Alexander Campbell And The Status Of Women: A Case Study In Ambivalence -- By: Lesly F. Massey

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 30:4 (Autumn 2016)
Article: Alexander Campbell And The Status Of Women: A Case Study In Ambivalence
Author: Lesly F. Massey


Alexander Campbell And The Status Of Women: A Case Study In Ambivalence

Lesly F. Massey

Lesly F. Massey is an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and adjunct professor of religion at Amberton University. He recently retired from full-time ministry after fourteen years at Casa View Christian Church in Dallas, Texas. His background includes thirteen years in African missions and twenty-five years in congregational ministry in the United States.

Alexander Campbell is arguably the most influential leader in the history of the American Restoration Movement, which emerged from the Second Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century and sought to reunite Christians by rejecting human creeds, breaking ties with denominations, and rediscovering the essential core Christian beliefs and practices in the Bible alone. Some four million people in a handful of Christian groups today find roots in this movement, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, the a capella Churches of Christ, and the International Churches of Christ. The earliest major document in this movement was the “Declaration and Address,” written by Alexander’s father, Thomas Campbell.1 In that work the senior Campbell denounced denominationalism as a great evil which divides the body of Christ. In 1832, the group led by the Campbells merged with a similar movement in Kentucky that began under the leadership of an American-born Presbyterian named Barton W. Stone. Thus the terms Restoration Movement and Stone-Campbell Movement have come to be used interchangeably.

In spite of Stone’s important role, it was Alexander Campbell who gave energy to the movement and defined its doctrines. Educated at the University of Glasgow, he was influenced by English philosopher John Locke and the Scottish Enlightenment, and also by James and Robert Haldane of Scotland, who emphasized a return to original Christianity as found in the NT. His hermeneutical method followed the model formulated by Edward Dering in the late sixteenth century, which also was adopted by various groups interested in detailed patterns of church polity.2 Alexander Campbell was aware of the grammatico-historical approaches to biblical studies applied in Germany and Britain, and he made every attempt to be scientific in his exegetical and hermeneutical methods.3 He became an iconoclast and reformer in the early years of his ministry and was a progressive thinker on issues such as war, education, and slavery. Unfortunately, however, this article can fairly be subtitled “A Case Study in Ambivalence” beca...

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