The Firm Foundation was a religious periodical published monthly in Houston, Texas, for members of the Churches of Christ. It was established in 1884 by Austin McGary.:337 The Firm Foundation was, for the next hundred years, one of the two most influential publications among the Churches of Christ along with the Gospel Advocate.:337
Austin McGary founded the Firm Foundation in large part to combat David Lipscomb's views on rebaptism, as McGary adopted essentially the view which had already been espoused by John Thomas. David Lipscomb consistently argued that if a believer was baptized out of a desire to obey God, the baptism was valid, even if the individual did not fully understand the role baptism plays in salvation.:61 Lipscomb and others among the Churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee routinely accepted Baptist converts without requiring them to be rebaptized.:337 Austin McGary argued strongly that to be valid, the convert must also understand that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins.:62 Thus, McGary did not regard baptisms performed in a Baptist church to be valid.:337 McGary's view became the prevailing one in the early 20th century, but the approach advocated by Lipscomb never totally disappeared.:62 By the end of the 20th century a practice of having the question discerned by the congregational leadership and the individual had again become widespread.
McGary was succeeded as editor by G. W. Savage in 1902.:337 Savage was succeeded by a group of editors in 1906.:337 From 1908 to 1983 there were only two editors: G. H. P. Showalter and Reuel Lemmons.:337 Showalter and Lemmons maintained an editorial policy consistent with the mainstream of Churches of Christ, and during that period many wrote for and supported both the Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate.:337
The Showalter family sold the Foundation in 1983 to H. A. "Buster" Dobbs and Bill Cline.:337 The editorial policy changed significantly under the leadership of Dobbs, supporting a "strongly conservative constituency" and "targeting progressives and 'change agents,' especially in educational institutions and highly visible congregations of Churches of Christ.":337
The Firm Foundation is available for subscription through the Firm Foundation Publishing House Inc. in Houston Texas. The last version of the Firm Foundation website available on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine dates from June 5 of 2008.
- 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 Firm Foundation
- "Austin McGary". Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Grand Rapids: Erdmanns. p. 337.
- See, e.g., the essays edited by Fletcher, David W. (1990). Baptism and the remission of sins. Joplin, Missouri: College Press.
- 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 Baptism
- See, e.g., Allen, Jimmy (1991). Re-baptism: What one must know to be born again. West Monroe: Howard Publishing. In Kingdom Come (2006), John Mark Hicks & Bobby Valentine advance an argument that "re-baptism" became characteristic west of the Mississippi River where the Firm Foundation held sway in the Churches of Christ but that in the area east of the Mississippi, where the Gospel Advocate (the Lipscomb influence) was formidable, the requirement for "re"-baptism was less prevalent, especially in Middle Tennessee: Hicks, John Mark; Valentine, Bobby (2006). Kingdom come: Embracing the spiritual legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding. Abilene, Texas: Leafwood Press.
- Firm Foundation website from June 5, 2008 at the Wayback Machine (archived June 5, 2008)