Barton W. Stone

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Barton W. Stone
Photograph of Barton W. Stone
Barton W. Stone
Born Barton Warren Stone
(1772-12-24)December 24, 1772
Port Tobacco, Maryland
Died November 9, 1844(1844-11-09) (aged 71)
Hannibal, Missouri
Resting place
Cane Ridge, Kentucky
Nationality American
Occupation Preacher
Years active –1844
Political movement
Restoration Movement

Barton Warren Stone (December 24, 1772 – November 9, 1844) was an important American preacher during the early 19th-century Second Great Awakening in the United States. First ordained a Presbyterian minister, he and four other ministers of the Washington Presbytery resigned after arguments about doctrine and enforcement of policy by the Kentucky Synod. This was in 1803, after Stone had helped lead the mammoth Cane Ridge, Kentucky revival of 1801, a several-day "communion season" attended by nearly 20,000 persons.

Stone and the others briefly founded the Springfield Presbytery, which they dissolved the following year, resigning from the Presbyterian Church altogether. They formed what they called the Christian church, based on scripture rather than a creed representing the opinion of man. He later became allied with Alexander Campbell, a former Presbyterian minister who was also creating an independent path, sometimes allied with Baptists, and formed the Restoration Movement. Stone's followers were first called "New Lights" and "Stoneites". Later he and Campbell tried to bring groups together that relied solely on the Scriptures. The Stone Christian Churches and Campbell Disciples of Christ developed from this movement.

Early life and education[edit]

Stone was born to John and Mary Warren Stone near Port Tobacco, Maryland on December 24, 1772.[1]:702 His immediate family was upper-middle class, with connections to Maryland's upper class of planters.[1]:702 The first Protestant governor of Maryland, William Stone, was an ancestor and one of the signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; Thomas Stone was his second cousin.[1]:702

Mary Stone was a member of the Church of England and Barton had been christened by a priest named Thomas Thornton.[2]:52 After Barton's father died in 1775, his mother moved the family to Pittsylvania County, Virginia in 1779, then on the frontier.[1]:702 After the move to the Virginia frontier during the war, Mary joined the Methodists.[2]:52 Barton was not himself notably religious as a young man; he found the competing claims of the Episcopalians, Baptists and Methodists confusing, and was much more interested in politics.[2]:52–53

Barton entered the Guilford Academy in North Carolina in 1790.[3]:71 While there, Stone heard James McGready (an evangelical Presbyterian minister) speak.[3]:72 A few years later, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.[3]:72

Career[edit]

As Stone looked more deeply into the beliefs of the Presbyterians, especially the Westminster Confession of Faith, he doubted that some of the church beliefs were truly Bible-based.[3]:72,73 He was unable to accept the Calvinistic doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election and predestination.[3]:72,73 He also believed that "Calvinism's alleged theological sophistication had . . . been bought at the price of fomenting division" and "blamed it . . . for producing ten different sects within the Presbyterian tradition alone."[4]:110

The huge Cane Ridge Revival of 1801 was "set up as a traditional Presbyterian 'sacramental occasion'," similar to the one he attended the previous year in Logan County associated with what later became known as the Red River Revival. Like its predecessor, Cane Ridge continued for two to three days amid much fervor.[5] Attracting an estimated 20,000 people, Stone was one of eighteen Presbyterian ministers, along with a number of Baptist and Methodist preachers who attended the participants.[6] Traditional elements included the "large number of ministers, the action sermon, the tables, the tent, the successive servings" of communion, all part of the evangelical Presbyterian tradition and "communion season" known in Scotland.[7]

In a disagreement with the Kentucky synod over its determination to censure a minister for what they said was deviation from doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, in 1803 Stone and four other ministers formed the Springfield Presbytery.[8]:696,697 By 1804 the Springfield Presbytery had attracted 15 congregations in Ohio and Kentucky.[8]:697 The leaders of this newer presbytery became concerned by its growth, because they did not want to create a new denomination or "party".[8]:697 Ultimately convinced that their newer Springfield Presbytery was sectarian, the ministers dissolved it on June 28, 1804.

