History of the Restoration Movement

Journals Of The Restoration Movement

         Conveyance of thought has always sought mediums through which it might make its way into the vast recesses of the minds of others. Nothing has more radically affected the unity of the Restoration Movement throughout the world than the printed page. Through the ages, ideas have been shared through it, both true and false, for the purpose of influencing the thinking of its readership. The Bible, being first in rank, has spawned countless volumes of literature in view of disseminating its rich and vast meaning. Regular releases of journals, magazines, and study guides have maintained a sense of consistency and regularity in feeding the mind, challenging the reader in developing awareness of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
         The gelling and molding of the Restoration Movement globally has come about through several means. While gospel preaching and teaching has been the most preferred way to disseminate the knowledge of the Scriptures, the lack of manpower and funding has always limited such endeavors. In the grand scheme of history, mass media is still very new, and arguably an untested medium through which information is circulated. While presently exceeding the printed page in distribution, the time-tested and most practical way to explicate knowledge has been the written word.
         For instance, take the American Restoration Movement for example, and note how it has developed over the last two hundred plus years. In the early days of American culture, the pioneer spirit ruled the day. As the nation was expanding in its march to the west coast, people on horseback and in wagons had very little room in the way of libraries and newspapers to maintain an awareness of what was happening around the country. Many made their way west with nothing more than a Bible. Leaving their established denominations behind in the east, they made their arduous journeys across the vast regions of the country with little opportunity to have access to information of what was happening in other places.
         Imagine what it would have been to be living in the far reaches of the west at the turn of the 19th century in Ohio or maybe Alabama and the closest neighbor being many miles away. Coming across the occasional newspaper or a magazine would have then been the exception, and certainly not the rule of daily experience. Further, think of what it would have meant to such a person to hear news from back home, or from other places. The old adage is true, information is power! It is also security and a powerful venue for understanding.
         The pioneer worshipper, with only his or her Bible as a guide, most certainly would have sought to honor God by doing what the Good Book says. While most were influenced by their denominational creeds and practices of their youth, on the Western Reserve, and with only the Bible as their guide, it was easy for those old practices to slip away and replaced by more pure and unadulterated Biblical practice.
         Imagine what it would have been like to come across a copy of a recent release of a religious journal from Elias Smith of New England, or Barton W. Stone of Kentucky, or Alexander Campbell of Virginia, or maybe Walter Scott of Ohio. What if an occasional passer-by shared with you a copy of one of these monthly or weekly papers? And, what if as you read through it you began noticing that some of the things you were reading were also some of the things you had been doing in your worship or daily activities that you discovered in the Scriptures from your own study? How refreshing would it have been to discover that what you had found in the Scriptures on your own had also been discovered by others, and was being practiced in other places? Such was the case in many places in the early days of this nation.
         Journals and Magazines were most noted in those days of publishing reports written in from various locations in the far reaches of the country where people were reporting their activities in the advancement of simple New Testament Christianity. Imagine how excited people felt when they read reports of things being done in following of the Scriptures, especially when they found out that some of those people were in reasonably close proximity to their location. Like-mindedness breeds camaraderie. Camaraderie breeds unity. Hence, the molding of a movement, a Restoration Movement.
         The Christian spirit thrives on fellowship both with God and people of like-precious faith. The religious journals of the Restoration Movement led to the making, molding, and facilitating of Christian fellowship as much as any contributing factor.
         While it can be said that Stone and Campbell contributed much in the making of the Restoration Movement, it is belittling to the vast number of people who took their Bibles and followed the teachings of it on their own to say that the movement should be so designated as the Stone-Campbell Movement. For, the pioneer spirit that built this country also facilitated the individuality that produced small pockets of Christians in many locations, many of whom knew nothing of either Stone or Campbell. However, the journals made it possible for people to hear about one another. The ideas presented in the journals fostered an encouragement to think more deeply about the rich meanings to be found in the Scriptures.
         The central focus was to go back to the New Testament for authority in religious practice. Jesus said he would build his church in Matthew 16:18. That church was established in Acts 2. The apostles’ doctrine, as it was revealed through the influence of the Holy Spirit, made the church complete in all its practices. With the perseveration of their writings in the New Testament, people of all time have been able to know with certainty what the will of God is in matters of faith and practice.
         Journals of the Restoration Movement have served to point people to the Scriptures for authority in religion. These uninspired writings represent man’s take on the Scriptures, and were never intended to replace the Scriptures as being authoritative, or the place where final authority in religious matter was to be found. They have been supplemental in nature, aids of sorts, for the purpose of expanding the mind and assisting in the understanding of the great truths of the Bible.
         Attempts are now being made to ascertain a list of all the religious journals that have appeared over the last couple of hundred years, primarily in the United States, that pertain to the Restoration Movement. Several people are involved in this process, and perhaps not every publication will ever be truly known. Of the vast number of journals that have been written and distributed much fewer are the ones, the issues of which, are still extant. Many of the papers are lost to the ages. However, many issues of the old papers are still extant and are now reproduced in electronic format. Major attempts are being made to scan these old documents, some of which have only been available on microfilm, and are now being made available to the greater population through the World Wide Web. Some are free, and others are available by purchase at a relatively small fee.
         TheRestorationMovement.com is proud to host for free download back issues of some of these journals and magazines for the purpose of research and perseveration. While these journals do not necessarily represent the views of the webhost, their historical value demands preservation and availability to historians and other students of Restoration History.
         The journals made available on this site are done so by permission of those who have scanned the material, or have authority to distribute these journals. Thus, they may be downloaded and freely distributed. It is the hopes of those who have worked hard to scan these old papers to get the information out to the public for easier access to their rich historical significance.
         Feel free to download and use in your research journals made available on this site. Come back to this site from time to time, as other journals are in the works for making available.

Alabama Restoration Journal

Word And Work