Alexander Campbell Sounds a Lot Like N.T. Wright on the New Heavens, New Earth and Resurrection Body

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This quote is from Alexander Campbell’s book “The Christian System” published in 1839,

“The Bible begins with the generations of the heavens and the earth; but the Christian revelations ends with the regenerations or new creation of the heavens and the earth. This the ancient promise of God confirmed to us by the Christian Apostles. The present elements are to be changed by fire. The old or antediluvian earth was purified by water; but the present earth is reserved for fire, with all the works of man that are upon it. It shall be converted into a lake of liquid fire. But the dead in Christ will have been regenerated in body, before the old earth is regenerated by fire. The bodies of the saints will be as homogenous with the new earth and heavens as their present bodies are with the present heavens and earth. God recreates, regenerates, but annihilates nothing; and, therefore, the present earth is not to be annihilated. The best description we can give of this regeneration is in the words of the one who had a vision of it on the island of Patmos. He describes it as far as it is connected with the New Jerusalem, which is to stand upon the new earth, under the canopy of the new heaven…” p, 303

This is helpful information for those of you who might want to delve into this view in your local congregation to let people know…these aren’t all new ideas but actually very ancient ideas that have been explored at various points in church history only recently done by N.T. Wright but previously done by many who have gone before us.

11 Responses

  1. In many ways Alexander Campbell was a fairly modern theological thinker. He was an abolitionist and a pacifist. I give him credit for that. He did come out of a reformed background though, and that explains his anti-supernatural component (the spiritual gifts have ceased), and his rationalistic approach. He was a Deist in many ways as well. He probably was a Trinitarian, but ambivalent about the terminology. In many ways Stone is a more attractive personality, he tended toward abolitionism and pacifism as well. He however was a vehement non-Trinitarian. He could be called a “Oneness” or Sabellian. The Father became Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is some kind of power of God (Not God). But one thing we need to remember that Stone and Campbell were NOT the founders of the Churches of Christ. The Churches of Christ came into being as a hi-jacked religious movement in 1889 led by Daniel Sommer, and became official in 1906 after Lipscomb joined forces with Sommer. To do this Lipscomb had to shed his pacifism and abolitionism. The early Lipscomb is a very relevant person today for his non-racist views, his pacifism and Christian Anarchistic views. His view on Civil Government are interesting , in that they are similar in many ways to Jacques Ellul and John Howard Yoder.

    1. The Churches of Christ existed well before Sommer, as I am sure you know. You can’t hijack something that doesn’t exist 🙂

      The point is, people make mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger and some people are more influential than others but no person or movement is flawless. We continue to seek God and continue to realize our movement is only as solid as our desire to be a people who follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Following Jesus involves total surrender, love, grace and giving up our narcissistic need to be God’s guardians.

    2. The Disciples of Christ existed before Daniel Sommer and the Churches of Christ. There were antecedents to Sommer, but he and later David Lipscomb hijacked the the DOC and transformed it into the COC. Alexander Campbell and Stone were NOT the founders of the COC. The DOC gave rise to other movements as well, including Mormons,Christadelphians, and Jehovah Witnesses. Why do Church of Christ members deny their true heritage and skip Sommer and Lipscomb to go back to the founders of the DOC? There are flaws, and we all have them. Then there are outright cults like the Churches of Christ.

    3. What is ironic to me about this comment is how you are making universal negative statements about the Church of Christ the exact reverse of the universal positive statements Churches if Christ made about themselves, mostly in years gone by. Neither are warranted, Neither the universal, “only those in the CofC are going to heaven” nor “CofC is a cult”statements are helpful or truthful. Sorry you got hurt somewhere in the past. I really am. Vitriol and unforgiveness, if that is what you are harboring (I don’t know you or your heart) will just poison you looking forward.

    4. So Matt,
      As I saw it and experienced the Churches of Christ-“We are the only ones saved”, that alone is enough to make it a cult. Some people like you and Jay Guin are backing away from that, and that is great. The only poison and vitriol is coming from the COC end and their defenders. WHy do defend an abberant theology? Kind of like, “well things aren’t that bad, you just had a bad experience! It is your fault for being bitter.” That kind of thinking is nonsense. It is like blaming a rape victim for being raped. The Churches of Christ have spiritually raped many people in their existence from 1889 onward. Now I see why people in the COC want to sweep Sommer under the rug, he was the original founder who set the COC spiritual abuse in place. Others since him has improved upon it and refined it in more stealthy ways.From my reading of the COC, there are a handful of COC congregations who are progressive against the majority who are still hard line. Do not blame the messenger or the victim for the spiritual abuse they endured at the hands of the American cult called “the churches of Christ”. Since I left in 1971, I have gone back and reread their history. The Disciples of Christ a more open group, but there emphasis on “Unity and Restoration” set up things for the COC to come into being. The Unity part was great, the Restoration part was a myth, as people will not agree 100% what to restore. This is where the COC came along in 1889 under Sommer, and said they did it.
      Thanks, Gary

  2. Gary, you have made many assumptions based on my comment that aren’t true or substantiated by anything I have ever said. My point is this…you cannot generalize your experience to all Churches of Christ, especially experience that was most likely years ago. Does it still happen? Yes. Do I justify those things? No. I hope you read this comment in the friendliest and kindest of ways.

    1. Matt,
      Thanks for the note. My experience is mine and I will not accept blame for it. I have studied DOC/COC history a lot over the years, Most Churches of Christ, in my experience and opinion, are like what I have described, and some aren’t. Great for those who aren’t. I never said you justified those things. The thing is that my experience has been duplicated 1,000’s of times. So, that is why I am able to generalize in exposing the spiritual abuse that happened and still happens in the Churches of Christ. I have an ex-coc blog, as well as a closed ex-coc group on Facebook. My story has been repeated many, many times, sadly. It is not just me. One rule I have learned about speaking to victims of spiritual abuse, is do not blame the victim.
      Thanks, Gary.

    2. I can see all of the comments. If you can’t, I am not sure what would do that. Thanks for your patience.

  3. I am a 77 year old believer. I have been associated with the C of C since I was 20. My brother became a C of C preacher, migrating to it from the Methodist Church. He just about buried my mother and upset the family with the dogmatic teaching of; C of C way, or no way. My mother survived, but according to his belief, she is not now in heaven. I have attended the C of C now for about six years. The one I attend is not dogmatic about the doctrine. I am accepted and I have no one in my face telling me I am going to hell believing what I believe. Only some of my family does that now. My beliefs conflict with a lot of the teaching, however I can worship there because I believe God looks on the heart. I also believe that it is “grace” unmerited. This church does a great work in the community and I am a part of that, now out of “duty” but out of “love” which is generated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. I am nothing near a scholar, I just read and to me “words mean something”. Beside, scholarship does not give one a leg up. Paul when he was Saul had it and so did Nicodemus about the “born again” statement. Verses 1 and 10 of John 3, says a lot about that. Not until Jesus interrupted and enlightened Paul did he become aware of the right way. Blessings to all and may God be glorified.

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