Alexander Campbell, Gratuitous Evil and Meticulous Providence

June 11, 2013

Yesterday I received my copy of J. Caleb Clanton’s new book entitled The Philosophy of Religion of Alexander Campbell (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2013). I had previously read the manuscript in early 2012 and am pleased to see it in print.

Caleb taught philosophy at Pepperdine for several years but now teaches at Lipscomb.  I am grateful that Lipscomb has secured his services as a philosopher, and a philosopher who is interested in mining the resources of the Stone-Campbell tradition.

I deeply appreciate his engagement with the resources of the Stone-Campbell Movement, particularly Alexander Campbell, in the discipline of Philosophy of Religion. Of all the early Reformers, Campbell is the best—perhaps the only choice—for such a project.  However, my appreciation not only extends to the subject matter, but also for how Clanton brings Campbell’s philosophy of religion into dialogue with contemporary discussions. In the language of Vatican II’s aggiornamento, Clanton brings the Campbellian philosophical tradition “up to date.”

Clanton’s work is impressive. His analysis of Campbell’s ideas are fair, clear, and illuminating. His re-contextualization of Campbell’s thought is insightful. He demonstrates that Campbell squarely faced the questions that philosophy of religion raised in the early nineteenth century. Campbell was well-acquainted with the philosophical issues of his day. Not only does this demonstrate that the Stone-Campbell Movement has its own “philosopher,” but that the philosophic tradition Campbell represented may yet still provide some guidance in our current context. And, yet, I think it remains clear—as Clanton’s discussion of the Campbell’s ideation argument for the existence of God indicates—that Campbell, as a philosopher of ideas, is a deeply rooted empirical Biblicist who only ventures into metaphysical waters as a negative apologetic while always staying within sight of the empirical shore.

At the 2012 Christian Scholars Conference I offered a response to Caleb’s manuscript regarding Campbell’s understanding of Arminian-esque theodicy. Campbell’s theodicy, as Clanton unfolds it, is focused on the Free Will Defense, responds to the “Divine Hiddenness” problem, and articulates a high view of providence (even meticulous providence) that denies gratuitous evil.  My response to Clanton is available here.

Response to “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry”

June 6, 2013

The 2013 Christian Scholars Conference is currently in progress. Gary Holloway asked me to present a paper that would respond to the ecumenical 1982 Lima “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.”

I have uploaded the paper on my Academic page and it is now available here.

The paper suggests that the great strength of the document is its fundamental theological orientation but that its weakness is its strongly institutional character.

To figure out what that means I guess one will have to read the paper.


John Mark

Stone-Campbell Research Tools

May 18, 2013

I have two good friends who have invested time, money and effort in making some valuable texts and tools available to researchers and those who are interested in reading original texts of significant Stone-Campbell works.

Barry Jones has made available the following texts for PDF searching. You can find them here.

  • Bible Banner
  • Christian Baptist
  • Millennial Harbinger
  • Gospel Guardian
  • Lard’s Quarterly
  • Millennial Harbinger

I have used his PDF files in recent weeks.  I have found them extremely helpful and could quickly find material that otherwise would have taken me weeks to discover through reading hard copies or microfilm.  The state of the scanning is quite good and searchable though with the usual problems of searching these kinds of files.  Nevertheless I have found the PDF files  invaluable.

Bob Lewis is another longtime friend who has been publishing Stone-Campbell original texts through the Web or on Kindle for several years now.  His Stone-Campbell e-Print Library provides Kindle access for several significant works (such as Ketcherside, Leroy Garrett, Richardson’s Memoirs of Alexander Campbell and W. T. Moore’s Comprehensive History of the Disciples of Christ).

Bod has links to significant journals and works on his website (including Stone’s Christian Messenger).

I recommend supporting and patronizing both of Dr. Jones and Dr. Lewis. They are providing a wonderful service for researchers and those who love reading in Stone-Campbell history and theology.

Blessings on both their efforts!

