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Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)



Introduction

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) claims to have a deep Christian spirituality in their way of life. The Disciples of Christ believe they fully live what God has revealed in Jesus Christ and through their experiences with the Holy Spirit. They encourage each other in their spiritual disciplines and each other to allow God to shape them.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) focuses on Bible studies as well as practiced tradition of their church, prayer, worship service, stewardship, and hospitality to all strangers. Each Disciples of Christ congregation has its own personality, but all focus on the mission to study and have fellowship at every opportunity, with all people from different walks of life.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) considers themselves followers of Jesus Christ by helping in their neighborhood communities. They have been committed to serving in soup kitchens, food pantries, and homeless shelters and care for abused children, as well as for the senior citizens. They help repair homes and community centers and with whatever is needed after natural disasters to bring hope to the hopeless. They consider their church to be anti-racist and pro-reconciling.

History

There are three key people that founded the Christian Church; Disciples of Christ Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander Campbell.

Barton W. Stone was a Presbyterian minister that was born in Port Tobacco, Maryland on December 24, 1772 and died in Hannibal Missouri, on November 9, 1844. He got his education as a school teacher before he entered the ministry in the Presbyterian Church. Stone was a minister in Cane Ridge Kentucky and hosted the historic Revival at Cane Ridge in 1801. He, along with others formed the Springfield Presbytery which denounced all human creeds and accepted only Bible based creeds.

Barton demanded the Bible should be the only rule of faith and life practice. Once the Springfield Presbytery was dissolved they published a Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery. This became one of the important documents for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). All denominational ties were dissolved once the Springfield Presbytery was dissolved. They entered into the unity with the body of Christ and called themselves just Christians.

THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF SPRINGFIELD PRESBYTERY.

FOR where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of the testator; for a testament is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no strength at all, while the testator liveth. Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. Whose voice then shook the earth, but now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken as of things that are made, that those things which can not be shaken may remain.--SCRIPTURE. [19]

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Last Will and Testament, &c.

THE PRESBYTERY OF SPRINGFIELD, sitting at Caneridge, in the county of Bourbon, being, through a gracious Providence, in more than ordinary bodily health, growing in strength and size daily, and in perfect soundness and composure of mind; but knowing that it is appointed for all delegated bodies once to die and considering that the life of every such body is very uncertain, do make and ordain this our Last Will and Testament, in manner and form following, viz.

Imprimis. We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.

Item. We will, that our name of distinction, with its Reverend title, be forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God's heritage, and his name one.

Item. We will, that our power of making laws for the government of the church, and executing them by delegated authority, forever cease; that, the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

Item. We will, that candidates for the Gospel ministry henceforth study the holy scriptures with fervent prayer, and obtain license from God to preach the simple Gospel, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, without any mixture of philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And let none henceforth take this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. [21]

Item. We will, that the church of Christ assume her native right of internal government--try her candidates for the ministry, as to their soundness in the faith, acquaintance with experimental religion, gravity and aptness to teach; and admit no other proof of their authority but Christ speaking in them. We will that the church of Christ look up to the Lord of the harvest to send forth labourers into his harvest; and that she resume her primitive right of trying those who say they are Apostles, and are not.

Item. We will, that each particular church, as a body, actuated by the same spirit, choose her own preacher, and support him by a free will offering without written call or subscription--admit members--remove offences; and never henceforth delegate her right of government to any man or set of men whatever.

Item. We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose: for it is better to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.

Item. We will, that preachers and people, cultivate a spirit of mutual forbearance, pray more and dispute less; and while they behold the signs of the times, look up and confidently expect that redemption draweth nigh.

Item. We will, that our weak brethren, who may have been wishing to make the Presbytery of Springfield their king, and wot not what is now become of it, betake themselves to the rock of ages, and follow Jesus for the future.

