Returning to Marshall Leggett’s work Introduction to the Restoration Ideal we find ourselves in chapter 5, which is a short biography of Thomas Campbell. If you are interested in reading about the life of Thomas Campbell you can do so here.
The main contribution that Leggett says Thomas Campbell offered to the movement to restore the Church to the New Testament model is emphasis on the Bible as God’s Word. Thomas Campbell would say, “Persons can be Christians only if they would but follow the Bible only.” (p. 45)
In my mind that raises a very important question: How can we follow the Bible only? Again we have to remember the context of this statement. Thomas Campbell came from a time when there were deep divisions between between Christians. This mainly fell among denominational lines, and each wrote a creed or a confession that would emphasis their difference from other groups. So the main thought here is that Christians need to follow the Bible before they followed the creeds and confessions.
I think where this becomes very important for us today, in a Christian culture that isn’t creed based, but in a sense personality based, is to measure what we are taught and read against the truth of Scripture. Too many people pick a preacher or teacher they like, and they hang on their every word. When we do this our faith is based more on what these preachers and teachers say than it is on our personal knowledge of Scripture.
There are many good preachers and teachers out there who seek to be true to the Word of God, but we can’t build our faith on their good intentions. Remember the Bereans of Acts 17? They were commended because they searched the Old Testament Scriptures to make sure what the apostle Paul, the man who wrote much of the New Testament, said was true. Their faith wasn’t based on the personality of Paul, but the desire to know God’s truth. We can only know God’s truth when we are familiar with God’s word, the Bible.