By Thomas G. O’Neal
Several months ago the following short article appeared in several church bulletins:
“In a recent article this interesting quotation appeared as a documentary research of .Dr. Robinson, principal of Overdale College, Birmingham, England.
“`In the Furness District of Lancashire-in N.W. England -there existed in 1669, during the reign of Charles II, a group of S churches of Christ. Most of them are not now in existence. An old minute book has been found on the year 1669 and it shows that they called themselves by the name of Church of Christ, practiced baptism by immersion, celebrated the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day and had elders and deacons. There was also a church, of Christ In Dungannot, Ireland in 1904 and in Allington, Dangighshire. In 1735, John Davis, a young preacher in the Fife District of Scotland was preaching New Testament Christianity twenty-five years before Thomas Campbell (Alexander Campbell’s father) was born.’ “
Wanting to check the correctness of this information, I wrote Dr. Robinson on Nov. 20, 1973, quoted the above article and asked him, “Is this correct? Could you give me any more documentation on this? Any additional information that you could supply to me would be very much appreciated”.
I have a letter written by Mr. David M. Thompson’ Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, CB3 ODG, dated April 15, 1975, which is self-explanatory.
“Dear Mr. O’Neal,
Your letter of 20 November, 1973, which was addressed to the late Dr. William Robinson (he died in 1963) has found its way eventually to me, as Secretary of the Churches of Christ Historical Committee in Britain.
“I can give you some help on your quotation, though not much. The churches in the Furness District of Lancashire were, in fact, Baptist Churches-it was common for dissenting churches to use the title `Church of Christ’ to describe themselves (though I don’t think Dr. Robinson realised this). I cannot tell you very much about the churches in Dungannon, Allington and John Davis: but I think the main point Dr. Robinson was wishing to make was that the call for a return to New Testament Christianity did not begin with Thomas and Alexander Campbell, nor has it been found only among Churches of Christ. I suspect that this is as true in America as it is here.
“I cannot help you further at present, though I am expecting to publish a history of the British Churches of Christ soon, which may be of interest to you.”
Truth Magazine XIX: 48, p. 764
October 16, 1975