Alexander Campbell (clergyman)

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For other people of the same name, see Alexander Campbell (disambiguation).
Alexander Campbell around 1855

Alexander Campbell (12 September 1788 – 4 March 1866) was a Scots-Irish immigrant who became an ordained minister in the United States and joined his father Thomas Campbell as a leader of a reform effort that is historically known as the Restoration Movement, and by some as the "Stone-Campbell Movement." It resulted in the development of non-denominational Christian churches, which stressed reliance on Scripture and few essentials.[1]:111 Campbell was influenced by similar efforts in Scotland, before emigrating to the United States. He was influenced by James and Robert Haldane, who emphasized a return to original Christianity as found in the New Testament. In 1832, the group of reformers led by the Campbells merged with a similar effort that began under the leadership of Barton W. Stone in Kentucky.[2]:112 Their congregations identified as Disciples of Christ or Christian churches. Several American church groups have historical roots in the Campbells' efforts, including the Churches of Christ, the Christian churches and churches of Christ, Evangelical Christian Church in Canada,[3][4] and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Alexander Campbell founded Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.

Early life and education[edit]

Front of the Campbell Mansion
Young Alexander Campbell

Alexander Campbell was born 12 September 1788 near Ballymena, in the parish of Broughshane, County Antrim, Ireland.[1]:98[2]:116 His parents were Thomas Campbell and Jane Corneigle Campbell, who were of Scots descent.[2]:116[5] Like his father, he was educated at the University of Glasgow, where he was greatly influenced by Scottish Enlightenment philosophy.[2]:117 He was also influenced by the English philosopher John Locke.[2]:116 At age 21, Alexander emigrated to the United States with his mother and siblings from Scotland, to join his father Thomas, who had emigrated there in 1807.[2]:117-118 They sailed from Scotland on the Latonia on August 3, 1809 and landed in New York on September 29, then traveled overland to Philadelphia.[2]:118 They continued to western Pennsylvania, where the senior Campbell was serving as a minister in Washington County on the frontier. Alexander was ordained by his father's Brush Run Church on January 1, 1812.[2]:119

Marriage and personal life[edit]

The year before, Campbell had married Margaret Brown on March 12, 1811.[2]:119[6]:83 Margaret's father John Brown owned a significant amount of land in the Bethany, Virginia area (now in West Virginia).[2]:119 The couple resided in what is now known as the Alexander Campbell Mansion near Bethany. Their first child, a daughter, was born on March 13, 1812.[6]:83 His daughter's birth spurred Campbell to study the subject of baptism. He ultimately concluded that Scripture did not support the baptism of infants. He came to believe that individuals had to choose conversion for themselves and baptism was not appropriate until they did so.[6]:83

After the death of Margaret in 1827, Campbell married again the next year, to Selina Huntington Bakewell on July 31, 1828.[7]:135 Alexander Campbell died on March 4, 1866 at Bethany, West Virginia.[5] Selina outlived Alexander, dying on June 28, 1897.[7]:136,138

Public life[edit]

Alexander Campbell

From 1815 to 1834, Campbell and his father kept the Brush Run Church affiliated with a local Baptist association. After disagreements over some issues, they allied with the Mahoning Baptist Association.

Campbell's only formal political service was as a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829, held in Richmond. He met some of the leading politicians of the day and was invited to preach in several churches in the capital city.[2]:123

In 1840, Campbell founded Bethany College in Bethany, Virginia (now West Virginia). He believed that the clergy should be college educated. Many future leaders of the Disciples of Christ and Churches of Christ graduated from the college, although the latter congregations did not attach the same value to theological study and professional clergy.[2]:129[8]:74-75

