In the early 19th century, churches in America were experiencing unrest. There were those who believed followers of Jesus had adopted non-scriptural customs which bred dissension and resulted in a fragmented church. The most notable individuals who shared this concern were Thomas and Alexander Campbell (from the Presbyterian Church) and Barton W. Stone (from the Methodist Church). They did not intend to start a new church but rather restore the existing one. Simply stated, their goal was to call people back to the church of the New Testament. They began working from the inside to renew the church, and their efforts became known as the "Restoration Movement."
The Bible became the focus in the Restoration Movement:
God's love for mankind.
The plan of salvation.
An outline of godly behavior, which affects every area of life.
The movement coined a number of slogans, such as:
"We have no creed but Christ!"
"Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent."
"In matters of faith... Unity; In matters of opinion... Liberty; but in all things...Love!"
"We are not the only Christians, but Christians only."
The phrase, "We are not the only Christians; we are Christians only!" is brimming with truth. In too many cases, believers in Jesus tend to be exclusionary. If a person does not agree with us in every point, they are outside of God's grace, not a part of the family of God, and not eternally saved. Such a hard and fast position is quite contrary to one of the basic tenets of our faith. As we see it, there are certain "non-negotiables" of faith, which are widely accepted across denominational lines. Those who adhere to these "non-negotiables" are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and equally saved!
These days, the Restoration Movement is more commonly known as the Independent Christian Churches or the Churches of Christ. Each congregation is completely independent and free of any outside involvement of denominational officials, headquarters, or church leaders. We strive to let Jesus Christ be the head of each local congregation.