Vol.V No.X Pg.6
December 1968

Campbell's Offense

Robert F. Turner

We continue our quotation of Thomas Campbells Appeal to the Presbyterian Synod, 1808 (See Vol. 5, No. 9) Campbell had not wholly broken with denominational concepts at this time, but the just principles and appeal to Divine authority set forth in this paper could not long live in a sectarian clime.


Nor do I presume to dictate to them or to others as to how they should proceed for the glorious purpose of promoting the unity and purity of the Church; but only beg leave, for my own part, to walk upon such sure and peaceable ground, that I may have nothing to do with human controversy, about the right or wrong side of any opinion whatsoever, by simply acquiescing in what is written, as quite sufficient for every purpose of faith and duty: and thereby to influence as many as possible to depart from human controversy, to betake themselves to the Scriptures, and, in so doing, to the study and practice of faith, holiness, and love.

And all this without any intention on my part, to judge or despise my Christian brethren who may not see with my eyes in those things, which, to me, appear indispensably necessary to promote and secure the unity. peace, and purity of the Church.

Say, brethren, what is my offense, that I should be thrust out from the heritage of the Lord, or from serving him in that good work to which he has been graciously pleased to call me? For what error or immorality ought I to be rejected, except it be that I refuse to acknowledge as obligatory upon myself, or to impose upon others, anything as of Divine obligation, for which I can not produce a Thus saith the Lord? This, I am sure, I can do, while I keep by his own word; but not quite so sure when I substitute my own meaning or opinion, or that of others instead thereof. And if I should be somewhat timorous upon a subject of such infinitely nice and critical importance, you might well bear with my timidity, considering that awful denunciation (Deut. xviii: 20) The prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, even that prophet shall die, compared with Prov. xxx:6: Add thou not to his words, lest he reprove thee. and thou be found a liar.

Plain Talk Translation:

I do not presume to dictate how you can best promote unity and purity of the church; but beg leave to trust in the completeness and sufficiency of the holy scriptures. I want no part in arguments over opinions or human judgements; nor would I judge or despise those who see things differently. Should I be rejected because I accept as binding only those things for which there is Bible authority: things taught, not by interpolation or opinion, but in Gods own words? This is the only sure course.

Is it not true that brethren today have been rejected, their right to preach denied, because they have insisted upon exercising the privileges Thomas Campbell sought? Church peace and unity are sacrificed to human institutions and purely social affairs.