James A. Harding’s “Successful Revival” in Nashville

May 13, 2013

In 1889, James A. Harding conducted an eight week meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.  A total of 123 would be immersed over the eight weeks. Here is the Daily American‘s account of the meeting (August 9, 1889).

Successful Revival

Rev. James A. Harding Pleading for Christ.

The Tent Meeting in Edgefield and Its Progress

Eighty-Seven Conversions and the Interest Continually Increasing–A Gold Harvest

The tent meeting of the North Edgefield Christian Church is now closing its seventh week. Interest in the revival has been constantly growing. All the neighborhood is thoroughly aroused, and large crowds come from other parts of the city,especially from the South Nashville and Woodland street churches.

The tent contains 500 chairs, but the audiences far exceed its capacity. There were 800 last Sunday night. Other denominations are taking part with enthusiasm. There have been 87 accessions to the church, eight professing the faith on Wednesday night.

It is a Grand Harvest

for the Christian Church. At all times wisely conservative, they have nevertheless braved public comment to carry the true gospel into this hitherto uncultivated field. As a result a substantial and handsome brick building has been erected on the same lot with the tent. A mission has been established there for several years, but this is its first meeting of any importance. Rev. J. C. McQuiddy is in charge.

The audience last night was composed of ladies for the most part. Rev. R. Lin Cave and Elders Corbin and Hall were in the pulpit. The minister’s text was Paul’s definition of faith. He treated it in a dispassionate, analytical manner, striving evidently to clearly expound the Apostle’s meaning. He was listened to with the most interested attention. There was one conversion.

Rev. James A. Harding

of Winchester, Ky., has been laboring in this city for some time. The morning meetings, with which the revival was begun, have been discontinued so that he could supervise the publication of his recent controversy with Rev. Mr. Moody in South Nashville. His health is declining under the severe strain, but he intends to continue so long as there is the lest interest manifested. He has covered very nearly the whole ground of Christian faith and duty.

His Preaching

is eminently thorough, plan and practical. His winning points are his earnestness and his perseverance. He is superior to most revivalists in the fact that he is never discouraged. The titles of some of his best sermons are as follows: The True Vine and the Branches, Will Christ Come Again? If So, When and How?, Heaven, The Eunuch’s  Conversion, The Conversion of Saul, and the Christian’s Armor. The common verdict is that his success is most wonderful.

JMH Comment Begins

The sermons on the Second Coming and Heaven are interesting in that his views on both of those points are rather unusual for contemporary Churches of Christ.  His view of the second coming was premillennial and his view of heaven was a renewed earth.  I only wish we had the transcripts of some of those sermons.

The North Edgefield congregation began meeting in 1887 under the preaching of Elder T. J. Stevenson, M.D. as a mission of the Woodland Street church.  J. C. McQuiddy began preaching at the church in 1889–a graduate of Mars Hill  Academy in Florence and office editor of the Gospel Advocate.  The building was dedicated in December 1889 and housed a congregation of about 200 (115 of whom were baptized in this meeting). — This data comes from an article in the Daily American (January 26, 1890).

The debate with J.B. Moody, held in the Central Baptist Church where up to 2000 attended, began on May 27, 1889 and extended for sixteen days.

Tolbert Fanning on Evangelists and the Lord’s Day

April 5, 2013

Brother “J. R. W.” of Kentucky tossed Tolbert Fanning a softball in the June 1858 issue of  the Gospel Advocate (pp. 170-171).  It was a subject he had constantly addressed as an editor and evangelist. It was one of the great themes of his life beginning with his time as an evangelist supported by the Nashville (TN) church from 1832 to 1836.

Question:  Are the disciples authorized to perform the service without an Evangelist?

The question contains several. What is the “service” to perform on the Lord’s Day? What is the function of an evangelist? Does the evangelist have a clerical function such that without an ordained evangelist the congregation could not “perform the service”?

