor 167
Griffin, Albert 14
Griffiths, S. H. 112
Grinstead, Wren J. 99
Gross, Harold 165
Grote Street, Adelaide, (Church) 66, 69
Hagger, Thomas 142
Haldane, James and Robert 25, 33
Haley, J. J. 63, 78, 85, 97, 98, 102, 105, 166
Hamill, J. 62
Hammer, David, G. 149
Harrington Street, Baptist Church, Tasmania 77
Harward, H. G. 86, 87, 88, 99, 109, 112, 122
Henshelwood, J. K. 86
Higlett, William 120
Hindmarsh, South Australia, (Church) 17
Hinrichsen. E. C. 112, 147, 157
Holy Spirit 57, 76, 152
Home Missions 87, 109, 112, 144, 147, 150, 160, 168
How To Grow An Australian Church 169
Hsueh, Dr. W, S. 110
Hudson, John Alien 178
Hughes, W. M. 114
Hussey, Henry 55, 62
Illingworth, Fred 85, 88, 97
India 84, 110, 168
Industrial Unrest 115, 116
Ingram, John 14
Intellectual Challenge of Churches of Christ 49ff.
Inter-Church Aid 171
- 187 -
Inter-colonial Conferences 81, 105
Interpretation 27, 30, 50, 74, 158, 172
Jackson, Andrew 37
Jackson, themes 13
Jamieson, Peter 149
Japan 84, 146
Jauncey, Dr. J. H. 161, 176
Jefferson, Thomas 37
Jesus Revolution 161
Johnson, James 86
Joint Board of Christian Education (Uniting Church) 174, 175
Jones, Abner 39
Jones, William 41
Jubilee History of Churches of Christ in Australasia 88
Kanakas 84, 91, 111
Kellems, Dr. Jesse 112
Kenmore Christian College 161, 176
Kershner, F. D. 158
Keswick Movement 153
Killmier, Dr. 110
King, David 45f., 48, 51, 54, 65, 71, 78
Kingsbury, Joseph 14, 16, 54, 55, 56, 90
Kooringa, S.A. (Church) 16
Laing, J. E, 106
Lambeth Conferences 135
Langley, Mr 155
Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery 39
Launceston, (Church) 112
Lawrie, John, Robert and Alexander 13, 51, 52
Laymen 12, 42, 61
Legalism 50, 70
Lewis, Edward 62
"Liberalism" 127, 156, 174, 175
Life and Work 155
Literalism 51, 70, 105
Literature 50, 52, 85, 169
Liu, John 162
Local autonomy 16, 161
Locke, John 27, 31
Lord's Day 36
Lord's Supper 15, 36, 46, 51, 74, 75, 83
Ludbrook, Stephen 84
Lygon Street, Melbourne (Church) 62, 63, 67, 86, 135
Lyle Thos 51
McCalla, W. L. 28, 50
McGarvey, J. W. 177
McGavran, Dr. Donald 168, 180
McIntyre, Carl 175
McLaren, David 13
McLean, Archibald 41
Macnaughton, Keith 174
Magarey, A. T. 92
Magarey, Thomas 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 51, 53, 56, 58, 62, 64
Mahoning Baptist Association 28
Main, A. R. 105, 109, 113, 114, 116, 119, 121ff., 145, 152, 153, 154, 155f., 157, 158, 165, 173, 174
Manning, James 117
Manning River (Church) 62
Mannix, Dr 114, 137
Martin, C. H. 74
Martin, W. H. 63
Maryborough, Victoria (Church) 72
Maston, Aaron Burr 85, 88, 95, 97, 106, 122
Matheson, Alan 164
Mead, Rev. Silas 76
Melbourne (Church) 14f., 67
Melbourne College of Divinity 160
Men's Work 168
- 188 -
Messent, Sir Philip 167
Methodist Church 49, 57, 75, (see also Wesleyan Methodists) 106
Metsentine, Miss Grace 110
Millennial Harbinger 29
Millennial Harbinger and Voluntary Church Advocate 41
Milligan, Robert 63
Milner, Thomas Hughes 62
Ministry 34, 42ff., 46-47, 51, 57, 58, 64, 65, 66, 68, 90, 96ff., 133ff., 143f., 160f.,
Mitchell, Henry 14
Modernism (see Liberalism)
Moody, D. L. 152
Moore, W. T. 17, 46
Moorehouse, Dr. James 102
Mooroopna (Church) 149
Moran, Cardinal 104
Morialta Protestant Children's Homes 108
Morro, W. C, 86, 99
