IT’S BEEN WRITTEN, BY THOSE WHO lived closer to the time, that there were 6 causes leading up to the RESTORATION MOVEMENT in the United States.
- DISSATISFACTION with human creeds: The first was a product of the REFORMATION movement that sought to transform the Catholic church. The Protestant denominations and their leaders had been forcing creeds upon the world as tests of fellowship. These creeds became sources of strife and were at best the opinions of men. Many of the creeds contained ideas that were objectionable to thinking people. The creeds set aside the authority of Christ and kept Christendom divided.
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Cor 1:12-13]
- TEACHING babies were lost because of the false teaching of total depravity. The error was taught that a person was born a sinner. That meant that babies were lost spiritually from birth. Infants were doomed at birth if ‘unbaptized.’ The dogma goes onto teach that a person was eternally lost or eternally saved as God elected them regardless of their faith. This made man a mere toy in the hands of his Maker.
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:14]
III. THE MYSTICAL conception of conversion. Calvinistic theory teaches that every conversion had to have ‘miraculous accompaniments,’ such as a dream, vision or some other sort of mystical occurrence. It can be easily seen that this mystical theory of conversion appealed only to people who were temperamentally emotional.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:35-36]
- NEGLECTING BIBLE STUDY. Strange as it is to say, but Protestants knew very little about the bible. JD Tant, a Presbyterian preacher before becoming a Christian, was criticized for using too many scriptures in his sermons. The protestants had effectively hidden the scriptures behind their speculations as did the Roman Catholic church did with her traditions. The average denominational exhorter would more likely send you to the Psalms of David or Jeremiah to find out what to do to be saved over the book of Acts.
“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16]
- RAMPANT SECTARIANISM. Not only were they ignoring the Lord’s prayer for unity, they were defending denominationalism. The arguments were that denominations were needed to suit the style preferences of the people. They became blind to the theological mess their reasoning had created.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10]
- RELIGIOUS STAGNATION and a widespread decline of morals. Perhaps because of the aforementioned problems in denominational religion, the world grew skeptical and attacks against the bible and against the Christian faith increased. Skepticism was seen in the colleges & universities of the United States and the spread of irreligious activity was enhanced. Public morals dropped, intemperance, gambling and even debauchery prevailed to an alarming degree, even among their own clergy.
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up,” [1Cor 5:1-2a]
WHAT WAS THE SOLUTION?
The pioneers of the RESTORATION movement stood on plain & simple high ground, the word of God.
- “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent.”
- They opposed anything that could not be supported with the Authority of Christ.
- They rejected all sectarian names and creeds. During a debate over creeds, they petitioned an unbiased Frenchman who had heard the entire debate to decide who was right. The Frenchman asked the man with the New Testament who made his creed. “Jesus Christ” was the answer. Turning to the man debating for a creed he asked the same question. The creed holder said, “it was adopted in the city of Philadelphia, in the year 1742.” The Frenchman said, “Very well gentlemen, that is enough. If you follow your creed, Mr. Christian, when you die, it will take you to Jesus Christ. Follow yours, Mr. Baptist, and when you die, you will go to Philadelphia.”
- “Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church, or be made a term of communion among Christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.”
The ‘pioneers’ of that day were only coming to the truth that many others had already been practicing in this country. Whenever someone takes the seed of the Kingdom, the word of God [Matt 13:19] and understands it, they too can become just a CHRISTIAN when they obey the Gospel of Christ.
References: adapted from, “Sermon Outlines on The Restoration Plea” by C.C. Crawford, 1927 second edition 1956.