Concerning the function of an evangelist, Fanning writes:

it is the duty of the Evangelist to preach the Gospel to the world, plant the taught with Christ in Baptism, congregate the converts, teach them all things in which they are to walk, to see that they keep the ordinances, ordain the Elders in the congregation, and set in order everything wanting for the perfection of the body.

In other words, the evangelist evangelizes the lost, plants the congregation, equipts members, and appoints leaders. Then an evangelist moves on to a new field and repeats the process. The evangelist should not linger and serve as a priestly mediator for the congregation. “It is not the work of the Evangelist to perform the service of the congregation.” Rather, the evangelist equips the congregation so that they might “perform the service” themselves.

When the disciples give the worship into the hand of a hired preacher, as one who works merely for the profit or place, to lord it over God’s heritage, they abandon, in fact, the religion of the Bible. The healthful soul invigorating life giving and life sustaining ordinances, have been given into the hands not entitled to them. The hired, or voluntary services of the church in the hands of preachers, enrich not them spiritually, and make the disciples poor indeed.

To hand the service over to “a hired preacher” is a form of “Popish” clericalism, according to Fanning. It destroys the faith of the congregation as they become passive receivers rather than active participants. The legitimate field for evangelists (preachers) is within the “world” rather than in the established congregation. Let the congregation do its own work, including the work of sending out evangelists to plant new congregations.

What the evangelist should do, however, is plant the congregation, equip the members, and appoint elders to lead the church. Fanning is quite insistent that evangelists appoint bishops or elders. On what authority, another querist asks? “In the Apostolic times Evangelists were consecrated by the hands of the seniors” (Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 5:14; 2 Timothy 1:16), “and Elders were set apart to the Bishop’s office by Evangelist” (1 Timothy 3; 5:22). Remember, however, that the evangelist does not settle into the congregation but is sent to other places. Consequently, it is the elders who lead the church rather than the evangelist.

But what is the “service” that members are to perform on the Lord’s Day? Fanning lists seven particulars:

1. The assemblage and Christian greetings on the Lord’s day.
2. Prayers of the Saints.
3. The teaching, reading of the Divine oracles.
4. The exhortations and confessions of the disciples.
5. The Lord’s supper.
6. The songs of praise.
7. Communicating, or putting money into the treasury, a sacrifice with which God is well pleased.

“We cannot see how it is possible,” Fanning adds, “for disciples to neglect any of these parts, and still maintain a position in the church of Christ.”

No Evangelist necessary; no clerics needed. It Is the priesthood of (male?) believers; there are no clerics, only the gathering of disciples. It is simply the gathering of Christians to greet, pray, teach, read, exhort, eat & drink, sing, and give. This is the fellowship of the saints on the Lord’s day. No preacher required; just committed, active disciples who gather to listen to each other and the word, sing their praises, share their resources, pray, and sit at the table together. Ad all that to the glory of God and the building up of the body.

Antebellum Middle Tennessee and the “Lord’s Day” I

March 27, 2013

During the summer of 1858 Tolbert Fanning, President of Franklin College and a leader in Middle Tennessee for over twenty-five years, toured the congregations surrounding Nashville. He recounts this tour in the September 1858 edition of the Gospel Advocate (“Prospects in Middle Tennessee,” pp. 257-263).

He visited Hartsville and Bledsoe’s Creek congregations in Sumner county; Lebanon and Bethel in Wilson county; New Hope in Canon county; Ebenezer, Millersburg and Murfreesboro in Rutherford county, Shelbyville in Bedford county; Fayetteville in Lincoln county; Petersburg, Berea and Lewisburg in Marshall county; Williamsport and Columbia in Maury county; and Nolensville, Hillsboro, Thompson’s Station and Boston in Davidson county.

He drew three conclusions from his tour (pp. 262-263):

1. We have labored in Tennessee in word and teaching for twenty-nine years, and we never witnessed half the anxiety generally to hear and examine the Truth.

