Restoration Movement

A movement to restore primitive Christianity sprung up in America in the early 1800s out of the Presbyterian church. Tired of the endless theological disputes, rigid predestination, clerical tyranny, and the frequent schisms he saw among the Presbyterians, Barton W. Stone, a Presbyterian minister, began a movement in Kentucky to restore apostolic Christianity. Barton Stone’s chief objective was to restore the holy living and separation from the world that had marked early Christianity.

In the 1820s, Stone’s movement merged with a separate movement begun by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, who were also seeking to restore primitive Christianity. One of Alexander Campbell’s primary objectives was to achieve unity among all Christians. He felt that this unity could only be obtained by Christians forsaking all man-made creeds and traditions and returning to the forms, structures, and doctrines of the apostolic church. To this end, the members of the Campbell-Stone movement returned to the early Christian practices of weekly communion, congregational autonomy, and a plural ministry in each congregation. Although the movement now focused more on primitive doctrine and ordinances than on holy living and the inner life, it did bring spiritual renewal to thousands of people across the nation.

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