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Looking Back: Three Great Evils

May 16, 2009
Following the propositions, the Address continues for more than thirty pages, explaining the motives of the Association and anticipating objections. Amidst all that, Campbell lists three great evils that had fallen upon the church, which the Association would attempt to correct:

The three evils were:

First, to determine expressly, in the name of the Lord, when the Lord has not expressly determined, appears to us a very great evil.

A subtle twisting of this reverses its intent. Campbell was certainly not advocating the Regulative Principle, the prohibitive nature of silence! And as the following assures us, he was not advocating lines of fellowship over honest disagreements:

A second evil is, not only judging our brother to be absolutely wrong, because he differs from our opinions; but, more especially, our judging him to be a transgressor of the law in so doing: and of course treating him as such, by censuring, or otherwise exposing him to contempt; or, at least, preferring ourselves before him in our own judgment; saying, as it were, stand by, I am holier than thou.

Thirdly, he absolutely was not advocating putting people out of the church for their differing views on various matters:

A third and still more dreadful evil is, when we not only, in this kind of way, judge and set at nought our brother; but, moreover, proceed as a church, acting and judging in the name of Christ; not only to determine that our brother is wrong, because he differs from our determinations: but also in connexion with this, proceed so far as to determine the merits of the cause by rejecting him, or casting him out of the church, as unworthy of a place in her communion;–and thus, as far as in our power, cutting him off from the kingdom of heaven.

Perhaps the movement would have fared better if these principles had not been buried in the last 30 pages of the lengthy address!

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