2. We never before saw half so many brethren determined to labor for the Lord. More churches are meeting for worship than have been at any previous date engaged.

3.  We conscientiously believe that the brethren no where on earth possess a higher appreciation of the Truth, and of spiritual life, than in Tennessee, and with all our reverses the prospects are flattering. A faithful perseverence [sic]  in well doing will remove mountains.

The recent “reverses” is an allusion to the devolution of the Nashville church under the leadership of Jesse B. Ferguson who embraced “spiritualism” as a theological method. His youth, popularity, and rhetorical flourish led the church away from its 1820s-1830s roots, according to Fanning.

However, this has occasioned a revival of sorts.

The apostacy and opposition of several popular men, who were numbered with us, have doubtless had the effect to induce the brethren to re-examine the foundation on which we are building, and the result is, that an unusual degree of intelligence is evinced by all who read and study, especially the Divine oracles. We regard it not the least flattery to intimate the probability that there are perhaps more independent thinkers, and devoted and intelligent Christians in Tenn., in proportion to the numbers professing faith, than in any other State in the Union. Our church afflictions have had the effect to weaken the confidence in the infallibility of men, to teach us humility, and we are not sure but they have had an influence to better qualify us for grappling with difficult questions.

Fanning reports that he has seen evidence of a great growth in the “spiritual life” of congregations in Middle Tennessee (p. 257). One of the major pieces of evidence for him was the growing practice of “meeting weekly to worship” (p. 262). It was more common, as Fanning notes, for churches to meet only once a month or only when an Evangelist was in town (as was still the case for some communities like Lebanon). For Fanning the “Lord’s Day” is a critical part of what it means to be a church, to cooperate in the work of the Lord, and to fulfill the mission of Christ.

In future blogs I hope, as time permits, to explore this theological idea as Fanning seeks to inculcate a reverence for the Lord’s Day on the part of Middle Tennessee congregations.

Nashville Church Planting–Early Perspectives

March 26, 2013

David Lipscomb wrote a wonderful biography of Tolbert Fanning which was published in Franklin College and Its Influences (Nashville: McQuiddy Printing, 1906). There are many historical gems in this piece, especially concerning the history of the Nashville Church. One particular theme struck me as I read through it again.

After Philip Slater Fall, who had led the church into the Restoration Movement in 1827, left the Nashville Church in 1831, it was led by the elders of the church. The congregation practiced mutual edification and equipped while Tolbert Fanning and Absalom Adams were supported as Evangelists from 1832 to 1836. An “Evangelist” at that time was not the “local preacher,” but one supported to evangelize in the community and region. They were supported to plant churches. The Nashville Church planted, through Fanning, Adams, its elders and others, congregations at Franklin, South Harpeth, Hannah’s Ford, Sam’s Creek, Burnet, Philippi, Sycamore, and other places in the surrounding counties (pp. 48-49).

One of the disappointing aspects of the hiring of Jesse B. Ferguson in 1846 the church became consumed with their lead pastor and the congregation lost its equipping and church planting fervor, according to Lipscomb and Fanning.

When the congregation fell apart–falling from 600 members–it was reorganized with only a couple of dozen members. They asked P. S. Fall to return and he arrived in 1858. By the  Civil War the congregation was around 200 about half of what it was when Fall left in 1831. Fall assumed the role of Pastor in th church such that, as Lipscomb remembers it, there were few who would even lead a prayer or give thanks at the table in the congregation. Fall did all the “public work” (p. 58).

This focus is problematic for Lipscomb. To his knowledge in the forty years since the end of the Civil War this pastor-led church “has not sent out a preacher or planted a church” (p. 60). In contrast, Lipscomb began meeting with others in the “suburbs of the city” in 1865 (p. 59). This congregation and its daughters have since established “about twenty churches in the city and suburbs.” The old, established congregation failed to multiply whereas the new plants multiplied. 