Mount Clear, (Church) 55
Moyes, Gordon 168
Moysey, G. B. 64, 98
Mudford, Nurse Gladys 110
Mutual edification 15, 42, 45, 46, 51, 66, 98, 118, 160
New Guinea 162
New Hebrides 84, 110f., 162
New South Wales--foundation of, 11, in 1850's 13
New Testament 26, 31, 50
Newtown (Church) 14, 52, 54, 62, 77
Nicholls, Sir Douglas 149
Northam (Church) 120
Offerings 46, 67, 83, 118
O'Kelly, James 39
Open Air preaching 54
Open communion and membership, (see Lord's Supper)
"Operation Increase" 168
Overseas Missions 83, 110, 144
Owen, Robert 28, 50
Pacifism 118, 145, 167
Pamphlet Club 169
Paterson, H. J. 157
Perth (Church) 83
Picton, H. G. 14
Pittman, E. W. 87, 112
Pittman, Ferdinand 88, 90, 113
Pittman, J. 86, 87
Pittman, R. T. 109, 111, 157
Politics 18ff., 90ff., 113ff., 167
Pollock, Ralph 168
Porter, Thomas 66, 107
Port Pirie, (Church) 120
Prahran, (Church) 14, 86
Preachers' Provident Fund 111
Presbyterian Church (see also Seceders) 28, 49, 55, 71, 74, 77, 106
Primitive Christianity 72, 131
Prize fighting 117
Proselytism 56, 57, 76, 106, 138
Protestant Defense Association 104
Protestantism 50, 57, 136, 137, 158
Protracted Meetings 63, 69
Purcell, Bishop 28
Purdy, Fred 111
Pure Speech 30, 53 118, 131, 158
- 189 -
Reason 49ff., 70ff.
Rectitude 50, 57, 71, 74, 130
Redstone Baptist Association 28
Redwood, Archbishop 104
Reed, T. 31
Reformation, The 50, 71
Rescue Home 87
Restoration 25, 29, 40, 50, 131, 139, 156, 178, 180
Restoration Journal, 178
Revivalism 69, 152
Rice, N. L. 28, 45, 55
Rich Hill 26
Ridley, John 18
Robertson, Rev. James 45
Roman Catholic Church 49, 50, 57, 104, 114, 137, 158, 174
Rutherford, Mr and Mrs Mark 168
Salvation 30, 131, 163
Salvation Army 107
Sandeman, R. 25, 31, 33
Santo Philip 16, 18, 19
Saunders, W. W. 149
Scambler, R. H. 105, 138, 153f., 155f., 157, 170
Scotch Baptists 13, 41, 42, 47, 52, 54, 56, 66
Scotch Independents 26
Scots Church 95
Scott, Captain 13
Scott, Walter 34
Scoville, C. 112
Second World War 145, 153
Sectarianism 58, 71, 72
Selby, Isaac 99, 103
Self insight 98, 105, 166, 172
Sermon on the Law (Alexander) 28
Service, James 16
Service, Robert 16, 18f., 56, 57
Sherriff, John 84
Smith, David 127
Smith, Elias 39
Snodgrass, Dr. 168
Social Comment 90, 103, 116ff., 164, 167
Social Involvement 164, 167
Socialism 89, 116
Social Service 87, 108, 117, 141, 147
Socio-Economic Status of Members 17, 49, 58, 68, 89, 159
South Africa 84
South Australian Bible College 85, 95
South Australian Wesleyan Magazine 75
South Creek, (Church) 62
Springfield Presbytery 39
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon 152
Stafford, V. C. 150
Standard Lesson Material 176
State Aid 18, 19, 57, 74
Statistics 15, 62, 63, 87, 111, 146, 167
Stephenson, Arthur W. 157f., 165. 166
Stephenson, James 58
Stirling, Gordon R. 165, 166
Stone, Barton Warren 39
Strathalbyn, S.A. (Church) 72
Stretch, Bishop 106
Strong, Rev Charles 95, 102
Strutton, Mr and Mrs H. 84
Stubbins, Mr and Mrs F. E. 84
Sunday Schools 15, 69, 87, 90, 94, 109, 118
- 190 -
Surber, G. L. 63, 64, 66, 86
Sutton, R. O. 156
Swanston Street, Melbourne (Church) 67, 86, 90
Sydney (Church) 62, 77
Tarlee Tow 111
Taylor, Cliff G. 165
Tea Meetings 16
Temperance 18, 87, 89, 103, 108, 117
Terrell, Nurse E. 84
Theology 26, 95, 164f.