Item. We will, that the Synod of Kentucky examine every member, who may be suspected of having departed from the Confession of Faith, and suspend every such suspected heretic immediately; in order that the oppressed may go free, and taste the sweets of Gospel liberty. [22]

Item. We will, that Ja---------, the author of two letters lately published in Lexington, be encouraged in his zeal to destroy partyism--We will, moreover, that our past conduct be examined into by all who may have correct information; but let foreigners beware of speaking evil of things which they know not.

Item. Finally we will, that all our sister bodies, read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.

Springfield Presbytery,

June 28th, 1804. } (L. S.)
ROBERT MARSHALL,
JOHN DUNLAVY,
RICHARD M'NEMAR,
B. W. STONE,
JOHN THOMPSON,
DAVID PURVIANCE,
Witnesses.

THE END.

Produced from the facsimile reprint published in The Cane Ridge Reader, ed. Hoke S. Dickinson [Paris, KY: n. p., 1972]

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Thomas Campbell also was a Presbyterian minister in the Seceder branch of the Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland. He who was born February 1, 1763, in County Down, Ireland and he died in Bethany, Virginia, (West Virginia of present time), in January 4, 1854.

Thomas Campbell came to America and settled in the Seceder church in Western Pennsylvania around in 1807. He encouraged open communion and petitioned from creeds to the Bible as a basis of faith. He was reprimanded by the Pennsylvania Church because he refused to use the Presbyterian creeds in 1808. He believed there was no creed except those expressed through Christ. Thomas Campbell was excommunicated and formed the Christian Association of Washington, Pennsylvania and thus started the Restoration movement.

Thomas and his son Alexander Campbell, as well as the Christian Association founded the Brush Run Church, which later in 1815 became part of the Baptist Association. The Reformer Movement cut their association with the Baptist Association because of too many differences that were unable to be worked out. They called themselves Disciples in 1830. Thomas Campbell wrote the Declaration address called the Magna Charta of the Disciples and the denomination which is now known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was born.

Alexander Campbell followed his father’s lead and gave the movement its formative theology. He was born in the County of Antrim, Ireland, on September 12, 1788. Like his father. Alexander was raised as a Presbyterian and educated at the University at Glasgow, Scotland.

Alexander Campbell joined his father in America in 1809. He was a skilled writer and talented debater and this propelled him into a leadership role in the Disciples of Christ Church. He founded the Bethany College in Virginia and was their first president in 1932. It was also in 1932 when the Christians and the Disciples merged and became known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Belief

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believes Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God, that Jesus Christ offers saving grace to all persons and all persons are the children of God. They believe in an open Communion, which is celebrated in weekly worship and is open to all who believe in Jesus Christ.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believes as Disciples they are called together to one essential faith which is the belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They are guided by the Bible, and the Holy Spirit, study and prayer. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believes all Christians are called to be one in Christ. They are expected to give witness and service at every opportunity. Ministers and lay persons may lead in their worship service and lead other in a more fulfilling spiritual growth.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believes the Bible is the inspired Word of God, and the center of their belief. There is however, controversy when it comes to the interpretation of inspiration and infallibility of God's Word. There are some who believe the Virgin Birth must be believed in order to have faith; others believe faith is a matter of individual conviction. A believer must believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and they must accept Him as their personal Savior before they can become members of the Church.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) believes in Baptism by full immersion. Baptism is considered the centering of life resulting in a new life trusting in God. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will honor other Baptism traditions.

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne. "Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)." Becker Bible Studies Library Jan 2006.   <http://guidedbiblestudies.com/library/ccdisciples.htm>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne. (2006, January) "Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)." Becker Bible Studies Library Retrieved   from http://guidedbiblestudies.com/library/ccdisciples.htm

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne. (2006) "Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)." Becker Bible Studies Library (January), http://guidedbiblestudies.com/library/ccdisciples.htm (accessed )


About the Author

Joanne B. Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies teacher and author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Christian Counseling with honors from Liberty University. She is well-known as a counsleor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on the history of development of the Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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