How did Lipscomb account for the difference? The established downtown church employed a pastor who “preached to it, conducted the worship, and [drew] large audiences composed of talented, wealthy, and fashionable people.” This situation encourages a passivity such that “a church with wealth and numbers and talent and social position and attractive entertainments will be a helpless church” (p. 60).

Lipscomb thinks there is a better model. He planted churches among the “working classes, accustomed to doing their own work at home, and ready to do what was needed to keep te worship alive in their midst.” If churches are to grow and mature spiritually, they must do their own work rather than support “a preacher to minister to and for them” (p. 59). Church planting results when congregations focus on equipping members rather than supporting preachers, according to Lipscomb.

If a congregation among the “common people” is to support a preacher, then they will never “become self-supporting,” and this is unacceptable. “Christ intended his religion for the poor, adapted it to their necessities, and it is a perversion of the church of Christ to so change its character that it cannot live without money from wealthy churches” (pp. 59-60).

Let the church be the church, Lipscomb pleads. “The common people can do their own work at home and can sound the gospel out as no other people can” (p. 60).

Lipscomb believed that he followed Fanning on this points. He summarizes Fanning’s church planting method in this way:

The result of his teaching on the subject of the members doing the work of the church without a regular preaching or pastor was the establishment of a great number of churches in the towns and counties of Tennessee in which the entire services were conducted by the members of the churches; and a preacher was called in only to hold a protracted meeting. This in its beginning does not make a show before the world, nor is it attractive to those who seek entertainment; but it educates the members of the church in the study of the Bible and the practical performance of all the duties connected with the worship and work of the church. This is the best education of the members of the church that they can receive. No one can be said to properly understand a thing until he puts it into practice. No idea or sentiment is made his own until he practices it. The best and most sacred truths, although he may approve and admire them, do not enter into the make up of his character until he practices them in his life; so the reading, commenting on the Scriptures, praying, exhorting, and teaching others is much more effective teaching to those doing this work than hearing others.

The Politics of the “New Heavens, New Earth” (1913 Stone-Campbell Book)

March 22, 2013

Peter Jay Martin, following in the footsteps of his father Joseph Lemuel Martin, authored a book that surveyed Revelation. Published by the McQuiddy Company (the Gospel Advocate publisher) in 1913, it was entitled The Mystery Finished, or The New Heavens and the New Earth. Peter’s book is not as well known as his father’s (The Voice of the Seven Thunders), but it was published in Nashville and advertised in Wallace’s Bible Banner as late as the early 1940s. Both Martins read Revelation, like Alexander Campbell, in the continuous-historical tradition, that is, Revelation is a “historfy of the church of Christ from A. D. 98 to its final trimuph” (Mystery, v).

Both were postmillennialists, like Alexander Campbell. They both envisioned a triumphant church upon the earth before the second coming of Christ.When Satan is released at the end of the 1000 years and the nations gather to assault the Church, then Christ will come to defeat Satan, raise the dead and judge humanity.

But they differed on the nature of the “new heavens and new earth.” P. J. identified the new earth with the postmillennial reign of Christ through the church while J. L. believed the new earth is the new creation of God after the first earth was “gone.” J. L. was uncertain whether the new earth would be created out of the materials of the old or out of nothing, but he was convinced that the new material earth would be the eternal dwelling place of God with humanity.

P. J.’s understanding is more political than J. L.’s. The story of the emerging “new earth” is a “political” one where the “everlasting kingdom cut out of the mountain without hands shall fill the whole earth” (Mystery, 9). According to P.J., the present “political conditions” are demonic (Mystery, 174):

A government of the reich, by the rich, and for the rich, in which women and children, little children, slave in the cruelest form, for the most menial wage; exploited without voice, & forever beyond the hope of redress, because the courts of injustice are moved by the rich, and legislation, desired to control and limit exploitation, is, as was understood before the enactment of these laws, held as unconstitutional, or by injunction without law, leaves the poor wage worker in the position of an outlaw; while, in addition to receiving the lowest remuneration(!) for his labor, he is also made to pay the highest price for the poorest quality of all necessities of life.

