Return, Restoration, and Renewal in Chronicles and Today

Last week I explored restoration as a concept in the book of Chronicles and now I'm going to jump into the return, restoration, and renewal in both Chronicles and today. One of the Chronicler’s main concerns is “all Israel,” north and south, as a unified community. To the Chronicler, Israel was an ideal entity, a twelve tribe whole, in contrast with the fractured remnants which are his reality in the post-exilic age. This concern for the restoration of all Israel and to demonstrate the continuity of the post-exilic community with pre-exilic Israel is demonstrated already in the genealogies of 1 Chron 1-9. … [Read more...]

Restoration in the Book of Chronicles

It is ironic that those of us in the American Restoration Movement, who have emphasized the restoration of biblical doctrine and practices, the unity of the Spirit, and the life of faith have missed the most obvious model for restoration in the Bible. The Chronicler’s vision of restoration includes Israel as a faithful, worshipping community, a community which seeks to recover scripture, and the unity of God’s people. Nothing could be more pertinent to the ideals of Restorationism. One of the Chronicler’s main concerns is indeed with the restoration of all Israel—politically, socially, and religiously—in the post-exilic age. The way the … [Read more...]

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From the early days of the Restoration Movement, Churches of Christ and Christian Churches distinguished themselves from their near neighbors on the American frontier with a noticeably robust ecclesiology, reflected in, among other things, the theology and practice of baptism.  Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott’s “high” view of baptism stood out in the context of the Second Great Awakening, wherein salvation often came to be connected to a subjective experience of the Holy Spirit that was externally manifest in ways other than baptism.  For evangelists like Charles Finney, someone could respond by approaching the “anxious … [Read more...]

The Resurgence of Calvinism

In 2009, Time magazine called “New Calvinism” one of the “10 ideas changing the world right now.”  This resurgence was famously documented in Collin Hansen’s book from 2008, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists.  The movement has certainly changed the face of evangelicalism.  Take, for example, the largest Protestant denomination in this country, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).      Pictured: Jonathan Edwards … [Read more...]

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Historically, outsiders to Churches of Christ have noticed the great unity and uniformity of faith and practice that characterize our fellowship. As Frank Mead put it, in his classic Handbook of Denominations in the United States, “Since the status of [their] institutions is unofficial, none authorized to speak for the entire church, their conformity in ideas and teachings is all the more remarkable.”  That is, despite the lack of institutional, denominational superstructure or adherence to a written confessional standard, Churches of Christ have traditionally maintained a surprisingly strong sense of identity. This common identity is … [Read more...]

Family Business in Australia

I recently had the opportunity to travel for the first time to Australia to look after some “family business.”  First of all, the “spiritual family business.”  I was invited to Melbourne to teach a course for the Klesis Bible Program.  Klesis, under the capable direction of Benny Tabalujan and Alan Rowley, is an organization dedicated to serving and supporting Churches of Christ throughout Australia, southeast Asia, and beyond.  Among the many partners and consultants involved with Klesis is Austin Grad’s own resident Aussie, Allan McNicol.  … [Read more...]

Liturgy, a Heartfelt Script

Most Churches of Christ are accustomed to what might be called a “low-church” style of worship.  The phrase “low-church” can mean a variety of things, but it certainly includes the idea that words should be, or at least should appear to be, unscripted.  Prayers especially should be extemporaneous.  The assumption is that a written prayer that is read cannot be heartfelt.  Is this right? The impulse in Churches of Christ to shun a scripted liturgy is one that goes back to the Protestant Reformation.  At the dawn of the Reformation, the worst liturgical displays of the Western Church featured priests mumbling prayers … [Read more...]

Retrieval Theology and the Restoration Movement

What is a “restorationist?”  Am I a restorationist?  Are you one?  I don’t know how many members of Churches of Christ actually self-designate as “restorationists.”  My guess is, not many.  I generally try to avoid the term.  It’s a cumbersome word that is not self-explanatory to most Christians and, even worse, may be used to pigeon-hole and to dismiss the whole group as “primitivist” and therefore irrelevant.  To clarify, “restorationist” objectively describes the churches spawned by the so-called “Restoration Movement” (commonly called the “Stone-Campbell Movement” these days, though I have misgivings … [Read more...]