Alexander Campbell

Unfortunately at the present time I do not have literature to reference for the following article. However, I wanted to share some information that is beneficial.

Anyone who is aware of the history of religion in America (and probably in the world) has heard the name Alexander Campbell. It turns out his father, Thomas Campbell, was in America first. After some time his son Alexander was able to sail to America to rejoin his father.

Both of these men have been noted for their great efforts in trying to restore Christianity to the pattern given in the Bible. Years ago, those who now go by the name Baptists were titled "followers of Campbell" or "Campbellites". Today, many who now wear the name "Church Of Christ" are titled Campbellites.

This illustrates a point I have tried to make before. Let's try to avoid this mistake that has plagued those trying to follow Christ from the 1st century on. Let's avoid naming a group or doctrine after a person such as I am of Paul, I am of Apollos, I am of Campbell etc. A doctrine is either true or false. It is either of Christ or not. It doesn't matter WHO makes a statement or teaches a doctrine. It matters WHAT they say. Is it true or false? Is it according to the Bible?

Alexander in particular is associated through Glasgow University with some statements you might be familiar with :

  • We speak where the Bible speaks.

  • We are silent where the Bible is silent.

  • We do Bible things in Bible ways.

  • We call Bible things by Bible names.

All of these are good concepts. It seems for years Alexander and many others associated with Him did just this. They were continually evaluating their worship and making sure it was according to scripture. For instance, the time came for Alexander to "baptize" his daughter as an infant. He did some studying and realized the Bible did not authorize infant baptism. The Bible only speaks of believers being baptized. This being the case, he decided not to have his daughter "baptized".

However, he did decide that his infant baptism was unscriptural and he as well as other believers were baptized. They realized their infant baptism was far from the doctrine that Christ had taught.

This went on for many years in Alexander's life. Many false things were eliminated in religion. However, there is a sad end to our tale.

Around the last 15 years of his life, Alexander came up with the concept of a missionary society. Despite his claims to do Bible things in Bible ways, he basically taught that the church alone could not fulfill its mission. It needed a Human Institution with Presidents, Vice Presidents etc. as a go between to do the church's work. Obviously this is no where in the Bible.

Despite the Bible's teaching that each congregation was autonomous under its own eldership, Alexander got support from some to start a missionary society. All this man's work for unity in Christ was shattered. Others clung to the old paths and realized this was unscriptural.

This opened the door for benevolent societies, missionary societies, church sponsored orphan homes, sponsoring church arrangements and so on. The damage caused is still causing problems in the Church today. It is so odd and unbelievable that a man who opened so many doors to restore Christianity, went through so many hardships, and so on caused this much damage to his own cause before his death.