The postmillennial kingdom of Christ–which is the new heavens and new earth– will involve a “radical change” such that there will be “no exploitation; no separation of parents and children, no foreclosing of mortgages, no sorrow nor crying” (Mystery, 179). P. J. Martin hopes for a political culture governed by the gospel as the church rather than the nations becomes “the political organization” that is “for the uplifting of the poor and needy and that stands for justice between man and man and between the rich and the poor” (Mystery, 180). In this way Christians will “posses the earth” (Mystery, 183) because in that postmillenial reign “the church has absorbed the world” (Mystery, 196).

P. J. has no confidence that the nations as political entities will serve the poor or place others first. Only people transformed by the gospel are able to serve out the self-emptying spirit that energizes the gospel itself. He writes (Mystery, 199):

…when this old world has been gospelized; ‘when every man seeks not his own, but another’s wealth;’ when men do unto others thus; every man seeking the welfare of the other man, thus fulfiling in acts, in actuality, the Golden Rule in doing unto other as you would have the other do to you, the gospel triumphant from the rivers to the ends of the earth, his will done on earth as in heaven, for which the writer ever prays in an absolute faith, then he has as lief live in Okalahoma as to go to heaven.

When the “whole world,” this world, becomes the “habitation of God” in the postmillennial kingdom, “surely [even] Oklahoma will be good enough for us” (Mystery, 215). This is the “blessed hope of a redeemed earth–’the new heaven and new earth’” (Mystery, 221).

The millennium–which precedes the second coming of Jesus–is a political embodiment of the gospel. There all the hopes of the prophets are fulfilled in the reign of Christ through the triumphant church. The gospel, in this vision, is both “political” and “religious.”

Alexander Campbell on Trinity and Christology

March 18, 2013

Nancy Koester’s The History of Christianity in the United States (Fortress, 2007) is my current supplementary text in my undergraudate Stone-Campbell Movement course at Lipscomb University. I use it to provide the American context for Stone-Campbell history.

I was surprised to read this sentence in the book (p. 61):  ”[Alexander Campbell] also rejected the doctrine of Trinity because he did not find it in the Bible.”  She would have been more accurate if she had written that he rejected the term “Trinity,” but Campbell did not reject the theological idea of the tri-unity of the Christian God.

For example, in a series entitled “Elementary Views,” Campbell summarizes what he thinks is the heart of the Christian faith (Millennial Harbinger [July 1854] 367):

One Jehovah in three personalities, and one Mediator in three offices constitute the true faith and the true religion of the Christian Church, or the Reign of Heaven. And these are the centres [sic] of the Jewish and Christian dispensations of the doctrine of human redemption, in its typical and anti-typical manifestations. This is·the Alpha and the Omega of the Bible. On this broad, and strong, and enduring basis, the new heavens and the new earth, and all their tenantry will rest forever.

Campbell’s Protestant “orthodoxy” on Trinity and Christology is also obvious in this selection from “Millennium” (MH [December 1856] 700-701):

Our creed as christians is drawn up by a council of thirteen apostles presided over by the Lord Jesus Christ, and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  It is in contrast with the Theocracy, properly set forth as the Christocracy.  The central idea of the Jewish Religion is one Jehovah—absolute in all his perfections, self-existent, eternal and immutable—of whom are all things.  The central idea of christianity is “one Lord Jesus the Christ; by and for whom are all things.”  He is infinitely Divine and perfectly human, possessing all Divinity and all humanity in one personality.  A perfect God man, “the only begotten of the father full of grace and Truth.”  His sacrifice “expiated” and took out of God’s way and out man’s way “the sin of the world.”  “By offering up of himself” on the cross on Mount Calvery [sic], “he made an end of all sin offerings,” introduced “an everlasting justification” or righteousness for fallen humanity; and “perfected forever all them that are sanctified through the faith” in his person, offices, and work.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God in another personality, equally Divine, and equally co-operant with the Father and the word incarnate, who illuminates, sanctifies, and perfects every sinner in whose heart he becomes the Holy Guest; sometimes improperly called, in our common vernacular, “Holy Ghost.”

