Campbell and Controversy: The Story of Alexander Campbell’s Great Debates with Skepticism, Catholicism, and Presbyterianism



Book: Campbell and Controversy: The Story of Alexander Campbell’s Great Debates with Skepticism, Catholicism, and Presbyterianism

Author: Bill J. Humble

Publisher: College Press Publishing Company, reprinted in 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0899002804

ISBN-10: 0899002803

Related website: (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Of interest to older teens and adults

Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Humble, Bill J. Campbell and Controversy: The Story of Alexander Campbell’s Great Debates with Skepticism, Catholicism, and Presbyterianism (published in 1952 by the Old Paths Book Club, P. O. Box V, Rosemead, CA; later republished by Faith and Facts Inc., 6530 N. Michigan Road, Indianapolis, IN 46268).  Alexander Campbell was born, most likely on Sept. 12, 1788, near Ballymena in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland.  His Presbyterian minister father, Thomas, emigrated to the United States in 1807, making his home near Washington, PA, and Alexander with the rest of the family followed a couple of years later, eventually settling in Virginia near what is now Bethany, WV, where he died on Mar. 4, 1866.  Both he and his father also withdrew from the Presbyterian Church and began preaching only non-denominational, New Testament Christianity.  As someone has noted regarding Campbell, “The Churches of Christ reject wearing any man’s name, as a religious body, beside that of the Man to whom the church belongs. But when others have insisted on labeling us in that human fashion, it has traditionally been with the appellation ‘Campbellite’–at least in the United States….Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) was no more the founder of a church, in his estimation or ours, than was the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 1:12-15). He was, however, a skilled orator and writer who helped to articulate the ideals of the growing ‘Restoration Movement’–an effort to do no more nor less than to restore the Christianity of the apostolic age.”

This classic work relating great historical information about the Restoration Movement, which I received from my gospel preacher grandfather and read many years ago, focuses on the religious debates in which Campbell participated with Atheists, Catholics, and Presbyterians regarding a number of doctrinal issues.  After a couple of introductory chapters about the history of the Restoration Movement and the religious background out of which it developed, the book details Campbell’s debates with Infidel Robert Owen, Catholic Bishop John B. Purcell, and Presbyterian preachers John Walker, W. L. Maccalla, Nathan L. Rice, and Obadiah Jennings, the last four of which mostly centered on the subject of baptism.  A final chapter describes the influence of the debates.  When the book was published in 1952, author Bill J. Humble, was a Professor of Bible and Church History at what was then Florida Christian College, now Florida College, in Temple Terrace, FL, where I attended some twenty years later.  If I remember correctly, I believe that I recall hearing that it was a result of a thesis that Humble did.  It has been republished a couple of times.  Those who enjoy learning about religious debates should find it interesting.

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