Alexander Campbell (1788 to 1866)
Alexander Campbell arrived in America in 1808. He was destined to become one of the great advocators of the restoration movement and one of the great leaders in many fields. He became recognized as a scholar of world renown.
As a young man he read and spoke fluently: Greek, French and Latin. He naturally committed to memory voluminous amounts of information from literature and history.
After he arrived in America, he entered enthusiastically into the work which his father had begun. He lived at Bethany, Virginia, (now West Virginia), him and his father chose a site near their home and constructed a meeting house for worship, known as the Brush Run Church. Here, Alexander Campbell preached his first sermon on September 1, 1810.
Campbell there In Bethany, Virginia, established Bethany College from which went forth hundreds of ministers. Alexander Campbell edited two influential journals, The Christian Baptist and The Millennial Harbinger.
Carroll Ellis, professor of restoration literature at Davis Lipscomb College, lists Alexander Campbell’s reasons for having become the most outstanding figure in the restoration movement:
- His extensive knowledge of a variety of subjects. I have a book of lectures in my library by Campbell. They include lectures on: Social Science; Moral Philosophy; Literature; The Destiny of our Country;Education; Public Schools; Demonology; Soil Conservation, etc.
- His powerful preaching. He was recognized as an outstanding orator. In June 1850, he preached before both houses of Congress in Washington. Henry Clay, James Madison and other notables traveled many miles to hear him preach. Madison said of Campbell: “I regard him as the ablest and most original expounder of Scripture I ever heard.”
- An almost unlimited capacity that he had for work. Campbell edited NOTES a monthly paper; taught in a school which he founded at Bethany; preached an average of four sermons a week; authored sixty books during his lifetime; participated in numerous debates; was a successful farmer and lecturer on agriculture; twice annually conducted preaching tours in neighboring states; and carried on correspondence with people all over the world.
- He possessed an aggressive spirit and had the ability to turn this spirit into proper channels.
- He was very pointed in disagreement, but was constructive and would not delve in personalities.
- He held hotly contested debates with Rice (Presbyterian); Bishop Purcell (Catholic); and Robert Owen (Atheist and Communist). They all admired him for his conduct. He fought issues not personalities.
- He was a successful business man.
- He was self-supporting, contributed liberally to the support of preaching of the gospel and when he died was the wealthiest man in West Virginia.
Charges that were made even in his day that he was establishing another denomination, Campbell clearly replied:
“I have no idea of adding to the catalogue of new sects. This game has been played too long. I labor to see sectarianism abolished, and all Christians of every name united upon the one foundation on which the apostolic church was-founded. To bring Baptist and Paido Baptist to this is my supreme end. But to connect myself with any people who would require me to sacrifice one item of revealed truth, to subscribe any creed of human device, or to restrain me from publishing my sentiments as discretion and conscience direct, is now, and I hope ever shall be, the farthest from my desires, and the most incompatible with my views.”
Campbell as one of the great advocators of the restoration movement was one of the most responsible for the Church as we know it, Church of Christ.