- Campbell, Alexander
- ( 17 88-1866 )founder of the Restoration movementAlexander Campbell was one of the founders of the 19th-century Restoration movement, which produced three large international Christian communities - the Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Churches of Christ and Christian Churches. He was born on September 12, 1788, at Ballymena, Antrim County, Ireland, the son of Thomas Campbell (1763-1854), a Presbyterian minister. Alexander's father had left the Church of Scotland and affiliated himself with one of the factions of Succes-sionists, Presbyterians opposed to the patronage system in the state church. Thomas Campbell saw to his son's education at the University of Glasgow, where Alexander was strongly influenced by the Haldane brothers.Thomas Campbell moved to America in 1807, and Alexander followed two years later. They lived in western Pennsylvania. originally working among the American Presbyterians, they eventually withdrew out of dislike for their creedal demands. They also began to doubt the validity of infant baptism.In 1811, the Campbells organized the independent First Christian Association of Washington, Pennsylvania, the so-called Brush Run church. The following year, Alexander was ordained to the ministry, and both he and his father were rebaptized by immersion by Matthias Luce, a Baptist minister. Alexander became leader of the little church, which in 1813 became affiliated with the Redstone Baptist Association. Alexander's 1826 translation of the Bible rendered the Greek word baptizo as immerse, rather than the usual baptize, and the name John the Baptist became John the Immerser.Campbell refined his views in a series of public debates with leaders from various Christian churches. In 1823, he began the Christian Baptist (1823-30). He became increasingly critical of the Baptists, who also had creedal standards. He wanted to abandon any activities without a biblical base, such as creeds or theology, and "restore" the church to the model of the biblical church - simple worship, the Lord's Supper, and the autonomy of local congregations. His approach to the Bible assigned higher inspirational value to the New Testament than to the old.Campbell came to advocate an informal fellowship of congregations that chose to worship according to the New Testament pattern. By 1830, he had left the Baptists; he discontinued the Christian Baptist in favor of a new periodical, the Millennial Harbinger. In 1832, he and Barton Stone, who had reached similar conclusions, united the movements that had developed around their ideas. They wanted to be known only as Christians, but soon the designation Disciples of Christ was common.In 1840, Campbell founded and became president of Bethany College in what is now West Virginia. He continued to edit the Millennial Harbinger and head Bethany until his death on March 4, 1866.Further reading:■ Alexander Campbell, Christian Baptism With Its Antecedents and Consequences (Bethany, Va.: Alexander Campbell, 1853)■ Selina Huntington Campbell, Home Life and Reminiscences of Alexander Campbell By His Wife (Joplin, Mo.: College Press, 1882)■ Debate on the Evidences of Christianity; containing an examination of the social system, and of all the systems of scepticism of ancient and modern times, held in the city of Cincinnati, for eight days successively, between Robert Owen, of New Lanark, Scotland, and Alexander Campbell, of Bethany, Virginia. With an appendix by the parties (Bethany, Va.: Alexander Campbell, 1829)■ Bill J. Humble, Light from Above: The Life of Alexander Campbell (Nashville, Tenn.: Gospel Advocate, 1988)■ Eva Jean Wrather, Creative Freedom in Action: Alexander Campbell on the Structure of the Church (St. Louis: Bethany House, 1968).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.