Church in Babag Uno, Cebu City

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THE RESTORATION PRINCIPLE A VALID PRINCIPLE

There is no denial that the restoration principle was a valid ecclesiology principle back then. It was valid in the time of the Anabaptists; it was also valid in the time of the Campbells. When I say “valid,” I mean it can be logically applied and proven to be of use; that this principle was the very solution to the religious problem we have in Christendom, the problem of making ourselves right with God.

The restoration principle was the very principle that differentiated Luther and Zwingli from the group of ancient restorers whom historians called “The Anabaptists.” We grant that the Anabaptists were not a perfect people, and their movement was not a perfect movement. Even their name smacks of error: “Anabaptism” roughly speaking means one baptism on top of another baptism. But their being imperfect could not be used as a reason to discredit the movement. Human imperfections abound everywhere.Yes, they had errors aplenty; but could not that same thing be said also about some wings of the Restoration Movement in our time? We have one-cuppers, anti-benevolence, anti-orphan homes, anti-Bible school, premillenialists and other extremists among us.

THE ANABAPTIST MOVEMENT SOUGHT TO CORRECT SOME ERRORS IN RELIGION

This to me is a valid reasoning. If one is content with being in error, then he has no place in the present Restoration Movement, in our Movement.The Anabaptists (Michel Roubli, Felix Manz, and others) sought first to correct their “baptism.” They were “baptized” as infants; and having read their Greek New Testament, they came to the conclusion that”pedo-baptism” has no place in the plan of God. So they “rebaptized” themselves, by pouring water from the head down; and this was in 1525. More truths came to them, little by little. From”adult sprinkling” they came to know that even the”mood” was wrong; and they sought to correct that also–they started immersing themselves. So what did they seek to restore? It was the truth that only adults are the proper subjects of baptism. Then, it was the truth that only immersion is the correct way of doing the baptising. Then it was the truth on the Lord’s Supper, complete with the emblems of both the body and the blood of Jesus. Later, they came to reject even the name Anabaptist, choosing rather to call themselves “Christians,” members of the church of Christ.

ANDREW MUNRO AND THOMAS CAMPBELL:RESTORATIONISM IN AMERICA

The Restoration Movement in America did not start with Thomas Campbell and his “Declaration and Address”; it was exported to the American shores from the British Isles. Thomas Campbell, a Seceder Presbyterian, knew of Greville Ewing, of the Haldane brothers, and others of kindred spirits who sought to restore the spirit, themes and teachings of the early church.

But the Haldanean restorationists were not the originator of this movement to go back to the Bible. Somewhere along the way, someone must admit that he too has a grandfather, and I am talking about the Glassites or the Sandemanians. The Glassite movement came ahead of the Haldanean movement. A member of the movement founded by John Glass is today known in secular history, not for his religious achievements but for his scientific discoveries. His name is Michael Faraday.

Thomas knew these people: John Glass, and his son-in-law Robert Sandeman; the brothers James Alexander and Robert Haldane, and their associate Greville Ewing. Following in the footsteps of these men, to Campbell, meant the loss of favor with his church.

When the defrocked and unchurched Thomas Campbell, now a migrant in the United States, stood up and spoke on the principle of “speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent” to a group of religious men, one objector, Andrew Munro, rose up and said: “If that is so, Mr. Campbell, we can no longer baptize infants!” to which the grand old restorationist answered: “Well, if infant baptism be not found in the Scripture, let us do away with it.”

The baptism question continued to hound the Campbells. When it was Alexander Campbell’s turn to study the question, he plunged headlong to where his conclusion could lead him: He asked Matthias Luce, a Baptist pastor, to baptize him for the remission of sins.

THE RESTORATION PRINCIPLE IS VALID IN OUR TIME

The restoration principle motivates people of kindred spirits to seek what is best for the problem of how make oneself right with God. In my studies in the mountains, I would often hear of disgruntled Catholics, abused Baptists, seeking to be reborn “born-again” people longing for something that refreshes the soul. The Mountain View mission, for example, started with a group of twenty to thirty men and women- drunkards and non-drunkards, smokers and non-smokers, little sinners and great sinners, all of whom were Catholics. They saw that I had something to offer. I was preaching to them the Christ about whom they knew so little. I did not speak about restorationism, but I spoke about going back to God; and to me they mean the same. I spoke about the Catholic Bible, and I read from it to them. Does one long for release? The answer is God. Does one long for a better home? The answer is heaven. Does one long for being made right? Jesus could make you right. Does one long for freedom? Read your Bible.The first step to becoming right is to look at oneself and find out what’s wrong with oneself. Are you contented with what you are now, I would ask, and the common answer was no. Then, Do you want to do what is right to make God happy? Ok.

And so thirty men and women who wanted to do what’s right decided to worship the God who could make them right. Nothing was said about Catholicism being wrong; but something was said about Christianity being always right, and the Bible says so. Our way then of restoring what is right is to restore ourselves back to our Maker, by worshipping Him. Then someone suggested about communion. I asked if they like to to do it; they said yes. I asked if they wanted to do it right. I got an affirmative answer. So the next time we worshipped we had our Lord’s Supper, the complete emblems of the bread and the fruit of the vine. I asked them if they wanted to know their God better, as He spoke of Himself in His Word. They said yes. I asked: If God were with us today, speaking as He does, and reading what He says, would you glorify Him by believing and accepting all that He says? They said yes. So I read Exodus 20, about the ten commandments, and I explained it one by one, beginning with the tenth and ending with the first. I read what Isaiah says about the futility of idolatry. I read what Paul says about the topic in Romans 1. Slowly, little by little, these Catholics were weaned away from their idols. Slowly, they turned to the God they had forgotten, the Lord whose nature they had misunderstood. Their baptism, their putting on of their Lord, may have taken so long, but when it came, they were sure they were now made right.

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