Vol.V No.XI Pg.6
January 1969

Quest For Freedom

Robert F. Turner

As we continue our quotation of Thomas Campbells Appeal to the Presbyterian Synod (See last two issues); he asks WHY he should be rejected and refused the right to preach from their pulpits.

Is it for refusing a Scriptural profession of our faith and obedience, or even a printed exhibition of what may be judged immediately necessary for that purpose? Surely not; the former I hold absolutely-necessary, and to the latter I have no manner of objection, if justly executed. Is it for objecting to human standards? Had they been necessary, says Dr. Doddridge, the sacred oracles would have presented them, or, at least, have given directions for composing and enforcing them.

As to the expediency of such, I leave every man to his own judgement, while I claim the same privilege for myself. This, I presume, I may justly do about a matter on which, according to the learned doctor, the Scriptures are silent. But when the having or wanting the approbation or disapprobation of such is magnified into the unjust importance of being made a positive article of sin or duty, or a term of communion — in which cases I dare neither acquiesce nor be silent — allegiance to Christ and fidelity to his cause and people constrain me to protest against making sins and duties which his word has nowhere pointed out.

And if, in the mean time, my brethren should reject me, and cast out my name as evil for so doing, referring my case to the Divine tribunal, I would say: By what authority do ye these things, and who gave you this authority? As to human authority in matters of religion, I absolutely reject it — as that grievous yoke of antichristian bondage which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear.


Thomas Campbell sought freedom from the bondage of party creeds, and freedom for objective study of the Scriptures and conscientious pursuit of the religion there revealed. There are many indications that he did not yet fully grasp the full importance and application of his silence of the Scriptures arguments, but his sincere desire to base his hope upon the all-sufficient and complete word of God can not be denied.

In the absence of divine will (expressed in the Scriptures) — matters truly expedient — he claimed the freedom to reject, what others accepted, on that same basis. And he strongly opposed either binding or loosing anything for which there was no divine authority.

We believe the scriptures are NOT silent, but speak clearly regarding congregational independence and music in the worship. When Gods word puts elders in every church (Acts 14:23) and limits their oversight to the local flock (1 Pet. 5:1-f) it is absurd to argue inter-church oversight as an expedient justified by silence. Since God authorizes sing (1Cor. 14:15; Heb. 2:l2 etc.) the absence of a thou shalt not play justifies nothing. Campbells spirit is needed now!