Alexander Campbell as a speaker

I’m up late reading…this paragraph caught my eye:

He trusted the common person to comprehend his most seminal and profound concepts.  He did not save his groundbreaking ideas for educators or the clergy, but freely shared them with the rank and file.  He did not have one message for the elite and another for the ordinary folk.  He wrote and spoke as if he would be understood by all.  He was a man for all seasons and for all people.  Whether in a mansion in New Orleans or a coal miner’s shack in Kentucky, his manner was the same.

This from Leroy Garrett, “Campbell, Alexander (1788-1866)” Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, page 113.

This appeals to me because I value the autheticity Garrett’s describes in AC.  In my own teaching, for example, I hold very dear the notion that as a teacher I should try my best to bring the light of my academic study to bear on the task of indoctrination in a church setting.  (I conceive of indoctrination in all of its best senses…I do not use it pejoratively here at all.  If indoctrination is the conveyance of the grand story of God to the people of God…and it is…then I am all for it.  The term needs to be rehabilitated from the practice of “fundamentalists” and rescued from the vocabulary of the “elite”).    I also hold dear the notion that people are people are people are people.  None better or worse, none more or less deserving of my time or energy.  I cringe when I sense that preachers or teachers brush off audiences as  inept or simple or unworthy.  On occasion I have sensed that from speakers and more so, I have heard in person comments like that from preachers and teachers.  How disappointing.

To those who think they have some insight to share, please do so with competence, sensitivity and grace.  Hold the dismissiveness and arrogance, please. Everyone has something to learn…not just the ‘uneducated’…If you love those who love you, what reward do you have?

Something to think about.  Back to my reading.

1 thought on “Alexander Campbell as a speaker

  1. Mac,

    Thanks for this quote about Campbell. I also agree completely with your sentiments. All people (whether “formally educated” or not, young or elderly, rich or poor) are worthy of our time and energy in speaking the good news of Christ. We are also following the example of Christ. The “religious leaders” of His day hated that He spent time with the “am ha aretz” or “people of the land.” Furthermore, in my teaching experience, I find that I’ve learned great lessons from what others may call the inept or simple. Yet the biblical teachings must always be presented with the highest scholarship with which we are able. Usually, I would say that the fault lies with me as a teacher if folks don’t understand my teaching about difficult passages or concepts. Maybe I don’t understand? Didn’t C.S. Lewis say something about changing difficult theological concepts into coinage that the everyday person could spend? Thanks again. I’m enjoying reading your thoughts here and hope you are well.



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