It is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that any sinner, can be pardoned, justified, sanctified, and perfected in holiness and in happiness—for his blood alone can justify God in justifying any penitent, believing sinner.

In these views, the whole Revelation of God centres [sic].   Jesus the Christ being the centre of that circle, which is itself the centre of all the spiritual systems of the universe.  His blood, alone, which is his human life, on the altar of Jehovah, becomes the justifying cause of the justifying grace vouchsafed to fallen man, through the gospel of the reign of heaven.

Alexander Campbell considered himself in the mainline of Protestant “Orthodoxy” on the traditional questions of Trinity and Christology. His problems with Protestantism were significant, but these were not among them except the use of scholastic and creedal terminology as tests of communion and modes of understanding.

G. C. Brewer on the New Heavens and New Earth

March 16, 2013

I’m seeking some help regarding G. C. Brewer’s (1884-1956) undertstanding of the earth. Concerning Isaiah 65, 66, 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21, Brewer wrote (Gospel Advocate [4 April 1946], 314):

“The New Testament references describe a condition that will come after the destruction of the present heaven and earth. That this earth—this existing order of things, including the material earth—is to be destroyed, Peter tells us in terms we cannot misunderstand. That this earth was cursed because of sin and that thorns and briars and noxious weeds came as a result of the curse seems plain also. (Gen. 3:17-19.) Beasts of prey—ferocious and destructive animals—seem to have come after the curse also (Gen. 2:18-20.) And that the earth itself is to be redeemed from the curse seems to be the teaching of the Bible—seems to be the promise of God. (Rom. 8:20-22; 2 Peter 3:13; Daniel 7:14-22.) Man was given dominion over the earth, but transferred his allegiance to Satan, and the curse came, bringing suffering, sorrow, and death. But Christ came to remove the curse and to bring “joy to the earth.” When the earth is redeemed, it will first be renovated by fire. Then there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Then the meek shall inherit the earth. (Ps. 37:9-11; Matt. 5:5; Rev. 5:10; 21:1-7; 2 Peter 3:10-13.)”

That is the summary at the beginning of the article where he asserts, what seems to him, obvious realities in Scripture. He is responding to a question about the meaning of the “new heavens and new earth.” The rest of the article pursues several trajectories. I have reproduced below his final paragraph which contains his conclusion:

“But there is another view as to when the promise that Peter mentions was given. This view is that the promise of a new heaven and a new earth was included in the /322/ promises God made to Abraham and that Isaiah and all others who mention the new heavens and new earth were simply referring to what had been the hope and expectation of God’s people from Abraham down; that this is the heavenly country that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were seeking.

“But now we must try to find where and when that promise of a heavenly country and the city that hath the foundations was given to Abraham. It must have been in that land promise (Gen. 15:18; 17:7, 8), though it would be hard for us to see it without the aide of the New Testament. The city promise must be that made in these words: ‘Thy seed shall possess the gate [the city] of his enemies.” (Gen. 22:17.)”

“Paul says (Rom. 4:13-16) that the promise to Abraham was that he and his seed should be heirs of the world, and he says this promise must be made sure to all his spiritual seed. We, then, who are by faith children of Abraham and heirs of the promise (Gal. 3:28-29) are yet to inherit the world, though it must be the new earth. We will never get this one. Even Abraham himself was a pilgrim and a stranger on this earth.”

It appears to me that Brewer believes that the Abrahamic inheritance is fulfilled when the saints inhabit a renovated earth. This is consistent with Lipscomb and Harding. I did not expect this from Brewer, so I wonder if I am misreading in some way.

What do you think? And do you know of other occasions when Brewer discusses this?