The Restoration Plea

Alan Highers

Some will say, "What about the church established by Alexander Campbell?" There have always been some who wanted to ascribe a human founder to churches of Christ. At one time they referred to us as "Carnpbellites." Their charge is understandable because all denominations have a human founder, and they wanted to place us in the same category. Campbell never founded a church, but he did call for a "restoration of the ancient order." His father, Thomas Campbell, was the one who used the phrase, "Speak where the Bible speaks, remain silent where the Bible is silent," but it is noteworthy he never said, "Speak where Campbell speaks, and remain silent where Campbell is silent." Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, Walter Scott, Raccoon John Smith, and others did not ask men to follow them, but they sought for men to follow the Bible. It was Raccoon John Smith who said, "Let us, then, my brethren, be no longer Campbellites or Stoneites, New Lights or Old Lights, or any kind of lights, but let us all come to the Bible and to the Bible alone, as the only Book in the world that can give us all the Light we need."


The call that went forth was not to establish a new church, found another denomination, or devise another human institution, but rather to return to the Bible, to the first-century church established by Christ, and to the pattern he left for us to follow (2 Timothy 1:13). If the first-century church had elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7), we strive to have elders. If the church in the New Testament had deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13), we want to follow their model. If the early church sang praises to God without the addition of instrumental music (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), we want to do the same. In other words, we want to be what they were, teach what they taught, practice what they practiced, and to be simply New Testament Christians without ever joining any human denomination, wearing any sectarian name, subscribing to any man-made creed, or teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9). What could be a more thrilling, non-denominational appeal than this? We simply strive to uphold Christ as Savior, the Bible as authority, the church as divinely established, and Christian as the non-sectarian name by which we are called (1 Peter 4:16).