Campbell visited the United Kingdom in 1847. During the trip he gave public lectures in England and Scotland. He went to Ireland to deliver funds that U.S. Restoration Movement churches had raised for relief in the Great Famine. While at Glasgow, he was challenged by James Robertson to a debate on the subject of slavery, which the American South protected. As a result of the fierce exchange, Robertson sued Campbell for libel. The American denied the charge, but he was arrested and imprisoned for ten days. Campbell was released when the warrant for his arrest was declared to be illegal. The case was ultimately tried, and the jury decided in his favor.[2]:128-129[5]

Writings[edit]

Alexander Campbell, age 65

While in his early 20s, Campbell wrote several moral essays under the pseudonym "Clarinda." and published them in a local paper.[9] In 1820, his debate with the Presbyterian John Walker was published, reminding him of the efficacy of writing and publishing.[9] He bought a press and built a small print shop in 1823, establishing what proved to be a successful publishing operation.[9][10]

Campbell edited and published two journals. The first was the Christian Baptist, which he edited from 1823 through 1830.[11]:174 The second was The Millennial Harbinger, which he began in 1830 and continued to edit until his death in 1866. He became less active in it during the 1850s.[12]:517-518 In both, he advocated the reform of Christianity along the lines as it was practiced on the American frontier. He encouraged contributions by writers who thought differently from him, and the journals encouraged a lively dialogue about issues in the reform movement.

Campbell expanded his printing operation in 1830 for the Millennial Harbinger.[9] The change from the Christian Baptist to the Harbinger was prompted by several concerns. Differences of opinion were arising between Campbell and the Baptists, and in many cases Baptist associations were expelling persons connected with the Campbell movement. He was concerned that "Christian Baptist" - which he considered to be less appropriate than the biblical term "Disciples" - was becoming the de facto name of the group. He also wanted the new journal to have a more positive tone, promoting reform and preparing the world for the millennium and the second coming of Christ.[9]

He wrote several books, including The Christian System. He also wrote hymns, including "Upon the Banks of Jordan Stood".[13] Campbell compiled and published a translation of the New Testament under the title The Living Oracles.[9][14]:87-88 Published in 1826, it was based on an 1818 translation by George Campbell, James MacKnight and Philip Doddridge, and included edits and extensive notes by Campbell.[2]:122[9][14]:87-88

Legacy and honors[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b McAllister, Lester and Tucker, William E. Journey in Faith St. Louis, Missouri: The Bethany Press, 1975.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Campbell, Alexander
  3. ^ Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (2004)
  4. ^ Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (2009)
  5. ^ a b c  Boase, George Clement (1886). "Campbell, Alexander (1788-1866)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 08. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  6. ^ a b c Adron Doran, Restoring New Testament Christianity, 21st Century Christian, 1997, ISBN 0-89098-161-2
  7. ^ a b Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Campbell, Selina Huntington Bakewell
  8. ^ Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Bethany College
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Gary Holloway, "Alexander Campbell as a Publisher", Restoration Quarterly, Vol. 37 No. 1 (1995)
  10. ^ Greg Taylor, "Alexander Campbell: Millennial Blogger", Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Accessed June 13, 2011
  11. ^ Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Christian Baptist, The
  12. ^ Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Millennial Harbinger, The
  13. ^ Richardson, Robert. Memoirs of Alexander Campbell. In two volumes. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1871. Vol 2, Chapter XXI, Footnote 1 Accessed 1-Nov-2008
  14. ^ a b Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Bible, Versions and Translations of

Sources[edit]

  • Challen, James (editor), "Biographical Sketch of Alexander Campbell", Ladies' Christian Annual, March 1857 (Volume VI, No. 3), Philadelphia: James Challen, Publisher. Pages 81–90. Online Edition
  • Foster, Douglas, et al., The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.
  • Holloway, Gary, "Alexander Campbell as a Publisher", Restoration Quarterly, Vol. 37/No. 1 (1995) Accessed 1 - Nov 2008.
  • McAllister, Lester and Tucker, William E. Journey in Faith St. Louis, Missouri: The Bethany Press, 1975.
  • Richardson, Robert. Memoirs of Alexander Campbell. In two volumes. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1871.

External links[edit]