"The restoration was to consist in holding precisely and only what is taught in the word of God, and in founding our practices strictly thereon...To believe precisely what the Scriptures teach, to practice only what they enjoin, and to reject everything else."
So said Moses E. Lard, one of the great preachers of the 19th century. All too often we use the terms "Restoration Movement" and "Restoration Plea" without explanation, assuming that everyone understands what the terms mean. However, that assumption can no longer be made. There have been many attempts in recent years to rewrite Restoration history. One such example: using the term "Stone-Campbell Movement" instead of "Restoration Movement a subtle attempt to cast churches of Christ in a denominational context, with Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell as the founders. Another is the trend to use the words "sectarian" and "sectarianism" to describe those who hold true to the New Testament. Until the late 20th century, those words referred to denominationalism.
What Lard expressed was simply a summation of 1 Peter 4:11: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." How can one say what God has said, on any matter, without going back to the word of God? When one accepts any part of Scripture as an authoritative rule of faith and practice, he has accepted the Restoration Principle returning to the Bible for all religious matters regardless of how little he accepts.
In the long ago, the prophet Jeremiah wrote, "Thus saith the Lord; cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord" (Jer. 17:5). This verse summarizes the desire of many of our day to turn away from what the will of the Lord requires. The Restoration Plea calls for all people to return to the Lord's way in everything religious: "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls" (Jer. 6:16).
This is what the great pioneer preachers of yesteryear proclaimed. This is what we must proclaim, for it is what the New Testament declares. For true restoration to take place, we must go back not to Rome, not to Constantinople, not to Mecca, but to Jerusalem! We can, and we must, be about the business of restoring pure New Testament Christianity in the 21st century!
David W. Hester