Thomas, Dr. John 45
Thomas, J. E. 117, 153
Thompson, John 84, 92, 111
Thompson, Mary 84
Tickle, G. Y. 45
Toffler, Alvin 179
Tonkin, Rosa 84
Troy, Frederick W. 81
Truth and Light 175
Truth and Progress 76
Truth in Love 178
Unemployment 90, 143
Unitarians 95, 103
United Aborigines Missions 148
Uniting Church 135, 166, 173, 175
Unity (see Christian Unity)
Vawser, Miss Edna 110
Venereal disease 117
Verco, J. C. 18
Verco, Dr. Joseph 90
Victorian Baptist Magazine 75
Victorian Bible Institute 86
Victorian Council of Churches 106
Victorian Unemployed Relief Committee 90
Visitation Evangelism 167
Waghmode, Hariba 110
Wakefield, Edward Gibbon 12
Walden, G. T. 87, 106
Walker, Thomas 71
Wallis, James 17, 41, 48, 51, 54, 62
War 103, 113, 145
Warren, George 56
Waterman, Will 110, 147
Watson, Mr and Mrs H. 110
Watt, Chas. 89
Webb, J. W. 62
Wedderburn, Victoria (Church) 17, 56
Wesleyan Magazine, (S.A.) 71
Wesleyan Methodists 13, 55
Western Bible College Committee 147
West Guildford 120
Wharton, G. L. 84
White, Alf. 110
Williams, E. Lyall 38, 170ff., 174
Williams, R. L. 174
Wilson, William 24
Women 16, 81, 168
Wong, Samuel 91
Woolwich College 122, 157, 173, 175
World Convention of Churches of Christ 38, 111, 122, 166, 167, 168
World Council of Churches 136, 155, 165, 166, 172, 174, 175, 177
World Missionary Conference 19, 10, 103
Wright, Henry 83
Young, Miss 92
Young Men's Christian Association 108
Youth Departments 109, 150
ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM--a history of Churches of Christ in Australia.
This history traces the movement of people and ideas. The author shares his insights gained from a study of the history and theology of Churches of Christ. He does not disguise mistakes and wrong attitudes but seeks to adequately and accurately inform his readers about our past.
This is not a "denominational" history. It does not just list names and note events. It seeks to trace and interpret the broad developments of Churches of Christ from a small inward-looking nucleus, convinced that it had a monopoly on the truth, to a vigorous and outward looking communion which recognises a oneness with other Christians and an awareness of its social and political responsibilities. It is a thrilling story. We are deeply indebted to the author for this excellent study.
GRAEME CHAPMAN, M.A., B.D., Dip.ED., the author, is senior minister of the Dawson Street and Mt. Clear Churches of Christ, Ballarat. He has previously ministered at Kedron Queensland and Hurstville, New South Wales and was for some years senior lecturer of Woolwich Bible College Sydney.
His special interests include history, the behavioural sciences, theology and writing.
His first book YOUR CHURCH--WHERE TO FROM HERE? sold out its first printing. It was a study of the basic doctrines and life style of a church committed to growth and broad evangelistic ministry. In it the author evaluated current trends and projected future patterns of ministry and church life.
ISBN 0 909116 15 6
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