To publicize the dissolution, they signed a document entitled The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.[8]:697 This tract willed that “this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large.” It expressed the desire for Christian union and identified the Bible as the only standard of Christian faith and practice.[8]:697 In addition to signing the Last Will and Testament, they agreed to take "no other name than christians" on the basis that it was "the name first given by divine authority to the disciples of Christ."[8]:697 Soon, they adopted the name "Christian" to identify their group. Thus, remnants from the Springfield Presbytery eventually became known as the Christian Church.[9]:80 It is estimated that the Christian Church numbered about 12,000 by 1830.[9]:82

Elias Smith had heard of the Stone movement by 1804, and the O'Kelly movement by 1808.[10]:190 The three groups "declared themselves one" by 1810.[10]:190 At that time the combined movement had a membership of approximately 20,000.[10]:190 This loose fellowship of churches was called by the names "Christian Connection/Connexion" or "Christian Church."[10]:190[11]:102

In 1819 Stone moved with his family to Georgetown, Kentucky, where he had been hired as principal of the Rittenhouse .[1]:712 In 1834 the Stones moved to Jacksonville, Illinois, in part to be able to free slaves whom his wife had inherited. This was not possible in Kentucky because they were attached to the estate.[12] His mother-in-law's will bequeathed the slaves to his wife and her children in perpetuity in a way that placed them under the control of trustees.[1]:717 Moving to a free state allowed the Stones to emancipate them.[1]:717 Stone was a proponent of abolition and an active supporter of the American Colonization Society, which promoted sending free blacks to a colony in Africa (this was the basis of Liberia).[12] By 1833 Stone had become disillusioned by the lack of success of the colonization efforts and began to support the immediate abolition of slavery.[1]:717

The "Christian" movement associated with Stone merged with the "Disciples" movement led by Alexander Campbell in 1832.[13]:28[14]:116–120[15]:212[16]:xxi[17]:xxxvii This was formalized at the High Street Meeting House in Lexington, Kentucky with a handshake between Barton W. Stone and "Raccoon" John Smith.[14]:116–120 Smith had been chosen, by those present, to speak in behalf of the followers of the Campbells.[14]:116 A preliminary meeting of the two groups was held in late December 1831, culminating with the merger on January 1, 1832.[14]:116–120[17]:xxxvii Campbell had been publishing the Christian Baptist since 1823,[18] and Stone the Christian Messenger since 1826.[19] Through these publications, they had begun bringing their followers closer together in uniting under Christ.[20]

When the Christians and Disciples united in 1832, only a minority of Christians from the Smith/Jones and O'Kelly movements participated.[10]:190 Those who did were from congregations on the frontier, west of the Appalachian Mountains, that had come into contact with the Stone movement.[10]:190 The eastern members had several key differences from the Stone and Campbell group: an emphasis on conversion experience, quarterly observance of communion, and nontrinitarianism.[10]:190

Grave and obelisk of Barton Stone at Cane Ridge, Kentucky

Stone died on November 9, 1844 in Hannibal, Missouri at the home of his daughter.[12] His body was buried on his farm in Morgan County, Illinois. When the farm was sold, descendants had his remains reinterred at Antioch Christian Church east of Jacksonville. In 1847 his remains were moved again and reinterred at Cane Ridge, Kentucky.[20]

A marble obelisk there is inscribed:

"The church of Christ at Cane Ridge and other generous friends in Kentucky have caused this monument to be erected as a tribute of affection and gratitude to Barton W. Stone, minister of the gospel of Christ and the distinguished reformer of the nineteenth century. Born December 24, 1772: died November 9, 1844. His remains lie here. This monument erected in 1847."[20]

Theological controversy[edit]

Stone was ordained Presbyterian but rejected many things from the Westminster Confession of Faith. In particular he had issues with the classical view of the Trinity. He denied being Unitarian, Arian or Socinian but he did have a subordinationist view of Christ. In addition to his issues with the Trinity, he also took issue with the prevailing understanding of Christian Atonement. He did not believe that Jesus died in man's place as substitutionary sacrifice; his views are more in line with the "moral influence theory" of Charles Finney.[21]:163–164.

Stone outlined his views on the Trinity in a publication called An Address to the Christian Churches in Kentucky, Tennessee & Ohio on Several Important Doctrines of Religion.[22]

The doctrine of Trinity has long been a subject of endless controversy among theologists. I have thought the contest a war of words, while the combatants believed the same thing; seeing they all maintain the divine unity. On this doctrine many things are said, which are dark, unintelligible, unscriptural, and too mysterious for comprehension. Many of these expressions we have rejected; and for this reason we are charged with denying the doctrine itself. I shall state the doctrine, as generally stated and defended by our brethren, who oppose us, and give my reasons why I cannot receive it.

It is commonly stated, that there are three persons in one God, of one substance, power and eternity. To me it is evident that they, who maintain this proposition, do not--cannot believe, that these three persons are three distinct spirits, beings or Gods, each possessed of the personal properties of intelligence, will and power; for this would not only contradict the scriptures, but also those sections of their creeds just quoted, which declare that there is but one only living and true God, without parts. They must understand the term persons in God, not in the proper and common sense of the word person; but in such a qualified sense as to exclude the notion of three distinct spirits or beings. What this qualified sense should be, has long puzzled divines; and in no proposition are they more divided. The cause of this perplexity is obvious, because no idea of it is to be found in revelation, nor reason. Revelation no where declares that there are three persons of the same substance in the one only God; and it is universally acknowledged to be above reason.--Imagination has been set afloat, taking different courses in different men, and wandering through the unknown fields of eternity, infinity and incomprehensibility. Their labors have been great; but after all their vast excursions, they have ended in mystery...

The doctrine, that there are three persons in one God, is principally founded on I John 5, 7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one." From reading the context, it is plain, that the matter testified of, is that Jesus is the son of God. The Father testified this, when he spake from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." The Word or Son, testified the same by the many wonders he performed when incarnate. This also the Holy Ghost witnessed by the many miracles wrought thro' the apostles. These three are one. They are one, or agree in their testimony; as, in the next verse, the three witnesses on earth agree in one. To say these three are one God, would contradict the original; for the word hen, translated one, is in the neuter gender, and cannot agree with the word God....Now as all believers are not one substance nor one being; and as they are all one, even as the Father and Son are one; we must then conclude, that the Father and Son are not one substance, nor one being. This is farther evident from John 10, 30, "I and my Father are (hen) one," says Jesus. Yet in the same Evangelist he said, "My Father is greater than I." John 14, 28. If they were one substance, or one being, there could be no comparison; as one cannot be greater or less than itself. The fact is, all believers are one in spirit, purpose, and mind--and this is the oneness which our Lord prayed they might have--this was the oneness of Paul and Apollos.--This appears to me to be the oneness of the Father and the Son.

...That the scriptures speak of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is believed and admitted by christians of every name; and that these three are one in some sense, I think, none will deny. My view of this oneness I have expressed a few pages back. If they are one in any other sense, I shall rejoice to know it.[22]

Legacy and honors[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h 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 "Stone, Barton Warren"
  2. ^ a b c Dr. Adron Doran, Restoring New Testament Christianity: Featuring Alexander Campbell, Thomas Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Hall L. Calhoun, 21st Century Christian, 1997
  3. ^ a b c d e Leroy Garrett, The Stone-Campbell Movement: The Story of the American Restoration Movement, College Press, 2002, ISBN 0-89900-909-3, ISBN 978-0-89900-909-4, 573 pages
  4. ^ 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 "Calvinism"
  5. ^ Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Holy Fairs: Scottish Communions and American Revivals in the Early Modern Period, Princeton University Press: 1989, p. 64
  6. ^ Schmidt (1989), Holy Fairs, p. 64
  7. ^ Schmidt (1989), Holy Fairs, pp. 64-65
  8. ^ a b c d e f 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 Springfield Presbytery
  9. ^ a b McAlister, Lester G. and Tucker, William E. (1975), Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), St. Louis, Chalice Press, ISBN 978-0-8272-1703-4
  10. ^ a b c d e f g 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 Connection
  11. ^ C. Leonard Allen and Richard T. Hughes, Discovering Our Roots: The Ancestry of the Churches of Christ, Abilene Christian University Press, 1988, ISBN 0-89112-006-8
  12. ^ a b c Olbricht, T. H. (2003). "Stone, Barton W." In (T. Larsen, D. W. Bebbington, M. A. Noll, & S. Carter, Eds.), Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals, Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  13. ^ Monroe E. Hawley, Redigging the Wells: Seeking Undenominational Christianity, Quality Publications, Abilene, Texas, 1976, ISBN 0-89137-512-0 (paper), ISBN 0-89137-513-9 (cloth)
  14. ^ a b c d Davis, M. M. (1915). How the Disciples Began and Grew, A Short History of the Christian Church, Cincinnati: The Standard Publishing Company
  15. ^ Garrison, Winfred Earnest and DeGroot, Alfred T. (1948). The Disciples of Christ, A History, St Louis, Missouri: The Bethany Press
  16. ^ 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, Introductory section entitled Stone-Campbell History Over Three Centuries: A Survey and Analysis
  17. ^ 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, Introductory Chronology
  18. ^ 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, pp. 174-175
  19. ^ 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 Messenger, pp. 194-195
  20. ^ a b c H. Leo Boles, Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers, Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company, 1932, pp.28-32
  21. ^ North, James B. (2005). Union in Truth: an Interpretive History of the Restoration Movement. Standard Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7847-0197-0. 
  22. ^ a b Barton W. Stone, An Address to the Christian Churches in Kentucky, Tennessee & Ohio on Several Important Doctrines of Religion, (Address to the Christian Churches, 2nd edition, Lexington, Kentucky, Printed by I. T. Cavins, & Co., 1821.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Garrison, Winfred Earnest and DeGroot, Alfred T. (1948). The Disciples of Christ, A History, St Louis, Missouri: The Bethany Press
  • McAlister, Lester G. and Tucker, William E. (1975), Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), St. Louis: Chalice Press, ISBN 9780827217034